By on January 23, 2013

The Tuesday round of TTAC’s Future Writers Week ends with no new writers selected. That round definitely did not trigger mass excitement among our judges. Some even wanted to be able to assign demerits. Contestants 13 and 14 were the only halfway real entries in what otherwise was email snippets and proposals nobody wanted. Getting the most votes (from a definitely apathetic panel of judges) while running virtually unopposed does not constitute a win.

Let’s see whether a fresh batch of contestants can do better today. Again, everything is strictly in the order of incoming applications. Unedited, un-proof-read, as is. If there was no clear writing sample, something from the email was taken. Sorry …


The TTAC Future Writers – Wednesday Contestants

The rules of engagement, listed below, remain the same as yesterday.

Contestant 15 writes:

My reaction to the new Vette is mixed. In general the proportions are fine but the detail design is underwhelming. The charcoal grills on the hood and haunches as well as the entire 1968 Toyota treatment of the rear end leaves me wanting (and scratching). The lack of a body colored A pillar is just plain goofy on any level.”


Contestant 16 writes:

 “Despite living in California for nearly eight years now, and recently becoming a citizen of these United States, I still consider myself to be an Englishman. To be English in America is a generally pleasant experience – no man will ever get tired of pretty girls telling him how cute his accent is – but it is also a life full of little differences which remind you every day that this is not your home, even though it is where you live.”


Contestant 17 writes:

 “So what is the ideal  inventory level, measured as days of inventory?  This is a more complex question, as it really depends on the manufacturer’s and the dealers’ business models and goals.  Assuming the North American model of car sales, the goal is to keep just enough cars on the dealers’ lots to allow a potential customer to find the one he or she wants to drive home, right now.  Too few cars, and you will lose customers because they can’t find the cars they want; too many, and the costs inventory financing and rebates will start to mount, and the dealers will begin to complain about too many cars on their lots.”

Contestant 18 writes:

“The majority of facilities currently manage supply prices through an item-master system and bill for those supplies through a separate charge-master system. Although the supply cost data needs to be communicated between the two disparate systems, they are not linked. Accordingly, manual processes must be performed to maintain the integrity of the data which can cause discrepancies in pricing resulting from missed charges, undercharges and overcharges.”


Contestant 19 writes:

“First, we must answer the question, ”What is a beater?” I suppose that is open to many definitions. If you have just plunked down $40,000 for a 1999 C70 Convertible, a $5000 740 might strike you as a beater. But my definition is simpler: a beater is a car purchased for a three-digit figure (or less! A recently acquired ’77 244DL cost $45!). It’s simple. $999 or less should easily get you a perfectly serviceable 240. Remember that a new-car buyer barely gets a decent down payment for that amount. Personally, I have owned eight 240 series cars, and have never paid more than $750.”


Contestant 20 writes:

“Growing up, my father and I bonded over trips to the pick-a-part in Atlanta or carburetor rebuilds in our kitchen, usually all for his 1984 F100 pick-up. For a while, I thought my Dad was simply an eccentric that liked his old truck for some reason, and never wanted to buy a new car. However, I would eventually get the bug. My freshman year in high school, my Dad was driving me to school, and he pointed out a 1965 Mustang. I only knew enough to say that the car was pretty and old, but my father launched into the story about how the Mustang was based on the Falcon, largely just with a different body. It was then that I realized that every car on the road has a story, and from there, I started reading everything about cars I could.”


Contestant 21 writes:

“I wrote the monthly car column for xxxxxxx (yes, we did one) for five years, until it was recently discontinued because every print magazine is now really, really tiny. I’m still on staff there, and ghostwriting for famous people in magazines and books pays my bills. But I would prefer to continue to write about cars under my own name. I’ve been a professional writer for more than 20 years, and I grew up in the industrial midwest working in my dad’s tool and die shop.”


