The Decline and Fall of Automotive Journalism

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“Mainstream” – that is, corporate – journalism died when it was bought, as by the drug cartels (Kudos, Woody Harrelson). Car journalism fell victim to the same forces, which homogenized journalists, often in the name of superficial “diversity.” Too many men, many of whom drank and smoke and – worst of all – were white and straight. The corporations said: More women! Because they were women. Not because they could write. Not because they knew cars.

So why were they being hired to write about cars?

Well, because some of them had big . . .

I mean that literally because factually. I saw it. Not meaning the . . . but the rest of it.

One of the first “diversity” hires I witnessed hired was a woman who was put into the not-driver’s seat at USA Today, back when people still read it (this was the ’90s). She had as much business writing about cars as Liberace had writing about dating. Well, women. But she did have something. Two of them. So she was given – literally – the job and the rest of us guys watched and marveled, which was foolish of us, in the manner of watching and marveling at the sight of the tide receding from the beach, the water drawing back, far out to sea.

Then came more “diversity,” in the form of the guy tasked by The Washington Post to be their car guy. He happened to black, which wasn’t the problem. It was that he could not drive, literally – unless the car had an automatic transmission. A brand-new high-performance sports car with a rear engine was dropped off for him to test drive and write about. Before he could do so, he had to be shown how to drive it.

And then he “reviewed” it.

This guy was not a bad guy; I knew him personally. He was a good writer, too – within his field of expertise (which was business). But his knowledge of cars – how they worked as well as what they meant – was superficial and thus his coverage. It costs this much vs. that one, which costs this much less (or more). It has this much power. It has a trunk this big.

Maybe that is what Post readers wanted, though.

It’s what they got, at any rate.

I used to attend the New York Auto Show at the Javits Center in New York City each year. Before the show is opened to the public it is open exclusively to press. One year in the mid-’90s I was there, waiting for one of the several serial press conferences about a new model “reveal” that was about to start. A guy approached me and identified himself as a writer for the Wall Street Journal. He told me he knew I wrote about motorcycles as well as cars and wanted some advice about getting into motorcycle writing. I figured he was a guy like me – who knew and liked bikes – so I asked him about his. He didn’t own a motorcycle. He did not know how to ride one. He had never ridden one.

But he wanted to write about them.

It took me awhile to respond.

This is what’s become of car – and, to some extent – motorcycle journalism, too. It correlates with what has become of cars and – to some extent – motorcycles.

Viz, the new electric scooters.

People who don’t know how to drive (or ride) like automatic transmissions, because they make it possible for people who do not know to drive (or ride) to go through the motions of driving and riding. This synergistically encourages more automatic-equipped cars and scooters, too. Leading in time – our time – to almost no manual-equipped cars. Encompassing even high-performance cars, most of which are now automatic only. 

And that, in turn, leads to more boring cars because anyone can “drive” them. Unlike, say, a Dodge Viper – if you remember. It was never even available with an automatic, which meant you had to know how to drive – at least a little bit – in order to drive it.

Inevitably, a post-manual dreary utilitarianism sets in. You can see it all around you.

It is crossover-ism.

One like the rest and all of them essentially the same, almost literally. A 2.0 liter engine paired with an automatic transmission. Is it any wonder the coverage, such as it is, focuses on cargo capacity and MPGs?

For what else is there to cover?

The automatic transmission arguably is the chief culprit – after the government – responsible for the loss of the diversity that once characterized what cars were all about.

It has encouraged people who had no business writing about cars to write about cars, which encouraged the manufacturers of cars to build more cars that cater to people who know nothing about cars – except insofar as they are useful as appliances. And thus, cars have become more and more appliance-like, with the electric car – that is “vehicle” – the most appliance-like of all. It is a vehicle that anyone can drive who can push down on a pedal and soon even that will be deleted from the equation.

At which point we’ll have come to where they wanted us to arrive.

. . .

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  1. A bit off-topic, but it pertains to journalism and free speech, which is steadily being eroded. The US Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal involving a parody FB page a man created mocking the local police department. The cops arrested him. He sued for violation of his civil rights, but the court ruled the cops had qualified immunity. So the cops can do anything they want, and get away with it, at least in the 6th Circuit states.

  2. I used to read all the car magazines since I was 14 years old, now I might glance through them but I have no interest in these new over computerized, government bastardized ice cars and I hate the EV’s..

