My Greatest Hits (And Biggest Misses) of 2013

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth
my greatest hits and biggest misses of 2013

Same as last year, I’m picking some of the most popular things I wrote, and some of my personal favorites, with the understanding that these are rarely the same thing. Just to shake things up this year, I’ll include a few things I published elsewhere.

The Hits

If You Live In This World, You’re Hearing The Change Of The Guard Things looked pretty, er, challenging at TTAC this past summer, but after a brief shakeup we reset the course and it’s been smooth sailing ever since. Not a single user has been banned, although it hasn’t been for lack of trying in a few cases. Comments are up, all numbers are up, every way we have to measure reader involvement and satisfaction is better now than it was in June. I’m listing this under “my greatest hits” but it’s really due to all of you. Thanks.

Famed Non-Automotive Journalist Michael Hastings Turns A C250 Into A “Bomb”. This one went everywhere, including the front page of Fox News, in the course of racking up well over seven hundred Facebook shares. It was used to justify conspiracy theories and to debunk them, it was attacked and supported, it was everything but ignored. Months later, everybody’s pretty much given up caring. So if it was a conspiracy, it worked.

Road&Track’s Performance Car Of The Year The methodology wasn’t perfect, there were a few logistical issues, and I wasn’t as clear as I should have been about the rules for eligibility (hint: neither the 2014 991 GT3 nor the 1973 Carrera GT were eligible, and it was for the same reason) but I’m very proud of the way it all turned out and I know next year’s will be even better. We took a flier on both the format and content, and it worked.

Review: Toyota Camry SE 2.5L, Track Tested This was a fun way to shake up peoples’ concepts about what a modern sedan can and cannot do. I had an absolute ball doing the actual testing weekend, and it was great to see how the readers responded to the rather heretical ideas contained within.

Trackday Diaries: You should buy a minivan. If “Trackday Diaries” is the Krusty The Clown Show, then Drama McHourglass was probably “Poochie”, a universally-despised character brought on to satisfy the writer’s own agenda. In this single episode, we both killed off that particular character and managed to further one of the viewers’ actual favorite characters — the Pentastar-powered Chrysler minivan.

Avoidable Contact: Cayenne won’t help ya, Cayenne won’t do ya no good. Some of the women out there who hate me the most are the ones with whom I’ve had some of the most wonderful evenings. By the same token, my bitterness regarding the Stuttgart Self-Wrecking Crew is based on thirty-five years of devotion to the aircooled ethic. The company just keeps thinking up new ways to disappoint me, and the Macan is the most inventive yet.

The Misses

Trackday Diaries: Continuously Variable Emotion. This was the story that exhausted the B&B’s patience with “Poochie”, but I’m pleased with it in retrospect. So what if it got 29 comments, most of them about the merits of the Altima’s transmission?

Autoblog Readers Aren’t Excited About Paying For Hipster Vay-Cay This one was pretty popular, managing even to reach whatever thatched hut “Nacho” and his tenders were sleeping in the week it was published. Looking back, however, I wonder if it was a “miss” in the classical sense of the term — Who breaks a butterfly upon a Wheel? Brad and Sheena, in all of their spoiled, twee, overly previous approach to the world and what it owes them, would only deserve criticism in an era where they were the exception, not the rule. It put me in the uncomfortable and unpleasant position of being an old man complaining about these kids today. Roll on, sweet Nacho. (Brad, Sheena, and the famed Nacho are currently in residence at a famous Indian temple.)

The Idiot’s Guide to Left-Foot Braking. Some of the readers disagreed with me. You’re just wrong, damn it.

Winter Tires Track Tested The purpose of this article was to illustrate the ability of “winter tires” to handle higher temperatures and spirited driving for short periods of time; in other words, to encourage people to purchase winter tires and to put them on sooner rather than later in the season. To my utter horror, reader after reader, both on R&T and Jalopnik, interpreted it as “You Can Drive Winter Tires Year ‘Round”. I also heard a lot about how 2.2 seconds on a racetrack was “an eternity”, presumably from people who have never ever attended a club race or even read the results of a club race.

Sunday Stories: “Angle Of Slip”. The problem with going on dates with fabulous, six-foot-tall Dutch girls is that eventually, if you are me, you will want to work such an improbable creature into your writing. It’s not really a problem until she reads said writing. And then forgives you. And then it’s not a problem again. Look for “Katrien” to reappear one day, perhaps after some prior review by her doppleganger.

One Of Them Shall Not Fall On The Ground Without Your Father For Robert Farago’s The Truth About Guns website, a true story of killing and danger and forgiveness. Some of the readers enjoyed it, others were angry that I refuse to hold up the “Mary Sue” image of the infallible, hyper-masculine American gun owner. As for the shot described in the story, it really happened as described — but I couldn’t do it again, not for a million bucks.

On This Harvest Moon, The Workings Of Memory I’m on a continual journey to understand myself, the same way I’m on a continual journey to understand others. This story, like the one directly above it, is about being fallible, human, imperfect.

The Year To Come

My new 560SL (pictured) and I have many adventures planned for 2014, from the Atlantic to the Pacific and beyond. Some time before the halfway mark of the year ahead, I’ll also be resigning my position as Editor-In-Chief pro tem to make way for the appointment of our own Derek Kreindler. Go easy on him, okay?

Join the conversation
4 of 65 comments
  • WheelMcCoy WheelMcCoy on Jan 03, 2014

    After a great save, I am once again a regular reader and occasional commenter on TTAC. Thanks Jack and Derek. Happy 2014 everyone.

  • LALoser LALoser on Jan 04, 2014 was the "Booth Babe"?

    • See 1 previous
    • Lie2me Lie2me on Jan 04, 2014

      @Waftable Torque In hindsight I thought it was an interesting experiment, one that probably shouldn't be repeated, but it was interesting

  • Chris Doering I have a decent 78 xe lots of potential
  • Kat Laneaux Wonder if they will be able to be hacked into (the license plates) and then you get pulled over for invalid license plates or better yet, someone steal your car and transpose numbers to show that they are the owners. Just a food for thought.
  • Tassos Government cheese for millionaires, while idiot Joe biden adds trillions to the debt.What a country (IT ONCE WAS!)
  • Tassos screw the fat cat incompetents. Let them rot. No deal.
  • MaintenanceCosts I think if there's one thing we can be sure of given Toyota's recent decisions it's that the strongest version of the next Camry will be a hybrid. Sadly, the buttery V6 is toast.A Camry with the Highlander/Sienna PSD powertrain would be basically competitive in the sedan market, with the slow death of V6 and big-turbo options. But for whatever reason it seems like that powertrain is capacity challenged. Not sure why, as there's nothing exotic in it.A Camry with the Hybrid Max powertrain would be bonkers, easily the fastest thing in segment. It would likewise be easy to build; again, there's nothing exotic in the Hybrid Max powertrain. (And Hybrid Max products don't seem to be all that constrained, so far.)