Above are today’s contestants. Pick them carefully. The top ones will be around for a long time. Here are the Rules of Engagement:

  • You are presented with a set of seven writing examples. Their authors haven been carefully anonymized. They have a number instead.
  • The top three out of each set of seven receive an entry permit into the rarefied world of TTAC writers. Those who don’t make the grade and who fail in front of our jury will be sold into white slavery, or worse, recommended for the morning shift at Jalopnik. (Inciting voter apathy could mean that all contestants are sold off, we want and keep the winners.)
  • The snippets come in the exact order they landed in my mailbox.
  • The snippets have been chosen by me, in a very subjective way: By looking quickly at the story, and by picking what stands out.
  • You have two votes for each day. Both votes have equal weight. You may not vote more than once per day and set of contestants. Don’t throw away your votes!
  • The vote for each set runs until the second set appears. That’s typically for around 24 hours. Vote now, do not procrastinate. Voting for the last set stops when I say so, also typically 24 hours after the last set goes up.


And now, let’s go to the polls! 

(No hanging chads. Don’t mail or phone it in. Read snippets before voting. Vote now.)

You have TWO votes. Place your bets.

This poll has been removed.

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38 Comments on “TTAC Future Writers Week: Tuesday Ends With Gong. Wednesday Round Begins Now...”

  • avatar

    Something is wrong. I’m getting a message that tells me I can only vote for one. I will wait until it is fixed to cast my votes.

    But other than that, oh snap! It is game on again today! There is some impressive stuff in there this morning. This round should be good.

    Oh, and congratulations to number 16 on becoming an American Citizen recently. One-of-us! One-of-us!

  • avatar

    Yes, now we can look forward to his insights without every third sentence starting with “The thing about you Americans is…”

  • avatar

    A hint to those of you with prior experience – don’t tell me that you used to write something elsewhere (unless of course you can be entertaining about it). Focus on writing something here and now!

  • avatar

    I am reading the latest writings from the contestants in “TTAC has Talent”. My question is, what happens if it ends in a tie? I hope it will not be determined my and evening gown or worse a bikini contest, unless one of the finalists is Megan Fox, then I want plenty of photos.

  • avatar

    Only contestant 20 got my vote.

    I don’t think we should reward someone, just because he become an American citizen, especially since he did not mentioned anything car related; or someone who’s bragging about being a professional writer.

    • 0 avatar

      If he has such contempt for the US, then why did he become a citizen? People should take oaths more seriously, starting with the people defending our constitution. It is pretty discouraging that this entrant garnered the second greatest vote total by saying nothing about cars and merely appealing to US enmity. Pathetic.

      I think the professional writing credentials are relevant, considering people regularly comment on the quality of writing that must be endured on automotive blogs. Speaking of that which is endured, the internet needs another Volvo brick obsessive like the US needed another entitlement program. It would be the next best thing to recruiting a(nother) writer from a Panther forum.

      • 0 avatar

        Where did he show any contempt? He merely said there are sometimes differences between the two countries. Did he say for good or bad? Just as there would be differences noticed between someone living in rural Iowa and then moving to NYC.

        I comment because I too was a British citizen who gained US citizenship a few years back. I can relate to writer 20 and his observation that there are small day to day differences.

        Since you are so critical please let us know what number you are in this contest.

      • 0 avatar

        +1 to mike978

      • 0 avatar
        Put Upon Englishman

        I am the writer of piece 16 and I would like to point out that at no point in the request for writers was it mentioned that only the first paragraph of my submission would be stripped off and thrown to the wolves. I certainly would not have spent my morning writing 1500 words (about driving, believe it or not) and led in with a brief background about who I am and where I am coming from if I had known I would be judged on a single paragraph. Arguably the first paragraph of a piece should completely engage the reader, and if mine does not then hang me with that rope – but please not do so because of some wholly imagined slight against what is now my own country.

