By on September 16, 2015


Earlier in the day on Tuesday, as I drove my brilliant little Ford Fiesta ST on Route 15 through the rolling hills of Kentucky on my way to Kingsport, Tennessee, I was wondering what the topic of my Wednesday column would be.

Thankfully, later in the evening, Kingsport’s Finest solved that issue for me.

In the interest of full transparency, the drive from my home in Central Kentucky to Kingsport should take about four hours, according to MyFordTouch Navigation. I did it in about 3:15, including a stop for a large, unsweetened tea and an apple pie at a McDonald’s along the way. The Fiesta is just too fun for interstate driving, so rather than the I-75 route I could have chosen, I took the Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway until I reached Route 15, which took me to US 23 into Virginia and then into Tennessee for the final few miles. Obviously, I didn’t adhere to the posted speed limits for the vast majority of the drive.

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By on September 10, 2015


For those of you who haven’t been keeping track, I’m now a little over one quarter of the way through my 24-month Fiesta ST lease. It’s hard to believe that I’ve had the car this long, but it’s true. I just clicked past the six-thousand-mile mark on the odometer, and I’m just about to make payment number seven, so I’m driving it a little less than I’m permitted to by my lease. That being said, I have driven it more than double the amount of miles that I’ve put on my Boss 302 during the same timeframe.

As I was driving it to Ohio this week from my Old Kentucky Home, chewing up the hilly I-75 North route between Lexington and the Greater Cincinnati Area, a terrible thought occurred to me:

In just about seventeen months, I’m going to have to give the FiST back, and I absolutely don’t want to.  (Read More…)

By on August 12, 2015


It was another glorious Saturday afternoon in the Bluegrass, and Mrs. Bark and I were traveling “into town” (which is how you know you live in the middle of nowhere) on I-64 West when I saw them: three girls, none older than twenty, standing around a late-model Hyundai Elantra on the left shoulder.

Well, to be exact, there were two, slender young women standing around while a third, fleshier girl was seated on the concrete near the front passenger wheel, which was completely blown. She was reading the owner’s manual and desperately attempting to use the “widow maker” jack to lift the vehicle into the air. The rear bumper of the poor little Korean car was lightly clinging to the car, having been dislodged by contact with whatever had flattened the tire. Bolted to the bumper was a Land of 10,000 Lakes license plate from Minnesota.

In short, they were a long way from home, they were in trouble, and it was clear that they had absolutely no idea what the hell they were doing.

“We have to stop,” I told Mrs. Bark. (Read More…)

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


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.

(Read More…)

By on April 5, 2015


All right, it’s the big close! The one we’ve all been waiting for! Will Bark show his fanboi colors as somebody who owns not one, not two, but THREE Fords? Does GM actually do anything well? Is Chrysler on the road back to respectability? Does anybody really like articles with questions like this? Let’s go!

(Read More…)

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 31, 2015


In our first installment, we focused on Daimler, Mazda, and the Volkswagen Group. Today, we’ll focus on BMW/Mini, Subaru, and Hyundai/Kia. But first, let me address a couple of the comments about the cars the B&B said I got wrong:

  • I stand by my comments about the Golf. One commenter said the Golf was just the “GTI with less power, and less handling ability.” Well, duh. That’s like saying the Focus and Fiesta are the same cars as the FoST and the FiST, but with less power, and less handling ability. The power and the handling ability are what make the GTI special. Granted, the VW dealer network is wretched, so one can excuse the poor sales numbers of the Golf overall, but the Golf is actually outsold by the GTI. I can’t think of another example of a higher-cost, performance variant of a car outselling the base model—even the base Impreza, which I virtually never notice out in the wild, outsells the WRX and STI 2:1.
  • I don’t think the C-Class is a bad car at all—I just think it’s fighting an uphill battle against the 3-Series. That being said, I definitely need to get some seat time in the new C-Class, as Mercedes has yet to deliver a press vehicle to my front door. Any readers who have one and would like to have it reviewed, let us know and I’ll get to you.

That being said, I continue to welcome your comments and dissenting opinions. Now, let’s move on.

(Read More…)

By on March 30, 2015


Thanks to our Question of the Day series, we’ve had a myriad of discussions here lately about manufacturers who have “lost their way” and whatnot as of late. My contention is that every large-scale manufacturer on the market today does things exceptionally well—the market is too competitive for them not to. Any OEM that doesn’t have a claim to at least one niche is doomed to failure (cue the BAILOUT discussions). However, each company also has some things that they do badly—and some have things at which they are complete failures.

In preparation for this week’s New York International Auto Show, let’s take a look at what each player in the market does very well, does moderately well, and, frankly, doesn’t do well at all. This first installment will focus on the smaller volume competitors.

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By on March 10, 2015

vanity plate


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.

(Read More…)

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  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Bark M., United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Doug DeMuro, United States
  • Steven Lang, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, United States
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States