Some automotive publications are happy bringing their audiences nothing but sleep-inducing reviews of press cars, dispatches from shrimp-filled junkets, repackaged press releases and bone dry industry news. At Jalopnik, we do things a little differently.
The year end wrap-up you’re about to read is the Editor’s Picks: my selections for the very best written work we put out this year. (A list of our top traffic-grossing stories is also coming, if you want to see how our stuff did from clicks alone.) The hardest part was choosing which ones to highlight here; I had a lot of real gems to choose from.
I’ve spent the last six months running this joint and I somehow managed not to crash it into a wall. Then again, how could I when I have a team that’s this brilliant, insane and passionate about what they do? The best part about being EIC of Jalopnik isn’t the cars, or the trips, or the giant platform I have to be a screaming iconoclast: it’s the amazing people I get to work with every day.
Here’s our best work of 2015. I hope you’re looking forward to an even better 2016.
Dewalt 20V Max Cordless Drill & Driver Kit
Comes equipped with an LED which goes on when the trigger is pulled. You’ll a clear view of whatever you are drilling or screwing with minimal shadows.
How Top Gear Made Us All Care About Cars
Much ink, the Internet kind and the real kind, was spilled over the premature death of what we knew for a long time as Top Gear. But Chris Harris wrote the very best article anyone’s ever written on the subject. It’s the last word on the era of Clarkson, May and Hammond.
The Unlikely Struggle Of The Family Whose Neighbor Is Area 51
Fantastic digging and writing by Tyler. Probably my favorite Foxtrot Alpha story ever. What happened to these people is mind-blowing. If you haven’t read this one, you should.
Here’s An Idea: Let’s Turn All Of The SeaWorlds Into Race Tracks
Alanis’ take on what do with Sea World after its inevitable demise is hilarious and imaginative.
The 2016 Mazda Miata Will Save The Sports Car
I always admired Travis, who now runs RoadandTrack.com, for being one of the rare people in this business with driving and writing talent in equal measure. With aid from our ace photog friend Dave “Puppyknuckles” Burnett, he turned out one of our best car reviews of the year and one of the finest takes on the new Miata anyone had.
Dyeing Clothes With Used Motor Oil Is The Best And Worst Solution To Your Stain Problem
David Tracy is brilliant and delightfully nuts in the best kind of way. Next time you want to take to Oppo to bitch about how Jalopnik isn’t as “Jalop” as it used to be, read his stuff on The Garage. He’s as Jalop as you get.
The People Who Pretend To Be Pixar’s Cars On Facebook Want To Get Me Fired
One of Jason’s older stories gets called out by a most unusual Internet subculture, and Jason fired back. The war rages on.
Japan’s Real Life Initial D Car Scene Isn’t What You Think
What’s it like to hit the mountain roads of Japan with real drifters? Cue up your favorite Super Eurobeat album and read this great story by our gal in Japan Kat to find out.
The Mysterious, Disputed Birth Of America’s Greatest Supercar
Raph and Mike spent A WHOLE YEAR running this crazy rumor down. This is the story of how they did it, and how we still aren’t sure what to think of the Saleen S7.
Why We All Owe Stance Culture A Huge Apology
In an honest, clever way, Freddy writes about how he came to understand stance culture by connecting these drivers’ love of cars with his own childhood experiences.
I Was The First Person To (Publicly) Crash A 2016 Chevrolet Camaro
Yeah, this sucked (and continues to suck) but at least I work for an outlet that’s honest when its writers fuck up. That’s more than you can say for most in this business.
Kurt Busch’s Win Is Not Redemption For Domestic Violence Allegations
Stef did a great job being the voice of reason (as she often does) in response to a very ugly incident that got framed in an even uglier way.
Furious 7’s “Only Female Stunt Driver” Is Full Of Shit
Some first-rate bullshit-calling by Jason here. After it ran she conceded she made up the whole thing and apologized for it.
How A Retired School Administrator Became The CEO Of Truck Nutz
A great story of the American dream as told by Nicole. Reach for the moon, boys and girls!
Drifters Are The New Hot Rodders
Think car culture is only for the olds? Read Raphael’s great story and you’ll see why you’re wrong.
Inside The Most Awkward Volkswagen Party In The World
Lots of journalists attended Volkswagen’s big Passat party right after the Dieselgate announcement, but Mike was the only one to step up and say what an epic shitshow it was.
It’s A Miracle Jaguar’s C-X75 James Bond Car Exists At All (And It’s Freaking Amazing To Drive)
Máté loves Jaguar, Williams Engineering and the C-X75, and his love for the car and its unlikely journey from concept to Bond Car really comes through in his writing. Sometimes a car review is more than just a car review, and that’s what we have here.
I Didn’t Know What To Do With A Polaris Slingshot, So I Did Everything
This was when I knew I had found something really special in that Sean MacDonald kid. We need to get him in more crazy non-bike vehicles in 2016.
