By on November 23, 2016

Our New Car

Remember when we didn’t know what the word “hashtag” meant? Gosh, that was nice. I recall reading one of Jack’s fiction pieces in 2012 (did I mention that Sunday Stories are coming back this weekend! YASSSS! Thank you, readers! #MakeFictionGreatAgain damn it I just used a hashtag) that was laden with hashtags and thinking, “Christ, I’m glad I have no idea what that was all about.”

Of course, it’s now 2016, and I’m busy adding #fordperformance #fordfocusrs #fors #nitrousblue to every single picture I post on Instagram in the hopes that some 15-year-old hot hatch enthusiast will get bored in study hall, find my picture, and give me the highly sought-after “like,” or, if I’m really lucky, a “follow.”

I think we can all agree this is pathetic behavior, yet everybody in the game does it. I’m not as bad as some — my social media pages are designed more to inflame the opposition than inspire loyalty — but we’re all driven to play this silly game by the OEMs, who have universally decided that having 10,000 Instagram followers means you get to have press cars delivered to your door, regardless if you have any knowledge of or about the industry.

Want to get a press car? Want to be invited to a press launch? Well, you better have one of the two following credentials:

  1. A business card that says Car & Driver, Road & Track, Jalopnik, or Motor Trend.
  2. A massive social media following.

If you go to any press event, you’ll hear the old-timers complaining about this ad nauseum. In fact, at the last event I attended, there was a crew of journosaurs hanging out in the hotel bar, being force-fed hors d’oeuvres like pigs being sent to the slaughter, and they were rehashing the topic of “mommybloggers” for the billionth time.

“They don’t even know anything about the cars!” bleated one obese man in a VW hat. “And yet they get all of the good trips.”

Aha. There’s the real complaint. It’s not the access to the cars that these guys care about (although they certainly don’t mind not having a car payment). It’s the trips! Why should these mommybloggers and social influencers get to go to Hawaii, or Europe, or Argentina instead of me? Don’t you know who I am? I’m an automotive journalism professional!

They say this, of course, as they represent an outlet that neither you or I have ever heard of. They may or may not even get around to reviewing the cars. They certainly won’t do anything other than rewrite the press release and send it to the OEM for review before publishing. But they demand to go on the trips, to live a six-figure lifestyle while wearing shoes they bought at Walmart.

There’s nothing new about this, of course. Our former contributor, Caroline Ellis, blasted Honda for giving trips to sycophantic mommybloggers who refuse to give anything but positive reviews. But for the first time, I’m inclined to agree with the OEMs.

The world has moved on. The old school guys have tried to hold on to some shred of relevancy as they get fired from their jobs at the “Wheels” pages by launching their automotive web pages. There’s only one problem: they lack audience. Well, make that two problems. They also lack influence.

The mommybloggers? They have both, and they have it in spades. And whether the journosaurs like it or not, the audience and influence matter much more than any “technical expertise” they may have. As cars get better and more reliable, the buyer no longer needs to have an expert’s opinion on whether or not a certain type of motor has issues or if a transmission has problems. They are much more likely to trust the same voices for cars that they trust for their household cleaning products as they become less and less like mystical, confusing beasts and more and more like the other appliances they purchase.

Mommybloggers don’t have to be experts on grilles, or dishwashers, or refrigerators in order to give a trusted opinion, and I don’t think that they have to be experts on cars, either. While I’m glad that there are still people who search out the opinion of expert drivers and technicians, the vast majority of car shoppers are more likely to trust the opinions of friends, family, and, yes, social influencers.

Let’s face it: it’s time for these 60-something relics to disappear. They’re not relevant anymore, not to anybody buying a car. And while I love the Gen X/Y crowd of autowriters, there just aren’t enough of us to replace all of them — and maybe there shouldn’t be.

So let me be the first to welcome our mommyblogging overlords. If they’ve got the likes, send them the cars. Whether we like it or not, they matter.

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97 Comments on “Bark’s Bites: The Social Network...”


