Posts By: Jack Baruth

By on April 4, 2016

rolling

If our comments and emails are any indication, TTAC readers are by and large very sane and sensible men who make sound choices based on reliable data.

You’re family men with minivans and bachelors who have CUVs just in case they meet the right girl on eHarmony. You’re introverts who don’t like bright colors. You’re engineers and programmers who can spot a logical flaw from ten thousand feet up.

Oh yeah, and there’s also one enormous black dude who drives an SRT-8 Jeep around Queens and can remotely kill you with his brain.

No matter which one of the above stereotypes fits you, you need to put it all aside and get out to Joshua Tree National Park this weekend to join me for a party that, in all likelihood, neither of us will be able to remember.

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By on March 30, 2016

impact

For Bill Brown, it’s been a nightmare that will not end. Last year, his 77-year-old brother, Bud, a former serviceman, was pulling out of a private driveway onto Sullivant Avenue on the West Side of Columbus, Ohio. Sullivant, a four-lane road that runs arrow-straight through some of the city’s most economically depressed areas and features everything from pre-WWII homes to tire shops along its length, has a speed limit of 35 miles per hour.

Brian Fritz was heading down Sullivant Avenue in his Ford Explorer at 106 mph when Bud’s old Astro conversion van crossed the street ahead of him. When Fritz saw Brown crossing the street, he tapped his brakes before swerving into the middle lane to catch the back of Brown’s Astro at 95 mph. Brown was thrown from the van and killed. Fritz was treated for minor injuries and released.

This week, Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien announced that no charges will be filed against Mr. Fritz. We know why that is, right?

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By on March 29, 2016

Poolshooting 15.08.2010

Just short of ten years ago, I clambered out of a claustrophobia-inducing Lufthansa coach seat in Frankfurt, grabbed my luggage, and headed for the parking garage. I had paid for my own flight — which did not surprise me in the slightest, because I was a cycling journalist at the time, not an automotive one. After a brief disagreement with my wife concerning the likely German phrase for “parking garage,” we found the right building, then the right floor, and finally the right spot. Occupying the spot was a Volkswagen Phaeton not entirely unlike the two that I’d left in my driveway at home. It was a short-wheelbase model with a VR6 and a specification too modest to ever cross the Atlantic, but the relative familiarity of the car and the controls made it slightly easier for me to get used to driving in Germany.

As we headed east and the evening fell in the windshield ahead, the perfect order and strident prosperity of what I’d grown up calling “West Germany” gradually faded, replaced by open fields, small towns, and abandoned concrete cube housing sprouting a decade’s worth of weeds. We were on our way to Dresden — to the ruined cathedral, to the cobblestones, to what Sandra, my bright-red-haired guide, called “the Saxon temperament.” We were headed to Die Gläserne Manufaktur. The Transparent Factory.

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By on March 29, 2016

It was the winter of my friend’s discontent. The unsupported bearing shaft in his five-speed Toyota Matrix had failed. It was a common problem, since the five-speed was a deliberate customer punishment with unintended consequences on Toyota’s part. The only difference between the five-speed and six-speed transmissions in those cars was the presence or absence […]

By on March 28, 2016

hit

It’s every biker’s nightmare: an anonymous Honda runs you off the road then departs the scene at high speed. But was it malice aforethought, or simply a very painful lesson about what happens when you linger in a car’s blind spot?

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By on March 24, 2016

2017 Nissan GT-R Top Down Front 3/4, Image: Nissan USA

Well, I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so, didn’t I? Eight years ago, when the R35 GT-R arrived on our shores, it was widely claimed and believed that Nissan would sell 5,000 GT-Rs a year in this country and that the GT-R would cast an effective halo on the company’s relatively unexceptional product line. As to the first prediction: they didn’t close. You would need to combine four of the GT-R’s best-selling years to break the five-thou mark.

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By on March 21, 2016

Lotus Elise At Hertz

It’s the triumphant return of Ask Jack, the question-and-answer series that has proven to be significantly less popular than Ask Bark. Today’s question comes from several commenters on the Malibu LTZ Review, and it can be summed up like this:

If you’re only driving 500 miles or so during the weekend, why would you rent a car instead of taking your Accord/911/Boxster/Neon/Tahoe/Fiesta/motorcycles/bicycles/Uber/Southwest/Car2G?

I’m glad you asked. Really, I am. ‘Cause otherwise, today’s column would have been a long snd slightly sorrowful re-telling of a time I accidentally let my S5 roll downhill into a concrete parking block because I had both of my hands between some young mother’s legs in the passenger seat and my foot slipped off the brake when I leaned all the way over towards her.

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By on March 18, 2016

It can take you a long time to start truly missing someone. Three years ago, I was dating a lovely federal attorney who had ordered herself a six-speed Wrangler Unlimited Sahara as a sort of step-stool to get her to the more adventurous life she thought we’d end up living together. In March of 2013, […]

By on March 17, 2016

Jack Baruth, Miami Valley Region, 2006 VW Phaeton

The way my life has been going lately, I’m seriously considering selecting a random TTAC reader to be the executor of my modest estate and then taking a shot at BASE-jumping off the Petronas Towers. If that reader happens to be you, then I need you to do at least this one thing. Have Wal-Mart or whomever the lowest bidder happens to be engrave the following on my headstone: “He saw passive aggression and, wherever possible, met it with actual aggression.”

I’m old enough to remember when women were passive-aggressive and men were just plain mean, instead of the other way ’round. I liked it better. The other night I was at dinner and my date asked for coffee and the swishy waiter pouted, “We can do it, if you want to wait fifteen minutes.” I’d rather he said, “Go to hell. We don’t serve coffee here.” I could respect that.

Even in 2016, however, it’s rare for an entire company to be passive-aggressive. But that’s exactly what Volkswagen is doing: threatening to abandon the mass market in the United States, presumably because its current exposure to lawsuits and government penalties is too high and its showroom traffic isn’t exactly at Beetles-in-the-Summer-Of-Love levels. I don’t know what it thinks such a move would accomplish, but I do know what the proper response is to a girlfriend, or colleague, who tries that approach: You hold the door open for them and let it hit them in the ass on the way out.

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By on March 14, 2016

“Would you like a Ford Fusion or a Chevrolet Malibu?” “Is it the new Malibu?” “Absolutely. I’ll pull it around.” “This isn’t the new Malibu.” “It’s a 2016.” “There’s a newer Malibu than this. Let’s take a look. Well, at least it’s an LTZ. And I just need it for a quick trip to Pittsburgh […]

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