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  1. #1
    Fellow Frogger!
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    Automotive Journalists

    Who are automotive journalists? Are they journalists who like cars or are they car guys who like to write?

    Its a shame so many of the car reviews I read aren't very informative, they don't really say anything. We have people on this board like Rod Hagen who have driven many, many different types of vehicles, have excellent driving skills and write very well, but people like that don't seem to be writing these car reviews.

    What is the best "car magazine" in Australia?

    <small>[ 01 October 2003, 09:13 PM: Message edited by: Jamesnj ]</small>

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  2. #2
    Gone Fishin' Ray Bell's Avatar
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    I'm an automotive journalist, but I mainly write about motor racing or racing cars.

    There are a number of well-respected motoring journalists in Australia. And a number of jerks who fell into the job because they were at a loose end when their predecessor left.

    David McKay was one of the best, but he's retired years ago. Mike Kable was an enthusiast who got caught in grooves and developed foibles that showed through in his assessments of cars, ?? Webster was a pest of a kid who knew very little... Mark Fogarty a loudmouth who loved himself.

    Peter Jennings in Adelaide is a credible writer today. There are a few of them.

  3. #3
    2000+ Brad's Avatar
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    I rally like EVO from the UK. Very informative and well balanced magazine...though this is coming from us "quirky French car" drivers mallet

    <small>[ 01 October 2003, 09:37 PM: Message edited by: Brad ]</small>
    B to the R to the A from the D
    1994 MX5 Clubman...are you sure it's not French?

  4. #4
    nJm
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    I don't think we have one 'quality' mag down here. I find much of the writing biased, never particularly eloquent, and generally boring (yet another Holden vs Ford article). If I ever buy a magazine I'll fork out the extra and buy the british magazine 'CAR'.
    Nick
    1983 Peugeot 505 GR


    "All of its cars from the 1.1 litre 205 through the ugly duckling 309 to the 2.2 litre 505 GTi had a rightness and a righteousness about them that turned every humdrum drive into a journey. Someone, I once wrote, in the bowels of Peugeot understands handling and how a chassis should feel." - Jeremy Clarkson

  5. #5
    1000+ Posts dino's Avatar
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    hmmm...interesting topic....personally i dont think it matters wether they r profesionally trained or not ie.journalism degree might mean one might be able to write spectacular articles that can still be spectacualarly bad...from my pesrpective...i know there are many "architects" out there ...who in my opinion know shit all about architecture....one can hardly design great buildings if they ve never held a brick in their hand....so like any field i think some GROUND experience goes a long way....we have many great writers here...but for every good automotive journalist there is a slut out there to spoil the reputation....i m still of the opinion that all those who thought the vn, the late eighties magnas and 626es were great cars should not have their jobs now...let alone those who criticised many of the great french cars which have gone on to become cult vehicles....at the end of the day i respect the HONEST journalist who will loud the major failures of any vehicle without the need to worry about the fact that a perticular brand may or may not drop their advertising depending on the story...the recent wheels magazine "wheels car of the year" episode ceartinly brought many a contraversy....but at the end of the day....one could respect the opinins of the more senior journalist...wether the BA suspension and ride is as good as the top end mercs or beemers might be argued....i d still like to see how a 10 year old ba will ride and handle compared to a 10 year old beemer or merc....australian journalists ceartinly never seem to focus on component quality of the europeans....once, i did read that the volvos were up to NASA quality componentry, which was a great statement (i thought)...susch descriptions have not yet been applied while describing down under cars...let alone the french ones....

    cheers

    dino

    ps...so before i forget....i really wish automotive journalist could make a greater effort at supplying more info on component quality and finish rather than on panel gaps and plastic feel (the bit of info...even a clueless layman can work out in a couple of minutes during the initial inspection of the vehicle)...i think there should be greater emphasis on wear/tear and some form of measurement and/or comparison...

  6. #6
    nJm
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    What is worse when they get facts and figures wrong.

    In my local paper today there was a review of the new Subaru Liberty. They mentioned that despite gaining power and loosing weight, the loss of torque is responsible for the increase in 0-100km/h time from 9.0 seconds to 9.3 seconds (comparing the previous Liberty RX 2.5 with the new Liberty 2.5i).

