The Booth Babe Chronicles: Paging Tawny Kittaen

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

I really love talking about cars with people. Notice that does not say “being talked at by people about cars.” That exact circumstance, however, happens on a daily basis at my job. It’s enough to make me wish I never had to say a word to anyone and instead take up Tawny Kittaen’s post on the hood of a Jaguar.

One of the biggest pet peeves of any sort of expert is having some twit run his mouth about a subject on which he obviously has little knowledge. “Knows just enough to be annoying,” we call it at the auto show. Complaining for a solid half hour about the differences between this supercar over here and that supercar over there falls into that category.

Why? Because nine times out of ten the person doing the complaining has never driven the vehicle they’re moaning on about.

Lest you think I’m judging books by covers, I know this because I ask.

When a guest at a marketing event starts making disparaging remarks about any car, the first thing out of my mouth is, “Have you ever driven it?” If the answer is yes, then game on. Let’s have an intelligent conversation about your critiques. If the answer is no, then this guy has little to no idea what he’s talking about.

A couple of weeks ago Derek Kreindler remarked on his blog, “…doesn’t it begin to sound a little ridiculous when people try and throw out technical arguments to debate the merits of cars way beyond their station? So what if the C63 has an automatic, or if the RS4 is ‘inferior.’ I’m willing to bet that nobody in that thread can exploit any of those cars to even close to their full potential.” (He was referring to a conversation in a discussion group; hit up his blog to see the details.)

Welcome to my world, Derek.

Here’s my side of a sample conversation I have about five times a day at the auto show: I’m sorry you don’t like paddle shifters, mister. Have you ever used them before? No? Hmmm. Do you care to know why we put them in there instead of a stick? No, you just want to keep complaining? Okay. So it means nothing to you that Ferrari, Lamborghini, F1, et al use paddle shifters and not a slow and clunky stick? And you would never actually be buying this car regardless of the transmission type anyway, correct?

Translate that conversation into safety at the Smart or Toyota displays, fuel mileage of a performance hybrid at Porsche, Mercedes or Lexus, etc. We product specialists can talk specs until we’re blue in the face, but people like this don’t want to hear them. They will go around to each and every display with the same song and dance, except for the manufacturer on whose truck they’ve placed their Calvin-pissing-on-a-different-truck sticker.

If you have ever actually researched and experienced these vehicles, let’s debate! If you have questions about the features you’re criticizing and actually want to hear the answer, let’s chat! That’s my job! If you just want to run your mouth about something about which you know nothing and don’t care to learn, take it to your mom’s house. She’s the only one who cares.

The Booth Babe is an anonymous auto show model who dishes about what really goes on behind the scenes. Read her blog at And if you treat her nicely, read her each Sunday at

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  • Quentin Quentin on Aug 09, 2010

    I can't really be bothered to talk to "car people" in person anymore. Too often, those car people are really "WRX people" or "Ford people" or "Euro people" or "pre-1972 people". Instead of intelligent discussion about a variety of vehicles, the conversation is roped back to their pet brand/model. Sure, I have my pet segments and models, but I can also freely admit that the 2005 Avalon that I drove on a trip for work was absolute perfection for a 3.5 hr all-interstate drive. On the return leg, my coworker drove and I had a very refreshing nap in the comforts of those amazing back seats. The Avalon, though, doesn't quite fit into my garage of 6MT turbo/supercharged hatchbacks and BoF 4WD SUV, though. I can definitely understand why people buy these vehicles, though. Most "car guys" I run into can't or won't understand why everyone isn't driving MazdaSpeed 3s. I think I really noticed this for the first time when I was going to Subaru meets. The WRX is pretty much a tuners dream and the conversation was completely dominated by who had what mods. I'm the kind that leaves my car mostly stock, so after several meets of listening to guys argue out who had the biggest, I quit going.

  • Dewfish Dewfish on Aug 12, 2010

    I like Booth babe. She is awesome.

  • 28-Cars-Later "Honda and Acura haven’t yet released an EV in the United States"Ok..."The 2024 ZDX rides on GM’s Ultium Platform and will feature Google built-in services. "Waht?
  • Theflyersfan I was just at the Mazda dealer getting one of the free scheduled maintenances taken care of and saw a couple of these on the lot (inventory...I know!!! No Mazda3s or MX-5s, but had some CX-5s and CX-50s). They are even nicer in person - the paint especially stands out. Plus the terracotta interior treatment isn't something done by Honda, Toyota, or Nissan so you can get something different. The slight price hike is worth it and it's worth it just to have something that isn't white, black, or a million shades of gray. Or get the Soul Red. You can never go wrong with that color. I just with the terracotta interior was offered with that.
  • VoGhost This new SLX looks to be quite a trooper.
  • Wolfwagen I would rather have an annual inspection that may catch something early or at least the driver can be informed of an impending issue. Government vs private is another issue and unscrupulous mechanics is another.On a slightly different topic is the inspection of salvage or rebuilt cars. In NYS it is strictly to ensure that stolen parts were not used to rebuild the vehicle. I would rather see an inspection to ensure that the vehicle has been properly put back together.
  • PeterPuck For years, Ford has simply reworked existing designs originating from Europe and Japanese manufacturers, not being capable of designing a decent car in the USA.What’s the last clean sheet design from the USA? The 1986 Taurus?And they still can’t manage to get things right.why is this? Are they putting all of the competent engineers and designers on the F150? Is woke diversification affecting them, as some rumours suggest? Are they rewarding incompetence?