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Thread: Bamboozled American car buyers and drivers

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Bamboozled American car buyers and drivers

    The typical American car buyer is completely bamboozled.

    His priorities are warped, his perspectives skewed. He believes he must have features and equipment and capabilities he could easily live without - and probably would never even miss: 150 mph-rated tires; $300 a piece 18-inch wheels; 400 horsepower engines.

    He is mortgaged to the hilt - so that he can fiddle with fussy, over-teched controls that make doing simple things (such as changing a radio station) difficult.

    Yet he also complains about the high cost of cars, about not-so-great gas mileage and uber-complexity - all of which derive from his PR-bamboozled sense of what he Has to Have.

    Just the other day I saw a TV commercial for the 2011 Infiniti M56. It has a 420 hp 5.6 liter V-8 engine. It can reach 60 mph in about 5 seconds flat and will run to more than 150 mph, flat out.

    I know, it makes me excited too.

    But (as we say in the South) lookee here, now. How many of the middle-aged urban/suburban manager/professional types who buy a car like this will ever drive it faster than 100?

    Or even 90?

    And how often will they do even that?

    Even the young and eager can't make use of such power. See what happens if you drive 100 mph (or faster) for any length of time in the U.S.

    I don't like it, either - but it's the reality.

    How often do you see people (teenagers excepted) blasting 0-60 as fast as the car can go?

    Not me.

    I drive a lot and all over the country and what I see much more often is cars - including 400 hp cars like the M56 - easing away from lights just like the minivan in the next lane. The cars all pretty much grouped together, none going much faster than the others - and all of them going pretty slow. Maybe 5 or 10 over the posted limit. If there's no cop around. But that's about it.

    How often do you see a car doing 0-60 in 5 seconds? Or running 20 or more mph faster than surrounding traffic. It happens, sure - but it's rare - and when it does happen it's usually a kid in a souped-up Mitsubishi with a huge wing on the trunk, not a 40-year-old businessman in a $57,000 Infiniti (or Benz or whatever).

    The reason for this is obvious: In this country, a 400 hp car is as useless as a jet ski in the Mojave. We can't drive really fast (much over 80) for any length of time, at least, because if we do, we will be roughly treated by the police - then the courts - and then by the DMV and the insurance cartels.

    Adults - who are the only people in a position to buy a car like the $57,000 M56 - know this. They may have a teenaged son or daughter who would kill to drive the M56 to the fullest extent of its capability (and may just do it) but the adult owner won't because he's aware of the consequences or is just too old for that kind of stuff.

    Reality check.

    A 200 hp V-6 will get you to 100 without breaking a sweat - and to 70 or 80 (about the fastest we can realistically drive here) and maintain it, easily and quickly. And it wouldn't get 16 mpg (or cost $57k) like the 420 hp M56 does.

    But, we've convinced ourselves (and by "we," I refer to luxury car buyers) that a V-8 more powerful than Ferrari V-12s were in the '80s is an absolute Essential, even if we have neither the inclination nor the opportunity to ever actually use even two-thirds of that capability.

    Thus, all modern luxury cars are more juiced up than Arnold Schwarzennegger during his Mr. Olympia days - and like him, built for show-only.

    The wastage - the stupid, gratuitous burn-gas-for-no-reason-at-all ethos this represents is a form of dementia unique to the United States and its culture of consumption for its own sake.

    In Europe (Germany especially) really powerful cars do get used, so it makes some sense. But there's something symptomatically American about millions of 300 and 400 hp luxury cars loafing along at 64 mph - their engines burbling, their chrome plated 20 inch rims spinning... like Arnold flexing his biceps, but never actually doing anything with them.

    Virtually all current-year luxury cars are really sports cars. They have sharply raked windshields and low-cut rooflines, hold-you-tight-bucket seats with floor (and paddle) shifters and consoles and huge hooded gauge clusters with tachometers with 8,000 RPM redlines. They ride on 18, 19 and 20-inch wheels with tires that have sidewalls as skinny and hard as the 20-year-old flatbelly who teaches aerobics at the gym.

