Have you noticed that lately we’ve added a little box at the end of most stories asking you to sign up for the “TTAC E-Newsletter”? Sure you have. You’re observant like that. But why would you possibly want to do such a thing?
“And all the troubled world around us
Seems an eternity away
And all the debt collectors
All will be behind us
But they’ll never find us
‘Cos we’ll be dri-i-i-i-ivin’”
-The Kinks “Drivin’”
The last time I made an announcement about my status here at TTAC, I made it clear in the headline that I was bidding the site “au revoir” rather than “adieu.” Having taken an opportunity to work in politics for a year, I was absolutely planning on returning to the fold. Unfortunately, that plan has now changed, and I have informed TTAC’s owners that today will be my last day on the site’s masthead.
From our family to yours, TTAC wishes all its readers the best of holiday wishes. We’ll be enjoying the company of our loved ones for the next few chilly winter nights, but we’ll return to regular service on Tuesday. And who knows, maybe Santa will leave something for your reading enjoyment over the weekend…
This time tomorrow I will be on an airplane, and for the first time in quite a while I will not be on my to some auto-related destination on behalf of TTAC. That’s right, I’m actually taking a vacation, which I will spend introducing my lovely life partner to the European continent and visiting family in my ancestral homeland of Austria. Of course, TTAC has become such a big part of my life that even my vacation will have a work-related angle: I’ll be spending each week with a different not-available-in-America car that I think should be of some considerable interest to you, our readers. But this is also just the first of two breaks that I’ll be taking from TTAC: in January, I’ll be stepping down as TTAC’s Editor-in-Chief for the calendar year 2012, to pursue a one-year opportunity outside of the field of automotive journalism. Even as I write those words, I can scarcely believe them… I’ve lived and breathed TTAC for so long now, it’s almost impossible to imagine life without it. But do not fear: not only do I leave TTAC in incredibly capable hands, I’m also not gone for good. You won’t be rid of me that easily.
Having read most of the latest raft of auto industry books, with titles like “Car Crash,” “Overhaul,” and “Sixty To Zero,” I have to say, Bill Vlasic’s “Once Upon A Car” is my favorite of the bunch. Not only does it lack the parochial form and voice that define too many of theses tomes, it populates its narrative with rich dialogue and intriguing character studies. In short, it’s got all of the lessons about industry, culture, and competition that you’d expect from a modern study of the auto industry, but it presents them in such a way that they never feel like a lecture or a business school study. Instead you get a well-spun yarn, still-newsworthy anecdotes and an unvarnished look at industry dynamics on their highest level. If ever there were to be a modern movie based on the auto industry, Vlasic’s book should be its basis. Read my full review over at The Wall Street Journal.
We’ve got a lot to be thankful for here at TTAC. We’ve been having a great 2011, growing our traffic, earning awards and hosting some of the best conversations about cars to be found on the web. I am personally extremely grateful for our fantastic staff, who continue to surprise and delight with their sharp insights, brilliant writing, and tireless dedication. I’m also quite thankful for our owners at VerticalScope this Thanksgiving, for their unwavering commitment to TTAC’s independence and excellence. But most deserving of our thanks and recognition today are you, our readers. Not only do your visits and occasional ad-clicks pay the bills around here, but your comments and contributions are an irreplaceable element of TTAC’s special recipe. When I surf elsewhere, I’m continually reminded of how low discourse can fall on these tubes we call the internet, and it never ceases to fill my heart with appreciation for the (mostly) reasoned, civil, constructive conversations we’re able to have here. Communities are a fragile thing in this age of fragmenting societies, and words can not express how grateful I am that this community is as strong, vibrant, diverse, challenging, informative and resilient as it is. So, to everyone who helps make TTAC what it is, my humble, heartfelt thanks.
A day’s worth of fasting is not an easy thing to do. Not just the eating either . But cars, computers and all things electric (for the orthodox communities). For all of our Jewish readers and writers out there, we want wish all of you a well Yom Kippur and “Tsom Kal” (an easy fast) during the High Holy Days.
