Toy Cars, part 2

Click on the photo below to link to a great article about the Honda vs. Jaguar vs. Porsche shoot out, entitled “Soccer Mom’s Revenge” on Grassroots Motorsports.

 This is already 10 years old and so it’s already quite out of date, and I imagine it’s even more true than it was 10 years ago.   The basic premise is that a modern mini-van will “outperform” most vintage sportscars on an “autocross” course, at least as far as lap times go.   You can sum up the magazine’s conclusion by reading the last line of the article:

“Go on a trip in the Odyssey, and you’ll remember the destination; go on a trip in a sports car, and you’ll remember the drive.”

In the “comments” section, one can see this point failed to register with a lot of folks, and one wonders if some people reading this will run right out and buy a 10 year old Odessey.  No harm if they actually have some fun with it.

The current issue of Car and Driver magazine has a comparison test of  three 1/2 ton, crew cab 4×4 pickups.  They’re all 60’s muscle car fast, with the Ford  doing the 1/4 mile in 14.8 seconds and 0-60 in 6.2 seconds.   I’d imagine that a standard cab with 2 wheel drive would be even faster, since it would weigh about a 1,000 pounds less than the crew cab with 4WD.   I’m surprised they didn’t post lap times at Willow Springs.

I’m all for automotive progress and all, but $50,000, 6,000 pound pickups with dragster acceleration that can’t carry any more in their beds than a 40 year old Datsun pickup (The Ram has a Maximum carrying capacity of 801 pounds, which means with four two hundred pound men inside, only one of them can order anything at a Starbucks drive-through.)  seem a tad absurd.  As does the fact that these trucks all got 13 mpg during the road test but are all rated above 20 MPG highway.   (The EPA test is not much of a reflection of real world conditions. ) But that’s just me—————-

The magazine doesn’t make a big point of how fast these trucks have become because they must seem almost slow to people who drive cars that can easily turn sub 12 second 1/4 miles.     In a recent comparison between a new Miata and a Scion FR–S in Motor Trend I had to read the following paragraph a few times———

“At the track, these two cars are a wash. The Scion accelerates from 0-60 mph in,   6.2 seconds and the Mazda in 6.1 seconds — I’ve failed math tests faster than  that. Quarter mile times for the two were also virtually identical, with the  MX-5 taking care of business in 14.7 seconds at 92.8 mph and the FR-S just  trailing it at 14.8 seconds at 95.1 mph.”

The lead in to the article was about how these cars didn’t look too good on paper.  That they are slow.  To put these numbers into perspective, both of these cars would easily outrun a Ferrari 308,  be a virtual dead heat with a 60’s Corvette with a 327 V-8 and a four speed, or many other cars that would have been considered “fast” at some point in time.  Nobody really ever accused the original 240Z as being a “slow”, and yet either one of these two “entry level” sports cars would make it seem to be standing still in any sort of acceleration contest.    To the author’s credit he does go on to explain there are more than numbers to look at in terms of evaluating how entertaining a car might be to drive.

The auto industry obviously believes that to be viable, an entry level sports car has to be as fast as either of these two.  That’s why you don’t see any $20,000 two seat roadsters with 8 second 0-60 times that weigh under 2,000 lbs and get 40 mpg.  Which is something I’d think should be possible.  Mazda, obviously, moved the Miata upwards in terms of power, rather than refining to the car to lighter and more agile.  There are rumors that the next gen Miata might move closer to this, but I’m wagering the price will be much closer to $30,000 than $20,000.  It will have to be faster than the current one and the technology to do that will not be cheap.

In my imagination, a modern version of an Austin Healey Sprite would be possible:  the above specs with a 1,500 cc, 130 hp pushrod engine with a 7,000 RPM redline and a five speed manual transmission with manual steering, top and windows.   But, my imagination is the only place where such a car will ever likely appear, so most of us who want fun on a budget will have to look in the used car market.

Author: fauxsuper

Guitarist since 1964, motorized vehicle enthusist all my life, Married with two step children. Born and rasied in Lebanon, Ore.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *