Posts By: Jack Baruth

By on September 7, 2014


Two and a half years ago, I asked an important question, to wit: “If a guy in a shed can make the Miata pretty, why can’t Mazda do it?” Well, I think Mazda’s finally done it. The new Miata is, at the very least, striking.

Simpson Design hasn’t stood still in the past thirty months, however: my favorite restyling company in the world has now come up with a variety of restyles for the NB second-generation Miata, and although they aren’t cheap, they are lovely.
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By on September 4, 2014


“A little learning”, wrote the crippled poet from his infamous grotto, “is a dangerous thing.” Here’s an example. What effect does the choice of a manual transmission have on resale value? If, like me, you’ve bought and sold cars for more than twenty-five years now, your snap response will be “Manual transmissions sell for more.”

This being 2014, however, some kid with access to secondhand Manheim auction reports will strain his mousing finger with a detailed correction of that assertion, complete with dozens of copy-and-pasted sale records. You cannot argue with his data — it’s right there in black and white. Manual transmission cars are worth less. But you know he’s wrong somehow, because you’ve been in the trenches and you’ve worked deals yourself.

Maybe the problem isn’t with you, or the kid’s data. Maybe it’s a case of simply not understanding what that data means.
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By on August 31, 2014


Strictly speaking, there was no reason for Ashley to attend old Frank Jacobsen’s retirement party. She’d been part of the department for all of five months and she’d spent most of the time doing the other engineers’ paperwork. It was true what they told her in school: To be a female engineer, particularly in Detroit, you need to be twice as good as the men. Over and over she found mistakes that were childishly stupid; over and over they patted her on the head, praised her in an email, and gave the next important assignment to some charmless nerd.

Frank had been the exception. More than once he’d called her over to his desk, eschewing the usual Sametime or chat bullshit that the young guys liked to do in place of actual work, and asked her for what he called her “professional opinion.”

“Now, Miss McCormick, I was wondering if you would examine this set of drawings and render your professional opinion.” And when she pointed out a way to re-radius something for materials savings or change the spacing for the comfort of a future mechanic, Frank would make the change and then credit her in the next meeting. He was an okay guy, Frank was. And given the way things were going in this business, when was the next chance she’d have to see someone actually retire?
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By on August 30, 2014

After much discussion regarding the merits of repairing the sinkhole that struck the Corvette Museum in February, and keeping in mind the seventy-percent boost in foot traffic afterwards, the facility has announced that it will be repairing the sinkhole, and restoring three of the eight cars damaged in the event, this November.
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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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  • 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 Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States