    Which is lovely, if you do track days - or drive on public roads like you do on track days.

    But 95 percent of the people who drive these cars, don't. As Bob Dole once said: You know it. I know it. The American people know it. But they don't care. They willingly pay fifty or sixty grand to cram their not-so-flexible, not-so-young-anymore backsides into a tight-fitting, hard-riding sports car with four doors and pay $300 a pop for 150 mph-rated tires that never see the high side of 80 - in order that they may feel youthful and virile and whatever-else, as conditioned into their heads by the PR wizards who make it so.

    My father in law drives an early '90s Cadillac - from the era when Cadillac still built luxury cars. It does not have bucket seats. It has flat, three-across bench seats. They give when you sit down - and are perfect for 15 hour drives to Vegas. A pull-down column-shifter controls an automatic that is automatic. It does not require or expect you to tap paddle shifters or engage "sport" mode. There is no "sport" mode. Its job is to transition between gears without the driver or passengers noticing or feeling anything. That was the whole object of the exercise, you see.

    It has pop-on (and off) wire wheel covers on 15 inch rims - with smooth-riding all-season radials wrapped around 'em. The suspension is soft. You don't feel potholes. The steering is one-finger effortless - and the car is incredibly comfortable.

    True, it doesn't "handle" in the way that almost all modern car reviewers require for their approval. It wasn't meant to. It just glides along, smoothly and quietly - relaxation in motion.

    Which is what used to be what luxury meant.

    God-damn, I miss it. Don't you?

    On the other end of the scale, we have economy car buyers who don't think it's unreasonable to expect the automakers to produce compacts that can take a T-bone impact at 60 mph like a 5,000 pound S-Class Benz, yet also knock down 40 MPGs but still do 0-60 in less than 8 seconds; that feature GPS, power windows and locks, Bluetooth wireless - and still be priced under $15k.

    Economy cars - the real deal - can't be sold here. At least, not recently. Remember the three-cylinder Geo Metro? That was aneconomy car. It got better gas mileage (50-plus MPGs) than a 2010 Prius - and cost half as much.

    Naturally, no one bought it.

    People also snicker at 40 mpg diesel tanks like the old Benz 300D. Too slow. Not "sporty" enough.

    Meanwhile, people bitch about $3 gas.

    Millions of hausfraus putter around suburbia in 5,000 lb. 4WD SUVs and AWD "crossovers" that will live their entire lives on the tarmac.

    Am I the only one left who can see the man behind the curtain?

    Go back 25 years or so and the only people who drive 4WDs were country people or working people who needed them and actually used them. All-wheel-drive was nonexistent, but all of a sudden, almost every new car has it or offers it. And millions of buyers suddenly believe they've just got to have it.

    The PR flacks created a need - and the industry is eager to fulfill that need.

    It's capitalism, of course.

    But that doesn't mean it's smart.

    Or even sane.

  2. #2
    I don't know what's wrong with people. You used to buy an expensive luxury car because of it's fit and finish, comfortable ride, comfortable interior, safety, and durability. I always compare my Mercedes to modern luxury cars and see where they strayed off. Performance, paddle shifters, huge rims with low pros, and electro-gadgets were not considered luxury 30 years ago.

    Hell, some rich old school teacher paid around $14,000 in 1978 dollars (around $46k today) for a car that goes 0-60 in 25 sec, had 14" steel wheels, paid $500 extra for air conditioning, and only has a 2 speaker AM/FM radio (no cassette). She paid for the things that we take for granted today like a collapsible steering column, crumple zones, an economical engine (diesel was cheaper then), the prestige of that silver star, and a manufacturer that put things together right.

    Now that luxury brands have moved down in price, people that aren't really "rich" can afford them. And the huge segment of not-so-rich people that can afford them is a whole lot younger than the luxury car shoppers of old. Plus lesser brands have vastly improved their build quality as cars become more disposable. That is what, I think, spelled the demise of the true luxury car and the true luxury car buyer.

