By on January 5, 2014

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Our Editor in Chief pro tempore, Jack Baruth, was injured an automobile collision near Columbus Saturday. His injuries were serious but he is expected to make a full recovery. Last night, Jack posted the following to his Facebook page:

This is Rumor Control. Involved in 40mph offset today on rural road. Wasn’t speeding, the other car wasn’t speeding, we just hit some ice. My son’s fine. My partner is in the proverbial dire straits. I had spleen surgery and I’ve broken the stuff I broke in 1988 — minus the neck. 

 

In the meantime, all of his colleagues are keeping him in our thoughts and prayers, wishing for him to have a recovery as speedy as he is on the track.

Once again, Jack, all of us wish you a return to full health as soon as possible.

By on July 22, 2013

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It’s no secret that over here at TTAC, we like to pay for it – at least when it comes to test cars. Sure, we do go to the press fleet frequently, but when time and budget allow, abusing our Hertz #1 Club Gold membership is a great way to get behind the wheel of select automobiles.

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By on July 5, 2013

Picture courtesy Jerusha Pfannenschmidt

Seven hundred and twenty bucks. Not much money by today’s standards. Won’t buy you an American-made Fender Strat or a Hickey-Freeman suit. Won’t quite buy you a 32GB iPad with a cellular connection. Maybe ten days’ worth of rent in one of those new Manhattan micro-units. In the America of 2013, $720 is chump change.

But if you’re in the market for a new family sedan, and you can come up with $720, you’ll be glad you did. Because that’s the difference in the price between the Camry SE, which is one of my favorite cars at the moment, and the Camry LE, which isn’t, not quite.

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By on July 1, 2013
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Jack Baruth is no stranger to driving fast on public roads, and he’s not afraid to go public with his exploits. Over at Road & Track, our man JB reflects on some of his own mis-adventures while pondering the death of Giorgi Tvezadze, the Georgian fellow who became YouTube famous for his own dangerous driving stunts behind the wheel of a BMW E34 M5. As far as I’m concerned, a guy like this is better off dead. But Jack has a much more eloquent take on things, while managing to weave in references to Hume and DeNiro.

By on June 4, 2013

Picture courtesy the author.

Devoted readers of my personal site, if any such individuals actually exist, know that I’m currently in Malaysia for the purpose of compromising the international dignity of the United States by acting like a member of the “Duck Dynasty” in a time-trial series. The past week’s been fairly intense, to put it mildly. (And if I put it anything other than mildly, I couldn’t discuss it in a family-oriented publication like TTAC.) Today, however, I was visiting a few shops in Shah Alam, Selangor, to discuss a seat in the Sepang 1000KM Endurance Race and things got weird.

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By on April 16, 2013

I sing the coupe eccentric;
The doors of those I love engirth me, and I endure them;
They will not let me park till I deal with them, wrestle with them;
And do not ding them, and close them with solid sound unknown by Kia Soul.

It wasn’t that long ago that I recorded my generally favorable opinion of the outgoing Nissan Altima during an impromptu trip to Nashville and parts south. That car was obsolete even as I was reviewing it, supplanted by a zoomy and flame-surfacey new sedan. As of yet, however, the corresponding new Altima coupe has only appeared in renderings and rumors. Therefore Nissan has returned the old two-door for a very limited 2013-model-year engagement. It’s available in one trim level (S), with one drivetrain (2.5 four-cylinder/CVT) and at a relatively steep price ($25,230).

As a child of the Seventies, I have a not inconsiderable attachment to the idee fixe of the mid-sized coupe. The Altima Coupe is the natural successor to the Cutlass Supremes and Monte Carlos that prowled the neighborhoods of my youth. For some time I’ve been trying, unsuccessfully, to rent a new one; that quest came to a successful conclusion when I stepped off the plane in Houston Friday night and found a 2013 Altima Coupe with just 1,400 miles in my assigned stall.

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By on April 12, 2013

In the weeks to come, you will be treated to a set of racing tales to make the most ardent consumer of Schadenfreude blush. (Read More…)

By on April 4, 2013

Your humble author’s affection for the Pentastar-powered Chrysler minivans is relatively well-known within these electronic pages. In the interest of examining the so-called “alternatives”, however, I’ve been attempting to rent non-Chrysler minivans during my travels. A 36-hour unscheduled trip to San Francisco gave me a chance to do just that, deliberately walking past the six Corvette droptops in the Hertz #1 Gold Choice spaces and picking up a Toyota Sienna. The things I do for you, dear readers! My appointment was a couple of hours inland, in Lodi, CA; the thought that I was pedaling a minivan away from the ocean when I could be driving a topless ‘Vette along it had me sobbing lightly behind my Prodesigns.

