||The President’s Message
Some thoughts on automotive progress!
I think I’ve spent more time driving over the past 3 months, than I have in a long time. And I’ve been in a lot of different vehicles, from an 80’s Porsche 944 to a 90’s Buick Park Avenue to some 2017 Porsche’s. To say that things have changed would be the understatement of the Year! Some people would say that today’s cars have no soul! Well, I guess that depends on how you define the word.
I won’t get into the shortcomings of American made cars of the past generation. At last weekends’ Teen Street Survival, I instructed in a couple of 90’s-something American sedans. The kids who were driving them were glad to have a car at all, and they weren’t bothered by all the body roll, screeching tires, and sluggish performance. And to be fair, many of these cars are reliable and relatively safe. But FUN – NO SIR!!!
Now, thinking about the older Porsche’s I’ve been in recently. There’s no getting around the fact that they are GREAT FUN! A little idiosyncratic maybe, but they certainly get the adrenaline going, and they are very rewarding when driven well. My son and I share a 1985 944 track car. While it’s no dragster, this thing is amazing in the corners. You just point it in the right direction – and it goes. According to Harry’s Lap Timer, this little car will pull 1.1 – 1.2 G’s; maybe even a little more if you’re feeling brave. If you ask too much of it, it might go sideways for a bit, but it won’t bite you if you don’t do something really stupid! That said, when you’re going down a long straight, at over 100mph (on track, of course) it’s helpful to say a little prayer before shifting up to 5th gear. Because, if it feels like it, the car may decide you really wanted 3rd gear! This can be a little exciting when you let the clutch fly! Maybe this is what some drivers would call soul?
Turning to some newer models - My PDK equipped 911 GTS is a modern marvel. It’s comfortable, it’s got more electronics than I will ever use, and it’s got chassis sensors, traction sensors, auto-adjusting engine mounts, and enough computer power to land on the moon. All this translates to making an average, Walter Middy driver like me, feel like Mario Andretti. In short, this thing is a rocket – but it’s easy to drive. So maybe it has no soul, but I still love the feel I get when I execute a good turn, when the brakes shove me into the belts, and the back end feels all hunkered down exiting the corner, and wow, does the next corner come up really quickly. This is all very 911ish! And did I say my wife looks great in it!
So I guess there’s something to be said for both older and newer Porsches. The older cars offer great rewards to those who drive them well. And they certainly speak to us about classic design and engineering. The newer cars may lack some of this charm and charisma, but they can still make you feel really good behind the wheel – and isn’t that the point of any Porsche?