Designated Driver
Jeff Bartlett '91, writer, photographer and Consumer Reports editor for autos, knows his Maseratis from his Ferraris.

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Q: Your whole career has been car-related.

Jeff Bartlett
Perry Smith/UNH Photographic Services

A: In high school, Alton, N.H., I read car magazines, but I didn't really think of that as a career. A handful of people get to do that fun stuff.

Q: You're one of the handful.

A: I was in journalism classes with a friend, Jason Scott '91. He cracked into the industry at a small car magazine in Florida. When they had an opening, he reached out to me. I packed up my Firebird and moved to Florida.

Q: A Firebird.

A: An '87 Firebird—two tone with T-tops—removable glass panels. Totally "kewl" in the '80s.

Q: What do you drive now?

A: Test cars. This week it's a 2013 Porsche Boxster, redesigned.

Q: That's nice.

A: It's the least I can do to help fellow man make a purchase decision.

Q: Nice car?

A: To be honest, I don't think the suspension is quite as supple as the previous one. But the engine and transmission are terrific.

Q: Exotic cars you have known?

A: I've driven a lot of interesting cars—Ferraris, Bentleys. I don't get that excited about some of the high-end cars. You pay a few hundred thousand, it'd better be nice. More exciting is to find a $25,000 car that's a great value. One of my current passions is the new Mustang: $22,500 with 300 horse power.

Q: That sounds like a lot of horse power.

A: Sounds about right to me. I've had many opportunities to spank a Mustang on tracks.

Q: Huh?

A: Drive with an air of hooliganism on a racetrack. Racetracks allow you to push a car to its absolute extreme in a laboratory-like environment. I've driven concept cars, twin turbo Vipers, supercharged Toranas. It can be great fun. I haven't raced formally, but I've certainly been wheel to wheel at triple digit speeds.

Q: Any close calls?

A: There's always a chance of rolling over with some of those silly things we do. We had about eight cars within 16 or 18 inches of each other, side to side as well as front to back, going 135 miles an hour for a photo shoot.

Q: (expletive deleted)

A: I once jumped a car at 155.

Q: Jumped?

A: The car came off the ground.

Q: What's your advice for buying a new car?

A: Do the research and think ahead. Most people hold onto a car for about a decade.

Q: Did you collect Hot Wheels when you were a kid?

A: No more than other kids. But I still have my collection—Corvette Hot Wheels. Corvette has always been a passion of mine. I have a couple hundred of those still in their blister packs.

Q: I knew it! Do you agree that everybody connects with cars?

A: Cars represent freedom. It's a basic mode of transportation for your workaday life, but it's also freedom and escapism and passion and excitement. ~

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