    It is sickening to read these so called journalists spewing out propaganda about EV’s so they can get their ESG cash bonuses…..or how great these new over weight AI computer driven ice cars are…..

  3. I can’t be bothered to read most automotive journalism today. It’s missing a lot and then the ‘woke’ articles. Ug.

    All the writers of the 1980s that wrote stuff I liked to read are all retired or dead now. The replacements are almost entirely mediocre at best. All the magazines are shells of their former selves or gone entirely.

    • Hi Brent,

      I enjoyed High Performance Pontiac for years, chiefly because it remained what Hot Rod and Car Craft had been. It was oriented toward the average gearhead, not the guy who can afford a $30,000 “build.” I even wrote for it a couple of times. It went away circa 2008, as I recall – even though it had an online version. I think the problem with that was it was still done on a magazine-type schedule and the Internet is a medium of immediacy. They could not generate enough new material on a daily/weekly basis because of the niche nature of interest in classic Pontiacs and the dearth of new Pontiacs.

      Partially, it’s the cars that have killed off car journalism. Most new cars are homogenous, uninteresting and “sealed” even if you were interested. Who tinkers with them, besides adding electronics/audio equipment? There is is very little to improve, which is the curse of their being – in appliance terms – very good.


      But, we try to keep a light on in the window anyhow.

    • There’s one printed magazine left (IMO) that is worth the read and very well done. It’s the American Motorcyclist (AMA) magazine. Mitch Boehm is running it now. I’ve kept my AMA membership for decades now. Primarily for the towing insurance (it’s quite a good deal btw). The magazine is part of the “deal”. Once in a blue moon there would be a article of worth. But mostly it went right from the mail box to the recycle bin. Not now with Boehm in charge! It’s almost as good as Cycle World and Motorcyclist were back in the day. Highly recommended!

  4. The 80s and 90s were peak Car and Driver and the rest. I loved reading about the 300ZX, the Nissan SE-R, the Acura Intregras, the Mustangs and the like from folks who really liked driving and fine craftmnaship. I vicariously drove these cars through excellent writing of the talented jouranlists of the time. I wonder if car seats and not automatics killed dtriving, after all automatics have been around forever. Imagine being an 80s or 90s later kid suffocating in those things on every car ride. Imagine what that does to your sense of a car as a means of independence like I craved at 16. I remember falling out of my mom’s car as a young kid while she was driving, bounced off the pavement like rubber haha.

  5. Oh, no-o-o-o-o, here it comes again:

    ‘Rivian’s 2023 production outlook came up a little short and shares are falling 8.2% in after hours trading.

    ‘The electric-truck maker reported fourth-quarter sales of $663 million. Wall Street had been looking for sales of just under $800 million.

    ‘Looking ahead, Rivian expects to make 50,000 vehicles in 2023. Wall Street was hoping production would come in between 60,000 to 65,000 vehicles this year.’

    Does anyone detect a pattern here? Ford, Lucid, and now Rivian, all are falling short on production and sales of EeeVees.

    They can’t admit to getting suckered by EeeVee Fever: the market just ain’t that big, even with massive subsidies. Hooligans and rejectionists like ourselves are shunning their showrooms.

    If Rivian sells 50,000 trucks this year, I’ll march down Main Street in a clown suit with a red rubber ball on my nose, carrying a sign reading “Lord Help This Fool.”

    Don’t want your trucks anymore
    Don’t want your EeeVees, that’s for sure
    I die each time I hear this sound
    Here he comes, that’s Rivian’s clown

    — The Everly Brothers, Cathy’s Clown

    • “the market just ain’t that big, even with massive subsidies.”
      Without those subsidies, and the regulatory apparatus destroying their ICV competition, and FORCING people into them, there would not be enough market for EVs to justify mass production.

  6. The mainstream automotive press is dying, but there are still fantastic journalists out they’re they’re just independent. Case in point, a certain Mr. Eric Peters.

    Another great example is this Youtube channel, “savagegeese”-

    These guys do the most awesome, thorough car reviews. They get them on the lift, poke around, and don’t hold back with criticism. They’re very pragmatic when it comes to diesels or electrification.

      • Probably more time than I have on this Earth, but hopefully the legacy will survive me.
        As the old saying goes, “It’s remarkable what people can do when they have no choice.”