  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    I hope I never see a mommy blogger PC reviewer, I’d have an aneurysm.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      I didn’t know anyone was still reviewing PC’s outside of “Apple’s new touchpad is awesome/stupid”

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        If reviews got people to stop buying these disgustingly cheap Pentium (yes, Pentium. In 2016.) laptops that I’m forced to sell at work, that would be great.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al From 'Murica

          I thought the i3 was the cheap processor with the Pentium being left in the 90’s

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            Nope! Pentium is the cheap processor with the i3 being the first step up. I try and bump people up to the i3 models because nobody should be buying a 1.6GHz PC in 2016.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al From 'Murica

            Are they still single core?

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            Nah, at least dual-core. But still pathetic.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Meh, how much CPU do you need to use e-mail, browse the web, run Word and Facebook?

            My second most used PC is a Dell D830 laptop with a slow Core2Duo that will turn 10 next month. Way more than adequate.

            I’d gripe about the lack of RAM and slooow spinning hard drives in cheap laptops before I would complain about the CPU.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “Meh, how much CPU do you need to use e-mail, browse the web, run Word and Facebook?”

            have you seen some of the bloated scripts and plugins so many websites use? I’ve had some Facebook pages bring a fairly top-end Core i5 down to a stuttering mess.

    • 0 avatar
      Compaq Deskpro

      Have you checked out a T460 yet? Engineering nirvana.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        That’s a ThinkPad, yeah? There aren’t any stores around here that sell ThinkPads, so…no.

        Also, while I have no experience with the Compaq Deskpro, I love my old bricky Compaq LTE 5280 laptop.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    What, exactly, _is_ a hashtag ? .
    .
    I know it’s this symbol : # but other than that I haven’t a clue .

    .
    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      2manycars

      Same here, though I call it by its proper name: the pound sign.

      I thought people were talking about hash browns. It’s probably some idiotic thing that the youngsters are into.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      I think it gets people to see your comment when you use it and they click on it. So if I put #fordrules on my tweet, anyone who clicks on that hashtag will be shown mine as well as others. People will use it to surmise a subject I’ve noticed, like #learninglhashtags #barksbites #turkeyday #ttac and so on.

      Its a way of raising awareness, building a buzz, getting noticed. This is not coming from a social media expert, as you’ll read below in this comment, but its what I’ve gathered and I won’t take offence to being corrected if I’m wrong.

      I’d rather get noticed driving my Mustang GT than for tweeting about it.

      And I say that with all due respect to Bark and others who tweet and whatnot. Its part of their existence now, as explained in this article. I just don’t do social media outside commenting here and on the few YouTube videos I find interesting. I mean, I use the web, like letgo, eBay and craigslist, but I don’t have a Facebook or Twitter or Instagram account.

  • avatar
    mikey

    In my day a “hash tag ” was that little burn mark , on your vinyl car seat

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    The problem with the ‘journosaurs’ (love that term) is that they were largely useless, even during their prime. Each new model was, ‘the best yet’! Or ‘finally something that allows the D3 to compete in this segment with the Japanese`! And of course they always recommended that you buy `the fully loaded model`.

    Never any recommendations or concerns regarding long term reliability, previous re-calls, cost cutting on parts, etc. Primarily just pimping for the manufacturers in order to keep getting the free trips/junkets, swag and use of their free press cars.

    So no tears for them on my part. And that is one reason why I turned to TTAC and prefer rental car reviews and reviews by actual owners.

    Here is an actual ‘review’ from a national newspaper in Canada, from this week that demonstrates just how inept and inane auto ‘journalists’ from the mainstream can be.
    http://driving.ca/volvo/xc90/reviews/comparison/suv-comparison-2017-cadillac-xt5-vs-2016-volvo-xc90

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly, I just came here to make this point.

      The real ‘auto reviewers’ were never any better than mommybloggers. They regurgitated meaningless specs. They praised the new model as a vast improvement without question, they hailed the new big three as *finally* being a true competitor for their European or Japanese equivalents (of course, 5 years later they would say that it was never a real competitor to those vehicles, was built poorly, unreliable, or poorly designed). They never turned in a negative review for fear of losing their trips. There was limited, if any, value added.