    Well, what they were actually doing was comparing the old car equiped with a 5spd manual to the new car fitted with an auto. I've looked it up and the old Liberty 2.5 RX Auto took 10.1 seconds to get to 100km/h, so the new one is faster by 0.8 seconds.

    <small>[ 01 October 2003, 10:26 PM: Message edited by: nJm ]</small>
    Nick
    1983 Peugeot 505 GR


    "All of its cars from the 1.1 litre 205 through the ugly duckling 309 to the 2.2 litre 505 GTi had a rightness and a righteousness about them that turned every humdrum drive into a journey. Someone, I once wrote, in the bowels of Peugeot understands handling and how a chassis should feel." - Jeremy Clarkson

  7. #7
    Fellow Frogger! crosspug's Avatar
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    so the new one is faster by 0.8 seconds.
    Bet that'll please the suuby marketing dept.....
    1989 BX16Valve

    "Resting" 1983 505 STi

  8. #8
    Gone Fishin' Ray Bell's Avatar
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    dino... you're right, but I simply can't read all your post because you refuse to break it up into paragraphs.

    Please try to do this, and double space them as I (and most others!) do.

    Road & Track has for decades led the way with its example of how road tests should be done. They have a consistent standard and a complete page of specs and performance that enables ready comparison of all makes.

    And I think you're right, too, nJm about them reporting what you can readily see... providing they do fail to mention the unseen stuff.

    Of course, it's hard to comment on durability of a new model...

  9. #9
    1000+ Posts dino's Avatar
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    but I simply can't read all your post because you refuse to break it up into paragraphs.
    Please try to do this, and double space them as I (and most others!) do.
    OK, Ray....

    I ll try....just 4 u....



    cheers

    dino

  10. #10
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    nJm:
    If I ever buy a magazine I'll fork out the extra and buy the british magazine 'CAR'.
    I've got every one except one since 1988. This one I dumped in the Luton airport bin trying to reduce my GBP 1,000 excess baggage charge...! eek!


    2003 PEUGEOT 206 GTi

  11. #11
    Fellow Frogger! nchandler's Avatar
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    I rate the following

    Car
    Evo
    Cars & Car Conversions - it's not very polished, but feels as though it is actually being written by a bunch of enthusiasts.
    Practical Classics
    Thoroughbred and Classic Cars

    And Motor is like your herald sun of automotive mags - easy reading, usually full of pointless sensationalist carp, but interesting none the less.

    I seriously contemplated doing journalism at uni, I did very well with english, and lit at school, but always lacked the creative ability to make my writing interesting. Probably would have gone well writing those technical articles that I don't read unless they have some interesting information to maintain my goldfish-esque attention span. Hence I chose property - ten times the money, and more pressure, need the risk to keep me interested.

    Nick

    Nick

  12. #12
    1000+ Posts Greg C's Avatar
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    I'd say there is no quality automotive mag in Australia now. There was a time when Peter Robinson was at the helm that Wheels was good. Then came Mel Nicols and Steve Cropley who went on to work for Car mag in the UK

    In the late '70's early '80's Car was the best motoring magazine you could get bar none; staffed by Australians all ex Wheels. What made it so good?

    1. A similar format for its Giant Tests that made for easy and meaningful comaprisons between cars.

    2. Unsurpassed artistic standards. The layout was superb despite and perhaps because of the limited technology available then compared to now. They prided themselves on having a very old hot metal typesetter in use 'till way past its use by date.

    3. LJK Setright, Ian Fraser, George Bishop, etc. The best writers in the business. Writers that loved cars, loved driving them and could write so well about them.

    The current Wheels and Modern Motor are hostage to the go faster mentality. There is rarely anything meaningful written about normal cars only GTS, XR6, XR8 etc. If it doesn't have a V8 or pack at least 200kw it doesn't rate with these guys. Even though this flies in the face of the road safety lobby these mags don't even tackle issues like speed cameras and other inappropriate road safety initiatives.

    There is very little written about these other issues like safety and environment that used to be a feature of the old Car, articles that didn't treat you as an idiot which I am afraid the current mags do.

    Greg C
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  13. #13
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    What are peoples opinion of Michael STAHL.

    I find him very amusing, but still quite impartial and open minded....