  7. We need more Brock Yates, who broke a few laws and ruffled some feathers. He fully understood the emotions tied to driving and got the blood pumping of millions of Americans. Maybe a new generation will embrace cannonball runs one more time

    • It’s easier to do that when the worst thing that’s likely to happen is a slap on the wrist and a stern talking-to from the cop.

      As much fun as a cannonball run undoubtedly would be…it’s not worth a felony rap and a stint in the big house. It takes a special kind of person to take that risk.

  8. ALL of my children, grandchildren and other relatives know how to drive manual transmission vehicles, thanks to ME… I point out that if one can drive a manual transmission vehicle, one can also operate construction equipment, tractors, and other off-road equipment.
    Not only is it about clutching and gear changing, but it is about CONTROL. Starting off in second gear during icing conditions can easily get one going without slipping and sliding all over the place. Those of us who drive manual transmission vehicles already know this…

  9. My advice, be a hero to little kids.

    I got 6 nephews and a niece, so what do I do? I drive them places with the top and doors off on my Bronco and really let them experience it in it’s glory, soon we’ll go offroading to boot.

    I point out I got a manual, show them how it works (Also, apparently I can shift without clutching in it, 3rd to 4th) and if we go to the Arcades, there’s a classic race game that’s really retro (like polygon graphics) with a clutch and 4spd, have them play that (Cars won’t start/shift without the clutch)

    Take the kids in your family for a spin in your car, offroad if you can, and make sure they want your car when they’re older!

  10. I think this is true not only of auto journalism, but ALL journalism. “News” coverage is unbelievably superficial and juvenile. The “reporters” are all young girls who look and act like children. They’re all narcissists — “Look at ME! I’m on TV!” They do not ask any probing or uncomfortable questions, they do not give any detailed information, and they always take the government propaganda at face value and merely regurgitate it unquestioningly.

    I DGAF about sportsball and do not follow it whatsoever, but I have noticed when watching the “news” that now EVERY channel has a female sportscaster.

    As if some 5’1″, 110 lb. girl knows the slightest thing about being a 275 lb. offensive lineman… yeah.

    • To be fair, they don’t look quite like children: they generally have two of the things Eric mentioned in the article, which children don’t have.
      Which of course is why they’re there.

    • I find an increasing incidence of them not being able to compose a coherent sentence. Maybe creepy joe’s problem is contagious?

  11. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

    Those idiots don’t count, they can’t. The internal combustion engine is eternal, it ain’t going nowhere.

    Yeppers, we don’t need no stinkin’ internal combustion anymore.

    Gerald Celente would tell you flat out that it is all bullshit, he would use the word, no holds barred. Tells it like it is.

    What is over is the war over there, the only thing left to do is quit, Ukrainians are getting slaughtered and so are Russians.

    Might want to consider doing something entirely different.

    Pride goeth before fall.

    The old Seppuku trick, fall on your sword.

    Not some machete, make it a 100,000,000 dollar Samurai sword, impeccably meticulously perfectly flawlessly forged steel blade to do the dreaded deed that must be done.

    There is one that can be used.

    “Red was the color of his blood flowing thin
    Pallid white was the color of his lifeless skin
    Blue was the color of the morning sky
    He saw looking up from the ground where he died
    It was the last thing ever seen by him” – The Association, Requiem for the Masses

    • I had also heard, Drumpish, that the military is not teaching soldiers Morse Code any more. This, from one 20-something guy who was in the army, that related such to me about 10 years ago. Not sure how true that is, but between that, and everything else going to hell, it makes the movie “Idiocracy” seem not only possible, but likely.

  12. With this push for ChatGPT, could you imagine if all the “Mainstream automotive journalists” were to be replaced by ChatGPT? Instead of pieces written by HUMANS about EVs, the latest automotive tech, etc., pieces we see in automotive magazines like Car & Driver and Motor Trend would be written by ChatGPT, and we’d likely see PUFF pieces PRAISING such technology as “100% CLEAN!” or “Saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafe!”

  13. I grew up in a family that leased cars, no one drove stick (Dad can, but his last was an ’81 300zx) and if I wanted to learn, I had to do it the old fashion way; Make friends with salesman and classmates and promise not to crash their cars.

