By on January 1, 2016

Retrospective

We didn’t spend all of this year together, but the time we spent together meant something to someone, somewhere. Probably.

This year was marked by a massive worldwide scandal, recalls, fines and wonderful avoidance from automakers who saw the “@thetruthaboutcars.com” appendage on my emails and demurred.

Let’s recap as best we can, shall we?

(Full disclosure: I joined in July and stood on the shoulders of a giant. I don’t pretend to present a comprehensive look at this year, just the last six months, OK?)

July:

tvr-sagaris-wallpaper-1

TVR Begins Taking Money, Presumably for Future Cars (July 1, 2015)

From my first news story, bball40dtw’s first comment:

No one cares.

I just came here to ask if you, Aaron Cole, are the new news person at TTAC?

I love you guys.

I followed shortly by my first fart joke: Silent but Violent: Watch Rhys Millen’s Run Up Pikes Peak (which I covered).

And set the table for the numerous NHTSA fines coming: FCA Awaits NTHSA’s Wrath After Recall Hearings

Then I revealed myself as a liberal, gas-hating hippie: BP’s Settlement and a Pound of Flesh

My second review for TTAC: 2016 Jaguar F-Type R AWD Review, which earned a Rotten Tomatoes score of  “Who Gives A Shit? It’s a Jaguar.” but had this comment:

Now, that’s a car review.

Thanks.

Made my month.

We broke news on my birthday: Nissan May Be Ending Rogue Select Sales in U.S.

Then we broke bread on my first “investigative”: Honda Has Alarmingly Few Female Managers in Japan, and They Know It (No one read that story.)

Oh yeah, about that hippie, liberal shit: Tax – Don’t Subsidize – Electric Cars

All You Can Pull

I also hauled some heavy shit with Murilee: Junkyard Bonanza: A Tale of All-You-Can-Haul Hooliganism

… and that was just July.

August

Where I get to ask Toyota U.S. boss Bill Fay, “Our commenters say you’re wrong”: Toyota Goes Limited with Tacoma for the First Time

My favorite headline: Why Can’t We Buy Bentleys On Amazon Yet?

Cheesecake Corvette fotos: Corvette Show for Crazy Dough

The most watched video of a Tacoma digging itself out of sand: 2016 Toyota Tacoma Has Rear Drum Brakes, Here’s Why

The first WTF Friday — but not the most controversial: Florida Car Wash Helping Homeless Off the Street

09 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The most commented story I wrote all year: What Are You Supposed to Drive Making Minimum Wage?

RIP Justin: IndyCar Racer Justin Wilson Dies After Pocono Crash

September

news-2016-audi-a3-sportback-tdi-exterior-02

I won’t bury the lede here, this story made the rest of my year easy: EPA Recalling Volkswagens, Audis for Bogus Emissions Tests

(If I can peel back the curtain a little. I was driving into Downtown Denver to a coffee shop when I got a text message from a fellow auto scribe that said: “WTF, why would EPA recall VWs? Any idea? Just got release. Help.” To which, my reply was: “EPA? Why? Did they fall for the bananas in the tailpipe?”)

There were other stories in September, too.

October

news-2016-audi-a3-sportback-tdi-exterior-02

VW’s Diesel Cars Have Been Sitting At U.S. Ports For Months — Here’s a story that ran in late September, but doesn’t count as a September story and I’ll tell you why: When we first heard about 2016 Audi A6 TDIs sitting at U.S. ports, it was July. I humped this story for days. I called, e-mailed and pestered officials for an explanation why those cars weren’t being delivered to customers. FOR WEEKS. I finally got an EPA spokeswoman (who has been quoted in subsequent stories as passively critical of VW) to tell me that they hadn’t been “certified” yet. No explanation beyond that. An Audi spokesman laid it all on the EPA’s feet. Did they know those cars were illegally cheating? I’ll never know. But my gut told me something was going on, but no one would tell me anything. I would have never guessed the massive scandal that would ensue later, but goddammit, we were so close.

My first curse in a headline: Columnist: Car Buffs Who Don’t Like Tesla Are ‘Making Shit Up’

WTF Friday Win!: Man Arrested for Bulldozer Rampage in South Dakota

Navel-gazing, but goddamn how many press awards are there?: Everything Is Bigger In Texas, Including its Automotive Awards

November

640px-Ralph_Nader_in_Waterbury_12,_October_4,_2008

I’m the most proud of this story, not because it got the most traffic, nor that it was the most commented upon, but because I truly believe that the world needs another auto safety advocate for the 21st century: We Need Another Ralph Nader To Save Us From Ourselves

VW cheated some more: Volkswagen, EPA Disagree on ‘Defeat Device’ in 3-liter Models

Read this, I spent a lot of time on it: Volkswagen’s Apology And How It Might Save Millions

And we went to L.A.: L.A. Fakers

December

I feel like this will be important later: Car Loans Get Longer, Credit Scores Get Lower and We’re More Reliant on Automakers for Money Now

And I’ll never forget this story: Mitsubishi Closes Normal Plant After 27 Years

2016 Chevrolet Colorado Diesel

But all I can think about right now is this: Colorado, Canyon Diesels Held Up by ‘Final Validation’ namely because it was so clearly and shamelessly poached by other automotive websites (TFL, I’m looking at you) without any attribution. Even the follow up was picked up without attribution — except the Detroit Free Press, which included us — by a lot of sites.

(If I can peel back the curtain once again: There are a few levels of attribution I adhere to, and I’ll enumerate. If it’s a truly good scoop and one that required a lot of reporting and insight, I credit the outlet or reporter first, i.e. “The Chicago Tribune’s fine, fine, fine reporting uncovered … ” If it’s a good get, or one with original reporting, I’ll cite by the end of the first sentence ” … according to Bloomberg.” If it comes via press release or pre-packaged statement without any reporting or a phone call, I’ll get it done by the second or third graf ” … Reuters reported.”)

If you can’t give credit, you deserve none yourself.

But beyond petty journalismism, thank you B&B for everything you’ve done for me this year. I am truly grateful for you.

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