Ah the 'Good OL Dayzzz!' When Merica wuz free, gas was cheap and our muscles was as big as our buts.
Many of you remember these cars, loved and love them still, as I do; but there is a time and place for everything.
The horsepower wars that started in the 50's, hyper fueled in the 60's and it's death ushered in, in the 1970's are chapters in our past worth reminiscing about fondly in our present. The problem is we are trying to relive those days again, now, today with very much the same mentality of yesterday.
Before we get too far ahead let me state that this is not a rant to further an electric, or other means of power, automotive future. Nor is this a 'piss on' petrol chemical blog.
This blog, rant, is in response to a serious set of questions raised regarding a post on Jalopnik the other day regarding HP numbers and the ever escalating power figures, HP wars, that seem to be enveloping the automotive world once again.
Raphael Orlove asks, "The Ferrari 488 GTB is a new Ferrari that has an engine that has a lot of power. But how much power, exactly?"
It is of course, a rhetorical question. He goes on to compare the 488GTB to other cars and to me at least, seems to point out the absurdity we seem to be getting ourselves into once again, a la the 1970's.
The 1970's, the end of an era, the beginning of the 'Malaise' period. These times were a direct result of the times before them. Nothing earth shattering about that statement and as about as profound as stating that water is wet.
What is interesting though is the study into why exactly we got the 'Malaise' period. In my estimation, the great excesses of the 50's and 60's simply caught up to us. The idea of thinking forward, beyond what was directly right in front of our faces wasn't something we did, or even sadder to say, we do today.
I understand completely the arena of competition that existed, just as it does today, between the automakers to constantly one up each other. The break down came when the 'HP wars' could no longer be maintained and the industry got out of control. At no time have I seen evidence that any of the badges self policed and decided not to do something knowing full well that the public at large had reached it's level of competence and ability. The other alarming fact was that the engineers knew full well the power they were producing was way beyond the ability of the components available to them through third party suppliers like tire manufactures.
So here we are today, some say right back in the same situation, or as I say, right on the cusp of the same situation. Component suppliers certainly are not the problem today: neither are the manufactures themselves as government regulation and the 'legal eagles' truly are the over lords of the industry. No, the problem is us!
This is a quote from:
"Well, at some point I suspect the HP war will finally become a proper quickness war. Some cars have plenty of HP but due to weight, aerodynamics, etc, can't really go anywhere quick. Give me a car that can do 0-60 in under 3 seconds and can do the quarter mile in under 11 seconds and it doesn't really matter how much hp it has."
Well Freak, I take your point but in this very statement you exemplify the problem with 'us'. Yes as Jalops we all want cars to go 0-60 in < 3.0 and the quarter mile in 11.0 and under. Today, with the way in which we build cars, the only way to achieve such numbers is through big HP.
The weight issue is right in your statement. The other amusing little 'tid bit' is the 'Cant go anywhere quick." I think you are referring to the fact that really, legally and ethically, going that fast on public roads is, I'm now happy to say even in the Jalop crowd, a no no.
Quickness on the other hand is an interesting angle to take. I agree totally.
Back to the real problem though: As a whole, we are terrible drivers. Have you ever asked yourself why A pillars on modern cars and trucks are now a foot thick? It's because too many people keep flipping their cars over, landing on their roofs and getting their heads crushed in. Why are people flipping their cars so often? It's because we suck at driving!
You and I as enthusiasts may be better than the average Joe but, there are so many average Joes out their on our road infrastructure now that it really doesn't matter. Accidents will happen but the frequency and sheer lunacy in number and cause and effect are mind boggling.
Simply put, the average driver is no where near skilled enough to handle the power and ability modern cars poses and yet any idiot who can make the payments can drive a car with 600-700 HP on the very same roads as you and I.
That may be the right that every American and citizen of a free country should have but in reality shouldn't exercise. The excess today while enabled by the auto manufacturers, really is being played out by the likes of you, I and the idiots on the roads with us.
The end of this period may be coming to an end for reasons other than any oil crisis. The sheer number of cars on the road, the skill level, or lack there of for most drivers and really, the expense of purchasing, maintaining and insuring suck objects of desire can almost be assuredly the end of the new HP wars.
I hope we get smarter and get even better cars, no make that transportation solutions for the future. That sounds very ominous and dispassionate but truth be told, even for enthusiasts like you and I, %95+ of our driving isn't for pleasure, it's commuting to work and back.