    After I started learning, I’d be happy with a stock ek civic (Green no less) with a 5spd. Never had a japanese car, but had an ’01 225 TT, ’07 A4 2.0t and now a ’21 Bronco Badlands. I drove nearly 100k miles in 10yrs with them, all up and down the east coast (NH with the Audi, Fl with the Bronco) and through all 5 boroughs, especially in rush hour traffic.

    I mention all that as I’m firmly in the “Save The Manuals” camp and wouldn’t get an automatic at all, I’d train my future spouse to drive stick and my future kids as well, especially on old tuners with engine swaps, so we can mod it as they get better. Still plenty of cars to get and experience, fortunately always red states when the commies start clamping down as well.

    Also, to Floriduh man’s point, who cares about boring generic super cars with automatics, where’s the fun in those once the initial rush of speed wears off? I’ll pass, I miss the days of “GTI vs MS3 vs WRX vs Mini Cooper S” though, now that markets all but gone, though at least the Toyobaru’s are still around

    I type anymore, and i’ll be anonymous xP

  14. I’ve always contended that to maintain auto-driving eligibility, anyone must also have the skills to competently operate a motorcycle, but that’s just me. The reality is that most motorcyclists don’t even have adequate motorcycle skills, even if they drive a manual shift car. The image above of the motorcycle with outriggers is amusing, though. Perhaps we should send a set to M.A., considering his tendency to dump every single motorcycle he has owns, lol!

  15. Cars with manual transmissions are exactly like the Linux/Unix systems of 20-30 years ago – they are great for enthusiasts and offer a lot more control, but for the vast majority of people, they are a pain to use. Most of our driving time is spent stuck in traffic behind a soccer mom yapping on the phone, doing 10 miles under the speed limit – an automatic is definitely better for this scenario. Most of our computing time is spent doing repetitive, menial tasks, or browsing the web, and a GUI is better for this. Text mode browsers, remember those 🙂

    And just like Microsoft took over the PC market with an inferior product, while the Linux community was busy gazing at their navel, so will it be with EVs. While people on the right go down these purity spirals all the time, waiting for the perfect world to materialize, the left has no problem pushing their agenda and taking any small victory they can. That’s exactly why we have been on the losing side for 70 years.

    • SnootyKitty,

      “Text mode browsers, remember those”

      Like Lynx? Yes, and it’s often actually a better internet experience for those who want to read. It excludes the multitudes of ads and videos that inexorably bombard you if you don’t take the proper precautions (and even if you do).

      As far as Linux vs. Microsoft… Microsoft is a for-profit corporation. They had to make PCs easily digestible for the plebeian populace so they could sell them. Linux enthusiasts and contributors had no such motivation, though they eventually produced some easily used GUI distributions which took off nicely.

      But you’re right about the analogy! Eric and his stratum of vehicular enthusiasts are very much like Linux fans in that they’d rather endure a bit more complexity and difficulty because it makes the experience of using the OS or driving the car more worthwhile, as well as more beholden to the desires of the user.

      Don’t forget about diversity(!), which, although said to be very important to companies such as GM and Microsoft, won’t be found there, when if comes to diversity of product. Linux, however, is incredibly diverse! There are distributions for everyone from the beginner to expert and everyone in between, as well as stylings, themes and capabilities.

      With Microsoft, you get Windows, and just the latest version if they have anything to say about it. Windows is the electric crossover of operating systems. Or, you can go with Apple, who produces a more expensive electric crossover. Diversity!

      • Apple’s operating system is more akin to an exotic sports car with an automatic transmission and a full slate of saaaaafety gadgetry.

        The desktop/laptop OS has the equivalent of paddle shifters available … for now … but the phone incarnation is an appliance.

    • The problem being of course that the path the left has chosen for us puts us ALL on the losing side. They have sent us down a path that ends in death, for all but the most fit and resilient, regardless how woke they are, or are not. In fact, the less woke the better, since the unwoke have a better grasp on reality.
      The main problem I’ve had with a manual transmission in city traffic, is those with automatics in front of me. For example, they tend to stop at an intersection 30 feet short or more, and then creep up on the car in front of them 5 feet at a time. The quest of the right is NOT utopia, that is the goal of the left. We understand that liberty is dangerous, but slavery is much more so. More have died living under tyranny than have fighting it.