    I suppose the down side is that he does tend to crap on a wee bit at times...

    His father Max was quite good also, but had a very different way of writing

    <small>[ 03 October 2003, 07:15 PM: Message edited by: mistareno ]</small>

  14. #14
    Gone Fishin' Ray Bell's Avatar
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    Having known Michael since he was just a kid, it's probably shameful of me to say I've barely ever read anything he's written.

    Yes, Max can write well (especially considering he's a two-finger typist) and can get to the core of issues, again with a potential for humour.

    If you go back once again, Mike Kable was an interesting example.

    Once in a conversation with Geoff Sykes (who ran the Warwick Farm races... for cars, that is), Mike's name cropped up. "'Unstable Kable' I call him," Geoff said, and he was right!

    Mike, when he simply got on with the job and had nobody to impress, was a good driver. When he had someone around watching he was erratic and bordered on dangerous.

    His opinions were sometimes the same, though often tempered by the friendships he developed with the representatives of the companies who loaned him cars to write about.

  15. #15
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    dino:
    OK, Ray....

    I ll try....just 4 u....
    Thanks dino!

    Can you do it for me too? Please, pretty please! I've been wanting to say something to you for ages but Ray did it for me

    So much easier to read posts with heaps of paragraphs cheers!

    Derek

  16. #16
    nJm
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    I like the articles stahl writes for CAR. I don't read Wheels that often anymore, so I'm not sure how much he contributes to australian magazines these days.
    Nick
    1983 Peugeot 505 GR


    "All of its cars from the 1.1 litre 205 through the ugly duckling 309 to the 2.2 litre 505 GTi had a rightness and a righteousness about them that turned every humdrum drive into a journey. Someone, I once wrote, in the bowels of Peugeot understands handling and how a chassis should feel." - Jeremy Clarkson

  17. #17
    s16
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    I agree with Brad, i think Evo is by far the best mag out there. Thier love for cars, and more importantly the driving of those cars comes through into thier writing. They understand feel, feedback and communication as being more important to bhp and 0-100 figures.

    Evo is very much as a performance oriented mag, Car has more everyday transport, some of which im not as interested in.

    I think that most aussie mags don't understand the things that evo does, thats probably why they are not overly impressed with french cars.

    Lets not forget though that they have to cater to the people that pay thier wages, the misguided Australian driving community. They are so narrow minded that they will not step out of there commodore/falcon safety circle.I've tried my best to convince these people to look outside thier own backyard to no avail.

    I've got a test for the french car skeptics. Last week dad and i were look for a new charot him and mum, they tried all the possible suspects, the above mentioned and the maxima, magna, liberty etc and told them to then drive the 406, bang a moment of clarity. Even though the 406 was 3 years older than the others it was by far the best drive, not even a contest.

    If more aussie car buyers would stray from the pilgarmage to the local holden dealer for a new car and try somthing different they might be in for a big suprise.

    Oops, im preaching to the converted.

    ps. i feel dizzy now, what happened there, thats pent up frustration i think.
    Scott

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  18. #18
    pur-john, not pew-john! peujohn's Avatar
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    What are peoples opinion of Michael STAHL.
    I used to love reading Stahl and Paul Cockburn in Wheels. They did get a bit carried away at times, but their articles were always an enjoyable read, and that's what I want from my car magazines. I drive a 23-year-old Pug and I have no plans to buy a new car... I read car magazines for the enjoyment of a good article. Unfortunately, Wheels doesn't provide that anymore. I most often read Classic & Sportscar, and Thoroughbred & Classic Car. Many of the cars covered in the magazines are far, far out of my reach... but I enjoy reading about them.

    John
    John W

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    Previous: 2005 407 HDI manual sedan, 1980 504 GL, 1990 405 Mi16, 1977 504 GL Special, 1984 505 SRD Turbo



  19. #19
    Fellow Frogger! billtran's Avatar
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    To be fair on the automotive journalists, they have to widen their appeal to a much wider (i.e lowest common denominator) audience. The market is so saturated with motoring magazines that relying on a targeted, well educated audience is no longer sustainable.

