Monday, October 5, 2015

But At What Cost?

Porsche 911: 1964 and 2015

Anyone who remembers cars with radical street cams and big carbs cannot object to variable valve timing and electronic port injection.  My Honda Civic Si makes twice the horsepower of a 2-liter engine of fifty years ago (at 33% more revs), idles smoothly at 700 r.p.m., and pulls with gusto from 1200 r.p.m.  I'm glad my cars have catalytic converters, and that same "intelligent" fuel injection that makes the atmosphere cleaner.

Who among performance drivers can object to grippier tires on wider wheels?  Some of us have even adjusted to "intelligent" floppy-paddle gearboxes.  At my age, I won't even object to air bags, which would probably save me from a broken neck in a collision.  But I could do with a little less sheet steel and aluminum surrounding me in those crashworthy "crush zones."

If you wonder why a modern car weighs 40% more than the cars of our youth (at least the youth of anciens), there's your answer.  It also explains why they don't feel as agile and spirited, even though they go much faster, corner much harder, and stop much quicker.   Modern high-performance cars are not as much fun.  The picture visualizes the question, "How much is enough?"

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