Another Dream Punctured

I have long lusted after owning a Maserati Quattroporte, which to me seemed to be the last (non-Bentley) word in luxury touring cars:

It combines everything I like about cars:  exquisite styling, a sumptuous interior and, lest we forget, a Ferrari-derived 3.8-liter V8 engine.

This morning, however, I took an Uber passenger to the airport, and in chatting about cars, I mentioned my yearning for the above Mazza.

“Nah,” was his comment.
“Why not?”
“Quality isn’t that good.”
“It’ll break down every week?” I said in jest.
“Not every  week…”

I should point out that said passenger was once a senior exec at Maserati USA.

So much for that dream.

Resurrections

The writers at Road & Track  magazine talk about cars they’d like to see reincarnated.

Most of them get a shrug of the shoulders and a “meh” from me, except for two;  firstly, the Jag XJ220:

Probably the most outrageous Jag ever built, it was designed as a race car, and was the fastest production car when it was launched (217 mph — not even shabby by today’s standards).  But from all accounts, it was an atrocious road car:  as wide as most British streets, a turning circle like a battleship, and driver visibility that made the Lambo Countach look like a convertible by comparison.  Seriously, though… I saw one last time I was over in Britishland, and it’s even more dramatic than its picture.

Of course, I’ve never actually driven an XJ220;  but I have driven another car on R&T ‘s wish list:  the Alfa Romeo GTV/6.

Just looking  at it makes my senses tingle.  I would take a new one of these now, even as unsophisticated as it would be compared to modern cars.  (I don’t need about 90% of the modern geegaws that infest today’s cars anyway.)

And that said, the only car on the list I would never  want to see again is the foul Pontiac Fiero — to this day, the only car I’ve ever taken for a test drive, and handed back to the salesman halfway through, saying, “I’ve had enough.”  What a POS — especially after having driven the GTV/6 but a short time earlier.  Great concept, horrible execution.

As I said, the rest don’t thrill me much — but feel free to disagree with me in Comments.

Racing Beauty

As all know, I am a huge fan of the Ferrari Dino 246 GT, but I love its successors with almost equal fervor.  Here’s a little discourse about the 288 GTO by Alain de Cadenet, who waxes rhapsodical about this magnificent beast, the last Ferrari made when old man Enzo was still alive.  Enjoy.  (Right-click to embiggen the pic in another window.)

It was a 1980s car, which meant it was more wedge-shaped and less curvy than the 246 GT from which it was derived (right-click away):

But the 288 was racier — duh, it was created for Group B racing — and a better car to drive than the entry-level Dino, I think.  (I’ve driven the Dino quite a bit, the 288 only once for a disappointingly-few minutes.)

But both cars thrill — that engine being mounted only a foot or so behind the driver… oooh, Mommy.

Want.  Either, or both.  Where’s that lottery ticket, again?

It Ain’t That

The Car God opines:

Jeremy Clarkson blames “idiot” climate change activist Greta Thunberg for killing the car show.
The former Top Gear presenter, who is returning with another series of Amazon Prime motor series The Grand Tour, claimed young people have been turned against cars by the 16-year-old environmental campaigner.
Clarkson, 59, told The Sun: “Everyone I know under 25 isn’t the slightest bit interested in cars – Greta Thunberg has killed the car show.”

Most of the time, I agree with Clarkson, but I’m not so sure about this one.

My opinion is that young people aren’t interested in cars for two reasons:

  • They all look the same.  (I’ve ranted and raved about this situation so many times, I’m starting to bore myself.)
  • New cars cost too much, and youngins don’t have the cash to buy them — hence the popularity of the “no-car” ownership and Uber.

Much as I detest her and her ilk, neither of the above is the fault of that little bint Thunberg.  The real fault lies with government — our government, European governments, all governments — who have mandated expensive changes to cars in the name of SAFETY and CLIMATE.  The first is arguably a good thing, but the second a lot more questionable.

But when an “entry-level” (i.e. modest) secondhand car like this one costs nearly 20 grand…

I’m not sure that many under-25s are going to want to spend this much even if they have it.  College loan repayments, ObamaCare medical insurance, under-25 auto insurance rates… even if they’re filling the stereotype and living with Mom and Dad, money is going to be tight, assuming they’re pulling in the typical youngin annual salary of $24k – $36k.

(Yeah, I know  you can get cheaper cars — the Son&Heir scrimped and saved out of his paltry waiter’s income until he could afford to buy a twelve-year-old Oldsmobile Beater from a friend for $1,500, but his maintenance costs almost killed him.  If he’d had more money, it would have saved him money to buy a Honda like the above;  but he didn’t have the money.  I don’t think today’s kids are any better off — they may even be worse  off, come to think of it.)

