Category: Media

By on June 5, 2018

In 1987, Ford Motor Company published a game for the long-defunct disk operating system universally known as “DOS.” In reality, the software was less of a game and more of a digital showroom that allowed you to demo the company’s 1988 lineup from the comfort of your personal computer. As marketing materials go, you couldn’t have done much better than this for the era, and now it’s a top-rate piece of automotive nostalgia.

Ford Simulator was essentially the car-based equivalent to the CDs distributed by America Online, but before such a thing even existed. The software just had a way of casually showing up and finding its way into your computer room. This was an era when promotional materials were physical and technology had reached a point where the industry could experiment a little.

Tragically, the internet has eliminated this phenomenon like a dog with rabies. You don’t see much physical media at automotive trade shows anymore and any games that include branded models come through publishers that are able to work out a deal with automakers.

However, for almost 10 years, Ford produced a series of computer programs many of us remember fondly — despite being objectively terrible to play. Read More >

By on May 31, 2018

Elon Musk + Tesla Model S Circa 2011

Oh, Elon. Elon, Elon, Elon.

As you, the reader, no doubt know, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been blasting the media – and financial analysts – for being critical of his company and/or its products. He was too annoyed to even answer questions from analysts during one recent earnings call – turning attention instead to a YouTube user who happens to be a Tesla investor and apparent fanboy. Musk gave him the floor for over 20 minutes.

Musk’s meltdown has continued since. Last week he stirred up shit on Twitter by suggesting that the media is lying and that he’ll create a media-rating service. He also may or may not have blown an anti-Semitic dog whistle (I don’t think that was his intent, but I can see why it was taken that way – especially given some of the nasty stuff that’s taken place on Twitter since, oh, lo about mid-2015 or so) in the process.

That’s just the short version.

Read More >

By on January 23, 2018

It’s odd to consider, but in a world where Steve McQueen had never lived I’d be about three dozen serious injuries better off than I am today. Scratch that. I don’t need him to have never lived. I just need him to have not supported the production of “On Any Sunday.”

That film romanticizes the Elsinore GP, which in turn led me to enter the Elsinore GP, which led me to break my leg training for the Elsinore GP, which led me to record a big fat DNS for the Elsinore GP. Worse than that, however, the opening sequence of “On Any Sunday” is commonly understood to be the catalyst for the sport of bicycle motocross, which has treated me worse than Ike Turner treated Tina.

Not that I bear any grudge against the man, mind you. I do, however, have complete and abiding contempt for the consumer-driven culture of McQueen worship that has arisen in the past 20 years or so. If you wear Hunsiker McQueen shoes or a McQueen T-shirt, or if you repeat the “Racing is life” line from LeMans like it was someone’s actual philosophy and not just a line written for an actor on a set, I’m going to think less of you. It’s not because McQueen was a vile person at times, although it is worth noting that his behavior often went past the rambunctious into the just plain despicable. It is because while boys and teenagers need heroes to admire and emulate, grown men shouldn’t wear another man’s face or name on their bodies if they can help it. Period, point blank.

Last week, Ford introduced a new “Bullitt Mustang” with the help of McQueen’s lovely granddaughter, Molly Flattery dba Molly McQueen. I have to say that I like everything about the car but the new-for-2019 nose, which is uncomfortably catfish-esque, and the “Bullitt” logos. As was the case the last two times a Bullitt Mustang appeared, there’s been a revival of interest in the movie. My wife had never seen it, so we watched “Bullitt” this past Friday night. Shortly afterwards, I read a Jalopnik piece by Raphael Orlove describing the movie as “boring garbage.”

It seems like the right time to take a look at the film without Gulf-colored lenses or Millennial-ish suspicion, so let’s open the curtain on another episode of TTAC At The Movies, shall we? Warning: spoilers ahead for those of you who haven’t managed to catch the film in the past 49 years. Read More >

By on August 3, 2017

Top Gear America screengrab

Automotive television is, at best, a mixed bag. At worst, it’s a cultural wasteland of gimmicky programing that persists only because of our deep love for cars, bolstered by a handful of engaging personalities. Suggesting that I am generally dubious of any new car-related entry into the entertainment landscape would be a gross understatement. So, when the rebooted Top Gear America aired over the weekend, my expectations were already incredibly low.

I suppose the nicest way to phrase this is by saying it did not exceed those expectations.