      What’s worse is that all of this was combined with people who had no reference or what ‘actual buyers’ cared about. Testing a 7-passenger CUV? We get comments about the handling and steering feel. Driving a family sedan? Focus on the design. At least mommybloggers are fully aware of their audience’s needs, since they live those needs.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I’ve never considered the “buff books” as Jack likes to call them anything more than entertainment. Certainly never considered them journalism particularly. Newspaper car reviews are filler at best. So why not the online equivalent? I make up my own mind about what I like anyway.

      Though I find it amusing that despite all the b!tching about them Jack has done over the years, he sure is all over Road & Track these days. But he’s entertaining, so it is all good. Hope they pay him well.

  • avatar
    mleclerc19xx

    And that’s how you create a Kardashian: give an audience to someone who clearly has no knowledge of what she is talking about. #incompetence

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I like “mommyblog” reviews because they fill an important niche, and typically cover cars people actually buy. The R&T home page articles are for wannabes drooling over the 1% cars they’ll never own.

    I don’t need 0-60 times, but I am interested in whether my stuff will fit inside, and how to change the radio station without using menus. I can get technical details elsewhere.

    • 0 avatar
      baconator

      Indeed. Very few women I know complain that, say, their car isn’t stable enough under threshold braking. However, nearly every woman that I know complains that cars don’t have anyplace to put their purse. (Exception: The Tahoe / Yukon / Suburban, which has a center console big enough to smuggle immigrants.)

      If such a huge proportion of buyers have this problem, why the hell haven’t manufacturers fixed it?

      Maybe mommybloggers will draw attention to this and other everyday needs of the actual (not imagined) customer.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        I agree. And our Kia Rondo has a hook on the passenger side of the dash that is both big and sturdy enough to hold a ‘regular’ purse.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al From 'Murica

        I hate that stupid hook…it takes up all of the damn legroom when I have to ride in my wife’s car. That stupid purse hook is causing miles to be racked up on my F150 which has plenty of purse room though I sometimes wonder if the payload is up to carrying that thing around.

    • 0 avatar

      Yep this is a great post actually. I agree with Bark as well. I think initially too much play was given to social media marketing (I avoid it as much as possible (except blogs) ) right now that’s where a lot of people get their info including most of my family members. It really is hard to ignore as a OEM. And as SCE mentions it’s not like some of them don;t add value they really do. Information on fitting 3 actual kids in a backseat is really important to the right customer.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      Um, CR covers that and has for quite a few decades. Mommyblogers aren’t entertaining to me, but that doesn’t make them relevant to real world concerns either. Most of them prattle about the damn hors d’oeuvres more than they talk about the interior utility. When they get to the car it’s “this car is fancy and it makes me feel special to drive it without paying” only… not so concise.

  • avatar
    mikey

    I agree with ” Arthur Daily. ” . I want to read about the real world experiences . The good , and the bad.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Well written road test reports tell me something the mommybloggers don’t care about and most of the journosaurs are too inept to determine: How does the vehicle drive especially when pushed hard.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    Real world “what’s it like to live with” is important. If a mommyblogger or journosaur provides that information then more power to them

    BUT

    The mommyblogger type as far as I can tell is just one more attention seeker whoring for access to the corporate feed trough.

    There is more bang for the buck with car companies going the mommyblogger route and besides, buyers already have preconceived notions as to what is best and why interfere with their illusions/delusions by pointing out the truth.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    Journos are not dinosaurs. They are just soulless, faceless, characterless scriveners of words. By their secret codes they need to be characterless, so as to appear unbiased. Mommybloggers, as well as Jack Baruth, are mini-celebrities whose endorsement counts. They have an online character that creates associations. The fans follow them because they associate. If Jack stopped writing car reviews entirely, but simply wrote articles such as “I was at my own rock show where everyone was looking for me, and I hid well and rested in a 2017 Malibu in the parking lot”, his fan base would have an association that may make Malibu appealing.

    • 0 avatar
      spreadsheet monkey

      “Mommybloggers, as well as Jack Baruth, are mini-celebrities whose endorsement counts.”

