By on January 24, 2013

The Wednesday installment of TTAC’s Future Writers Week, where YOU decide who will write for you, ended better than the round the day before. This time, you voted for three serviceable writers, and they are:

  • Matthias Dean-Carpentier, a.k.a. Contestant #20
  • Andrew Nevick,  a.k.a. Contestant #16
  • Evan Reisner, a.k.a. Contestant #19

Contestants 15,  17, 18, and 21 did not make it past the jury of your reading peers. Do not despair, there is always a chance to get called upon via the “Editor’s Choice” award, where we apply our strictly subjective, and self-serving criteria.

Note:  Some contestants have expressed impatience over the fact that they have not been notified, told what to do, where to show up, what to write etc. Hold your horses. Take a vacation. Buy a new keyboard. You will get notified once the contest is over, and when we know exactly how to do this. As you may already have suspected, we make it up as we go along.

As for sources and methods: All I can say is that carburetor rebuilds on kitchen tables are more popular than ideal inventory levels and item-master systems. I know, this is despicable, but what can I do?

What I can do is present to you the Thursday set of seven writers, from which you choose the three best ones by popular vote. You have two votes. The best three win.

If you haven’t entered yet, and if you still want to play: Submission rules are here. Please try to stick to the rules, especially to the part where it says to simply send a note to editors, with “Becoming a TTAC Writer” as the topic. This helps sorting the applications into my proper mailbox. Creative topic writers are subjected to the hazards of spam filters and inattentive Editors. They also may receive a mark on my list, labeling them a potential pain in the neck that doesn’t listen to directions. (If you have already lost, and you are thinking of re-submitting: As long as you do it with a new email address, and using a new name, I probably won’t notice. But you will be stuck with that name forever!)

And now … drumroll, please

(As you can see, even the orchestra does not listen to directions anymore ..)

The TTAC Future Writers – Thursday Contestants

The rules of engagement, listed below, remain the same as yesterday. Keep in mind, the writing examples are presented here in the same order as they arrived in my mailbox. They are shown unedited, unproof-read, as-is. If no writing examples have been sent, despite the fact that they were requested, snippets from the emails were used instead.


Contestant 22 writes:

“My appreciation for the front bench seat started in the summer of 98’ with a chevy celebrity station wagon. A perfect example of late 80’s A-body goodness, it came with a blue velour-like bench seat that had seen generations of my family pile in three wide for the annual christmas road trip. You could count the number of years this bench seat endured by the number of french fries and other fast food items crammed between the seat cushions like rings on a tree.”


Contestant 23 writes:

“Sometimes the demographic stereotypes for particular car buyers exist for a reason. Being a current legal student that first graduated from that big Colorado university in the People’s Republic of Boulder and will almost certainly become the basic “yuppie”, Subarus have held some appeal to me. The idea of a rugged, capable, different family sedan has piqued my interest for awhile; I nearly purchased a used Subaru several years back, settling on a Volvo when I decided that the comfortable box would be a far greater companion on cross-country drives than the quirky, boxer-engined Subie.”


Contestant 24 writes:

It was going to be one of those nights, and I knew it. The roommates were all going to a get together and wanted me to join in, for some odd reason. Parties are really not my gig, especially a party where I am the old one at Thirty Nine and the rest of the participants are under twenty six. But I said yes for some reason that still eludes me to this day, especially since we were going to take the roommates car. Now most folks know I am a touch of a car snob, yes I drive a Peugeot that should be getting a pension and I have a odd taste in cars as a general rule of thumb. But let me tell you about my experience with ’the box’.”

Contestant 25 writes:

“This particular RX-7 has 67,000 original miles and remains today exactly as it was when it rolled out of the factory in Hiroshima, Japan, in May of 1983. It was very nicely equipped for the day. High quality velour covered the center of the immensely comfortable bucket seats. There is a sunroof that pops open for ventilation and that you can step out of the car and manually remove entirely to stow in the cargo area for the full open air feel. That is right kids, no electric adjustment for this roof!”

