Monday, November 24, 2008

The Unbearable Lightness of Cars

So, there is a lot of chatter about the next gen Porsche Boxster being a turbo 4cyl of exceedingly light weight. 

Yeah, it may be a turbo 4cyl but I doubt it will be of 'exceedingly light' or Elise-like weight as Motor Authority states.

That is because to most people, not just Americans, light cars are unbearable. Considered unsafe. Spartan. Cheap. Because to get to a light weight the Boxster would need to ditch all the PASM, power top, upgrades stereo systems, ditch the carpeting and cargo liners. So on, so forth. And this will never happen.

As USA today noted, drivers want a small car, but they want all the luxury items they were used to having in a full size car. 

Do not think sports car drivers are immune to options or more willing to go without. There is a reason the current 911 is of the same dimensions and weight of the 928. It is because people wanted all the options that the grand tourer offered in their little sports car. If you want a true 911, buy the Cayman, but it is ugly. So a trade off there.

The above inflated art Porsche is not too off the mark, is it?

I consider myself quite a hardcore sports car fan. I love sportiness. I despise cupholders. But my 1999 Boxster is about as stripped out a car as I would want. It has no PASM, no cupholders, no heated seats, no CD changer, no Nav. Any more barren and it would be like a mobile MUJI store. And if I, as a sample of one, would not desire such an automobile there is no way a large enough portion of fans would.

"i would love a small 4cyl stripped out car." You say? Well, chuck up $5,000 grand and buy a decent 914 and drive it in all weathers then tell me if this is what you still desire. You won't. After a month driving this machine the least quibble on your mind would be the shifty shift linkage. It would be how much you missed power windows and a change bin. Good thing we are struggling to get back to the 914's 29MPG. Me proud American.

Finally, on weights. Many people say how cars used to be huge, heavy beasts and todays cars are lighter. This is patently false. Below is a table that shows some old and new cars and their weights. Interesting. The one thing all the old cars had in common? Not soft handling you jokers. A lack of driver distractions or compensation systems. 

Back then, stability control was the steering wheel.

986 Porsche - 2,750lbs
987 Porsche - 3,100lbs (that is worse than the freshman fifteen!)
2005 350Z - 3,212 lbs
1969 Roadrunner - 3,400lbs
1970 Chevelle 454SS - 3,200lbs
2008 M3 - 3,450lbs (it needs a V8 now)
997 Turbo - 3,200lbs
1980 928 - 3,300lbs
1965 Jeep Wagoneer - 3,700lbs
2007 Jeep Cherokee - 4,200lbs
2007 Ferrari Scaglietti - 4,100lbs
1979 Ferrari 400i - 4,100lbs
1970 Challenger - 3,400lbs
2007 Challenger - 4,100lbs

So, there it is. Lightweight cars are unbearable to drive everyday. Who wants to drive a track car in suit and loafers? 

That is all for now. I am off to run on the treadmill and eat a SnackWell cookie. If my car can't lose weight, maybe I can.

Images,, porsche

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