Category: Bark’s Bites

By on May 12, 2015

TRD Camry XSE Pace Car

Over its long and illustrious sales career, the Toyota Camry has been described in many ways by so-called automotive enthusiasts. Most of them, to be honest, haven’t been particularly flattering. Words like “appliance” tend to find themselves in close proximity to the Camry whenever it’s been discussed elsewhere.

But this is The Truth About Cars, dammit!, and we have never been ones to drink the proverbial Kool-Aid on any car. Our own Jack Baruth has proven time and time again that the Camry, particularly in SE trim, is a capable and dynamic car at the track. I have personally piloted a Camry SE around Nelson Ledges. While it wasn’t quite keeping the pace of my Boss 302, it was no slouch, either.

That’s all fine and good. But what about putting it in a real race, with a real professional driver? How would it do under those circumstances?

Well, the fine folks at Toyota Production Engineering got as close to that as they possibly could by running a four-cylinder Camry SE in the One Lap of America last week. That’s right. They really ran a bone-stock, off-the-lot Camry in a time trial. The story of how they got there is just as interesting as the decision to drive the Camry itself.

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By on May 4, 2015

083

How many days until I get to race again?

I asked myself that question over and over again this winter. After my first experience running with the fledgling American Endurance Racing organization last fall, I spent many long, snowy winter weeks in Kentucky, counting the days until this season’s debut race at New Jersey Motorsports Park’s Lightning Raceway.

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By on April 2, 2015

camry xse

In today’s installment, we’ll examine the lineups of the big Japanese three: Nissan, Honda, and Toyota, as well as their luxury variants. I should have said this in the first installment, but never let it be said that I am above admitting mistakes, so let me say it now: I never had plans to comment on every single model from every single manufacturer—just the ones that stand out to me in some way, or ones that I have about which I might have a contrary opinion. If I don’t mention a model, it’s likely because I haven’t driven it, or I don’t have an opinion about it that is in any way meaningful or insightful.

Since we’ve already established the format in the first and second installments of this series, let’s just jump right into it, shall we?

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By on March 18, 2015

049

Those of you who regularly read Bark’s Bites (Hi, Mom!) may remember my tale of acquiring a friend’s 1996 Subaru Legacy Wagon. I posted that article on August 29th, 2014.

On March 9th, 2015, the SuBaruth, as it came to be known, died.

Here is her story.

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By on March 10, 2015

vanity plate

“ICE KOLD”

One of the baddest men I ever knew, if not THE baddest, ran that license plate on an array of European luxury sleds in the early 2000s. He was a real-life manifestation of Marcellus Wallace, a larger-than-life being whose business was dependent upon the recovery of the same type of thugs he used to take off the streets of Cleveland as a less-than-squeaky-clean cop. His three-car garage was an ever-rotating gallery of high-powered rides that rarely exceeded the speed limit—because speeding wouldn’t have been ICE KOLD.  Better to be smooth and slow-moving but with an omnipresent, rumbling threat of power, much like the man who was behind the wheel.

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By on March 2, 2015

Car Key and Dollars isolated on white.

One of the best worst things about the Internet is how many “experts” there are on every single subject under the sun. Among the easiest subjects for anybody to obtain indisputable guru-like status on, based on what I see around the web, is finance.

And, boy, do they love to share their expertise, solicited or not.

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By on February 24, 2015
YouTube Preview Image

The above video is mildly NSFW

“Hey, I want to replace my BMW 3 Series because it’s no good in the snow. I want something just like it but I want it to be cheaper, because I’m tired of making such a big payment. I want it to be sporty but I also want it to be practical. I’m open to used but I’d prefer new. Thoughts?”

I received the text message above about a week or so ago from a friend of mine, but I’ve gotten essentially the same text over and over again for the last several years.

The question comes in many forms, from many different people, but it can essentially be interpreted as follows:

“Can you use your years of knowledge, experience, and expertise to give me an answer to a wildly uneducated, unrealistic, and ill-informed question that I will then entirely ignore and do what I wanted to do in the first place?”

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By on February 16, 2015

057

When we last saw our hero, he was debating between keeping his Boss 302 or selling it and downsizing to a little pocket-rocket Fiesta ST for a year or so until the Shelby GT350 hits the showrooms. Wait, let’s leave that writing-in-third-person nonsense to NFL wide receivers and people with delusions of grandeur. Reset.

I spent much of last week crunching numbers and trying to figure out what I wanted to do. Like our fearless leader (Obama, not Derek)—to those of you who voted in the comments section, I heard you. For those of you didn’t vote, I heard you, too. I read all of the reasoned opinions. I calculated. I planned. I schemed.

And then I said, Eff it. Let’s do both.

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By on February 11, 2015

fiestast
I may have lost my damned mind, but here it goes:

I think I want to trade my Boss 302 for a Fiesta ST.

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By on February 4, 2015

kinkade

Imagine that you were a buyer of fine art. Not THAT kind of fine art, mind you—I’m not talking Seurat or O’Keefe here. Just some private collection pieces for your home, maybe in the range of $1K-$10K. Something a little unique and different, maybe not something the masses would enjoy. It might take a little bit of art education to truly appreciate it, but you are capable of appreciating it more than most.

Now, imagine that the only place you could buy them was in a Thomas Kinkade “Painter of Light” store, right next to prints of barns and horses and lighthouses. Now, imagine that the sales reps at that store don’t really want to sell you the higher end paintings, because buyers of that sort of thing are notoriously difficult to deal with, and they don’t really make any money on them, because the artists demand most of the profit. They’d rather just make their commission selling to the ignorant masses who want a touching portrait of Aladdin and Jasmine flying over Agrabah.

That’s what it’s like to be a guy who wants to buy something other than a CamCordima at any non-exotic franchise dealership in America—or maybe more importantly, what it’s like to be a guy trying to sell one.

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Staff

  • Contributing Writers

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