The time has come: today is my final day as a regular contributor to Jalopnik. From this moment on, you’ll be able to find all my writing at the new automotive enthusiast-focused page Autotrader.com/Oversteer, where I’ve been hired as editor. But as much as I’m excited for my new gig, leaving behind Jalopnik after three years isn’t an easy decision.
It’s hard to say goodbye to my co-workers, to the amazing editorial freedom I’ve had here, and, most importantly, to Jalopnik’s incredible readers. I’ve met up with literally hundreds of Jalopnik readers over the last few years, and it’s been the second-best part of this job. We’ve had dinners, gone off-roading, visited the drag strip, and attended cars and coffee. Readers welcomed me to Philadelphia, they filmed my videos, and they become my best friends. One of them will be a groomsman in my wedding.
You’ll note, however, that I called the readers the second-best part of the job. Undoubtedly, the best part has been all the crazy adventures I’ve undertaken, primarily with my readers and friends who were willing to come along for the journey. For those of you who don’t want a sappy goodbye story, you can skip and instead watch a little video journey I’ve assembled into the past three years.
For those of you who do want a sappy goodbye story, here it is: the very first time I ever submitted a story to Jalopnik was in April 2013. I sent it to Matt Hardigree on Facebook and checked back every five minutes until he posted it. Once it went live, I was more nervous than at any other time in my life, except for the day I went off to college, and the day I realized I had accidentally shoplifted a Micro Machine when I was six. I’m not exaggerating when I say the thrill I get from my writing going live here at Jalopnik remains in place today, three years and hundreds of columns later.
Back then, I was a guy who had just quit his real, normal job with a real, normal salary and real, normal benefits, and everyone thought I was completely insane. I still remember some of the confused faces at Porsche Cars North America when my co-workers asked what I was doing next and I explained my future plans. I also still remember collecting my 52nd follower on Twitter, as I walked through my neighborhood in Atlanta, back when my sole focus in life was to have more followers than the 14-year-old daughter of my neighbors across the street. At the time, she had 150, and it seemed like a distant goal.
Initially, it was hard to stand out from all the other writers, so I hatched a plan: I would have the readers help me pick some crazy car to write about, and then I would document my experiences with it. This led to my first-ever Jalopnik car purchase, a 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Wagon, which I eventually drove across the country and back—a trip where I reached 155 miles per hour on the Bonneville Salt Flats. My girlfriend didn’t know it at the time, but this would be only the first of many vacations where cars or filming were somehow included.
For my next car, I decided to make an even bigger splash—I bought a 2004 Ferrari 360 Modena from a guy in Florida. This was the single biggest risk of my life, as I was a freelance writer living in a rented one-bedroom apartment, cruising around in an out-of-warranty, rapidly aging Italian car. But the 360 proved to be a faithful companion, and I did some crazy stuff with it: I drove it around with a TV tied to the roof, I brought it to a dragstrip in rural Georgia, I took it to the dyno, I used it to try and meet women, and I let all my friends take it for a spin. It now lives in California, where I like to think it has retired from the glamorous life to a world of sunny weather and leisurely drives.
The next year, you guys convinced me to make a decision I still consider the best in my career so far: I bought an imported 1990 Nissan Skyline GT-R, and I did just about everything imaginable with it — a list that includes going backwards through a drive-thru, where the worker memorably asked me “Is there something wrong with the car or with you?” I also took it to a dyno and discovered the truth behind the Skyline’s famous “276 horsepower” rating.
And then there was the Hummer, the world-famous Hummer, which accompanied me on my favorite adventure: running over a wood-paneled Chrysler PT Cruiser. Love it or hate it, this was probably my favorite moment from the last three years, and it’s still the thing most people talk to me about when they meet me on the street.
Speaking of meeting people on the street, something amazing came along with all these adventures: at some point in the last few years, people became comfortable approaching me at car shows; shaking my hand; showing me their car. I love meeting car enthusiasts, and these meetings have been some of the highlights of the last three years. My girlfriend, now fiancée, may have felt a little differently earlier this year, when I dragged her out of our ocean-view hotel room at 7 a.m. to attend Costa Mesa Cars and Coffee. But hey, it was worth it: an Aston Martin Lagonda showed up.
So now it’s time for a new chapter, and—quite soon—a new DougCar. You’ll be able to see it all on the new site, and on YouTube, and maybe even on Jalopnik, where I’d like to contribute the occasional column here and there. No matter what happens, I won’t forget all the great experiences I’ve had over the last three years—and I hope you’ll join me for many more to come.