        For what it’s worth I even suggested in my submission that the first couple of paragraphs could be easily cut in the interests of brevity but Bertel chose not to do that, for whatever reason – he may have even been doing me a favor as I totally did go on to rip on the quality of driver in California, which according to you means I should be tarred, feathered and stripped of my citizenship. Given the ease with which you segued from immigrant prejudice to digs at the government perhaps I even genuinely dodged a bullet.

      • 0 avatar

        If reading comprehension were one of your gifts, then we wouldn’t disagree so often. He became a citizen of the US, but still considers himself to be an Englishman, one who is reminded every day that the US is not his home. I wouldn’t even characterize his loathing for the place he now lives as subtext.

      • 0 avatar

        ^^^ You know, just in response to this, as an American who has lived most of his adult life outside of the country, I understand what 16 is saying. You can live someplace, understand the culture, do the right things all the time and maybe even appreciate the reasons why you do certain things in certain situations but you aren’t always a full part of the culture.

        Think of it as an Olympic swimmer who spends a great deal of time in the water. He is “at home” in the water, but he isn’t from the water and he always has to adapt to the environment. He does well, but he isn’t a native so he has a different perspective.

        Coming at something from a slightly different angle is a good rhetorical device and it should help 16 get off to a good start should he win today’s vote. I don’t see an appeal to US enmity in anything he wrote.

      • 0 avatar

        You yourself said your swimmer is at home in the water. Writer #16 said expressly that the US is not his home. If you can’t even be consistent with his word use in defending him, then you should reconsider your opinion of what he said.

      • 0 avatar

        This says is all,” life full of little differences which remind you every day that this is NOT your home, even though it is where you live.” To the majority, this is our home, so if you don’t like it, then why did you choose to live here?

      • 0 avatar

        I was corrected by BS concerning my statement that I did not have the proper credentials to write at TTAC. I didn’t hate America or Detroit. Seems I will be proven right if writer 16 is selected.

      • 0 avatar


        Oh please, let the stick fall out of your butt. A new perspective is great. People born in the US make fun of nearly every other race/culture, don’t give it if you can’t take it.

      • 0 avatar

        I do not hold #16’s British origins against him. You can be living in the best place for you now, and even be completely in love with it, yet still be aware that it isn’t where you were from.

        I think you are just jealous because the girls think his accent is cute.

      • 0 avatar

        There you go again CJ using hyperbole. And to think you had been doing much better recently. And to think that as of writing this #16 is on course to be a winner, unless BS cries uncle again.

        By taking the citizenship test he (and I) probably know more about the US than a lot of natural born Americans. For instance I know that SD stands for South Dakota and not some city in California.

        We wouldn`t disagree so often if you were more open minded as well as moderate in tone. Also not seeing conspiracies in a lot of different places and being rude would help. You seem to think because a product is from X it is automatically bad and if from y it is automatically good. This may hold in general but there are exceptions which you rarely, if ever, acknowledge. To you everything is black or white.

      • 0 avatar

        Tell google your theory about SD. They’ll feel silly about returning 3 San Diego references to every South Dakota hit when SD is searched on. Considering San Diego has a 60% larger population than South Dakota’s and is an international tourist destination, I’m guessing you must work for the post office to have such a strong opinion about my use of SD.

      • 0 avatar

        How perceptive of you, of course I moved to the US so I could work for the United States Postal Service. Not.

        Thanks for pointing out the google invention, I googled TTAC and found many things sharing the same initials. Much like San Diego and South Dakota. Amazing. Also not surprised that a city with more citizens (well people) than South Dakota (as most cities in the US have) has more hits.

        As for San Diego being an internal travel destination, color me surprised. I come from abroad and when people are asked for 10 locations in the US to travel to San Diego doesn`t figure on that list.

        I found these on that google invention!

  • avatar

    If these portions are what made it into the competition, I’m left to wonder what didn’t make the cut out of their emails.

    I guess that’s the result of offering an open call that looks as much like a resume request as a submission request.

    Then again, when Jalopnik did this a few years ago, the options varied widely as well.

