Did Takata effectively bribe their way out of an NHTSA investgation? That appears to be the allegation made in the New York Times by auto-safety careerists Clarence Ditlow and Ralph Nader.
Posts By: Jack Baruth
Don’t you just hate it when you plan to screw your constituents out of nearly a hundred million bucks and you only get, like, half of that?
This was supposed to be a rental racetrack review. The plan was to to challenge Watkins Glen with Daewoo GM Korea Chevrolet’s well-received not-so-compact sedan, letting the 1.4L turbo engine drag us from Turn One to the Bus Stop under full throttle before putting the brakes up on a pinball table and giving them the […]
Welcome to our new feature, Ask Jack! I’ll be answering your questions on pretty much any topic that has a vague relationship to cars. Send me your questions and make sure you let us know if you want to be identified!
Our very first question comes from a fellow who wants to know what he should do about lease mileage on his Camry. As fate would have it, I was a Red Carpet Leasing Professional(tm) in another life and I am ready to help!
“Well, I’m glad we got off-track without anything terrible happening,” I sighed, with no small amount of relief. “You did a good job of controlling the situation. A lot of people really panic when their brakes go away at ninety-five miles per hour or so. If the pedal comes back up you can probably nurse it home, as long as you’re careful. How far do you have to go?”
“Well, I live in New York,” he replied, “but if you’re okay with trying another session, I sure am.”
When I reviewed the most recent Passat 1.8TSI I confessed to liking the car, even if it wasn’t anywhere close to being the G.O.A.T. Therefore, when one of my driving students told me that he’d been unable to source my first recommendation for a non-premium trackday rental — the Camry SE — and had been […]
Only about one-tenth of one percent of the attendees at the Spring 2134 Concours d’Reconstruction were there in the meat sense. The rest were immersed in commercial newsfeeds or represented by personal sense-drones. Still, it was no small feat in the arcology era to find a place where you could put a hundred nearly perfect reproductions of Oil Age automobiles, ten thousand spectators, and hundreds of thousands of floating machines. So they held it in the old Cobo Arena, partially for nostalgia but mainly because it was a big empty space that somehow hadn’t been burned to the ground during the food riots or the privilege riots or the nanodisease riots.
To be eligible to show in the event, you needed to be one of the hundred most-Liked constructors, as measured, by common agreement, at midnight on 1 August of the previous year. You also needed to be willing to construct a car from scratch using nanoassemblers and various small-batch production techniques. Only newly constructed automobiles of a year and model not shown in previous events were welcome. It was unheard-of for a constructor to refuse the invite.
Cobo was an hour by train away from civilization, but as one of the chosen one hundred, Zack-55002 was of course present in the meat, standing next to the car he’d built for the concours, a 98.20% correct reiteration of the 1925 Don Harkness Hispano-Suiza. As was his mortal enemy, Alphonse-45009, who had brought a 99.65% correct reiteration of Juan Pablo Montoya’s 2001 Monza-winning FW23. When the winners were announced, Zack found himself standing on the second step of the podium, accepting an aluminum oxynitride trophy that contained a piece of the moon Europa, frozen and suspended within the cup by some rather admirable tech. Alphonse ascended to the place above him and graciously hoisted a slightly larger variant of Zack’s trophy. This made it four wins for Alphonse and two for Zack over the past six years. Nobody even came close to the two of them, but Alphonse was just that little bit better and Zack hated him for it.
Then, before either could speak, Edith-65002 burst from the crowd, ran up to the podium, stripped naked, faced the hovering mass of the drones and the packed throng of the people, and raised her hands for silence.
If you want to be recognized for your brilliance, it’s best to do something that is less than completely brilliant. The reason for this is simple: Ideas that are very good but less than truly brilliant are generally well-received by the critics and the public. I can give you a million examples, from the Dyson vacuum to any novel by Maragret Atwood to the album The Lumineers, by The Lumineers. All that is required to be lauded as brilliant is to create or perform something that wouldn’t naturally occur to the dimmest member of your audience, and you are good to go.
Should you be so bold as to do something that is actually brilliant, however, you will only suffer one of two fates. You may be ignored, in the manner of post-1850 Melville or pre-Volkswagen-commercial Nick Drake. Worse yet, you may succeed beyond your wildest imagination, at which point it will be the firm opinion of everyone around you that you had only done the natural, nay, the obvious thing. Your work will be taken from you by the critics and given to your surroundings, or your time, or your generation. Historians will suggest that anyone could have done it, given your circumstances. A simultaneous discoverer will be discovered. Your success will be dismissed as having been certain from the beginning.
It’s a tough gig, doing something brilliant. Look at the people who designed the second-generation Prius. But it’s even tougher when you bet the proverbial farm on the results. As Ford did, eighteen long years ago around this time.
Earlier this year I, while I was giving rides in a C7 Corvette at a racetrack, I was asked if I could give a stunning young blonde a ride around the course. Naturally, I agreed, because every middle-aged man in a Corvette wants a girl who looks exactly like that one sitting next to him. Even if we’re both wearing helmets for the whole time. Imagine my surprise when it turned out that she was a BMW auto mechanic who knew quite a bit more about cars and engines and welding and whatnot than I did.