While it attempts to capture the magic of vintage Top Gear in much the same way the current British version strives to, the first episode fell far short of the mark. Whether that’s down to the hosts not having adequate time to develop legitimate chemistry or a systematic flaw in the show’s design remains to be seen. But something is definitely wrong here.

Episode One felt extremely awkward, although not entirely hopeless. And I’ve reminded myself that I didn’t much care for Richard Hammond the first time I saw him on the screen, either. Fast forward 15 years and I enter into a panic every time he’s in a scrape, terrified that God might take that adorable little man away from me. Read More >

By on July 11, 2017

2018 Honda Odyssey Silver Driver Front quarter

Who knew the well-equipped 2018 Honda Odyssey was so… titillating? An unsuspecting journalist over at Forbes saw a few more — let’s call them entertainment options — than she expected while browsing through the video selection offered via her Odyssey tester’s rear media screen.

At that point, things became a little hot under the collar at Honda.

Read More >

By on April 25, 2017

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, Image: FCA

Update: We’ve redacted a sentence from this editorial. You can find an explanation here.

Jay-Z and Beyonce got nothing on the marketing people from Dodge. The last low-volume vehicle to get this kind of publicity and raise this kind of ruckus was probably the LaFerrari, which was definitely not based on a $29.99/day rental car. (Trust me, I’ve driven the LaFerrari.) It will also toss, by my back-of-envelope estimation, somewhere between $100m and $200m into the company coffers, even if you don’t take into account all the lower-spec Challengers — even Hellcats — the Demon will sell just by drawing traffic into dealers.

The media response to the Demon has been half predictable and half rather refreshing.

The predictable part is the Motor Trend-style cheerleading, which in this case has spread far beyond MT because — let’s face it — anybody can get excited over a nine-second street car. (By contrast, it takes a seasoned hack, erm, a real pro to get excited about the Bolt.) The refreshing half of the commentary has come from the half of the media that likes to style itself as an un-elected and un-appointed fiscal watchdog of the industry. These are the people who whine a certain car “won’t sell” or “doesn’t make money” as if they are major shareholders of GM instead of underwater-basketweaving-degree-holders sitting in rent-controlled apartments on a mountain of student debt.

Normally, these people would be up in arms that an automaker has taken time off from the critical business of building suppository-shaped RX300 clones to briefly indulge in a bout of misguided enthusiasm about automobiles. In this case, however, the Demon is so obviously going to be wildly profitable that they’ve been forced to shut up and/or join the chorus of approbation. Except, that is, for one crusty old relic of the legacy media who’s found a new tune to play.

Read More >

By on April 14, 2016

apple_car_mt

Motor Trend,” TTAC alum and occasional minor-event organizer Brock Yates once declared, “is for people who move their lips when they read.” Were Yates still with us, he’d likely be somewhat less than surprised at the breakneck pace with which MT is attempting to transform itself into a YouTube video first and a magazine-for-morons second. It’s a sound business model; why limit your content to the even vaguely literate when you can break the shackles of the written word entirely and deliver extended advertorials to the lowest possible common denominator?

Of course, it would be both crass and impolite for us to imply that Motor Trend thinks its consumers are complete idiots who will eagerly place their lips on the corporate cloaca of “TEN: The Enthusiast Network” and eagerly lap up whatever poorly digested material is splattered into their open mouths.

It would also be unnecessary, because — as of last night — Motor Trend has made that point for us.

Read More >

By on March 4, 2016

golf_tdi_sets_guinness_world_records_achievement__5069

When a self-described automotive journalist attempts a fuel economy record, you expect his attempt to be objective — or, at least, as objective as such an attempt can be.

However, when an automaker is willing to pay that automotive journalist thousands of dollars for the effort, with payment possibly dependent on achieving the desired record, objectivity falls by the wayside and, along with it, the credibility of someone believed to be a hero in high-fuel-efficiency circles.

Wayne Gerdes, if you aren’t familiar, owns a website called CleanMPG.com. It’s a forum dedicated to those squeezing every bit of fuel efficiency possible from their vehicles — also known as “hypermiling.”

Automotive journalist Gerdes set two records — in 2013 and 2015 — using Volkswagen TDI Clean Diesels. In doing so, the journalist lined his pockets with Volkswagen’s marketing cash.

Read More >

By on February 11, 2016

motortrend2.