Remember the good old days, when TTAC and Curbside Classics could all be found in one place? Well, for one night only we’re back together, and inviting you to hang out with the Editors-in-Chief of both sites. We’re hosting a joint meet-up at Portland, OR’s Migration Brewing Company next Thursday (10/6), starting at 5:30 pm [Map here]. So come by after work, grab a pint or three, and we’ll talk about everything from the latest industry developments to the most obscure historical anecdotes in automobile-dom. Buy one beer, get two Niedermeyers free… what more could you ask for?
I’m not generally much for anniversaries. Heck, after more than six years together, my steady sweetie and I can’t remember our actual anniversary, so we had to make one up… and we (both) still forget it most years. But here on the internet, there’s a record of everything. And looking back, it seems that it was exactly two years ago today that Robert Farago called me to say that The Truth About Cars was going to be my problem from now on.
TTAC’s own Steve Lang writes:
Thanks to the TTAC faithful, we will now begin airing regular shows every Thursday at 7:00 PM EST at this Internet site. Today’s guest will be none other than Jack Baruth. What we’ll talk about… who knows? That’s where you come in. Let us know what you would like for us to cover and we’ll be happy to bring it up.
TTAC’s own Steve Lang writes:
I will be filling for a couple of good friends at a radio show this evening. The ‘Wheels Events Radio Hour’ will be broadcast live at 7:00 P.M. Eastern time at this Internet site. We will be covering upcoming events with the SCCA along with my own miscellaneous ramblings about cars and the auto auction world. Who knows? I may even try to do some bid calling if they give me something to sell.
Sadly, while Steve’s on the air I’ll be busy gawking at a ’37 Hispano-Suiza, Jag XK-SS, Bugatti Atlante and the other ridiculous rides that make up the “Allure of The Automobile” Exhibit with my old man. So why don’t you tune in for me?
Please excuse the self-congratulation, but little breakthroughs like this are a big deal for a site like TTAC. The American Journalism Review has a fantastic piece by Frank Greve on the murky and corrupted world of professional car reviewing, which is well encapsulated in the piece’s subtitle
The world of car reviewing is replete with expensive perks and fantasy vehicles. Consumer advocates need not apply.
And after running through the litany of corruptions endemic in the system, Greve concludes:
Web sites like Jalopnik and The Truth About Cars deliver more independent, aggressive and timely coverage for car enthusiasts than traditional car magazines like Motor Trend.
With all due respect to MT (which is but one of many), that sounds like the truth to me. As does Greve’s description of how press cars are allotted (by the likelihood of a positive review). And for one of his examples of the system at its worst, Greve describe an incident involving TTAC’s own Jack Baruth and the aftermath of his no-holds-barred review of the Porsche Panamera.
Read More >
Matt Farah may be the bigshot star of Speed’s The Car Show, but he got his start on the web, running a little site called The Smoking Tire. And since he’s clawed his way up from the internet’s hurly-burly, he knows how web promotion works: you check out my stuff, I’ll check out yours. As a longtime TTAC reader, he’s asking us personally to check out his new show, which airs each Wednesday at 10 pm on Speed. Don’t have cable? Check out The Car Show on Hulu.
If things seem a little slow around here today, it’s because I’m in the Detroit area, away from the productive calm of my office sanctuary. I’m in town for quite an exciting event: tomorrow, I’ll be conducting an extended interview with the industry’s most infamous executive, “Maximum” Bob Lutz. And though I can’t extend an invite to Lutz Farm to TTAC’s Best & Brightest, I can offer the next-best thing: an exclusive post-interview debrief. If you’re going to be in the Detroit area tomorrow, hit the jump for more details. If you can’t make it to Motown, but you have a burning question for Mr Lutz that didn’t make it into the relevant thread, go ahead and leave it in the comments here. Read More >