      Good point. Jack takes his writing craft more seriously than most and his PCOTY articles in Road and Track are excellent, but I still see him as an entertaining lifestyle writer rather than a serious journalist (where “lifestyle” includes motorsport, guitar playing, and a bit of manosphere stuff). I’d be interested to hear Jack’s opinion on where he fits in on the continuum of Lifestyle Writer – – – – Serious Auto Journalist.

      And what about you, Bark? You’re obviously a car guy, but have a real day job, and writing/reviewing isn’t your main source of income. Do those auto journalists you meet on press events see you as one of their own, or are you just another interloper as far as they are concerned, along with all the mommybloggers?

      • 0 avatar

        I could write for a living, but I choose not to, as it would be a rather poor living in comparison.

        The people whom I respect respect me in turn. The ones I don’t? I imagine they don’t respect me, either. But I am typically there representing an outlet that commands respect on its own.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I’m amazed the mommybloggers get any special trips. Do you need to go to Ibiza to review a Lexus RX or NX?

    God I hope they’re not sending them to Ferrari releases!

    FML it’s only a two seater, can I turn off the passenger airbag for Preston’s car seat?!?!?!

  • avatar
    orenwolf

    So, here’s a question-as-thought-provoker.

    A good friend of mine, Cory Doctorow, wrote a great Sci-fi book called “Down & Out in the Magic Kingdom”, which, among other things, presented the idea of “whuffie” – a currency that you gained by being “liked”, and a currency that tended to flow up to the “1%” of celebs – basically, that once you had enough of it, it was trivial to get more, but if you didn’t have any, it was nearly impossible to gather an amount worth having.

    In a lot of ways, social media cred is basically whuffie. But that’s not really the problem. The problem is, what alternative exists?

    No age group with any purchasing power reads newspapers anymore. The definitely don’t listen to the radio or read magazines, and they watch traditional TV less and less. So, if you are an automaker, how *do* you get eyeballs to look at your new shiny thing? Banner ads still attract some, but the savviest buyers use ad block or, at the very least, tune those out now. So all you have left are blogs, and social media, because that’s the only place any attention is being spent nowadays.

    Sure if you want to attract “enthusiasts” you can put ads in buff books, but how many of them are buying new cars? If you want joe six-pack and the missus to notice your shiny new 2017 ULTRA MEGA edition SUV, you need to get posts on facebook and get media personalities to talk about it.

    I completely agree with you that the situation sucks, but what’s the alternative?

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      orenwolf – well said.Electronic media is the new world. We are faced with changing media preferences. I rarely ever watch mainstream TV and if I do it is on a PVR and I skip the commercials. FM Radio or Sirius satellite is out. I got over 2,000 songs on my IPod.
      I visit an FCA site and all I see for 2 weeks after are adds pooping (want to print pooping up) promoting FCA products. I don’t facebook or Instagram but my kids do. I’m moving out and they are moving in.
      Sucks to be a dinosaur but that is life.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      @orenwolf: unfortunately your premise regarding spending is incorrect. It is the old timers who have the disposable incomes and are the spenders. For example ‘The average new car buyer is now 51.7 years old’. From the August 2015 Autonews.

      And anyone who owns a detached home in the GTA is at least on paper, now a millionaire. Prices this year have increased on average $2k per week. So they have considerable money/credit to spend.

      I recommend reading any of David Foot’s books, website and/or research. He basically invented the study of demographics as it applies to the economy. If I had acted on his research/recommendations, I would now be entering this from my stately manor home in the U.K.

      • 0 avatar
        orenwolf

        Ah, but you are confusing “who is buying cars today” with “who would the automakers like to be buying cars today”.

        An aging population of drivers is not the best demographic to pin your future on. Ask Cadillac. Automakers very much want younger people to consider spending what little disposable income they have on autos, and mostly have only one medium to reach them on.

        Paper millionaires in the GTA are buying luxobarges, and those are the manufacturers still advertising in Post City Magazine and Pusateri’s. But that does nothing to help volume manufacturers or the larger industry as a whole.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          Unfortunately that too would be a losing strategy. Younger urban dwellers live in condos that most often do not have parking spaces.

