Not Much Argument

Some Brit place did a poll:

That’s not a bad list (and yes, the Ford GT40 is a Brit car — designed and prototyped by Ford UK).  I would take issue, however, with the omission of the 1960s Rolls-Royce:

…and the equally sumptuous Bentley of the same era (pre-German takeover):

I would also have replaced the Lotus Elan Mark I (below):

…with the Esprit:

I also feel that a lot of the older iconic Brit cars were ignored — like the MG TF:

…and the pre-war (later Jaguar) SS:

Compared to those two, the Lotus Elan is a clown car.

Feel free to agree / disagree or add your own entrants in Comments.

Then And Now

I’ve never been a huge fan of Porsche, mostly because I’ve never much cared for the shape of their cars.  But I will say that the newer models don’t look too bad:

Here’s the original Targa:

And an overhead of the 2020:

That is actually quite toothsome.  Let’s hope they don’t catch fire like the earlier 4S models did.

Here’s the whole story of its launch.

Keine Fahrvergnügen

In a world which is becoming more and more “convenient” (i.e. controlled by electronics and algorithms), I have to say that in the automotive world, it’s the Germans who (unsurprisingly) lead the charge.

Read this Road & Track article about the Porsche Cayenne SUV, and see if you can spot the parts which made my trigger-finger itch and led me to look up “home-made explosives” on the Internet.  No, don’t bother;  here they are:

When we ordered our Cayenne, we thought the $940 stand-alone option price was a bit excessive. Our opinion on the cost has not changed, and while we have only just gotten used to pulling the key out to unlock the car, then returning said key to our pocket before starting the car—you don’t need to insert the key to start the car—we do find it a bit annoying to have one but not the other, considering our Cayenne is $80K. Staff editor Eric Stafford captured it perfectly in the logbook: “This first-world problem is a first-world pain in the ass.”
Driving at night on back roads has brought to light (sorry) the inability to dim the instrument cluster sufficiently. On a dark road, the interior lights glare into our eyes. Not only that, dimming the lights requires you to go through a menu in the infotainment system, and there are three separate dimmer controls for the instrument cluster, clock on the dash, and center touchscreen. Remember dimmer knobs? Porsche says forget them; doing it through an infotainment menu that can’t be adjusted while moving is a much better solution. This is a prime example of technology taking a simple task and making it unnecessarily complicated.

I have already voiced my loathing for keyless access/ignition systems, so I won’t go into it here.  Not having an analog dimmer switch for the interior gauge lighting is so fucking stupid as to defy definition.  (My late father always used to say, when some or other non-essential doodad on his Mercedes 350 SE failed, “No wonder they lost the fucking war!”)

I am going out on a not-so-long limb here, and offer 10-1 odds that among the performance car manufacturers, Porsche will be the first to offer / mandate driverless (a.k.a. self-driving) cars, most likely in their SUVs first, and then the venerable 911 line soon thereafter.   (It was bad enough that they took the manual gearbox out of the 911 line altogether — because no driver can shift gears quicker than their phantastiches  PDK —  and more nonsense like that is bound to follow.)

I am not, and probably will never be in the market for a new Porsche of any description, so they can safely ignore my bitching.  (Honorable mention:  the Porsche Cayman, which has a stick shift and is routinely described as one of the best sports cars — in its original sense — on the market.)

And even that interior is a little too gadgety for Your Humble Narrator.

But it’s not just Porsche;  I am going to eschew any  model car whose manufacturer deigns to make driving decisions on my behalf.

When I talk tongue-in-cheek about wanting a basic car like the Mini-Moke or Toyota FJ40, I don’t really mean it because even I have  my limits.  Not all  innovation sucks, in other words;  but I would suggest that “Remember dimmer knobs? Porsche says forget them; doing it through an infotainment menu that can’t be adjusted while moving is a much better solution”  should require daily floggings for the engineers who suggested this and the managers who signed off on it.

And if for some insane reason I did  want a non-Boxster Porsche, it would be this one:

Yup, the 356c pushes all my sports-car buttons, Porscherly-speaking.  Now  we’re talking driving pleasure, my friends — and yes, I’ve been behind the wheel of a 356 before, and it was a fantastic experience.

We Have A Winner

I love this country.  Here’s yet another reason:

Only a few months have passed since we reported that the New York-to-Los Angeles Cannonball record was broken. It’s allegedly been broken again. The 26 hour, 38 minute time—which beats the record set in November by more than 45 minutes—appears to be legitimate.

It did not escape many long-time Cannonballers that an immobilized workforce and hard times might create ideal road conditions for fast driving thanks to much lower traffic volumes. Musing in online chat groups ensued. But most decided that it was better to cast their lot with the rest of humanity and stay home. Most, but not all.

All we know about this new set of scofflaws is that there were three, maybe four of them, and that they were driving a white 2019 Audi A8 sedan with a pair of red plastic marine fuel tanks ratchet-strapped into its trunk. They started at the Red Ball Garage in New York City at 11:15 pm on April 4, and ended less than 27 hours later at the Portofino Hotel & Marina in Redondo Beach, California, the traditional start and end points of a Cannonball attempt.

Which leads me to my question to you, O My Readers:

If you were going to Cannonball, what car would you choose to do it in, and why?

Remember that the only criteria are speed, reliability, comfort and (maybe) fuel efficiency.

Your answers in Comments.  But I have to tell you:  the Audi A8 was not the worst choice in the world…

Auction Time: Choice #5

When I originally set this exercise up for myself, I decided to pick only one car per category, the first four categories being “utility”, “performance”, “beach house” and “New Wife”.  (There were other categories, but not enough cars in each to make the choices interesting.)

The final category was entitled “pure indulgence”, and the choices boiled down to the Dino Ferrari or one of the Jag E-types:

After long and often painful contemplation, I first picked the Jag.

…and not too many people would disagree with that choice.  It’s beyond-words beautiful, and the 4.2-liter engine… ’nuff said.

Must say, though, that I’m not too enamored to have a convertible with black upholstery, living as I do in the Texas Oven.  So I went back and looked at the Dino:

It remains, in my opinion, the most beautiful Ferrari ever made:  curves that resemble a gorgeous woman lying on her side, that sweet little 2.4-liter engine purring / snarling right  behind your head… and this one is not in Ferrari Showoff Red, but in a discreet brushed silver, with tan upholstery.

But, but, but… I already had  a sports car — the fantastic Iso Grifo.  So maybe what I needed was something sumptuous:  a luxury car that I could drive around on long road trips.  Something like the 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300:

The 300 (W186 body) was designed to be able to drive all day on the highway at top speed without breaking, and it was (and still is) one of the most reliable cars ever made.  (For more info, read about it here.)

Heavy, stately, luxurious and dependable.  Sounds a little like me, come to think of it.

And a worthy choice, to accompany the four others.