      • Mr. Kable,

        Quite right about using a manual in heavy traffic. That can be a bitch, most certainly.

        “We understand that liberty is dangerous, but slavery is much more so. More have died living under tyranny than have fighting it.”

        Well said.

        • Manuals are definitely a bitch in real traffic. In these parts, we do not know what that is. However, when we got that two foot dump of snow one night (Saturday, into Sunday morning0 and I had to drive home from work, my old, semi-retired WRX made it home. A 40-minute drive took two hours, and I was never so glad to get stuck behind an FBAT (F’kin’ Big A** Truck). What my old timer (now deceased) nurse friend used to call the big trucks. That truck plowed the snow for me with his tires, and I followed right behind him, keeping the WRX between 2nd and 3rd gear. Due to that FBAT, I was not the one blazing trail, as it sits low to the ground. I wish I could have chosen a manual for my new car…for I would have bought that over an automatic any day of the week.

          • They can be, though I used to drive a manual to, inside and out of New York City during the early to mid 1980s, transporting whomever I could get to ride with me for money. I was kind of a black market livery service for people needing a quick, cheap ride.

            My car was a 1981 toyota Starlet with a 5 speed and a 1.3 liter. Slow, but it got me there.

            I’m glad I know how to drive a stick, though there are practically none left.

      • John,

        There are people on “The Left” who advocate reparations for black people because of slavery from the 18th/ 19th century, while at the same time trying to make the masses alive TODAY SLAVES to a tyrannical government or globalist technocracy. The cognitive dissonance in these people runs DEEP.

      • Heavy traffic in anything is miserable. You’re not driving, you’re surviving. I believe its rated as one of the most stressful everyday situations possible,

    • Hilariously that was John Sculley’s analogy when Apple launched Apple ][ forever. You got a Mac if you wanted an automatic an Apple ][ was the manual. Unfortunately for him, back then the manual was effectively always the performance option.
      I think the journalism problem is not limited to cars, but you nailed the main point. Diversity hiring has put people on the highest profile beats with no experience, aptitude, or passion for the subject matter. Think Taylor Lorenz as a top technology journalist at the two highest profile US papers. The rest is just the devolution to propaganda and the desire for fame. Journalists are now stenographers of either ad copy or the line from “officials” and generally want to migrate to (TV) punditry.
      It’s pretty funny there’s not a single high profile auto journalist or personality I can think of who has truly called out the EV bullshit.

  16. A forgotten bit of early automotive journalism, in 1903:

    ‘James Joyce did not much care for cars. After all, his magnum opus, Ulysses is, in one sense, a book about walking.

    ‘One of [his] gigs for The Irish Times involved interviewing the racing driver Henri Fournier, who was scheduled to pilot a Mors for France in the Irish Gordon Bennett race.

    JJ: “I suppose you are preparing actively for your races?”

    HF: “Well I have just returned from a tour to Monte Carlo and Nice.”

    JJ: “On your racing machine?”

    HF: “No, on a machine of smaller power.”

    JJ: “Have you determined what machine you will ride in the Irish race?”

    HF: “Practically.”

    JJ: “May I ask the name of it—is it a Mercedes?”

    HF: “No, a Mors.”

    JJ: “And its horse-power?”

    HF: “Eighty.”

    JJ: “Let me see, your top speed is nearly 86 miles an hour and your average speed is 61 miles and hour.”

    HF: “I suppose so, if we calculate properly.”

    JJ: “It is an appalling pace. It is enough to burn our roads. I suppose you have seen the roads you are to travel?”

  17. Man, Eric, you’re playing with fire today. Yeah, male managers like to hire “…”, but it is like Fight Club — first rule of hiring “…” is that you don’t say you’re hiring for that.

    I’ve seen more useless hires with the genetic trait of being Asian females, but I’m in tech not journalism.

    At my jobs, Managers get away with hiring for their kinks with the current emphasis on hiring for STEM diversity.

  18. I second the kudos to Harrelson for stating the quiet part out loud on SNL. Unfortunately for him, he is now obligated to prostrate himself and apologize to the woke world for his crime of miss-information.(Will he do it….you bet, he works for them)

    • Me too Hans,
      Woody will most likely be “cancelled” until he debases himself sufficiently for our overlords. Great watching it live though, the NBC execs probably shit a brick; same with Dave Chappelle’s monologue a few weeks ago.