    I decided to scrap my submission after seeing Monday’s options. Since then, I’ve regretted that choice.

  • avatar

    Wish I had something to contribute, but I haven’t cared for any new car since the 80’s (SAAB 900). Now, I just try to buy the best transportation appliance. But I’m hooked on Bertel’s info about global doin’s.

  • avatar

    Yes, this is a better group than yesterday. I like how #17 and #18 are doing a bit more detailed analysis of the day to day of the business. #20 is promising! Would love to hear more about #19 ideas too.

  • avatar
    Darth Lefty

    My favorite features on TTAC are the ones where the author writes from his experience or expertise.

    For example: Jack on racing: good! Jack complaining about the model naming conventions of car brands: no. But Bertel on how the names were invented: great! Your series on sales and design are both excellent due to their authors.

    This blind contest doesn’t let us look at that. So far all I’m really seeing here are…
    – Paeans to shitty old cars
    – Reviews
    – Excerpts designed to lose, allowed into the vote for comedy value

    All this stuff is day-to-day filler and tells us little about the author. But it appeals to the Bed and Breakfast, so I suppose that’s what you’ll end up with: another car-blogger clone trying to punch up a bland story with rude metaphors in the style of Jeremy Clarkson.

  • avatar

    I’m puzzled about how all the daily “winners” are going to be culled to one, or is it two or three? The NCAA gives us brackets and a nifty chart that sets the blueprint for the winner. Baseball has wildcards, divisional competition and league championships leading to the World Series.

    How are all these candidates going to be judged? Are readers going to be voting in additional “rounds”, or is TTAC staff going to take over? I assume the final choice will come down to the Editor-In-Chief, since this is a hiring process, not a sporting event, and we should be happy as readers that we’re getting a say in it at all, but it would be nice to know, even generally, how it’s all supposed to unfold.

    • 0 avatar


    • 0 avatar

      I have not received any followup yet from the editorial staff, but my presumption based on the rules they posted initially (and again above) is that they’re going to offer everyone who makes the daily cut (3 out of the 7 each day, except that they just dumped everyone yesterday) an active opportunity. So, not a series of elimination rounds, but trying everyone who makes the initial grade out a bit and then retaining anyone who works for real.

      I could be wrong. Having made the cut on day 1 came with no special additional wisdom or information. I assume they’re going to contact us all after the 7 days are up, and let us know how they’ll proceed in more detail. Perhaps they’ll post some more here, though.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s the understanding I have. If you finish in the top three during your day you are in.

        Of course, they may just end up sending you directions to Bartertown…

  • avatar

    I voted for number 20, its the only entry on this list that isn’t:

    A. Bragging

    B. Very loosely tied in with cars

    Plus it was just a decent read.

  • avatar
    Greg Locock

    Once more into the breech

    15 Bad mehta ripoff
    16 The Truth about Emigration is a site with a small yet eclectic following.
    17 4 sentences of the bleeding obvious
    18 This bloke writes stock control manuals for a living. he lives under Murilee’s couch.
    19 No, first we must answer the question why on earth would I want to read the ranting of a one make enthusiast?
    20 Sounds a bit Ed’n’Paul, but OK
    21 Yesterday’s attempt to impress with track record was incoherent. this one is a bit better, but most car mag writers are a pretty poor read so claiming membership of that club doesn’t help.

    20 it is then

    • 0 avatar

      So, Greg, did you enter? Your snarky reviews are one of the better parts of the whole experience so far. If you can write long form…

      (No, I’m not being sarcastic, it’s serious. Yes, it’s to get back at you for the Playstation and Cruze, but I like being around verbose competent smartasses, so it’s a genuine complement…).

    • 0 avatar

      19 Didn’t even seem like ranting to me, just a big incoherent bragfest.

      And Volvo buffs tend to be humble.

  • avatar

    Soooooo, what happened? Is the contest over or are there some technical difficulties?

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