When former Jalopnik boss Travis Okulski asked me to take over the site’s vaunted Answer’s of the Day feature, I was honored, and frankly, a bit shocked. These daily top 10 lists were, for a while, one of the top traffic drivers to the site. Knowing how important they were, I was surprised that the low man on the totem pole (me) would be trusted with their production.
Then I found out the real reason: putting together these lists every day was a massive pain in the ass and no one else wanted to do it.
I had to read through all the comments to the previous day’s Question of the Day–which could receive anywhere from 100 to more 1000 responses–pick out the best 10, do some research/fact checking, find pictures, and write it all up. All of this before 11 a.m., ideally. I also had to balance all this with being a college student at the time, so my mornings were quite tricky for a few months, and many lists arrived late.
I don’t say this seeking your sympathy, but rather, to explain why some top 10 lists I wrote were slightly, uh, worse than others. Also, this being Senior Week and all, I thought it might be fun to shed light on how your Jalopnik sausage was made. (And why they stopped doing it altogether.)
I’m using this blog as an opportunity to atone for bad lists I wrote. Some of these lists are on here because of bad choices I made, and others are here because the topics were clearly out of my comfort zone. Oh, and one involves the story of my bathroom flooding, so stick around for that.
Despite all the tedium, I loved writing these lists, and I credit them with giving me a wealth of knowledge I otherwise wouldn’t have gained. It’s just that I have a few regrets to get off my chest.
So, here they are, my worst top ten lists.
10. Ten Cars That Could Have Been Great But Weren’t
This was actually the first list I ever wrote, and while I stand by most of it, I need to apologize to the Jaguar XJ220. You see, I looked at the Jaguar as a failure because it wasn’t the car Jag originally intended it to be, and because it was outgunned by the McLaren F1. That’s all true, but it doesn’t mean the car isn’t great in its own way.
Sorry, Jaguar. Sorry, everyone.
9. The Ten Greatest Car Designers Of All Time
Frankly, this was a bit of an impossible task. There are way too many good car designers, and many got slighted by the constraints of this list. It really should have been at least 20 or 30.
The other issue is that the list is all white dudes. Yes, car design is unfortunately still dominated by white dudes—though that’s changing—but I wish I had used this platform to highlight the good work of some women and/or people of color too. Jalopnik is better than most at that sort of thing, but I wasn’t hip enough at the time to take advantage.
8. Ten Automotive Instagram Accounts You Must Follow
Also, Kevin was mad because I featured accounts that didn’t use mobile-only photography, so he went and blogged a better list on his Kinja.
7. The Ten Most Beautiful Engines Ever Made
What the hell was I thinking putting the V-Twin on here? It must have been a really early morning, and maybe I was trying to be more inclusive of motorcycle culture, but the V-Twin? I even remember arguing with Raph over its inclusion, and somehow, I won.
Otherwise, this list is fine. Not great. Fine.
6. The Ten Biggest Car Shows In The World
I don’t remember exactly what was going on the day I wrote this, but I do remember totally phoning it in. There’s really no way to come up with a definitive list of the World’s Biggest Car Shows, and yet, I packaged it like that.
I do remember getting tons of emails and comments about other shows that were bigger, but as is my wont, I ignored pretty much all of them. Sorry, everyone.
5. The Ten Best Cars No One Asked For
This list isn’t too bad itself, but there’s a funny story that goes along with writing it. As per usual, I was blogging this at my apartment, but I trying to finish it quickly because I had an important lunch. My bathroom had other ideas.
Around 10:15 a.m. or so, I went to use the bathroom (as one does), and my toilet overflowed. Badly. It was a total catastrophe. Since I had to clean up the mess, I panicked and asked Raph to finish choosing the cars on the list. I also think he may have written the blurb on the Subaru SVX if I remember correctly, but the rest was me.
As for the bathroom, I had to sacrifice some of my bath towels, go to my lunch, and have my landlord come and fix everything after it was all done.
No, not really a bad blog all considered, but now you know some of the sacrifices I made to bring you sweet, sweet #content every morning.
4. The Ten Worst German Cars Ever Made
However, I need to apologize to the Trabant.
Objectively, the Trabant is a Bad Car, but that sort of misses the significance of this humble vehicle. Jason defended the Trabi in the comments, and while I tried to rebut his argument, he was totally right. I’ve posted his response below in tribute to the Trabi.
“I think picking the Trabi as number one is kind of a cheap shot. Sure, it’s the technically worst car, it’s made out of stuff goats eat, but it did manage to motorize nearly a whole country and keep going in conditions and with resources that would have left many a BMW and Benz immobile and unrepairable.
I mean, yes, it was horrible, but it did its best in a crappy situation that lasted decades.
The Trabant certainly doesn’t belong at number one, and frankly, it doesn’t belong on this list at all.
3. Ten Great Performance Cars That Are Crap On Track
Matt Hardigree was pissed when this one went up, and he totally had every right to be. He was especially angry with putting the Koenigsegg at number one based entirely on a likely-bullshit Top Gear segment, so he went in and tried to polish this turd.
I think maybe Raph or PG (or both?!?!) might have taken the fall for me on this one, but I deserve the blame here.
2. The Ten Grossest Things We’ve Seen People Do In Cars
I hope these gross car stories were entertaining to read because this list was a nightmare to put together. With any of these Your Worst Stories About TKTK, I had to read through hundreds of comments and try to determine the 10 best worst ones. Naturally, this took a hell of a long time.
This one I remember being especially bad because, well, the stories shared were disgusting, and I had to read all of them while I was eating breakfast. Maybe this turned out okay in the end, but I hated every second of writing it.
1. Ten Military Vehicles That Changed The Face Of Warfare
The great thing about Jalopnik is that unlike most car publications, its range of topics is much broader than things with four wheels and an engine. Unfortunately, when I had to write about military vehicles, my knowledge was severely lacking, and on this list, it shows.
I had to do a lot of quick research to get me up to speed for this one, but that didn’t stop me from making the most egregious error of my Jalopnik career. Somehow, when writing about the USS Constitution I took its nickname “Old Ironsides” to mean that the ship literally had sides made of iron. What the hell I was I thinking?
Of course, it got published with the error–which still stands today–and the commenters gave me their worst. For a few weeks, people in OppositeLock called me “Ironsides Perkins,” and yeah, I earned it.
So there they are, the worst lists I wrote in my time here. I regret these errors and omissions immensely and hope that this Senior Week blog makes up for it.