My Greatest Hits (And Biggest Misses) of 2014

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth
my greatest hits and biggest misses of 2014

Once again, it’s on. Just like I did last year and the year before, I’ve come up with two lists, Joni-Mitchell-style. First, the “hits” that brought the clicks and comments. Last, the “misses” that were near and dear to my heart. As I did for 2013, I’ll include a few articles that I published elsewhere.

The Hits

Town Car’s out, Honda’s in. The fondest wishes of a hundred thousand low-T keyboard warriors were nearly satisfied when I managed to place my Town Car dead sideways on an icy rural road this past January. I kept it on the road without a huge amount of drama and everything seemed okay for a second or two and then I realized that the Sonata heading in my direction wasn’t slowing down. To say that the Lincoln was “totaled” as a result would be like saying that the Titanic “took in some water”. In the eleven and a half months that followed, I managed to lose my day job, lose my long-time roommate (the infamous Vodka McBigbra), lose my position as EIC pro tem, and lose the ability to sleep through the night thanks to some broken vertebrae that just never came back right. On the positive side, my son was unhurt, my passenger has made tremendous strides back to a normal life, and my son continues to show no signs of injury or trauma from the crash. The B&B of TTAC were tremendously helpful in helping me choose the low-key replacement for my refrigerator-white pimp-mobile. They (meaning you) were also a true inspiration in ways I can’t fully describe. The readers who supported me gave me the strength to make it through the difficult early months. The readers who hate my guts inspired me to make sure I didn’t miss the chance to enter, and win, the debut race of the American Endurance Racing series. Thanks to all of you.

PCOTY 2015. This is the second year for R&T‘s Performance Car Of The Year, and the second year I’ve had the privilege of writing up the results for all of you. I believe we’re starting to find our stride with this format and the readers have responded by buying the hell out of this issue. Not everybody gets the idea of it — comparing a 458 Speciale with a VW GTI makes no sense to a generation that has grown up micro-analyzing statistics on the Internet — but I believe we’ve made, and will continue to make, the point that automotive enthusiasm is at home everywhere on the price ladder.

Chevrolet Captiva Review. This was my most-read review of the year. True story: many years ago I spent nearly a whole night tucked in that Indian’s-head sculpture with a fiery-tempered sixteen-year-old brunette. If she’s out there, and she’s reading this: I know now that I was the naive one in that relationship. Miss you. As for the review itself, it’s the magic of TTAC that I can write two Lamborghini and two Ferrari pieces and they don’t do the traffic of a single Captiva review, combined.

Hellcat! I guess not every TTAC reader hates cars, because although this Hellcat review didn’t ring the cash register like the Captiva one, it was still in the top fifty or so articles we did in 2014. The car itself is magnificent, and thoroughly recommended.

No fixed abode: Stick it to ’em. My paean to the resale value of unusual options was widely considered to be a work of genius. It was also considered to be complete and utter idiocy. So, in that regard, it was like a car with lime green paint.

Reader Ride: Subaru WRX. We had a bit of confusion among the readers regarding the “Reader Ride Reviews”, in which a TTAC staffer drove a TTAC reader’s car, and the “Reader Reviews” where the B&B told us about their own cars. We need to do a better job of making it plain which is which. In the meantime, if you have something you’d like me to drive, let us know!

So Why Did The Allman Brothers Pose Nude On Their LP Gatefold, Anyway? This was something I wrote for my own site this past year, almost immediately after the January crash, and it’s proven to be very popular. Warning: contains a Nick Drake reference. You have to be careful about Nick Drake. I met a beautiful girl who loved Nick Drake, and we listened to Nick Drake together, but it turns out that she was thinking about her recently-deceased boyfriend every time she heard the music. Your mileage may vary.

The Misses:

“Ask Jack”. I thought this idea might go somewhere but in this era of Reddit and whatnot it’s hard to get people to send in random questions. I’d like to give it another shot. Come up with questions. They don’t even have to be 100% car-related. Let’s have a dialogue here, damn it all.