Contestant 26 writes:

“The Desingo edition lets you pic your own personalized color combo for your new Mercedes. This doesn’t come free and it can take some time to get your special ordered ride to your door, but the results are nothing short of stunning. The grade of leather used in the Designo process tops the already high quality hides used in production line cars and a wide array of materials are available to complement the hand-stitched cockpit. Curly Maple, Olive, Bamboo woods, and glossy, deep black piano lacquer and natural stone trim elements are on the menu. Our CL 63 Designo had the $2300 Mystic Brown paint and $8900 Saffron Beige leather upholstery, a heated wood and premium leather steering wheel, the Alcantra roof liner and the Desingo exclusive metallic threaded carpeting options.”

Contestant 27 writes:

 “I had considered a GC in 2008 when I bought my Mini, but the exterior styling didn’t appeal to me. I began seeing the 2011 GC’s on the road and liked the refreshed styling, which is a result of their time with Daimler. I like the masculine sculpted sides, and the clean design of the front and rear. Is every SUV destined to have a chrome strip across the back? In any event I like the look, although the rear taillights could have been LED based instead of the bulbs. Maybe the new 2014 model will make the switch.”

Contestant 28 writes:

Upon disovering my GPS was stolen, after stupidly leaving my car unlocked and unattended in urban Amsterdam for 3 days, we came to the realization that we had to depend on following Kozan in his rental 128i to get us to the Nurburgring. The drive out of the Netherlands to Germany was uneventful and fast. I was amazed that my little Swedish hatch felt so solid, at triple digit speeds, for miles and miles on the Authobahn.As we neared our destination, I was astonished this was finally happening. It was the little things that made it surreal. Everything from the little racecars emblazoned on the road sign for Nurburg to the excitement of seeing euro only cars like the Focus RS500 made me realize this was finally happening.”


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.)

Remember: You have TWO votes. Place your bets.

This poll has been removed.

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36 Comments on “TTAC Future Writers Week: We Have New Winners. And You Can Vote For More...”

  • avatar

    “I flashed my brake lights as a warning to the other drivers as I threw two unopened Budweisers out the passenger window…”

    “I should have been driving slow, taking in the great southwest scenery in my first time on this section of the interstate, but I only wanted to have fun with the g-forces of the curves and the downgrade. Up, down, left, right, passing cars… I soon lost all sense of what was level in this wild ride down a mountain…”

    “It was a time when my mom was still able to go on rides in cars. Nothing was as more unexpected to me as when we came to a stop on the exit ramp, and Mom threw up on the right door panel… “

  • avatar

    I would like to express my patience for your making it up as you went along. That was adequately signaled. I was on vacation when you started this, so I won’t take another, but perhaps it’s new keyboard time.

    Also, Contestant 28, I want to read the rest of that.

  • avatar

    I’m glad you clarified the procedure: You’re making it up as you go along. No problemo, as they say. To contestants, it’s like Bob Hope’s response when his wife gingerly asked him where he’d like to be buried. “Surprise me”, he said.

  • avatar

    TTAC has a style… and its style contains humour (that’s “humor” to those of you who earn your income in Washingtons). It’s been lacking in some of the submissions.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s been lacking for awhile.

    • 0 avatar

      The reason I originally started reading this site was because it offered truly objective perspective on cars with a humorous and snarky writing style.

      I’m trying to think of the last true review I’ve seen on here and can’t think of one. I’d need to look it up it’s been so long.

      This is still a great site with some really unique content but is in dire need of some constructive criticisms. I believe the comments are a good place to call out the good and the bad when we see it.

      Bottom line: More constructive criticism & praise, less vitriolic stereotyping of those who drive cars different than we do.

      Good luck to the aspiring writers

  • avatar

    Boy, the bar just got raised again. I wish I had got my submission in earlier. If this trend keeps up I am going to get my ass thoroughly kicked when my number comes up.

    and Detroit-X, I would have had mom wet herself. Old people’s incontinence is 7.35 times funnier than puke.

    • 0 avatar

      … well, she’s in that stage now, so it’s “too real” at the moment for me. The announcement that she’s done that is an odor and a bad feeling, like the warranty on your car expiring.

  • avatar

    I haven’t been repulsed by ANY of the writers so far and I continue to believe that each should be given a chance, at least once, to write a piece for ttac, for diversity of style and content, if nothing else.

    Then again, I take each piece at face value, without criticism or malice.

    Maybe some of the prolific commenters and self-appointed experts and self-annointed critics should toss their writing into the arena and see what the general readership thinks.