  19. JK,

    Same here. I never read Car & Driver except in a waiting room. I do read EP’s reviews because they’re knowledgeable, fair, and thorough.

    • I subscribed to Motor Trend when I was 7 years old — as soon as I could read. It’s where I learned about tires, gear ratios, engine displacements, suspension linkages, and annual model year changeovers. Also about many diverse and curious little European vehicles, rarely seen on our streets.

      Now? Since I only drive manuals, 99 of 100 cars covered in auto enthusiast magazines would never be on my shopping list to begin with, so why bother. Car & Driver might as well be Consumer Reports, with head-to-head comparisons of washing machines and microwave ovens. Heady stuff! /sarc

    • I was subscribed before Tesla was anything but a boutique brand with a reskinned Lotus Elise, back when they gave real reviews and sports cars had manuals (MS3, WRX, Evo 8/9, etc.)

      Now, I only go through the site to find old articles to see what they wrote about older cars back in the day. Also Road and Track was fun with their reviews, showed charts with acceleration graphs, with shift points overlapping (Car A vs Car B).

      Back when cars were awesome and not crossovers galore

  20. I don’t think that anyone deserves a full license until they can prove they can drive a manual equipped car Fat chance of that ever happening, but here it goes.

    You get a learining license at the age of 15 or 16 minimum as you do now. If you don’t learn to drive a manual car with a minimum level of competence, within a year of getting your learning license, it is taken from you.

    That’s the way it should be done. In order to teach driving, you must provide manual equipped vehicles for the students to learn. I have a feeling that is why German driver’s licensces cost a lot: burned clutches

    • The way it should be done is no divers license at all, or if you insist, do it as was done when my late father got his, just put your money down and get one, much like a fishing license. He never took a driving test in his life. My experience with them is they are useless. Drive around a few city blocks, MAYBE parallel park, and now you’re qualified to drive on 6 or 8 lane highways at 70 mph?
      My point of view is that you simply are NOT a driver if you can’t drive manual, and deserve no respect until you can.

      • I’m not going to argue with that, actually. I think that the driver’s license is functionally useless anyway. Just like the security pantomime that we go through at the airports, the act of obtaining a license is also as meaningless. Nothing about the license indicates how competent a driver you are.

    • Amen. Also, take your kids gokarting (Real gokarting) and have them practice driving, so when they’re ready, they’re not like the 16yo McLovin’ lookalike I once saw slowly hitting the curb in his Mom’s blue honda accord like a weenie, then backing up even slower to readjust and barely avoid making the same mistake twice

    • I agree with you, SwampRat. I learned how to drive via a manual. Passed my driver’s test (long ago) via a manual. This new car I have is the first automatic trans ever, and lemme tell you, after a year of ownership, I am STILL fishing for the clutch pedal and looking to “down shift” when I slow down. I prefer manual transmissions for slowing down on the icy roads, seeing is how we have more Winter than Summer in these parts. Oh, I have the shift paddles for “manual mode” on this new car, but it is just not the same. Sort like drinking decaff coffee in the morning, or warm beer on a hot day. I have found that automatic transmission driving really is a lazy way to drive, now that I have had to readjust to driving with one. This newer car definitely handles differently when I cannot manually down or up shift. I have found that not much thinking goes into it, and no wonder even the most brain-dead of people can get behind the wheel and “go”. When I take my older, semi-retired WRX out, I find I have more fun with that one, and have to be a bit on my toes more. If I had had a choice, I would have picked a manual trans for my vehicle, but they are increasingly difficult to find. Alas, “choice” these days seems to be dwindling. LOL, where “choice” goes, it reminds me of that part in the movie “Long Kiss Goodnight”, when “Charlie” (aka, Geena Davis) is asked whether she wants to die via the gun or the knife. Not much of a choice…

      • My main problem with my conversion to AT was shutting it off in gear and bailing out of it. Fortunately I never did that on a grade to speak of.

  21. I’ve never been an enthusiastic reader of auto journalism, until I discovered this Eric Peters guy, but the AT is the downfall of interesting cars. For Christ’s sake, a five year old can drive one, with a pillow under his butt. Probably not far until they drive off the road or into another car. But the same can be said of some “adult drivers”. Nothing stopping a five year old from becoming an auto journalist now, so why not anyone who has ever seen a car? Since I became physically unable to drive a manual, I have lost all interest in driving for the sake of it, and now cringe at driving my AT anywhere I don’t have to. I miss it. A lot. At least as much as I miss no longer being able to play music.

