TTAC.COM: Back to the Future

ttac com back to the future

The Truth About Cars (TTAC) has consistently criticized domestic automakers for some pretty basic mistakes: lack of focus, glacial product cycles, bland design and poor customer communications. I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t admit that this website suffers from these problems. But it is my full intention to address ALL of these challenges, so that we can keep faith with our basic brand promise. So, here’s where we’ve screwed-up and here’s what we’re going to do about it. Provided, that is, you agree.

I realize that the remains a major disconnect between TTAC’s new “parked url” look (ouch!) and our previous Zen rock garden gestalt. Not to mention the functionality issues plaguing the comment’s box and other areas. When I asked for your feedback on the new site design, you bloody well gave it. I immediately saw the error of my ways and promised to sort it all out.

After securing new funding, I’ve purchased (active now) and re-hired the people who designed the original website. Starting next week, Redwing Studio will begin returning TTAC to its minimalist look and feel, and restoring lost functionality.

We’re not talking about a retro mod. We’re moving forward, in a new direction. And it’s important that you understand where we’re headed.

Since its inception, TTAC has provided readers with 800-word reviews and editorials. The mix has attracted a passionate, literate and engaged audience– as you’d expect for a no-holds-barred automotive website whose writing style requires high school or better reading comprehension.

While I’m proud of our literary output and fierce editorial independence, commercial reality demands that we must shift our focus to a more populist perspective. In other words, TTAC is set to become a car shopping site. Well, not entirely.

Here’s the idea.

TTAC will have two home pages. The first will be the “public” page (i.e. the one newbies land on). Home page one will have a proper review, author and keyword search function. It will also display ten review excerpts and the usual link to the full review (“more”). The blurbettes will include star ratings, and links to model specifications, pricing, comparisons and a car brokerage service. The column currently occupied by editorials will [eventually] be filled with ads and shopping-related links.

In short, TTAC’s new home page will offer a one-stop shop for consumers looking to research, compare and buy a car, using truly independent advice. Think of it as Consumer Reports with attitude. What’s more, we will stay in touch with “our” shoppers to assure a proper quality service and cater to their ongoing needs.

There will also be a second home page for you, our faithful, hardcore audience. “TTAC classic” will return to the “old” format of reviews and editorials stacked in strict chronological order.

Rest assured, the content itself will not change. The editorials will continue apace. They’ll be just as feisty and high-brow as ever. But the split will allow us to create a [let’s face it] less intellectual and more highly focused revenue-generating TTAC for a large number of car shoppers. Given our financial situation, this consumer service is critical to our continued editorial independence.

Needless to say, this new focus will take TTAC into uncharted waters. But my father taught me that business isn’t risky. People are risky. Well, some are and some aren’t.

The writers, editors, financiers, programmers and readers of this website are the most steadfast people I’ve ever met. To a man (and woman), they believe that telling the truth about cars is an inherently virtuous pursuit. They know that their work elevates the souls of those it touches– even if the truth hurts. They understand that those who have a vested interest in falsehood, half-truths and misdirection actively oppose our efforts.

I believe in the people who make TTAC possible. And I believe that there’s nothing wrong with taking our mission into the mainstream. As long as we tell the truth to the only people who really matter– the people who buy, use and (hopefully) love cars– we will be rewarded with their trust and patronage.

Now it’s your turn. Tell us where TTAC’s gone wrong– and may be about to go wrong. Tell us where TTAC’s gone right– and how we can capitalize on our strengths. Should we start reviewing used cars? Do we need better car photographs? Should we drop editorials entirely? Is there a killer ap we could bring to car shopping? Feel free to comment on any aspect of the site’s past, present or future.

After all, you are TTAC’s “300:” the automotive alphas whose ongoing support defend and protect us from those who would ignore us, co-opt us, or happily watch us disappear into the ether. Once again, we need your help.

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2 of 71 comments
  • Gotta Chime In Gotta Chime In on Apr 11, 2007

    How about word or character limits on these posts? Folks need to be challenged to get the message across concisely (just as TTAC writers are) instead of rambling on. Makes it difficult to follow the running commentary.

  • Flipsy Flipsy on Apr 12, 2007

    Agree w michael karesh - used car reviews would be good - 2-3 years old

  • Islander800 That is the best 20-year-on update of the Honda Element that I've ever seen. Strip out the extraneous modern electronic crap that adds tens of thousands to the price and the completely unnecessary 400 pd/ft torque and horse power, and you have a 2022 Honda Element - right down to the neoprene interior "elements" of the Element - minus the very useful rear-hinged rear doors. The proportions and dimensions are identical.Call me biased, but I still drive my west coast 2004 Element, at 65K miles. Properly maintained, it will last another 20 years....Great job, Range Rover!
  • Dennis Howerton Nice article, Corey. Makes me wish I had bought Festivas when they were being produced. Kia made them until the line was discontinued, but Kia evidently used some of the technology to make the Rio. Pictures of the interior look a lot like my Rio's interior, and the 1.5 liter engine is from Mazda while Ford made the automatic transmission in the used 2002 Rio I've been driving since 2006. I might add the Rio is also an excellent subcompact people mover.
  • Sgeffe Bronco looks with JLR “reliability!”What’s not to like?!
  • FreedMike Back in the '70s, the one thing keeping consumers from buying more Datsuns was styling - these guys were bringing over some of the ugliest product imaginable. Remember the F10? As hard as I try to blot that rolling aberration from my memory, it comes back. So the name change to Nissan made sense, and happened right as they started bringing over good-looking product (like the Maxima that will be featured in this series). They made a pretty clean break.
  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.