Trucks in the right lane? My modest proposal to keep tractor-trailers out of the left lanes, as is the case pretty much, um, everywhere else in the world, was met with frothing fury by America’s big-rig drivers. As soon as they’d finished with their “lot lizards”, truckers everywhere burned up the Pilot station’s free Wi-Fi informing that: a) truck drivers are professionals who can always be trusted to do the safe thing; b) if they were restricted to the right lane they’d form a “wall of steel” and deliberately endanger car drivers, which seems like a mild contradiction of Point A; c) forcing trucks to slow down would result in the collapse of Wal-Mart, the end of America, and significant reduction in the availability of toilet paper. I also was told, repeatedly, that my ass was going to be kicked at the moment I least expected said ass-kicking to occur. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that a Hyundai Sonata had beaten them to the punch.

This Is A Rental Chevrolet Cruze… This one was actually pretty popular, but it struck a nerve with certain members of the B&B who hate it when I mention the Cruze’s Daewoo, excuse me, “GM Korea”, ancestry. Every time I mention that the Cruze is just a Daewoo Laecetti, their jimmies rustle softly. Whenever I bring up the fact that the Cruze was developed in Korea, they get so upset. All I have to do is hint at the Korean design of the all-American Cruze, and they… well, you get the idea, there’s no reason to pile on THE CHEVROLET CRUZE IS A DAEWOO!!!!!!

eHarmony Would Prefer You Didn’t Date A Race Car Driver. It’s true. It will only end in tears, you know.

The Impaladventure!. “I’ve come to a realization about this 1981 Impala, and that realization is like so: There’s absolutely nothing about it that would surprise or confuse the owner of a 1955 Chevrolet sedan. The twenty-six years between the tri-fives and this B-body barely exist.” How much do I love TTAC readers? Enough to drive their Impalas across the country, obviously.

Thank You And Goodbye. It can now be told: the entire last third of my farewell-as-EIC-post was stolen from John Mayer, as seen at 3:18 of this video:

I think one reader picked up on it. I guess you’re not John Mayer fans. Though my sentiments were stolen, I still believe in them. I remain grateful for all of you and for the opportunity I’ve had to write for you. As EIC pro tem of TTAC, I had just one task: rescue the site from its dramatic slide in readership and respectability until the previous administration and then hand it off to Derek so he could make his mark. I’d like to think I succeeded.

I’d also like to think I’ll be around TTAC for some time to come, as a contributor and a curmudgeon and a conscience. As always, thank you for reading, and may your 2015 bring you everything of which you’ve dreamed.

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2 of 43 comments
  • David C. Holzman David C. Holzman on Jan 02, 2015

    I was damned relieved when I learned, some months ago, that your passenger was recovering reasonably, and I'm happy your son was unharmed. I hope your back will stop keeping you awake. I loved the R&T supercars, did not read the Captiva review.

  • Domestic Hearse Domestic Hearse on Jan 05, 2015

    For the record, I was the one reader who "John Mayer approved" your farewell. I guess the reference was too Inside Baseball, err, Inside Music, but I got a chuckle.

  • CaddyDaddy Coney Island in Bailey, Colorado off of US 285. Man oh man, Caddy Daddy could use a Chicago Dog, side of fries and a root beer. Good Times!
  • MaintenanceCosts Imagine that... the OEM that doesn't make absurd false claims about "Full Self-Driving" and that doesn't release beta software onto public streets gets better treatment from the regulator.
  • MaintenanceCosts Yes, yes, balance, quick turn-in, working the gears, blah, blah.I'm sorry, none of it is convincing. A 3-series needs two more cylinders than this so that it doesn't sound like a Jetta on $199/month special.
  • MaintenanceCosts Is Stellantis capable of making a product for the American market without embarrassing levels of over-the-top fake machismo?
  • Philip This raises two questions for me:[list=1][*]What happens to all of the chargepoint that we have installed at our homes? Do those all have to be replaced?[/*][*]What happens to all of the billions of dollars from the federal government being spent on non-tesla ports at wal-marts and pilot service centers? [/*][/list=1]