autoevolution Behind the Scenes/Anniversary...

..."Y'know one of the most beautiful things about a car? If it isn't working properly, you can strip the skin off, expose the insides, find out exactly where the trouble is, take out the faulty part and replace it with a new one. If only we could do that with people!" - Grand Prix, 1966

In case there are still some of you who missed it by now, here at autoevolution we're all about cars, bikes and almost anything with an engine. Some of us are oldschool petrolheads, while others indulge themselves with the newest car-related gadget or are just apprentices of either the "form follows function" or the "function follows form" theory.

Following the same principle, many of you guys are probably the same, which is why you're here now, reading this somewhat meaningless rant. I don't know how many of you actually know that the autoevolution project was taking its first baby steps into the world about the same time last year. Here we are now in front of a virtual birthday cake, and I feel that I should add some stats to celebrate our one year anniversary.

Believe it or not, over 13.000 news and original articles have been posted on our website in just three hundred-something days. I always hated math, but for the sake of argument that's an average of about 36 automotive journalism pieces per day. Every day, since I'm also counting the weekends. We're still a bit far from our self-imposed goal of running with the really big boys of the online car sites as far as traffic goes, but in my humble opinion we are off to a pretty good start, at least when talking about our news coverage and original materials.

I know, this may sound like I'm pushing the self-bragging bit to the limit, but I shall continue anyway since I hope everybody who's reading this still has the Christmas/Hanukkah or whatever forgiving spirit in them. Like any other respectable car site, we also did a bunch - albeit not as many as we would have wanted – of test drives in this period. Thirty test drives, to be more exact.

This roughly translates into a rather exhaustive car review every couple of weeks or so. Since 30 a year is not exactly a high number, in our defense I have to add the fact that we're planning to ante up in 2010 to at least weekly test drives and - why not? - comparos. Although I didn't exactly clocked the total distance we covered during our drives, common sense and an uncanny eye for details would tell me that it's somewhere between 25 and 30.000 kilometers (15.000-18.000 miles), so that's not much higher than an average commuter. Speaking of numbers and "exhaustive", I have to further add some more details to our bragging rights (I'm really pushing it now, right?).

On average, each of our test drive consists of about 60-70 different pictures of the car we're reviewing, but there was more than one occasion when that number has risen to over a hundred. Sure, some of our tests have as low as 40-something different shots of the car, but that is mainly "thanks" to an anal-retentive PR person who only lent us the vehicle for a few hours.

Plus, since last summer we're also the only car site in the world that provides an interior 3d panorama of each vehicle we test. We're actually pretty proud of this feat (does it show?), since the user can actually benefit from a more "hands on" approach when checking up one of our reviews.

While it may seem like fun and games for the casual reader, most of the test drives we did were actually peppered with stress-inducing moments. To give you a better idea I should probably give some examples, and the first which comes to mind is the time when I almost lost my license after thoroughly "testing" to see how understeer and oversteer manifests on an all-wheel drive BMW 3-Series equipped with snow-tires on a wet (and somewhat public) surface - while the DSC was of course switched off. Thanks to an understanding police officer – who at first glance looked a little bit like a shorter and fatter version of Dirty Harry - and a promise to never attempt anything like it again, I got off the hook.

Another example which springs to mind is when we had to review a car that the PR person had informed us it had malfunctioning ABS sensors. In other words, the ABS, the electronic stability program and the traction control system were as dead as on a vintage AC Cobra. Thank goodness our car's personality was way, way different than that of a Cobra, so we didn't get to also "assess" its airbags and safety cell after some hard driving on the twisties.

The latest somewhat stressful "situation" happened not long ago, on the exact same day when this winter's first snow covered the streets and we were booked for reviewing an Opel with 19-inch summer tires. If it wasn't for the all-wheel drive system present on the car we would have never pulled it off... Still, you can imagine our "excitement" when we realized that our press car had summer performance tires in the middle of December.

Other than these teeny examples, which come to think of it don't seem much now, most of the testing we did not only involved driving, but also scouting for shooting locations, holding the flashes for our beloved art director/photographer, cleaning up dirt spots on the cars, enveloping the windows in a goofy plastic sheet for the interior photos... and so on. In other words, it's not just about driving a car to the mountains and then writing about it, which I admit kind of sounds a little bohemian and something probably every car nut would like to do for a living.

Anyway, long story short, to celebrate our one-year anniversary we put together a gallery of pictures taken during our test drives for you to enjoy (or loath, it depends). Some of them are just some of Tudor's most "eye-candy" shots, while others are just depicting our ugly mugs in a somewhat "making of" fashion. Hope you'll enjoy them.

The only thing left for me to do now is to wish you guys happy holidays and happy motoring. See ya next year!
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About the author: Alex Oagana
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Alex handled his first real steering wheel at the age of five (on a field) and started practicing "Scandinavian Flicks" at 14 (on non-public gravel roads). Following his time at the University of Journalism, he landed his first real job at the local franchise of Top Gear magazine a few years before Mircea (Panait). Not long after, Alex entered the New Media realm with the project.
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