    Lets not forget the female factor here. I don't mean to sound patronising or condescending but if magazines are to appeal to women, then they must be more lifestyle and 'reality' orientated. And considering most of our driving is done in the city or suburbs, the paradigm has to shift to more mundane things like total cost of ownership, interior build quality and practicality from things like handling or torque curves.

    I'm not saying I like the way Wheels or Motor has become, but that is the reality in today's market.
    You're not paranoid if everyone hates you.

  20. #20
    Sense Pug307's Avatar
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    You know, the funny thing is Wheels & Motor are under ACP's Men's Lifestyle department

    Peugeot 307 XS 1.6
    Aussiefrogged in MEL, PER, SYD, BNE & ADL.
    Rendezvous Adelaide 2005

  21. #21
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    Ray Bell:
    Having known Michael since he was just a kid, it's probably shameful of me to say I've barely ever read anything he's written.
    Ray, I was going to contact you a couple of 'CAR' issues ago about Stahl's monthly article. He has an uncanny similarity of opinion to you on the issue of speed limits! Little did I know that you knew him.

    As for the days of CAR that Greg mentioned, I totally agree. It was brilliant with Fraser, Setright, Bishop, Phil Llewellyn and even Russell Bulgin. It's still good, but has lost the edge it had in the quality of its writers, for sure.

    Stuey


    2003 PEUGEOT 206 GTi

  22. #22
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    peujohn:
    What are peoples opinion of Michael STAHL.
    I used to love reading Stahl and Paul Cockburn in Wheels. They did get a bit carried away at times, but their articles were always an enjoyable read, and that's what I want from my car magazines. I drive a 23-year-old Pug and I have no plans to buy a new car... I read car magazines for the enjoyment of a good article. Unfortunately, Wheels doesn't provide that anymore. I most often read Classic & Sportscar, and Thoroughbred & Classic Car. Many of the cars covered in the magazines are far, far out of my reach... but I enjoy reading about them.

    John
    Ah yes, the old Cock & Bull articles... I still pull out old issues and piss myself laughing...I think Cockburn's is fantastic, by far the funniest motor journo I have ever read. As an ex-motor mechanic, I really loved, I think it was George Ambrose's column in wheels. Like you John, I drive an old frenchy and have no intention of updating anytime soon and to me an entertaining read is just as important as facts and figures.....

  23. #23
    Too many posts! JohnW's Avatar
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    peujohn:
    What are peoples opinion of Michael STAHL.
    .....Unfortunately, Wheels doesn't provide that anymore. I most often read Classic & Sportscar, and Thoroughbred & Classic Car. Many of the cars covered in the magazines are far, far out of my reach... but I enjoy reading about them.

    John
    I'm with you John! Classic and Sports Car isn't as good as it once was, but still covers a lot of ground pretty well, I reckon anyway. I despair of the "popular" ones, which used to be sensible and practical but have lost the plot for me.

    Road and Track, and Autocar, still exist for rational road tests. I thought, with "Which Car?" that we had something in Aus. again but alas.....

    Finally, has everyone forgotten Romsey Quints???

    JohnW
    JohnW

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  24. #24
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    Well I can't really add much to what has already been said here but here goes anyway.....

    The Australian motoring magazines are (now) quite pathetic. mallet

    No wonder Peter Robinson lives in Italy

    Wayne Webster & Phil Scott in particular, are jerks.

    Modern Motor was never that great but now it well and truely serves the lowest common denominator. Sadly the once great Wheels is not much better.

    They have lost credibilty with me, even long before they awarded the 2nd generation Commondore - an ugly bloated Opel hand-me-down with a primitive drivetrain - the COTY trophy

    Judging by the huge quantity of Ford vs Holden articles in these rags, there are are a large number of inbreds residing in this land. Quite apart from the boring subject matter, the standard of writing is generally quite pedestrian and dispassionate.

    I have not bought a local magazine for years now, and occassionly induldge in UK CAR or EVO when my finances allow. Funny how so many local journalists went to work for CAR heh?

    cheers! a_drink

    <small>[ 07 October 2003, 01:21 PM: Message edited by: B E R E T ]</small>

  25. #25
    1000+ Posts Pugnut403's Avatar
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    I get Practicall Classics. Have done for about 9 years. They get a few things wrong, but I like the content.
    Pugs Rule!

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