I was eventually able to screw my courage to the sticking-place, as it were, and get on with business. What follows is a 388-mile review of the Toyota Sienna LE, but there’s one little catch: if you want one just like my test vehicle, you’re out of luck.

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By on April 3, 2013

Why, why, why the hell is the new BMW 328d called the 328d? It’s a 3-Series, so that part’s legitimate, even if today’s 3er dwarfs the old Bavaria. It’s also a diesel, so the “d” seems appropriate, even if the absence of a “t” rankles a bit among those of us who remember the 524td. Not that “t” always meant “turbo” in BMW-land; sometimes it meant “touring” like fast, sometimes it meant “touring” like station wagon.

The problem is this: the “28″ in 328d suggests a 2.8-liter engine. Just like the 528e had. Well, actually, that was a 2.7-liter engine. The same engine appeared in the 325e, where it was also 2.7 liters. Still, those are relatively white decklid lies compared to the effrontery of putting a two-liter engine in a car and badging it as a 2.8, right? There has to be a rhyme and reason here somewhere, surely. And it there isn’t, then surely there’s a way to put some sense and sensibility back into the German-car game, right?

Good news: I, your humble author, have a solution.

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By on April 1, 2013

“YOUR CAR!!!! I LOVE YOUR CAR!!!!” She was a Slavic-faced woman in her mid-twenties, not bad for New York and positively model-grade by Midwestern standards, and she was literally hopping up and down on the streetcorner.

“It’s not a car,” I said, wedged into the Morgan’s extremely tight drivers’ compartment, feeling self-conscious in a half-face helmet that I wasn’t strictly sure was necessary or even required by law. “It’s a trike.”

“I WANT A RIDE!” she yelled. A crowd was starting to gather. The stoplight seemed to be taking an unusually long time to change.

“There isn’t room.” Wedged next to me, the Morgan’s owner, professional bon vivant and recreational speeder Alex Roy, was making a “no room” motion with his hands in her direction as he explained the situation.

“Oh,” I smirked, “I think there’s room.” But then the green light flashed and with an incongruous but very forceful Harley-blat we departed the intersection, leaving Miss Hopping Estonia 2007 in our blue-smoking wake.

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By on March 21, 2013

A vow of celibacy? Threatening to cut someone’s throat at a race track? Flowing locks? No, silly. They both love the Volkswagen Phaeton.

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By on February 26, 2013

I haven’t seen it yet — my only current magazine subscriptions are The Economist, Vintage Guitar, and Juggs — but I am reliably told that your humble author has two, count ‘em, two articles in the newest issue of that well-beloved and august publication, Road&Track. TTAC readers are already comparing me to the Emperor Napoleon as I triumphantly return to color magazines the way Napoleon returned from Elba.

Yes, I said return.

(Read More…)

By on January 7, 2013

When Joni Mitchell finally agreed to release a Hits album, she did so with the stipulation that the label also release a Misses album full of music that she was happy to have made even if the critics and buyers didn’t dig it.

So. What follows is five bona-fide, hit-counter-spinning hits, and five how-dare-you-turn-your-nose-up-at-my-talent misses. Let the second-guessing begin!

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By on August 15, 2012

A few years ago, we drove the Switzer P800, a Nissan GT-R that put slightly over seven hundred horsepower to the wheels. Switzer has since gone on to sell dozens of P800 kits; in fact, your humble author worked with Switzer for the summer of 2010 in an advisory capacity to help sell even more of them. If you’re going to drive a GT-R, you might as well drive a really fast one, right?

Switzer’s customers weren’t satisfied with 800 horses at the crank, though; they wanted a thousand at the crank. And once that was done, they wanted a thousand. At the wheels. Getting to that level wasn’t easy.

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By on August 7, 2012
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In our second installment, we take the Scion FR-S to the track, along with the heavier, but more powerful Hyundai Genesis 2.0T and its spiritual antecedent, the Mazda MX-5. Oh, and there are special guests from Japan and America.

 

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