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dieseleverything View Post
    I don't know what's wrong with people. You used to buy an expensive luxury car because of it's fit and finish, comfortable ride, comfortable interior, safety, and durability. I always compare my Mercedes to modern luxury cars and see where they strayed off. Performance, paddle shifters, huge rims with low pros, and electro-gadgets were not considered luxury 30 years ago.

    Hell, some rich old school teacher paid around $14,000 in 1978 dollars (around $46k today) for a car that goes 0-60 in 25 sec, had 14" steel wheels, paid $500 extra for air conditioning, and only has a 2 speaker AM/FM radio (no cassette). She paid for the things that we take for granted today like a collapsible steering column, crumple zones, an economical engine (diesel was cheaper then), the prestige of that silver star, and a manufacturer that put things together right.

    Now that luxury brands have moved down in price, people that aren't really "rich" can afford them. And the huge segment of not-so-rich people that can afford them is a whole lot younger than the luxury car shoppers of old. Plus lesser brands have vastly improved their build quality as cars become more disposable. That is what, I think, spelled the demise of the true luxury car and the true luxury car buyer.

    Excellent analysis.

    What kills me is that so many people just can't (apparently) think for themselves - or are just demented.

    By which I mean:

    Look, I love to drive fast; I love fast cars. But realistically, in the US, you can't use a 150 mph-capable car to anywhere near its capability. How many of the people who drive cars like the M56 ever go faster than 100 mph?

    Or take corners posted 45 at 70?

    Seriously.

    Look around. I see these high-powered cars (and SUVs) every day and virtually all of them are just poking along at about the speed limit, easing away from red lights, meandering along with traffic...

    What's the point?

  4. #4
    I saw an Acura MDX commercial yesterday that advertised crumple cones with a rigid passenger cell like it was an Acura only item. "The most innovative thinking you'll find..."
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LodrJK_1Myw

    That's bull, Mercedes came out with the same design of passanger safety cell with crumple zones in the early 1970's (developed in the early 1960's). What's so innovative about Acura?
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id...remities&hl=en

    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id...s+safety&hl=en

    Will people actually believe Acura and think they are getting the latest technology in safety, performance and "styling"? Probably.

  5. #5
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    To Mercedes' credit - they shared their research with the industry.

    But other automakers weren't prepared to build cars that cost nearly as much as a Mercedes, so we ended up with the Ford Pinto and the Datsun B-210.

    Chip H.

  6. #6
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chiph View Post
    To Mercedes' credit - they shared their research with the industry.

    But other automakers weren't prepared to build cars that cost nearly as much as a Mercedes, so we ended up with the Ford Pinto and the Datsun B-210.

    Chip H.
    Well, yeah, but most people in the '70s (as well as now) can't afford the cost of a Mercedes or Mercedes equivalent.

    Safety (as well as high-tech equipment)... delightful... but it's not without cost.

    I miss the days when it was possible to buy a cheap/basic new car.

    They weren't quick, they weren't all that crashworthy - but they were light (1,000 lbs. less than today's typical "economy" car) got 40 miles per gallon (without electronic fuel injection or overdrive transmissions) and were fun in their POS kind of way, by dint of the fact that they were so cheap - which took a lot of pressure off.

    Today, with the exception of the Nissan Versa 1.6, "economy" cars typically sell in the low-mid teens, which is a shitload of money for the average person (who earns about $30k annually) especially after you take into account all the taxes and fees that come with a new car and the fact that you're paying for all that (plus the car) with what's left of your previously heavily taxed income.

    I'd bet you there are millions of people who would eagerly buy a 2,000 lb. "basic" $7k or $8K MSRP economy car equipped with a modern EFI engine around 1.2 liters in displacement that was capable of 50-60 mpg - which would be easily doable if the thing didn't have to have air bags, or meet federal bumper impact standards (the two things that add thousands to the bottom line cost and hundreds of pounds to the bottom line curb weight.)

    Why not let car buyers decide whether an affordable, efficient car is more important to them than a much less efficient, much more expensive - but more potentially crashworthy (because you may never have an accident) car?

    I haven't had an accident myself since 1987. I judge the risk of my being involved in a major wreck to be very low - and thus, were I in the market for a new car, its crashworthiness and safety features would matter a helluva lot less to me than its MSRP and its gas mileage.

    What business is it of the government's to assert its priorities over mine? And those of millions of other people?

    This country desperately needs an Old Beetle - not another New One. Certainly not $40,000 hybrids and electric cars, either.

  7. #7
    Hell, look at the Tata Nano in India. It is
    a 2,000 lb. "basic" $7k or $8K MSRP economy car equipped with a modern EFI engine around 1.2 liters in displacement that was capable of 50-60 mpg -
    Except it costs even less.

    But now that the government nanny state has people addicted to safety by blowing statistics out of proportion (would a new car really be safer if it had the same equipment as a 50 year old car?). I've just seen on Mythbusters (dumb show) they crashed a (perfectly good, rust free) 1966 Plymouth Fury III at 60 mph into jersey barriers and it held up very well IMO. And if it had seat-belts you could have probably survived. I would drive one as a daily driver. Start at around the 7:10 mark http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyPau...eature=related

    If an old car can be that safe without any safety measures, then with basic and cheap technology a new compact should be much safer.

  8. #8
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dieseleverything View Post
    Hell, look at the Tata Nano in India. It is Except it costs even less.

    But now that the government nanny state has people addicted to safety by blowing statistics out of proportion (would a new car really be safer if it had the same equipment as a 50 year old car?). I've just seen on Mythbusters (dumb show) they crashed a (perfectly good, rust free) 1966 Plymouth Fury III at 60 mph into jersey barriers and it held up very well IMO. And if it had seat-belts you could have probably survived. I would drive one as a daily driver. Start at around the 7:10 mark http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyPau...eature=related

    If an old car can be that safe without any safety measures, then with basic and cheap technology a new compact should be much safer.
    Absolutely!

    And I think the real issue is that it ought to be up to you and me - the buyer - to choose the balance that's right for us.

    Back in the '70s, if you wanted an uber-safe car, there were Volvos and Benzes. Fine. And there were also Beetles and the like for for people who just wanted something economical (cheap to buy as well as to operate) and were ok with the possibility that they might be hurt if there was an accident and if it was a bad one, etc.

    Today, the government force-feeds us all "safety" (air bags, heavy/reinforced bodies that meet bumper impact standards etc.) no matter the cost and no matter our desires/needs.

    The fact is a good driver - attentive and skilled - has a very low risk of being involved in a serious wreck during any given 20 year timespan. It is therefore a reasonable risk to drive a lighter, less "safe" car, in order to save money (and fuel).

    But the government won't allow this - just as it won't allow young, healthy people to go without health insurance they don't really need, either.

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    It is an undeniable fact that the fatality rate has dropped percipitously over the last 40 years due to vehicle improvements. The largest drop took place from 1973 @4.0 deaths per 100 mvmt to 1987 to about 2.5 deaths per 100 mvmt. Fast forward to today and the fatality rate is about 1.4 deaths per 100 mvmt. The largest improvements were due to the addition of 2 disc brakes, rack and pinion steering, improved suspensions, and I hate to say it, front wheel drive. For the average person, front wheel drive is far easier to handle than rear.

    Other policies that have lowered the fatality rate include higher highway speed limits, which has transferred traffic to safer roadways and also the sheer volume of cars on the road, which mathematically lowers the rates, although the numbers may stay the same.

    There is no doubt that improvements to cars have reduced injury and fatality rates, but other improvements have had a greater effect. Consider roads - when you widen a lane, you reduce collisions by 12 percent. When you add lanes, you reduce them by 24 percent, and when you add a median, the rate goes down by 77 percent. During the 1990's many roads were improved and four-laned by the National HIghway System Act, which also abolished the 55 mph speed limit.

