So, I had a thought recently about how advanced cars have become and how much we take it for granted. So I thought about how people 50 years ago or so would have reacted to modern cars upon encountering them the first time- once they got over the disappointment of none of them flying first, of course.
So my question for you guys is, for the purposes of blowing the minds of all the muscle-car hot-rodders and such, what car would you send back in time to, say, 1969 to serve them a slice of humble pie with a side of "You've got to be kidding me..."
My vote? The 2015 WRX.
Now, my reasoning for this is very convoluted and esoteric, but there's some logic to all of it. Sort of how I always function. Here's some basic reasons for choosing the WRX over the billions of other car choices, including the big-brother STI:
-It's cheap. At least by our standards. A Porsche 918 or a McLaren P1 are all well and good, but they're so expensive to essentially be incomprehensible. Not, we've got to pick something that's in a reasonably attainable price range and comparable to many of the cars driven back then, accounting for inflation. Inflation accounted for, the WRX would've cost about $4,000 in 1969. So you can approach your younger dad or grampa and say "Oh hey! A Shelby Mustang GT500! That cost about the same as this right here!"
-It's fast. Absurdly fast considering the displacement of the engine. Even accounting for the turbo, it's still fast. Turbo-charging was barely even a thing back then, so that alone would blow their minds, not even going into how efficient modern turbos are. You could just walk up to a MOPAR afficianado and say "Yeah...0-60 in 5 and a half seconds. Nearly 270 horsepower? Oh? Engine size? No-no, it's not a 440. It's a 2 liter 4-cylinder. Yeah, pretty cool, right?"
-It handles insanely well while still being comfortable to drive. This, along with price, is another reason for choosing the base WRX over the STI. The STI is so firm you'll need a spinal brace after a week. But the WRX is still comfortable around town without sacrificing handling or cornering capabilities. Take a 1969 gearhead around the block and he'll marvel at the comfort of the ride, but then hit a back road and put the tire grip to the test and he'll be screaming "HOW!?" At which point you'll try and explain about coilover suspensions and brake-based torque vectoring and within two minutes your passenger will be convinced your an alien from another planet.
-It's All-Wheel-Drive. That wasn't even in the conceptual phase back then. You'd have to call it 'Four-Wheel-Drive' just to made it comprehensible. Even then, it'd still confuse the hell of of them: "Wait...it's four wheel drive? Like a truck? But it's a car! Where's the transfer case? There isn't one? But how- what? HOW many differentials!?"
-It may be low-tech by our standards in the cabin, but it'd be a space ship by theirs. A comfortable, overwhelming spaceship. But even then, the 6-speed manual, while still 2 more gears than even the top-of-the-line performance cars back then, is still a manual with a clutch pedal. The instrument cluster, while digital and brightly lit, still shows the same information it did back then, just with a few extras. The radio is still a radio. Knobs are still knobs. Everything is still basically the same, but just...BETTER. It's not so high-tech that they can't wrap their head around it, but it's still enough for them to grasp just how much things have advanced, comparatively.
-It's Japanese. Consider the cars coming out of Japan at the time and the bias directed towards them. Now picture that same biased guy in a Challenger R/T getting destroyed by a little Japanese sedan with a four cylinder engine, both in the corners and in at the stoplight. Just picture his face.
-It looks futuristic. It may not be amazing to behold for us today, but imagine this thing suddenly passing you on the street in 1969. You'd think the Martians had arrived! But it's still a car- headlights, tail lights, four doors, four wheels, and even the hood scoop was something not totally unheard of back then. It's just enough futuristic pisazz, like the LED lights and allow wheels, to make them whistle and go 'Wow...', but not so futuristic as to be unrecognizable as just a car and not a spaceship.
-Most, not all, but most of the standard equipment existed back then in some form, but was only reserved for the highest priced models of the best brands. "4-wheel disc brakes? Standard? That must have cost a fortune! Oh...you work as a bag-boy at a grocery store and can still afford this? And...airbags? You mean they inflate to protect you if you hit something? And the brakes will pump themselves to keep from locking up? Wait, THE STEERING WHEEL MOVES!?"
Basically, the WRX is the bargain find of our generation. It packs the most performance and all-around versatility for the pricepoint. It's underpriced compared to the competition, but is still back-to-basics enough to be comprehensible. There are faster cars out there, and more expensive cars out there. But there's almost nothing out there that provides the level of performance, technology, and daily driveability while still being priced low enough to be considered inexpensive by nearly everyone. It's humbling in that it would kick ass against nearly anything from 1969, but when asked about it, you can just yawn and say "Oh this? Yeah, I got it because I didn't want a Camry."
So what about you guys? What would you send back to 1969, just to screw with people, and why?