If you’re reading this, chances are that you have little to no familiarity with Motor Trend. The audience here at The Truth About Cars, as we all know, is a superbly well-educated and successful group of detail-oriented people from all parts of the (autism) spectrum. The readers of MT, on the other hand, are almost all drooling morons who move their lips very slowly when they read, and are exceeded only in their ability to excite repugnance by the chronically inbred half-wits who watch Motor Trend videos, their crystal-meth-addled eyes jumping randomly with perpetual, idiotic surprise at the public-access-TV-level antics spooned contemptuously into the permanently dropping corners of their toothless mouths.

I’m just kidding about that last part, of course. I’d known plenty of very nice people who subscribed to Motor Trend. On the other hand, I don’t apologize for characterizing TTAC readers as Aspies. There’s something wrong with all of you. You’d rather read a Camry review than a story about jumping an Aventador over a river filled with piranhas. I love you for it. Please keep reading. I need the money.

Futhermore, there are a few men of steely courage and razor-sharp intellect out there among the B&B who are willing to brave the foetid depths of Motor Trend’s website just to get the latest breaking news about THE NEW CAMARO TELLS THE MUSTANG TO STEP OUTSIDE! or, possibly, THE NEW MUSTANG TELLS THE CAMARO TO STEP OUTSIDE! One of them e-mailed us this morning to tell a strange tale: last night, a Motor Trend editor published a scathing editorial attacking the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA), only to have it disappear in the light of the next day.

Read More >

By on January 13, 2016

porsche-ceo-matthias-muller

On Monday, Volkswagen CEO Matthias Müller told NPR that the automaker didn’t lie in 2014 when regulators asked the automaker why its cars were polluting way more than advertised:

“We didn’t lie. We didn’t understand the question first. And then we worked since 2014 to solve the problem.”

Immediately realizing that wasn’t the thing to say, Müller asked NPR for a do-over Monday, which he got:

“Yeah, the situation is, first of all we fully accept the violation. There is no doubt about it. Second, we have to apologize on behalf of Volkswagen for that situation we have created in front of customers, in front of dealers and, of course, to the authorities. …”

Which sounds much more conciliatory, but doesn’t necessarily contradict his earlier statement. So, yeah, this isn’t good. Read More >

By on June 16, 2015

I don’t mind being preached to. Or being preached at. I mean, I’ve played guitar in a few church bands, and not all of the churches in question would let me sleep in my car during the sermon. Once in a while, I’d toss a couple of bucks in the collection plate, as well. So you could even argue that I’m okay with paying for the privilege of being preached at.

Insofar as I have an Internet connection and the ability to use it, I knew prior to walking into the new “Mad Max” film that I’d be effectively paying to be preached at, and the sermon would be the American-media orthodoxy of 2015: Women are just like men, only smarter, braver, and tougher. Old white men are the source of all the world’s evil and they are always trying to “own” babies, er, fetuses, er, tissue, that should be the property of women. Only by becoming a “feminist ally” can a man have any worth in society.

I knew all of this before the first digital frame of this movie appeared on the screen, and I was prepared to live with it. What I was not prepared for was this: Mad Max: Fury Road just plain sucks.

Read More >

By on May 8, 2015

pcarskotaku

Project CARS is probably the most hotly-anticipated automobile-related video game to “drop” in the past few years. It’s ridden a positively Kanagawan wave of media hype and compensated “viral” marketing to its release – but at least one well-informed source is saying that this new emperor is decidedly trouserless.

Read More >

By on April 30, 2015

Mayweather with owner of Fusion Luxury Motors

This headline is as true as any other you’ve read over the past few days.

Read More >

By on February 28, 2015

MN_Tow_Truck-550px

Kansas City’s KCTV reported this week on an attempt to repair a 2012 Missouri state law that has led to a dramatic increase in car thefts. The law, which allows people to sell vehicles 10 years or older without a title, was originally intended to help rural property owners dispose of derelict vehicles and outdated machinery that would otherwise be left to rot. Criminals, however, soon discovered that they could scoop up virtually any vehicle that met the standard and sell it to scrap yards for a tidy profit. Read More >

By on November 5, 2014

ford-dealership-newark-1950s Courtesy grayflannelsuit.net

It appears that I am a few days behind Matt in cruising westbound down Route 66 in New Mexico. We checked into the legendary Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari last night and discovered that our room came equipped with the December 24, 1956 issue of Automotive News, unearthed from a long-closed dealership down the street. Some of the articles in the trade rag proved that today’s car biz is indeed, in the words of Yankee great Yogi Berra, “deja vu all over again”… Read More >

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