A Basic 2016 Chevrolet Camaro V6 Is The Most Surprising Enthusiast’s Car In A Long Time
Lately I’ve held this up as the example of what a Jalopnik Review should be. The storytelling by Andrew is fantastic, as are the photos by our own Michael Roselli. And have you listened to the exhaust note on that V6? I think I spat coffee all over my keyboard when I did.
How Science Fiction Failed Us: The Real Future Of Autonomous Cars
Longtime friend of the site Alex Roy emerged as one of the top voices in automotive journalism this year with his thoughtful, well-written series on the future of driving. Make sure to read parts 2 and 3 also.
Has Nail Polish Finally Caught Up To The Hard Abuse Of Working On A Race Car?
Stef is awesome because she can kick your ass at the track and then help you fix your busted race car—all with fantastic-looking nails. This story comes from a different perspective than you get in most gearhead media and it’s a ton of fun.
Youth Car Culture Isn’t Dead, This Washington Post Story Just Sucks
Fuck this lazy garbage story from the Post.
The Secret Story Of How Bubonic Plague Nearly Broke Out In New York City
A most unusual story from Jalopnik, but one that’s compelling and fascinating (and terrifying) thanks to Raphael’s keen researching and writing.
This Is How Much It Costs To Run A Professional Race Team
Mike addresses something everyone has wondered about but nobody will ever say out loud. Wanna race? Start saving up.
How Tomorrow’s Race Car Got Bogged In Today’s Lawsuits
Stef did a heroic job sifting through hundreds (thousands?) of pages of court documents to put this story together. It’s some first-rate investigative reporting. I wish more people had read it at the time. You should if you haven’t.
I Put A Cupholder On My Motorcycle And I Regret Nothing
The real world may not have Batman, Superman or Captain America, but it has Andrew Collins. And that’s good enough for me.
Here’s What Happened When I Cracked Open My 250,000 Mile Jeep Engine
David turns a repair into a celebration of the joy involved with tinkering and wrenching.
This Tuned Mustang Made Me ‘Realize The Value Of Journalistic Integrity’
You guys, I don’t think we’re getting a Christmas card from Saleen this year.
How UPS Screwed A Popular YouTube Car Guy Out Of $10,000
The next time you think of using UPS to ship your quad-rotor engine to the U.S. from New Zealand, maybe explore other options instead.
Why Hasn’t GM Recalled These Two Trucks With A Similar Fiery Issue?
I’m still kind of pissed General Motors never answered for this one. When the Hummer fire recall finally happens, expect some serious football-spiking from us.
Fuck You, Bob Nardelli
After spouting off some insane revisionist bullshit on LinkedIn, a disgraced former car executive gets a badly needed, old-school Gawker takedown from Matt.
Why Did Mechanics In New York’s Worst Neighborhood Go On Hunger Strike?
Mike’s take on a very difficult situation in New York is my favorite kind of journalism: the kind that sheds light on people who need help. We don’t often get to do it in the car world, but I’m glad we put the spotlight on what’s happening in Willets Point.
The World’s Fastest Death Cult
Raphael’s story about the deadliest race around is one that will stick with you for a while. Also, that top art by Gawker’s Sam Woolley is maybe my favorite Jalopnik illustration ever.
These Are The Worst-Selling Model Car Kits Of All Time
“Morley Safer’s ‘32 Ford Rail Rod.” That alone should show you why Jason Torchinsky is the greatest mad genius around. If he ever tries to leave Jalopnik, I’ll rob banks to throw money to make him stay. Or kill him. You hear that, Jason? You can never leave me.
Why Are The Feds Obsessed With Seizing These People’s Old Trucks?
If you’ll allow me to toot my own horn for a second, I think this is the best story I’ve ever done, period. I spent about two months reporting it and another month writing it. Whether through mounting public pressure or just a weak-ass case, the owners got their Land Rovers back when the feds dropped the case. And lawyer Will Hedrick forever cemented himself as a Jalopnik Hero.
I Got Pulled Over Twice In One Night Driving My Nissan Skyline GT-R
Doug’s Nissan Skyline ownership stories were some of his best yet, but this unfortunate tale was my favorite.
Ride Review: The 2016 Indian Scout Sixty Taught Me To Love Cruisers
This may be my favorite Lanesplitter review to date. It made me want to ride the Indian Scout Sixty, and isn’t that the whole point?
Money Can’t Buy What Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus Is Doing Right Now
From Máté, the first draft of a story destined to become racing legend someday.
The Space Shuttle’s Military Launch Complex In California That Never Was
Everyone’s heard of NASA, but few have heard about the dark side of the space program, “one based around shadowy military payloads, not white-world science and discovery.” Tyler’s retrospective on this program is utterly fascinating.
My Ford Focus Is Actually An Aston Martin
What is Jalopnik if not a place for people to express love for their cars? Westbrook did that here in a funny and charming way. I love everything about this story.
This Is The Video CNN Will Play When The World Ends
I completely forgot to include this very special gem the other day and for that I apologize to you (and Mike) profusely. God, Ted Turner must be weird.
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