The bar erupts

Posted on August 24th, 2003 in Opinion by Julian Edgar

It’s both a curse and also one of the reasons that so many people read this online magazine: cars stir passions in a way that few other mass-produced consumer goods do. The tactility, history and rewards available in cars inspire people to love and hate, engender loyalties and animosities, cause passion and dogmatism. And the journalists who write about those products can inspire almost equal strengths of view….

But back on the products. There’s one aspect I have always found very hard to understand: the blind loyalty to one manufacturer. Simply, I just don’t get it.

I think that I can empathise as strongly as anyone about the history of a marque: Mercedes Benz, the grandfather of them all and so unswerving in its integrity of research and development; BMW, who nearly went broke and pulled themselves out only by producing a fascinating small car; General Motors, responsible for so much of the technology that we now take for granted.

But that is a world away from believing that all GM products are good. Or that DaimlerChrysler never makes mistakes. In fact, to be honest, these notions of manufacturer infallibility strike me as ludicrous.

So when we recently (well, recently when I am writing this) ran a very critical story about the Nissan 350Z, I was slightly bemused by the nature of the widespread discussions that occurred on forums around the world. (It’s easy for me to see what people are saying: I simply follow our in-house referrers’ list that takes me straight to the discussion.) In that story I’d suggested that the 350Z – basically – handled like crap on bad roads, and that the Holden Special Vehicles Clubsport would be a much sweeter car in the same conditions. (To see the story go to “New Car Test – Nissan 350Z Track”.)

Driving Emotion

Posted on August 3rd, 2003 in Opinion by Julian Edgar

Each week we get a large number of emails from our readers. The emails range from plaintive requests for technical specifications of cars we’ve never heard of, to specific criticisms and/or corrections of AutoSpeed articles, to suggestions about the editorial approach that we are taking. Many of the emails that we think may be of interest to other readers are published in our weekly Response column, while staffer Michael Knowling also responds directly to every email.

We ‘know’ some of the correspondents – simply because over the years we have received so many emails from them – but most are literally just names on the screen. One name that is familiar – mostly because this reader is lives in Israel, and so it has stuck in my mind – is Avner Bronfield.

A few months ago he wrote to us, saying in part:

I feel that for some times you have shifted the focus of the magazine from DIY stuff and articles on how can one modify his car (which is what drew me to the magazine in the first place), to new car tests, feature cars, new technology articles and product reviews. The products reviews (which can be for product sold in the AutoSpeed shop) can even be thought of as advertisements. I don’t mind you endorsing a product – since I value your judgment, but I do miss the “real” article that could have been published instead (I’m referring to the one about how I could turn my 200SX to a 400 BHP road/rally monster by utilising $50 and common workshop tools). It’s a shame, because the “new” type of article can be found in quite a few magazines, but few magazines if any can do the “old” type like you.

That said, AutoSpeed is still one of the best on my list.