    Yes, I voted. I would be open to reading an article by any of them (entrants) so far, at least once.

    • 0 avatar

      I’d like to see them announce the winners’ usernames alongside their real names so we could see if any of our favorite personalities win. Wouldn’t that be neat?

      I hope my own comments aren’t too mean spirited. I try and remember that all these were written by real people in a serious attempt to make the cut.

      • 0 avatar

        tmkreutzer, it is MY understanding that many contributors to ttac are actually hewn from the many different facets of the US automotive industry, past and present, and some are incubating for the future.

        On occasion we’ve had comments contributed from/by people who were in the employ of a major auto manufacturer either in marketing or engineering, or otherwise directly involved in the development or marketing of a new product. They were part of the decision making process and they identified themselves as such.

        Many of these people also contribute comments under screen-names and it is quite obvious to many readers who were/are part of the current/past global auto industry who they are because their comments have gravitas to them and are not based on wiki-searches or some low-level bean-counting job or union-jobbank appointment.

        I’m not being mean-spirited here but I am surprised that some people who were never part of the corporate decision-making process consider themselves experts at all things automotive based on some low-level staffers job they once held somewhere in the maze of some back office or some slap’m together job in assembly. Those generally are the ones to criticize others more vehemently than those commenters who take the time to explain their dissection of the facts.

        I’m sure automotive employees would love to contribute more openly but that might create conflict with their current employer. Ttac has the readership and is one site that has a massive following.

        When I attended NADA conferences in the past, everybody knew who/what ttac was, and Edmunds, and KBB, basically all the reputable biggies, even USAToday and the WSJ. Considering that ttac started as a small site with young Mr Farago at its core, that’s quite an achievement! Ttac is different now but it is still the best site out there for this genre.

        And that’s why I take an interest in reading articles from new contributors. You always learn something from other people’s writings and observations. And the marketers and retailers, even the automotive advertisers, all come away with something from current topics, like what’s trending in all things automotive, and what’s not.

        Reminiscing is great but Barrett-Jackson is the only outlet I know that will allow you to pay dearly for your past hopes and dreams. OTOH, timely reviews and comments on the “here and now” in the automotive world clearly identifies to the corporate market watchers what works and what doesn’t, especially if it is geared towards the future. What matters is what sells. Everything else is a wannabee.

        Like in Honda Civic. How quickly Honda regrouped and redesigned their Civic when it got panned by the commenters everywhere. So, for me, the more input from different people, the better. And the more participants, the better.

        Maybe Bob Lutz would apply for a writing spot under his real name, a retrospect of where the global auto industry has been, where it is now, and where it is headed in the next five to ten years.

        I think that would be neat, too! Regardless of what people think about Bob Lutz, he’s like the best selling F150, or the best selling Camry; he’s a biggie in the industry!

      • 0 avatar

        Interesting points and well taken. I will read this again when I get home and have had my supper so I can really digest what you’ve written and make sure I can give you the response it deserves.

        My comment was directed more towards the blow-hards who comment on these submissions and cut them to shreds. As the winners are announced, we get to see the submitters’ real names -or at least the pseudonyms they used when they sent in their article but not the usernames that with our icons that help us identify the commenters we all know and love. I, for one, would like to know if our winners are regular commenters and people from the peanut gallery that I otherwise recognize and sometimes follow.

        I’m not trying to suggest that everyone who posts here reveal their true identities and post their resumes and I am sincere in my hopes that I am not guilty of being needlessy mean.

        I’ll tell you one thing, though. What you’ve written makes me really want to be a finalist so my articles can be read by the well connected and knowledgeable group of reader that TTAC serves. Sure, maybe what I write will get me slapped 6 ways from Sunday, but in my heart I will know it’s because you all care. :)

      • 0 avatar

        tmkreutzer, I think you should apply! Your comments always seemed well thought out to me, on ttac as well as other sites.

        The worst that could happen is that you get a NO. But at least you tried. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Might surprise yourself.

        Like Bertel advocates, write from personal experience. I would add, don’t embellish. He who writes best, writes based on what they actually know! Not based on what they think they know.

        Which brings me back to my earlier statement about people who offer comments or criticize the comments of others where it is painfully obvious that they do not knoweth whereof they speaketh, before they hit the “Submit Comment” button.

