What Do You Do When Someone Says Something Obviously Untrue About Cars?

Hello, humans of Jalopnik, and welcome to a special edition of Letters to Doug, your favorite weekly Jalopnik column wherein you provide the letters and I provide the Doug.

Why is this week’s column special? Because it’s the first one to take a letter from my Facebook page, which provides up-to-the-minute information about the goings-on of Doug, and also the occasional picture of a guy driving a Charger with 1980s Camaro-style rear window louvers. Of course, you can also e-mail me your letter at Letters2Doug@gmail.com. Don’t worry: I’ll read both.

Anyway, this week’s letter comes to us from a reader I’ve named Gus, who lives in Gainesville, Georgia. Gus writes:

Dearest Doug,

I recently had a slight argument with a coworker about the Porsche 959 and I’m wondering if you could help me clear it up. To begin with, we are both gear heads. He is a big VW fan, and is pretty knowledgeable. I’m a fan of all automobiles (dangerous statement I know) but I have a soft spot for Porsche especially. So naturally we got on to talking about 80's supercars and go fast tech.

And we started talking about the 959, naturally. He is absolutely convinced that the german government owns or at least holds every single one, because they’re ‘too fast for the public and it would be a liability to let one out of the country’. If someone buys one they have to keep it in germany and they have to get government approval to drive it, much less leave the country with it. And if they do leave the country they would have to be back by a said time ‘or else’.

Now, I have been a fan of all Porsche cars since the first time I saw a 911, and thought I was rather well read until I heard this. I wanted to immediately call bullshit, but the guy does know what he’s talking about in regards to other vehicles. So I figured I’d at least look into it before I call him out. His source for this thinking was an uncle who ‘tried to import one’ though. I looked and looked and found nothing to support his claims. I’m still thinking it’s all bullshit, because I’ve never heard anything about this and I figure I would have. But I’ve been wrong before.


Seriously sincerely,


For those of you who don’t want to read Gus’s whole message, I strongly suggest you do, because it is one of the most batshit insane things I’ve read about cars in quite some time. You know 9/11 truthers? Well, it sounds like Gus’s co-worker is a 959 truther. I suspect he belongs to a small group that includes, well, just himself.


The answer to your question, Gus, is that your co-worker is wrong, and possibly mentally ill. The German government does not possess any Porsche 959s, the German government does not want to possess any Porsche 959s, and even though Germany is possibly the ultimate nanny state in the sense that its people are afraid of Google Street View in the same way that cats are afraid of laser pointers, the nation still allows its humans to drive and possess Porsche 959s.

It’s also worth noting that I have seen several Porsche 959s here in the United States, and I promise you these were not “checked out” from the German government like you might “check out” a library book on How to Escape the Scary Google Street View Car. (German title: Garkesnshgrenrellaingelfisnhenrenshcieldelesicle)

But your question brings up a larger question: what should you, as a car enthusiast, do when you hear someone spouting some absolutely ridiculous, factually incorrect statement about cars? Do you correct them? Or do you just let them be and go on with life as a wrong human being?

Generally speaking, I don’t correct people. Let me tell you why: because it almost always isn’t worth it. Someone says all second-generation Corvettes are split-window? Change the subject and move on. Someone says Acura is just Honda with leather seats? Smile and talk about something else. Someone says the Chevy Astro was front-wheel drive, and they know this because their mom had one when they were eight? Just say “I thought they were rear- or all-wheel drive!” and move along.


The reason for this is simple: even if you know the person is wrong, you rarely want to be the asshole who begins a sentence with the phrase “Well, actually…” This is a great way to look like a complete idiot yourself. And what’s it going to prove? That you know more about Chevy Astro drivetrains than some random stranger?

There is, however, an exception: if someone is making a claim that is egregiously stupid, they deserve to be corrected, and then mocked mercilessly. For instance: about a week after I did a video with a Land Rover Defender, someone tried to tell me that all Land Rover Defenders are right-hand drive.


This received a “Well, actually,” followed by a few choice words wherein I asked the person—sorry, the subhuman idiot—if I was driving a Defender or maybe I was driving a Lincoln MKC with a boxy, Defender-like body. Then I spat on him.

Another item that would fall into this category is if someone told me that the German government owned all Porsche 959s and then rented them out to select people on a very rare basis. Because this world has no place for 959 truthers.


@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars, which his mother says is “fairly decent.” He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer.

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