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An automotive epiphany

Posted by Viggen , 13 Aug 2012 · 3,363 views

supercarmuscle carperformance limits of grip simple fun cheap fuel economy excitement mustang camaro super car
An automotive epiphany I know this is an aviation based website but I had to get this written down somewhere! This isn't so much a blog post rather just collecting my thoughts. If there any car enthusiasts on the forum, please feel free to post your opinion!

Most people love super cars and muscle cars. I know I do, be it a '69 Chevy Camaro SS or a 2012 Ferrari 458 Italia. But really what's the point of one today? You're an easy target for the police, people file noise complaints against you, idiots in riced out Honda Civics (Or in the UK, Citroens or Peugeots) constantly want to race you, you can't go anywhere without a crowd forming (super cars mainly have this issue), and make the slightest mistake and a video of your ass ends up on youtube with over a million people watching and calling you a moron.

Where am I going with this? Simple. They're useless outside of a car show or a race track. There are of course exceptions to this rule; most Porsches and modern (1993 and up) pony cars. The days of the drag race at the lights are long gone thanks to cameras. And other than a race track, where might one experience the limits of grip without going off a cliff edge, backwards, at 100mph in their Lamborghini? Of course, any German readers here will be quick to bring up the unrestricted portions of the Autobahn and the legendary Nurburgring, but I guess y'all are lucky to have those.

Two recent events have made this come to my mind. One, the Toyota 86/Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ (Toybaru from here on) has gone on sale. Two, I recently went on a road trip to Gettysburg, and needless to say the road we were on, a very twisting hilly ribbon of asphalt, tested the Ford E-350 van's limits. I'll start off with the Toybaru. It's a 200 horsepower, rear wheel drive sports car coming at a repetitively cheap price. This isn't going to win at the drag strip and in it's current form won't set track records (the Toybaru is sold with the same tires as the Prius, but already has tons of mods available), but on that road, on those tires, it would have been exciting. So would have a Mazda MX-5 (Miata), Volkswagen Golf GTI, or Mazdaspeed 3. In any of those four cars on any road, you could experience the limits of grip and there's a good chance you won't be branded a maniac and get pulled over for speeding, because you probably won't be.

Another case are V6 pony cars. That is the V6 powered entry level versions of the Ford Mustang, Chevy Camaro, and Dodge Challenger. On a daily basis you can have more fun in one of those than their top of the line siblings (Boss 302 or Shelby GT500, ZL1, SRT8 392 respectively) because of their more limited performance. There's been a video going around on the internet lately of a moron in a V6 Mustang who removed the chip and made it 140+ mph. However, the V6 Mustang's drivetrain is limited to 110 MPH. The video ends with the drivetrain coming through the floor. Yikes!

What am I trying to get at? Simple. For a fraction of the price, you can buy a sporty car and still have as much fun. You don't need the speed (that isn't to say it isn't fun). If you own a cheaper sporty car and haven't done this yet, find a bendy road you know well and take that corner just a little tighter next time, you'll see what I mean.


...Ok this made a lot more sense and sounded better in my head




You're not the only one that feels that way.

I'm one of those guys who was a gearhead when I was young, knew all about the old musclecars and the exotics, where too much horsepower wasn't enough... Even had a old Mustang that I kept over a decade and a half, and didn't get rid of until a few years ago.

The thing is...cars today are just so much better than cars of yesteryear. The argument that cars only need to go so fast is as old as cars themselves...they are purchased as much for emotion as for practicality. Also, attitudes are changing toward cars...youngsters nowadays are finding cars more as appliances to get them where they need to go verses an end in and of themselves. Being connected has become more important...which is why the younger generation more embraces the idea of self driving cars than old heads.

But even for those of us who like driving ourselves, and choosing our own gears have realized that less horsepower doesn't mean less fun. Look at Column5, raving about his MazdaSpeed3...a 4-door no less - even though he's put so much time and effort into his beautiful old school Vette.

I've fallen into the same thoughts. There are so many good cars out there, even some that are 'grocery getters' that would keep up with my old school Mustang, and just plain out handle it when it got twisty. Cars that have modern safety features, comfort and quality advancements, and great fuel economy. I want a modern Mustang...but I am having a hard time justifying buying a GT (not to mention a Boss or Shelby) verses a 300hp V-6. Part of me (the old part) says that it ain't a real Mustang unless it has a V8...but the other part wonders if 1 second better in the 0-60 is worth at least $10k more....

And then I look at cars like the upcoming Focus ST, the VW GTI, a Subaru WRX (not to mention the STi), the Mitsu EVO...

And of course, a side benefit of hybrids is that electric motors have lots of torque at 0 RPM...combine lightweight elec motors at all 4 wheels with a conventional engine optimized for the higher RPMs with a light battery pack, and things start getting interesting. The performance car in 10 years may not be anything like what we have now in terms of drivetrains...

FC
Well.... Let me put a couple things into perspective....IMHO.

There are 200-300HP Four-Cylinder and V6 Options out there today that will dust many of the classics. They will do it on a road course, a drag strip, anywhere.
There are 400-600HP V8 Modern Muscles cars today that will Smoke anything that ever existed.

You can have tons of fun in whatever you buy, but you have to ask yourself... "what are you buying it for?"
Like FC mentioned, "many people today are buying cars like they are appliances to get them where they need to go" As much as I agree with this statement, I also believe that the future of the industry will be trashed if every automobile is white, plugs into the same wall connector, and they all basically look like a cube.

I buy a car as an extension of my personality. It has to meet certain basic needs, but I also want it to turn heads and perform with the best of them. I don't want an appliance, and I certainly don't want designers to loose creative skills in designing the future. I love the classics, but I'm all in on Modern Muscle. Gone are the days of street racing, but I look at that as a good thing and hope to see more responsible owners competing at the tracks. I frequent a road course and a drag strip every year in a daily driver, and love to see others show up regardless if they have a totally stock V6 Mustang, or a Fully Blown Challenger.
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daddyairplanes
17 Oct 13 - 06:22:33 AM

my first car was a 71 Cuda that i was buying from my uncle. not the best thing for an 18 year old to get, but it did explain ALOT of my driving habits the first 15 years of my driving life. especially the first night having it and racing my buddy in his dads 69 Cutlass in a blizzard! (again, not the best cars for 18 year olds)

my favorite to date of all the cars i've had was my 99 Buick LeSabre. got totaled 3 years ago after 9 with my family by the insurance company after some yahoo hit me in the parking lot. she had enough power to play when i came up against someone in a Mustang that wanted to play but big enough to haul the family around and even some mil equipment from the company to the motor pool (loaded more kitchen burners in her than my plt sgt in his truck)   now i am happy with a 05 Caravan, it gets me from a to b in plenty of time and hauls plenty of people or things.  goes to what Fates said, the whole extension of personality. i turned a different leaf when i left active duty and finally had to retire my Illinois license for a NC one. the one ticket i got in the last 3 years was for rushing home when my daughter was sick.  those that know me and my old ways though laughed and couldnt believe it when the DA dropped the ticket because of my "clean driving record."  well on the NC license anyhow. 

 

and Viggen, don't be that guy that gets home from deployment and blows his money on a new Mustang, Camaro or Lexus!!!!

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