    • Not to worry, John: you can become a rapper. Just as the automatic transmission has brought equity to driving, rap has made it possible for anyone – with or without singing talent – to make it big in the entertainment industry.

    • Hi John. Studebaker used to offer a standard with clutch-less shifting in the late 50’s that might be one option for you. Not the same but hopefully close enough.

        • Sorry, I remember reading about it. Just look it up on the interweb, you might be able to replicate it though. Liberty Gears lists a clutchless tranny for racing but get your heart checked before you look as there really pricey.

      • Thanks Landru, but the clutch isn’t the problem, it’s my right shoulder and shifting. It go to the point where I had to use both hands to shift into reverse on my 5 speed, and struggled with 5th gear. So I quit. I did try an automatic Miata with the paddle shifters, and it wasn’t horrible, but neither was it the same.

  22. I gave up on Car & Driver, Motortrend, et al because there’s too much of a focus on exotic and super cars. Don’t want to read another “Showdown! Ferrari vs McLaren” article. I just have no interest in stuff that I know I’ll never drive and certainly could never afford. That’s what I like about EP Autos, Eric writes about average cars that guys like us might be interested in, and for the most part, cars that I could afford if I really wanted to.

    • ‘Don’t want to read another “Showdown! Ferrari vs McLaren” article.’ — Floriduh man

      Me neither. Who’s going to attempt DIY mods on a Ferrari? Garage tinkering would only lower its value.

      It’s the ordinary vehicles — and what can be done to them — that are interesting.

      Whereas the six-figure playboy rides might as well be the swimsuit models in Sports Illustrated — look but don’t touch; these high-maintenance bombshells are out of our league!

      • Hi Jim,

        I get to drive an exotic every now and then. I’d much rather drive a Miata. The exotics are almost unbelievably fast. And almost unbelievably anodyne. So much of the car is not controlled by you – and the car is easy to drive very fast, which takes out much of the fun. It is a passive experience, like riding a “scary” rollercoaster.

        • Indeed, you don’t really ride in a Miata, you wear it. The only car that ever generated similar interest for me was also a Mazda, the RX 8. In fact not long before I lost my ability to drive a manual, I was considering one. Being retired, and not daily driving, their inefficiency and oil burning were of no concern to me, and they are a beautiful car.
          If a car is easy to drive fast, you aren’t the one driving. There’s so much computer assistance in handling today that you aren’t really included in the equation.

    • In a better world, Eric Peters would have his own magazine and be able to get advertisers like C/D did years ago. C/D started the McClaren vs Ferarri articles a long time ago, but it still had decent columnists. I gave up on them in the mid 2010s when they reprinted some IIHS press release practically ver batim and started touting hybrid and electric for their supposed green credentials. I’ve had a belly full of all of todays automtoive journalism.

    • Yeah: I gave up on large-circulation mainstream car magazines in the 80’s, basically because they panned *every* American car and *swooned* over any and every Japanese car. It was nauseating. I mean.. Subaru 2.5L head gaskets??? Design flaw not fixed till 2014??? You kidding me??? Oh, but any and everything from the Big Three was shite. F-150 straight six? GM 3.8L six?

  23. ‘People who don’t know how to drive (or ride) like automatic transmissions.’ — eric

    Cars’ evolution to need less driver expertise mirrors what’s happened to personal computers since the IBM-PC debuted in 1981. Its cursor would simply blink at you until a DOS command (from a long list of choices) was typed in. Its monochrome screen displayed only text and numbers; no images.

    Now one only needs to click-and-drag to operate a PC. All else is automated behind the scenes.

    Apple’s iPhone in 2007 defined icon-based apps on a small screen. Car makers — as envious of Apple (largest market cap on the planet) as they are of Tesla (Musk = world’s richest lifeform) — eagerly copied both Apple’s icon-based apps and Tesla’s electric motors. It didn’t make them the cool kids on the block. But at least they dress like the cool kids now.

    Somebody still has to learn to code, though. And often the coders’ notion of how things should work doesn’t square with ours — saaaaaafety systems that are default-on instead of default-off are a glaring example.

