Category: Avoidable Contact

By on July 30, 2014

jcb

Tomorrow will be my last day as the Editor-In-Chief pro tem of The Truth About Cars. This was always meant to be a temporary situation, despite what some of the B&B thought. Given some of the differences in opinion I have recently had with TTAC’s owners, this is a good time for us to call it quits. I will not be replaced; the site will be managed by the leadership team at VerticalScope in Toronto and Derek will continue in his capacity as Managing Editor. There will be other changes, detailed below.

I made some promises to you, the readers, and I’d like to discuss whether or not those promises have been kept. But the tl;dr crowd can best understand the situation like this: TTAC is basically Fleetwood Mac.
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By on November 27, 2013

porsche4

“When,” I asked her, “did you realize that you, were, well, you know, an actual prostitute?”

“Well,” she said, rubbing her cigarette out in the waffle-patterned wrought-iron table, shielding her eyes against the sun as it set in the distance, “I’d been dancing for a while, and there was kind of a grey area there, you’d date a guy and he’d toss you some money to stay home from the club some nights, and then I started being less picky about the guys I’d let cash me out, if a guy was decent-looking he didn’t have to necessarily be my boyfriend. And then I had a friend who did a few parties from time to time, bachelor parties and stuff, and I went with her, and it was good money. And you get used to the idea that you can make five hundred or a thousand bucks really easy. So I stopped dancing because that was getting in the way of my ability to do parties.”

“And…”

And, I started taking calls to hotels in Beverly Hills. And one night I was on my way back from one of those and a guy in a nice car pulled up and offered me three hundred bucks for a quick date. It was bonus money, so I took it. Well, I went back to that street on a night when I wasn’t going to a hotel.” She frowns and looks down at the table for a moment before continuing. “So I’m out on the street, and I’m talking to a guy, and all of a sudden there’s a cop car there and they’re cuffing me, and I’m asking what’s going on, and they say I was soliciting, and I asked what they meant, and they said streetwalking, and I’m all, like, you have me confused with somebody else, I’m not a whore, I’m not a hooker, you know?”

Her hands flutter and she takes a sip of her soda, then she looks me square in the eye, level, expressionless. “Except, it turns out that I was.”
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By on November 15, 2013

angrybirds

Saturday morning, I’m at Ki’s with the fellow who hired me at my day job a couple of years ago. He’s in his early fifties, considerably taller and wider than I am, cheerful in his aggressive tan and studiously thrown-together beach-bum ensemble, yet menacing enough that when he veers in the direction of a particular table on the sunporch the other two groups of people who are also heading for the table magically decide to just stand and wait for the next one instead. We don’t work together any more; he hired me to turn an idea of his into aluminum-and-silicon reality then he departed for the next idea. The future is as real to him as the present; perhaps more so. He earns between three and four hundred dollars an hour as a consultant, imagining what technology might be able to do for medicine in the future.

“You do this car thing,” he barks. “Something I’ve wondered. Bought that Rubicon outside. They wanted two thousand dollars for navigation. Now that’s a (bleep)ing waste of money. Utterly insane. Why not offer full Bluetooth integration into what my phone already does, extend the screen and the touch facility to a dash display. Cost two hundred bucks if you talk to —” And he rattles off the names of a couple of Taiwanese OEMs who could, no doubt, handle it. “Why isn’t that happening?”

“Yeah,” I agree, “that’s crazy alright.”

“I,” he growls in response, leaning back in his chair and fixing me with his eye, “was asking you a question, actually.”
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By on October 9, 2013

528i

Yes, that’s right: it’s now easily possible to blow seventy thousand dollars or more on a two-liter, four-cylinder BMW sedan. The image you see above is not an attempt to make the most expensive 528i possible; it’s simply a car with most of the options. The ones you’d want, like the best sound system and the heated/cooled seats.

Of course, most of the cheapo Funfers you’ll see on the street won’t be loaded like this; they’ll be $53,000 Premium-Packaged specials designed to lease for $600 a month including tax. In other words, they’re base Delta 88s, and the one above is a Delta 88 Royale Brougham. BMW has become Oldsmobile circa 1973, the same way Mercedes-Benz has become Cadillac circa 1973. Were you alive for the Seventies? Did you enjoy the era? I hope you did, because it’s returning. Brougham is back, baby. With a vengeance.
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By on April 3, 2013

Why, why, why the hell is the new BMW 328d called the 328d? It’s a 3-Series, so that part’s legitimate, even if today’s 3er dwarfs the old Bavaria. It’s also a diesel, so the “d” seems appropriate, even if the absence of a “t” rankles a bit among those of us who remember the 524td. Not that “t” always meant “turbo” in BMW-land; sometimes it meant “touring” like fast, sometimes it meant “touring” like station wagon.

The problem is this: the “28” in 328d suggests a 2.8-liter engine. Just like the 528e had. Well, actually, that was a 2.7-liter engine. The same engine appeared in the 325e, where it was also 2.7 liters. Still, those are relatively white decklid lies compared to the effrontery of putting a two-liter engine in a car and badging it as a 2.8, right? There has to be a rhyme and reason here somewhere, surely. And it there isn’t, then surely there’s a way to put some sense and sensibility back into the German-car game, right?

