From Lamborghini Huracans to 1300-cc Alfa Supers, it’s been a car-centric weekend.
But first, am I the only one who noticed the classic low-rider Chevrolet convertibles in the Super Bowl halftime show? Or the VW Thing in one of the ads? Is this Gen-X nostalgia?
My partner in crime on the panel was Paul Duchene, former executive editor of SCM and a long-time collector car raconteur and all-around good guy.
The questions that were posed addressed a variety of topics. One young man talked about the three Lamborghini Huracans he had owned (still two currently) and why he liked the spider the best.
I recalled that when I tested a Huracan for The New York Times, I had to sign paperwork agreeing that I would not exceed the posted limits. Of course, that’s ridiculous. I think I wrote that “up to 65 mph the car handled brilliantly. But above that I don’t know as I never went any faster…”
I got a chance to expound on two of my favorite topics. First, while I appreciate the “live-wire” feel of air-cooled Porsches, in terms of being a good all-around car, the water-cooled cars are better in just about every way.
I owned a 1978 SC with 125,000 miles on it that I bought for $10,000. I sold it to Duchene after a couple of years for $10,000. A few years later he then sold it to someone else for $10,000. They were $10,000 cars forever. At $10k they were fun and a great value. At today’s $30k-$40k, maybe not so much.
Both my 996 Twin Turbo and Carrera were wonderful cars, and much easier to live with. And better. Now you have my two-cents worth. But I appreciate your air-cooled mania.
The other topic I spoke about is what Miles Collier refers to as “notional horsepower.”
I believe that for typical street and touring use, anything over 150 horsepower is wasted.
I’m sure that’s partly because I have grown up on small-bore cars, starting with a 948-cc Bug Eye.
On the Sunday Alfa Romeo Club Valentine’s Day Tour, I had the pleasure of riding with Chris Bright, founder of Collector Part Exchange. We were in his 1300 Giulia Super. He was busy rowing through the gears, and I was busy enjoying watching him.
Other cars passed us on some of the long uphill grades, but we passed them back on the downhill curvy stretches.
I’ve driven Bugatti Veyrons and various McLarens, along with plenty of miles in my 493-hp Mercedes SL55. I have made the decision I will never again drive at triple-digit speeds on public highways. First, it’s just stupid and dangerous. Second, what’s the point? You’re not getting a trophy for arriving first at the La Quinta Inn at the end of the day.
The reason track days exist is so that you can enjoy the potential of your car in a reasonably safe situation. Exercise your super car there.
I get sleepy every time someone brags about a 0-60 mph time. So what? Skinny tires, a small motor and a good five-speed gearbox are a path to automotive nirvana for me.
With classic cars, we are behind the wheel of anachronistic vehicles that represent technology that is typically 50 or more years old.
Just like I’m not interested in “fresh wine”, I want my driving experiences to take me into a past when drivers and cars and roads were evenly matched. When you could easily scare yourself silly at 50 mph as you skidded around turns.
I’m sure enthusiasts who have grown up with BWM M cars and Mercedes AMGs look at things differently. But I am set in my ways.
I am not saying that cars with more performance are not better in every way, just as my Twin Turbo 911 was superior to my SC.
But just as we each have favorite meals and pairings, we each have types of driving and cars that make us happy.
My 1965 Alfa Giulia Spider Veloce has a 1600-cc engine, my Citroen DS21 a 2.1-liter. I doubt either one could see 100 mph without it being a challenging (i.e. terrifying) experience. Yet I could easily drive either of them on the SCM 1000 and have a wonderful time. And while I might not be the first to finish each day, I wouldn’t be the last either. There’s more to performance than 0-60.