Category: Bark’s Bites

By on April 26, 2016

2016 Mazda6 at LA Auto Show

Andre writes:

Bark,

I’ve lurked on TTAC for around eight months and just registered to ask for a recommendation. (Thanks! —Bark)

My daily driver is a 2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDI, and it’s likely I’ll be taking the buyback option on the vehicle based on the agreement-in-principle between VW and the government on the “defeat device.” It’s been a great car (stone reliable, a miracle according to the B&B), but any fix is likely to cut both performance and fuel mileage.

The question is, what to replace it with?

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By on April 22, 2016

Bark Mid-Ohio AER

“You know, if it’s not fun anymore, you could just quit.”

I stared at my father as he spoke these words, confused beyond belief. He had just picked me up from a brutal three-a-day football practice in the heat of the Ohio summer. As I sat there in the passenger seat of his piano black Infiniti J30, baking in the leather interior, I couldn’t begin to comprehend why he would tell me it was okay to quit.

Sure, I’d been complaining I was in danger of being passed over for a starting wide receiver spot, for which I’d been fighting for nearly three years. And yes, the practices were hard. We didn’t know much about things like “hydration” or “concussions” in the mid-’90s. We got water breaks about once an hour. If you got your bell rung, you just sat out a play and jumped back in. Sitting out too long meant that somebody else got your reps. But I never, ever considered quitting the team. Those guys were my teammates. My brothers. I could never quit on them. Quitting was for losers.

So as I stared at him, I decided right then and there that I wasn’t a quitter. Not only that, I decided that I would never become one. And that, my friends, is why I’m racing at Watkins Glen this weekend.

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By on April 19, 2016

2000 Subaru Impreza RS

Jerrid writes:

I’m getting ready to move to the Kansas City to attend a professional school for a year.  I’ve currently divested myself of all cars with the exception of my now daily driven toy which is a modified C6 Z06.  This will be fine until about, oh say, November or December when the snow starts coming down and the roads get salted.  So I’ve devised two potential schemes to address this.

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By on April 14, 2016

Bark M. wearing fancy Blue Oval threads, Image: © Bark Jr./The Truth About Cars

Since we’ve been doing these Ask Bark columns at the beginning of the year, I’ve received well over a hundred questions from you, our loyal readers. While I truly want to answer all of them, some of them don’t need a 1,000 word response, so they’ve been languishing in my inbox because I can’t turn them into a full column on their own.

So, today we’ll be doing some quick hits and answering several questions in one column. In other words, here’s your chance to call me an idiot multiple times, which I know that some of you are already quite giddy about.

Let’s get to it.

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By on April 11, 2016

Screen capture of video from Will Smith road rage shooting

It’s an all-too-familiar tale in the Crescent City of New Orleans, a city that has held the dubious title of “Most Dangerous City in America” on multiple occasions. 164 murders occurred in the city limits in 2015, the fourth highest murder rate per capita of any American city and the 32nd most of any city in the world, so it’s not unusual to hear of a shooting that occurred inside the Lower Garden District on Saturday night.

It’s a bit more unusual to hear that it might have been motivated by road rage, although we have certainly heard of that story before.

Yet, when a shooting involves one of the most beloved people in the history of the city, and when it begins to seem like there’s more to the story than just a traffic accident gone wrong, I begin to wonder how Will Smith ended up dead, slumped over the wheel of his vehicle, while his killer stood by calmly and waited to be arrested for murdering a local legend.  Read More >

By on April 8, 2016

Matthew McConaughey at Lincoln Navigator reveal in New York, Image: © 2016 Bark M./The Truth About Cars

I still remember it as though it were yesterday. My father, nearly exactly the same age that I am today, pulling up into the driveway of our suburban home in his new company car just slowly enough for everybody in the neighborhood to see.

As a cherubic five year old, I looked down from the window of the bedroom that I shared with my older brother, feeling the same sort of excitement that I normally reserved for things like the very few Christmas mornings that I had experienced thus far. Not because I was necessarily that excited, mind you, but because everybody else in the house was. The buzz was palpable. My dad was bringing home the car that signified that his new position as the president of a brokerage firm, the car that nearly everybody in the early 1980s said was their dream car.

What was the dream car in question? If you were alive in 1983, you already know. It was the Lincoln Town Car, resplendent in the color of a Carolina sky that my ever politically correct mother nicknamed “Polack Blue.” To own a Town Car in the time of Perestroika was to let everybody else know that you were somebody. That you had made it. 

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By on April 6, 2016

viperacr

Jeremy writes:

I’m making about $60,000/year after taxes as a recent college grad and I’m still living with my parents. My expenses excluding student loans are minimal, and those loans are small enough that I should have them paid off this year.

I want to buy a car with limits far beyond mine and try not to kill myself with it. I’ve settled on the Dodge Viper ACR.

This is where you come in: I need you to talk me out of it.

Read More >

By on March 31, 2016

The Mazda MX-5 RF, Image: PRNewsFoto/Mazda Motor Corporation

Kirk writes:

Bark,

Please advise a guy who just turned 50 and is rolling in a ’96 Honda Odyssey. My Ody was great, but the oil filter adapter O-ring recently failed and caused all of my oil to drain out while I was driving. It’s still running, but its days are numbered.

My wife happily handed me the keys to the Ody when we bought a new one for her in ’09. Yeah, we have two minivans. How great is that? The compromise was that she allowed me to get a motorcycle, which I have put 27,000 miles on in the last five years. I love riding my bike and dread the days I must take the minivan to work.

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By on March 29, 2016

1988 Pontiac Grand Prix Motor Trend Car of the Year Ad

Brad writes:

Hey Bark,

I’m currently driving a 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix with 220,000 miles and a transmission that is slowly showing signs of failure. Since they don’t make Pontiacs anymore, I’m not sure what to replace it with! I’ve had the car eight years and I’m happy with its power and utility. It fits my two school-age boys and has a big trunk. It even swallows mountain and road bikes with the seats down.

So with that as a baseline, I’m looking for a replacement that offers more precise and engaging driving dynamics, good reliability, good utility, and equal or better fuel economy. I live in the Northern Indiana suburbs and commute 65 miles round trip for work through a mix of country roads and two- and four-lane highways. I also have to deal with snow and the twisties don’t exist.

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By on March 28, 2016

Mazda Miata RF reveal at NYIAS, Image: © 2016 Bark M./The Truth About Cars

The auto show press conference is a strange phenomenon. More often than not, it’s an executive from a foreign land, reading what is likely his third or fourth language from an obvious teleprompter, getting ready to introduce a car that we’ve all already seen at a “preveal” party. He’s typically using words like “social media,” “lifestyle,” and “aspirational,” all to describe a car that will likely sell less than twenty thousand units — if it even makes it to market.

The speeches are full of safe, non-threatening language, and normally take place in front of screens that rotate stock photos of happy multicultural families enjoying life on sunny, non-homogeneous days. The music is more Wagner than Bach, with thunderous bass and drums booming through speaker systems that even The Darkness might look at and say, “That’s a bit excessive.” And then, finally, a wall lifts and a car appears through a screen of smoke to thunderous applause from a press corps that can’t wait to rewrite the embargo materials already in their collective inbox.

So when Masahiro Moro, President and CEO of Mazda North American Operations, calmly stood next to his gorgeous new creation last week, with little fanfare or adulation, and said these words in while standing front of a black wall, accompanied only by the silence of the room, I believe he did it purposefully. Here’s what he said:

“Other companies have become quite successful by not caring if their cars are boring or not.”

Mic drop. And you know what? Moro-san is absolutely right.

Read More >

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Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Bark M., United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic

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