Good news: I, your humble author, have a solution.

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By on March 29, 2013

Earlier this week, I wrote about the General Motors XP-75 Eagle and the idea that GM might have engaged in a relatively small bit of realpolitik during said plane’s conception and gestation. I’ve been writing for TTAC long enough to have a fairly accurate sense of how the B&B as a whole will regard whatever I write, but in the case of this article my guesses about what I’d find in the comments section were completely and thoroughly mistaken. I’d like to address them as part of larger concerns I have about the future of writing and criticism on the Internet, and I will do so in what you’re about to read.

But first, let’s talk about the way the Japanese treated prisoners during World War II, shall we?

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By on March 8, 2013

 

Full disclosure: While my business-class compatriots were living it up in Geneva, I was sitting at home in Ohio, waiting anxiously for the Fed-Ex-mishap-delayed arrival of something called a “Modern Eagle NOS Brazilian” and letting my three-year-old son watch The Lost World in HD. I’d forgotten that there was a part where the T. Rex bites a hapless civilian in half. “There’s meat inside people, if you’re a hungry dinosaur and you can’t find a ‘ceratops to eat,” the boy opined upon seeing the scene. Oh, well. Nature, red in tooth and claw, and all that.

It’s reasonable, therefore, that I might be personally bitter about the latest auto show and my failure to snag a seat on a charter flight to same. No surprise there. What is surprising is this: the people who went weren’t excited about the product either. Sure, they took Facebook pictures of their triple-seven sleeping pods and eighty-euro mystery dinners, but when it came to the actual rolling stock, the lack of enthusiasm among the professional enthusiasts could be viewed from space. Assuming, of course, you have an Internet connection in space and are willing to use it to read auto blogs. The closest thing to a universally acclaimed car at the show was a diesel version of a sporty hatchback. That’s like getting worked up over Diet Dr. Pepper.

The responsibility for this dismal state of affairs can be clearly laid at the feet of three companies. Porsche, Ferrari, and Lamborghini were given a chance to render automotive equivalents of Miss Alex Morgan in steel, aluminum, and carbon fiber. Instead, they chose to give us Honey Boo-Boo’s mother, Snooki, and Janet Reno in a Predator mask, respectively.

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By on January 29, 2013

According to the nice entertainers at Top Gear the “Sub-Zero Fridge Coolest Car” at the moment is an Aston DB9. That makes perfect sense because the display on my Sub-Zero at home keeps going out and I anticipate the same fate is likely to strike every display screen on the DB9 much more quickly than the nine years it took my Sub-Z to start showing the freezer temperature as “88” all the time. When the speedometer on the DB9 gets to 88, you’re going to see some serious shit, man. Like a $3000 repair bill.

I’m willing to accept TG‘s verdict on car coolness because I have no idea what makes a car truly “cool”. I do, however, have some opinions about what the most uncool car on the market might be. I’m thinking the Toyota Venza is certainly among the podium finishers there and possibly worthy of the top (bottom?) spot. Why is it uncool? Well, it’s a Toyota, and Toyotas are the vehicles of choice for uncool people around the world. Along with the Avalon, it’s one of the Toyotas most obviously aimed at old people, and old people are rarely cool unless they are murderers turned blues musicians. It’s a jacked-up fake-SUV station wagon that replaced the very cool Camry real station wagon. It’s the most forgettable-looking vehicle on the road, which makes it less cool than the rolling freakshow competitor known as the Honda Crosstour. It has a standard four-cylinder engine and front-wheel-drive. I can’t think of any way in which the Venza could suck it harder than it does right now. It’s the most cynical, depressing, worthless entry on the market.

Uncool, brother. But the DB9 and the Venza, eternal opposites on the cool scale, have one fairly uncool thing in common, don’t they?

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By on January 21, 2013

I want to tell you this, although I know many of you will not believe. I want you to close your eyes and give me the gift of your trust for a few minutes, to travel through memory and dream and ambition with me. I want you to experience the “theater dim” of the interior lights. To open the throttle on the Bose-by-Nissan stereo. To feel the perfect response from the small sedan’s leather-wrapped steering wheel, to catch a slide as the four-wheel-steering kicks in at the most bizarre time during an irresponsible freeway maneuver. To pose Yakuza-style in the baddest sedan on the block, B-pillars swimming barely seen beneath the glass. To feel the 276-horsepower, quad-cam V-8 punch you back into the impeccably tasteful interior.

Then, and only then, if you can dream with me, if you can believe what I believe, then you might be able to look through the stupid Q-names and the dumb-assed rocks-and-trees marketing and the aftermarket Skyline badges and the unfocused-looking Pathfinder rebadge and the Jersey shore types crowding each owner’s meet and just hold this idea in your head:

Infiniti didn’t always suck.

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By on January 7, 2013

When Joni Mitchell finally agreed to release a Hits album, she did so with the stipulation that the label also release a Misses album full of music that she was happy to have made even if the critics and buyers didn’t dig it.

So. What follows is five bona-fide, hit-counter-spinning hits, and five how-dare-you-turn-your-nose-up-at-my-talent misses. Let the second-guessing begin!

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