        Good luck!

    • 0 avatar
      Greg Locock

      Since I read a lot, and can write well when I have the time, I see no inherent reason why my opinion of writers should be suppressed, especially since I will be paying them (well where do you think the money comes from?).

      I didn’t apply as I have nothing of interest to say about cars for most people and my real job makes the stock inventory guy look intelligible.

      As to snarkiness, welcome to intertubes.

      • 0 avatar
        Greg Locock

        However I hadn’t realised that Bertel had recommended they write about something they know about, some of my comments were out of line where I criticised contnt

  • avatar

    I think Contestant 22 is my doppleganger.

  • avatar

    I’m finding that most of the 28 submissions so far focus on some level of personal experience (whether factual or fictional) with cars or driving, often with humour thrown in — maybe closest in spirit to Jack’s writing of the current writers, more than anyone else.

    I’m not seeing much writing what could be a car review, technical assessment, industry news, auto show analysis, market trends etc., all things that I find interesting on TTAC.

    Will this be the new direction of TTAC?

  • avatar

    Contestant 26 writes: I have a fast car and lots and lots of money.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m so burned out on this class envy hipster garbage. Why don’t you send us the current market value of your car, so that TTAC will never review another more expensive car and you don’t have to have your feelings hurt.

      • 0 avatar

        Tick, your comment is a bit harsh. I had the same thought as delux when I read the blurb from Contestant 26, and I don’t think it’s a class envy whatever thing. I get the same feeling when I meet name droppers. I would guess that wasn’t the goal Contestant 26 had in mind, but that’s the way it is.

        Moreover, you wrote earlier that: “The reason I originally started reading this site was because it offered truly objective perspective on cars with a humorous and snarky writing style.”

        Contestant 26 wasn’t humorous nor snarky, but I would say that delux post was snarky enough for me.

      • 0 avatar

        Contestant 26, is that you? I was merely highlighting that it came across as an ego stroking piece of writing as apposed to an analyses of MBs Designo program.

      • 0 avatar

        Fair enough. My apologies. I’m still sick of that stuff though. Seems to be a consistent theme lately. The writing was a little bland but I don’t see him claiming it’s his car either.

        It used to be that this site went out and, you know, reviewed cars. Some of those cars might even have some expensive options. Doesn’t mean the author is a bragart.

        And no, I didn’t write it

    • 0 avatar

      ‘Why don’t you send us the current market value of your car, so that TTAC will never review another more expensive car and you don’t have to have your feelings hurt.’

      When people roll their eyes at $150 Ed Hardy shirts, it’s not because they wish they could afford one…

  • avatar

    It’s the bookends for me this time.

    I’m saddened to read that there was no interest on inventory levels and item masters. Maybe someday I will write a piece on the issues with the EOQ formula and how to maintain data integrity on a ERP system… for myself to read…

    • 0 avatar

      Clearly the interest is on non-technical topics and writing, if you look at the popular vote. And maybe that’s what will bring TTAC the most readers in the future.

  • avatar
    Austin Greene

    I wanted to vote for Peugeot guy but he came up my third third time.

    Good luck for a wild card spot Contestant 24!

  • avatar

    28 and 22, although I also liked 24, but we could have only two votes.

  • avatar

    Any of them. If more writers means that the ridiculous click trolling ends, fine by me

  • avatar

    and by click trolling i don’t mean the future writer threads. I mean the stupid classist Bimmer and Benz posts and Men’s Rights Activist VW commercial crap.

  • avatar

    Sorry, but I don’t think any of these samples are promising. It’s as if none of the entrants are at all familiar with the past 35 years of good writing about cars and driving. How many of them have read anything by, for example, L. J. K. Setright or Jerry Flint or (among living writers) Jamie Kitman? (I realize, of course, that much of this writing appeared in print magazines, which have had websites only recently. But still, even a casual writer in a given field should know what’s gone before. Winging it has its charms, but it’s difficult to avoid a cliche that one doesn’t know is a cliche, for example.)

  • avatar

    I’m honored to have been selected among the winners. I hope I can satisfy all of you with my work.

  • avatar

    Wait, entries that’re actually about cars?

    I’m just waiting for yet another entry to bring up Volvos in one way or another.

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