          If they do own a car, it is often parked during the week and used only on weekends. The walk, ride or use public transit to and from work.

          And they do not own 2nd or 3rd cars, like older suburban ‘boomers’.

          The suburban boomers are buying SUV’s, the most common vehicles on our suburban streets. Not large ‘luxury’ sedans.

          The auto industry is undergoing a sea change. Shared ownership is increasing. Electric/hybrid vehicles. Within our lifetime autonomous self-driving vehicles. The home with a garage and driveway and 2 vehicles in it will go the way of the horse and buggy.

          The manufacturers, retailers and advertisers who understand and benefit from this trend will be the survivors.

          • 0 avatar
            indi500fan

            “The home with a garage and driveway and 2 vehicles in it will go the way of the horse and buggy. ”

            Most unlikely if you’re talking about the USA.
            NYC and SF, yeah sure. Trump country, not a chance.

        • 0 avatar
          Dave M.

          Cadillac’s misfortunes were not that their target age group died off, it was that they chose to stay frozen in attracting that age group until it was too late.

          Beginning in the late ’60s they should have developed/carried at least one model that catered to the next generation. They didn’t until perhaps the Seville, and it’s replacement was a total misfire. The quality of their product undermined any expansion as well.

          Think Pontiac in the 1950’s – an old man’s car until the right people got in place (DeLorean et al) to juice up the brand in the early ’60s.

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        Arthur,

        The average first-time new car buyer is probably in the same demographic as the average mommyblogger (hate that term).
        People at that age are a lot easier to influence because they have less experience.

        Obviously, these are the same people who will later “never buy another …[brand of first car]!”
        By the time you get to your sixties, you’ve crossed so many brands off the list that you’ve painted yourself into a corner.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          I doubt very much that the average ‘mommy blogger’ is approaching 52 years of age, which is the average age of a new car buyer.

          As for demographics in the USA, remember that Hillary got more actual votes than the President Elect and that those too young to vote would probably also have preferred her. So, yes indeed the 2 car in the driveway suburban home will also become an ever shrinking minority.

          Urbanization is still a trend and the areas with the greatest urban population tended to represent the areas most likely to support Clinton.

          Here are more facts on car buying demographics:
          http://brandongaille.com/17-important-car-buyer-demographics/

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            Arthur,

            I wrote “first time” buyer. The average buyer may be 52, but it’s likely not their first new car.

            The term “Mommyblogger” implies that they are starting families, so they are in the market for a bigger/safer/newer car, and they don’t have a lot of buying experience. Their social media followers fit in the same demographic.

            Seems obvious why car companies value them as much as, or more than, middle-aged auto writers.

      • 0 avatar
        shipping96

        What is GTA? Only acronym I could think of is “Grand Theft Auto”

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Bark and I have both read “Down and Out”; I think I have the hardcover somewhere in my house.

      Cory’s one of those guys whom I admire tremendously but whom I think would benefit from a solid shot of T to the arm.

    • 0 avatar
      OldManPants

      “A good friend of mine, Cory Doctorow”

      Hah! No wonder you’re intolerable!

      It’s good to occasionally have one’s instincts confirmed.

  • avatar
    Fred

    As a old guy myself, I think we need fewer bloggers who think the only thing worth while in a car is how much you can drift it and how the 0-60 times compare to some Camry and don’t get me going on those more macho truck reviews. That’s it for me, I’m off work early today and hitting the road for Tulsa of all places. Have a good Thanksgiving all.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Might we consider this past election as the last stand of the V8 loving, gasoline powered, self-wrenching, gear/petrol heads who will soon be washed away demographically by the hybrid driving, car sharing, never get their hands dirty millennials?

    Bark might even like to address this in a future column?

  • avatar
    Mathias

    >> [..]regardless if you have any knowledge of or about the industry.

    And, of course, regardless if you can write good.