Of course, adding the Blame Game onto all that via Thunberg and the other EarthFirsters doesn’t help — nor does it help that the under-25 group are malleable and vulnerable thanks to their crap secondary education and foul neo-socialist tertiary education, so they’ll believe anything and hope that Mommy and Daddy (or Big Brother Gummint) will bail them out.  But that’s not the primary reason for their lassitude in matters automotive.

In my day, boys had wall posters on their bedroom walls which featured supercars (and supermodels).  Nowadays?  They can’t afford the fucking posters.  They can’t even afford the ticket price for the car show.

And that’s because their priorities have changed.  Why spend money on a four-wheeled money pit when they can spend as much or more each month on a money pit which can fit in the hand?

And why drag-race your buddy down Main Street (à la American Graffiti ) when you can play Grand Theft Auto?  Or pick up your girlfriend and take her to the movies, when she can catch a Lyft over to your place and the two of you can “Netflix and chill”?

It’s not just the money.  Times and priorities have changed.  And as with all this stuff, it’s not just one thing (like Greta Thunberg) that has caused the change;  it’s everything.  Our kids live in a different world;  and in that world, the car isn’t important anymore.  Too bad.  Here’s a pic of my teenage dream car:

In today’s dollars, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT  would have cost about $14,000 — brand new.

Here’s #2 Son’s dream car:

Brand new, the Honda Fit costs about $17,000.  He has less chance of getting this econobox than I did the Alfa Romeo.

Not-So-Vintage Beauty

While wandering along the various highways and byways of Ye Olde Internette (i.e. looking at stuff that wasn’t written yesterday by some illiterate / ignorant Millennial), I stumbled upon something that I hold near and dear to my heart:  a Maserati 4200 GT from the early 2000s.  Here’s what it looks like, in both Coupé and Spyder configurations:

 

Now here’s why I love this creature [2,000 lines of drooling foolishness redacted]:

  • 4.2-liter V8 Ferrari engine giving
  • 385 horsepower (395 in the later GranSport)
  • Skyhook suspension system
  • manual transmission
  • proper 4-seater (not 2 adults + 2 amputees, like most of the ilk)

But those are just the technical specs, and impressive though they are, a whole bunch of cars today can produce the same or better.

However, what gets my various body parts tingling, moving and enlarging is the sheer beauty of this car.  This guy (who uses his twelve-year-old Mazza 4200 as a daily driver!!) puts it perfectly:

I’m a huge fan of the beautiful styling. I believe it’s a timeless design. When the 3200/4200 was initially released it may have seemed a bit bland for the time. But today with every new car resembling a transformer mated with largemouth bass fish front end, it really makes me appreciate the elegant smooth aerodynamic curves of 90’s vehicles.

I just hope he doesn’t mind if I steal “a transformer mated with largemouth bass fish front end”, because I’m gonna.  And a reminder of the topic under discussion:

I absolutely love the smooth, elegant lines that flow gracefully, compared to the angular offerings of most of today’s sports cars.  And I actually prefer the “standard” styling above over the later GranSport’s, which while also lovely, is starting to look dangerously fish-mouthed:

I am also completely cognizant of the fact that “older Maserati”  and “daily driver”  are not terms that should be combined in a single sentence.

But you could do worse.  A whole  lot worse.

Want.

Running Around In Circles

No, I’m not talking about the Republican Party (although I could be).  I refer here to a comment from last week’s post about traffic:

Unfortunately the only “foreign” traffic design feature that the local traffic “engineers” are looking to implement are traffic circles.

Yeah, I see a couple of these foul things have appeared just north of me, in Frisco TX.

Traffic circles work only under two sets of circumstances:

  1. When there’s absolutely no other traffic (e.g. at 4am), and
  2. If they’re located in Britain, where drivers are more polite and courteous.  (Not valid in Manchester, Sheffield or Liverpool.)

Don’t even get me started about New Fucking Jersey, where (unlike anywhere else in the entire world), cars entering  the circle have the right of way over cars already in  the circle.  How I survived that day is almost enough to turn one into a theist (guardian angels, etc. etc.).

And if any Murkin starts preaching at me about the superiority of circles over regular intersections, I invite him to rent a car in Paris, drive around the Arc de Triomphe, and emerge unscathed (in mind as well as vehicularly).

And anytime someone has a bright idea about “improving” traffic conditions in the U.S., I feel they should first test them on the Long Island Expressway, during rush hour.