    For me, it’s about control. With electrical and mechanical stuff, I demand to be in charge. Automated systems that seize control from me and do things I don’t want are liable to get sold or smashed. Too bad that option doesn’t exist with Big Gov, which has seized control to a formerly unimaginable degree, and is completely impervious to user inputs.

    A DC leviathan which dismisses feedback makes enormous errors. Climate change, net zero, and EeeVee Fever are vast malinvestments — the modern-day equivalents of pyramids in the desert. Those served no practical purpose other than grandiosely entombing the pharaohs, while impoverishing a populace forced to build monuments instead of useful houses, roads and canals.

    Today’s purblind US fedgov is constructing its own tomb. Can’t wait to put a match to its funeral pyre. Burn, baby, burn.

    • Great comparison, Jim. I know many people who use computers every day but don’t have a clue what a file or a folder is. I have stood next to a physical file cabinet (think CPU) and demonstrated how you can have drawers (think drives) inside it, and folders in the drawers with papers (think files), and you can even put one folder inside another folder. Waste of time. It doesn’t sink in.
      In dumbing down their products for people who can’t be bothered to learn the simple concept of folder structure, Microsoft and Apple have made it much more difficult for those of us who cut our teeth on the DOS prompt, directories, and batch files. When I’m searching for a picture, I don’t want the device asking me where I took it or what the event was or who was with me. I want to see my files. Where are the damn files? Some programs make it almost impossible to know.

      • As far as Windows goes, in actual day to day usage, I have not seen a significant improvement since Windows XP Pro. In fact, it seems every time a new edition of windows comes out, the biggest change is forcing me to learn what they did with the pathways I formerly used. In some cases, they had disappeared.

        • I used XP Pro until the machine died. I’d still be using it otherwise. Still have 7 and bought a couple backup machines, i have in storage.

        • Agreed on XP, John. I was quite happy with NT 4 too. I used it in my shop for a long time, but eventually had to ditch it because it didn’t support USB.

          • Most commonly used software isn’t compatible with it any more either. Although I do have an ancient (20+ years old) Sierra Bullets ballistics program that came out before XP, that still works flawlessly.

      • Roland,

        You’re not shittin’! I hadn’t used Windows for a couple of years, having (surreptitiously) installed Linux on my old work laptop. But, eventually they gave me a new laptop and they wanted me to use Windows.

        Before very long, while working on one of my coding efforts, I discovered that my files were no longer going where you’d figure they’d go. They’d put doppelgangers of the usual folders, and my files were being saved on “OneDrive”. Fuckers! I don’t want my files up in some “cloud”, I want them right next to me, in the local hard drive.

        I’m definitely not a fan of the new Windows, and, as Mr. Kable says here, their best version was XP. All went downhill from there. It seems like they’d perfected the product, more-or-less, (just like the cars of the time, actually!) and now, the only thing to do was juggle things about and add loads of unnecessary bloatware.

        • ‘They’d put doppelgangers of the usual folders, and my files were being saved on “OneDrive”. Fuckers!’ — BaDnOn

          That’s exactly the sort of stupid trick that makes me seethe.

          No doubt cars soon will be extensions of the Cloud. That’s where they’ll upload the kill switch camera feeds and telemetry. ‘Evidence,’ in cop terms.

      • Many times I’ve seen a coworkers desktop jam pack littered with documents. “Why don’t you create some folders to consolidate some of that?” “What do you mean?”

    • Good stuff Jim, Re: “For me, it’s about control. With electrical and mechanical stuff, I demand to be in charge.”
      Me too. It all started with ABS back in the day, and the car was trying to do something against my will. Of course it has just accelerated into insanity.
      And why I am in v8 Ram’s with very little of the ‘control’ stuff, and even with some of it, their engineers have done a good job (or did) of minimizing there impact. Looks like Stellantis is going down the rabbit hole though with the rest of them. Here’s hoping that the local Ram/dodge guys get to ‘code’ the new stuff like they did in the past.
      I am very impressed with them compared to the GM/Ford stuff I’ve owned.
      Even my wife Grand Cherokee V8 has very limited ‘control’. Not sure about the new model, but they don’t offer the V8 anymore, so we’re waiting on what their new I6-TT does or doesn’t do.


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