By on November 17, 2016

jackandbark

Recently, our austere Managing Editor, Mark Stevenson, asked what TTAC means to you. This is an important question, for many reasons, the most important of which may be this: every automotive blog/website has an audience, but TTAC may be the only site where the audience has such an active role in “steering the ship,” as it were.

I’ve been here for nearly five of these fifteen years as a contributor, with over 200 posts to my (dis)credit, and for considerably longer as a reader. And while you can find my writing elsewhere on occasion, TTAC is, without question, my home. I was quite pleased to see that many of you said that “Bark” was one of the things you wanted more of (well, not all of you), so I’ll do my best to live up to your high expectations.

Henry Ford once said that if he had asked people what they wanted, they would have wanted a faster horse. Well, we’re beating the holy hell out of this horse, trying to get it to giddyup. Here’s what I’ve learned about TTAC, myself, and the B&B in the process.

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By on November 10, 2016

Trump and Clinton, Image: Image: By Donald Trump August 19, 2015 (cropped).jpg: BU Rob13Hillary Clinton by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg: Gage [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Oh, come on. Don’t be mad. You knew I was gonna bait you a little bit this week with political stuff, right?

As I was reading the dozens and dozens of posts from my friends and frienemies on the Bookface yesterday, I couldn’t help notice all the discussion about the “popular vote” vs. the “electoral vote.” Depending on which side of the aisle you sit, I’m sure you have opinions about which one is more relevant. However, automakers play the popular vs. electoral game all the time, every day of the year.

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By on November 4, 2016

Ford Fiesta ST and Ford Focus RS in Bark's driveway, Image: © 2016 Bark M./The Truth About Cars

Yep, that’s my driveway. Based on my non-scientific observations and complete lack of research, I’m going to say I’m the only person in the world to have both a Ford Fiesta ST and a Ford Focus RS. Well, okay. I’m a person in the world who has a Fiesta ST and a Focus RS, which makes me uniquely qualified to compare the two.

“Hold up,” you might be saying. “Who compares a car that stickers for just over $23,000 with a car that runs $43,000 plus additional dealer markup?” (And yes, I know that you can get FiSTs for under $20,000 now. We’ll get to that.)

Well, it’s not as crazy of a comparo as you might think.

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By on October 27, 2016

car behind fence (Kevin Cortopassi/Flickr)

Almost three years ago, I wrote a little piece of fiction for this site (back when we used to do that sort of thing) called “The Controller.” The premise was that, one day, the government would decide what was best for all of us by taking away our right to own and operate cars. A little “Red Barchetta,” a little Richard Fosterand a little Affordable Care Act, all wrapped up in one. To this day, it ranks among my favorite pieces that I’ve written.

However, the change in the socio-political climate in those three years has led me to believe that the government won’t have to resort to totalitarian tactics to take our cars. No, the majority of people will hand over the keys willingly and easily, and they’ll do it thanks to one of the most brilliant political tactics ever developed.

They’ll be shamed into doing it.

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By on October 17, 2016

Lincoln Driven at Speed of Depreciation

As our own Matthew Guy has marvelously demonstrated recently, it’s widely known a new-car purchase’s best value can often be found in the base-level trim. Rarely is a vehicle improved in proportion to the cost of additional options. Nor is the money spent on additional options or higher trim levels recovered in resale as secondhand customers are reluctant to pay more money for bells and whistles because, quite often, they’re obsolete by the time the car sells the second time around.

If we take these truths to an obvious conclusion, it can be said that the higher the trim level, the worse the resale value — and in my years of experience working for Autotrader, I can tell you that’s true. Many of the low-end pricing tools used by dealers to determine used car values often don’t even take trim into account.

Is it any wonder then that General Motors’ and Ford’s top trim levels have wretched resale values?

No, I’m not talking about “LTZ” or “Titanium.” I’m talking about Cadillac and Lincoln.

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By on October 13, 2016

ford focus rs

I have a confession to make. I’ve never modified any car that I’ve owned. Not a cold air intake. Not an exhaust. Not a single bolt-on. Nothing.

I guess you could make a case that I modified my Mazda RX-8, but all I did was buy Koni Sport shocks (which are considered OEM replacement) and O.Z. Ultraleggera wheels (man, I miss those) to make it a better autocrosser. And I did buy the Trackey software for my Boss 302. But I’ve never done a single thing to a car that would cause a warranty to be violated. And as a “car guy,” I’ve always been completely okay with that.

That is, I was, until I saw an Instagram picture yesterday.

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By on October 7, 2016

2016 Ford Focus RS Long-Term Test, Image: © 2016 Bark M./The Truth About Cars

Surprise! It’s a Ford hatchback!

As many of you correctly guessed yesterday, the new long-term tester (and this one’s gonna be loooooooong) is a 2016 Focus RS in Nitrous Blue. And, man, is this thing glorious.

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By on October 6, 2016

dealership2

I bought a car yesterday (as seen below). I’ll do the full reveal and write-up for you tomorrow. For now, let’s talk about all the things I considered buying but didn’t, and how it might help you make your own buying decision in the future.

And yes, I bought it. I didn’t lease. We’ll discuss that tomorrow, too.

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By on September 29, 2016

Miami Traffic Map, Image: © 2016 Bark M./The Truth About Cars

Dear Florida,

We need to talk. You’re a good state. Really, you are. I love your beaches. There’s the delightful lilt of latin accents everywhere. Daytona is the place where motorsports royalty is crowned in America. Sebring is the place of legends. And who doesn’t love Disney World?

But we need to talk about your car situation. It’s just flat-out embarrassing. All of your friends are talking about it. I think it’s time we had a an open, honest conversation, and maybe we can solve this problem together.

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By on September 22, 2016

2014 Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Image: i-MiEV

Right up there with I wish they’d make a manual diesel wagon in brown, it’s among the most played-out tropes on the Internet.

There just aren’t any bad cars anymore.

This is generally followed by some recollection of a Saturn of the early ’90s that had a faulty engine, or perhaps some Brezhnev-era Soviet masterpiece. Blah blah blah nostalgia blah blah A Christmas Story blah blah. Enough.

There are plenty of bad cars out there, but the majority of people haven’t driven enough of them to know it. Fortunately (or unfortunately), I have. And I’m here to break the bad news to you: some cars suck. Maybe even the one in your very driveway.

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