    • 0 avatar

      Since you brought up the topic, the punctuation was correct, but you started a sentence with a conjunction and good is an adjective, not an adverb. On second thought, I’m no expert grammarian (and there are likely mistakes in this comment) but I’m not even sure that’s an actual sentence. There is a verb and a noun in there but I’m not convinced there’s a subject and a predicate.

      • 0 avatar
        Mathias

        >> good is an adjective, not an adverb.

        True. Which is why I wrote it that way.
        I should have used sarcasm font.

        “Regardless if you have any knowledge” should be “regardless of whether you have any knowledge.”

        The “grille” is on a Buick.
        The “grill” is a Weber.

        I got whiplash from that one, since it was supposed to make the point that someone reviewing “grilles” wouldn’t know anything about cars.

        If Bark doesn’t know better, fine. Give him the gift of editing.
        Half the writing on TTAC would embarrass a school newspaper.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    People forget that blogging is the information Wild-Wild-West. TTAC has recently posted a blog about a camaro where it was tacitly implied that the author would gladly perform fellatio on a GM executive. That blog was a waste of time that few of us will get back. A mommy blogger can say her CUV is “just great” because the backseat holds both a baby seat and booster seat. Bark can say Jack is a deity in four dimensions and is quite easily the most important American in his age group. Or he can say Jack has unkempt kitty litter in his beard from eating cat turds for breakfast. It all depends on what the author is trying to communicate and their intended audience. Sometimes, their cleverness too. Your suspension of disbelief may vary wildly.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      Now you’ve made me open that sponsored content just to read the comments. They weren’t nearly as entertaining as I’d hoped. It must have been written by someone who knows enough to understand that a Mini does not have 50/50 weight distribution, but I’m not willing to read beyond the first couple of sentences to confirm that.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    “Mommybloggers don’t have to be experts on grilles, or dishwashers, or refrigerators in order to give a trusted opinion, and I don’t think that they have to be experts on cars, either.”

    Yeah, it’s way too much to ask that those trusted with reviewing vehicles for a living understand the fundamental basics of how automobiles function, and what governs acceleration, handling and stopping characteristics.

    Whether one believes reviewers of the past did a good, indifferent or terrible job, let’s throw the baby out with the bathwater and turn future vehicle reviews over to those with 100,000 Twitter followers who couldn’t locate the hood release lever if even if their life depended on it (rather than, you know, DEMANDING improvement in the reviewers and the reviews).

    #BadIdeas

  • avatar
    Chan

    Mommybloggers are more likely to reach the audience that actually buys your cars.

    Sorry, I love car magazines and car-centric websites like TTAC, but we are just a niche. The truth hurts.

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    That picture is stupid

  • avatar
    headphone lampshade router

    That’s harsh things to say about poor Peter De Lorenzo. :(

  • avatar
    baggins

    Some mommy bloggers are kinda hot. I bet the one in the pic attached to this post looks pretty good when she has a normal look on her face.

  • avatar

    As I understand it, one reason why companies like mommybloggers is apparently that women readers aren’t really looking for actual reviews in the sense of the possibility of something negative being expressed. They may be looking more for validation or just info about new stuff. It may be a chicken and egg situation, but women who blog about female stuff like cosmetics rarely say anything negative. If a product is really crappy, they just won’t bother with publishing the review. They’d rather write about stuff they like. Their readers don’t like to read negative reviews and companies giving out free stuff and perks don’t either.

  • avatar
    spreadsheet monkey

    Bark, happy to follow you on Instagram, if it helps you to get to 100,000 followers (or some other arbitrary number) and get more access to press fleets.

    Can’t find you on there though. Are you BarkM, or BarkM302, or a different name?

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    I saw a table illustrating VW’s revenue sources in the WSJ yesterday. They make 2.9 billion Euros selling 177,000 Porsches to dealers. That’s over 16,000 Euros per car. I guess buying press is still showing a decent ROI. It’s no wonder Porsche has no interest in going smaller or cheaper. They’re already selling cars that cost as much as Highlanders and Miatas to produce for $60K.

  • avatar
    John

    Trying to puff yourself up by running others in your field down = age-old sign of mediocrity.

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