Posts By: Jack Baruth

By on August 28, 2014

To some very large degree, the automotive world as we know it today was fashioned by two major advances. The first was the implementation of effective and reliable engine control computers, which handle everything from emissions compliance to knock control silently and competently. We take it for granted now that cars start immediately, run perfectly from sea level to the top of Mount Evans, never smoke, stumble, or ping, and return real-world fuel mileage that is often triple that of their Seventies predecessors.

The second advance started around 1992 and it’s known as the “silica miracle”. Replacing some percentage of the carbon black in automotive tires with silica dramatically increases grip and tire life while reducing rolling resistance significantly. The Prius wouldn’t be nearly as amazing without low-rolling-resistance tires, and those tires couldn’t happen without silica. But it’s not just the eco-Mouseketeers who are benefiting from it. Today’s performance tires are so much better than their 1990-and-before predecessors it’s difficult for younger enthusiasts to truly understand the gap in capabilities. It was once taken for granted that performance cars like the Acura NSX or Porsche 911 ate their tires every five thousand miles and handled like they were on greased roller skates the minute the road became shiny with rain. Without silica tires, the enduro series like the 24 Hours of Lemons, ChumpCar, and AER would still have tire changes every two hours.

In fact, today’s automotive tires are so good, it’s possible to use them in ways that were never intended.
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By on August 28, 2014

It’s been a while since TTAC crackled and buzzed with the latest Toyota news all the time — but this morning, we’re changing that!
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By on August 23, 2014


We now know what the Corvette Z06 is going to cost, and what it’s going to weigh, and both numbers are surprising.
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By on August 23, 2014


The gang at AutoSpies have a shot of the new Lagonda. It’s… uh, not much to look at.
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By on August 22, 2014


You know it’s true: When you have a particular car on your mind, or when you’re driving a car that you don’t normally drive, you’ll see more examples of that car on the road than you would otherwise. The mind’s funny like that. Good thing it is; the ability to ignore things most of the time is all that keeps us sane.

Last week I found myself driving a previous-generation Chevy Tahoe, a 2009 model, quite a bunch. It was an LTZ with all the trimmings, robust and healthy after ninety-four thousand miles under the Albuquerque sun. There was a lot to do. A lot of things to move in, and out, and around. Eight truckloads of trash and cardboard, which would have been six in a Suburban but it would have been fifty in an Accord Coupe so I knew better than to bitch about it. The sheer ponderousness of the thing depresses and annoys me, the space it covers on the road. The last full-sized truck I drove on a consistent basis was a 1996 F-150 XL Supercab five-liter, bright red, loaned to me as a dealer demonstrator for 5,750 miles then returned to dealer stock. It must have been half the size of this pearl white elephant. Driving it in traffic is like swimming in thick mud.

Still, the Tahoe occupied my mind as the failure-prone five-point-three listlessly groaned it through traffic, and I saw all sorts of GMT Nine Hundreds. Escalades finishing out their leases, Suburbans with a hundred-pound mother flailing behind the wheel and a child the size of a roast turkey in the middle of the middle seat, gloss-red regular cab Silverados doing cable installation. By the time I saw the fiftieth black-with-tinted-windows Yukon Denali, my sensitivity to them had almost slipped back beneath the waterline. But there was something different about this one.
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By on August 15, 2014

Driven by better-than-expected reliability in the real world, a desire to respond to consumer concerns about operating costs, or just sheer monstrous ego, Elon Musk has decided to change the Tesla warranty. But wait, there’s more.
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By on August 15, 2014


Every once in a while, you come across a story that just perfectly encompasses everything that’s weird and wacky about the wannabe supercar business. The Renovo Coupe is just such a story.
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By on August 15, 2014


Tony Stewart will not return to racing just yet. Although criminal charges are currently “unlikely” according to the local sheriff, Stewart’s decision to stay out of the public eye is probably the most sensible and cautious one possible. This isn’t really one of the things that TTAC would normally cover, so you can read my thoughts on the situation over on my site.

By on August 15, 2014


If all the Hellcat news has whetted your appetite for an in-person meeting, here’s your chance.
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By on August 14, 2014


As 1977 drew to a close, my father finally agreed to let my mother have the new car he’d promised her earlier in the year. Mom’s Volvo was only three years old but it was already rusting and erratic in cold mornings. They went to some Oldsmobile dealership in Baltimore to see the new-for-1978 Cutlass Supreme coupes. It was the era of the personal luxury coupe and the Cutlass was the alpha dog in the pack. To Dad’s annoyance, however, Mom didn’t want the square-edged Malaise superstar. No, she wanted the one seventy-seven they had left in stock. Dark blue Supreme, light blue top and interior. Color-matched rally wheels. Most importantly, it had the 403. Absurdly oversquare engine. Whisper quiet but when the light went green it shoved. We went home from the dealer with what Dad considered to be a used car already. He didn’t really care, he was rocking a ’77 LeSabre sedan and Yves Saint Laurent prêt-à-porter, yo.

Once I was strong enough to pull the release and pop the hood, I’d stand on the front bumper and stare into the engine compartment. By the time Mom chopped in the Cutlass on a black Civic “S” the 403 was obscure and obsolete, simultaneously laughable for its gauche thirst and frightening in its deep-chested power. It was the last of its kind, the last to believe you could make it happen with cubic inches alone, the last Rocket V8, three hundred and twenty pound-feet, a dinosaur roaring alone on the showroom floor among the three point eight liter proto-mammals, staring unconcernedly at the bright flash in the sky.

Thirty-seven years later, it’s time for another extinction.
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  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Miquelon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States