  10. #10
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swamprat View Post
    It is an undeniable fact that the fatality rate has dropped percipitously over the last 40 years due to vehicle improvements. The largest drop took place from 1973 @4.0 deaths per 100 mvmt to 1987 to about 2.5 deaths per 100 mvmt. Fast forward to today and the fatality rate is about 1.4 deaths per 100 mvmt. The largest improvements were due to the addition of 2 disc brakes, rack and pinion steering, improved suspensions, and I hate to say it, front wheel drive. For the average person, front wheel drive is far easier to handle than rear.

    Other policies that have lowered the fatality rate include higher highway speed limits, which has transferred traffic to safer roadways and also the sheer volume of cars on the road, which mathematically lowers the rates, although the numbers may stay the same.

    There is no doubt that improvements to cars have reduced injury and fatality rates, but other improvements have had a greater effect. Consider roads - when you widen a lane, you reduce collisions by 12 percent. When you add lanes, you reduce them by 24 percent, and when you add a median, the rate goes down by 77 percent. During the 1990's many roads were improved and four-laned by the National HIghway System Act, which also abolished the 55 mph speed limit.

    Absolutely true -

    I still harp on my central thesis, though - which is that it ought to be up to buyers to weigh their needs and buy a vehicle that best suits those needs.

    Many people would probably choose to skip air bags, for example, if they had the option to do so. Why shouldn't they have this option? Sure, the car will afford less protection if they get into a bad accident. But they may (and probably won't) get into a bad accident, in which case the air bags just cost them money they might have preferred to spend on other things.

    Ditto "crumple zones" and all the other things that a new car must have in order to comply with federal bumper impact requirements. Sure, the car is more crashworthy. It's also heavier (uses more gas) and costs more.

    Many people would probably prefer to buy something along the lines of the Old Beetle (updated with some modern technology, such as EFI, etc.) that's light and great on gas and cheap to buy - even if it might not be as crashworthy as the government insists it be.

    Whose life is it, ultimately?

    And therefore, whose choice should it be?

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    Absolutely true -

    I still harp on my central thesis, though - which is that it ought to be up to buyers to weigh their needs and buy a vehicle that best suits those needs.

    Many people would probably choose to skip air bags, for example, if they had the option to do so. Why shouldn't they have this option? Sure, the car will afford less protection if they get into a bad accident. But they may (and probably won't) get into a bad accident, in which case the air bags just cost them money they might have preferred to spend on other things.

    Ditto "crumple zones" and all the other things that a new car must have in order to comply with federal bumper impact requirements. Sure, the car is more crashworthy. It's also heavier (uses more gas) and costs more.

    Many people would probably prefer to buy something along the lines of the Old Beetle (updated with some modern technology, such as EFI, etc.) that's light and great on gas and cheap to buy - even if it might not be as crashworthy as the government insists it be.

    Whose life is it, ultimately?

    And therefore, whose choice should it be?
    And now with "universal" healthcare the government has an excuse to make cars even "safer", mandating even more safety/emissions bull-crap into them. Probably so much so that cars will become too expensive and intensive to maintain that they will force us to use public transit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    Absolutely true -

    I still harp on my central thesis, though - which is that it ought to be up to buyers to weigh their needs and buy a vehicle that best suits those needs.

    Many people would probably choose to skip air bags, for example, if they had the option to do so. Why shouldn't they have this option? Sure, the car will afford less protection if they get into a bad accident. But they may (and probably won't) get into a bad accident, in which case the air bags just cost them money they might have preferred to spend on other things.

    Ditto "crumple zones" and all the other things that a new car must have in order to comply with federal bumper impact requirements. Sure, the car is more crashworthy. It's also heavier (uses more gas) and costs more.

    Many people would probably prefer to buy something along the lines of the Old Beetle (updated with some modern technology, such as EFI, etc.) that's light and great on gas and cheap to buy - even if it might not be as crashworthy as the government insists it be.

    Whose life is it, ultimately?

    And therefore, whose choice should it be?
    100% agreed on that score. I would like a light car as well. It should be our choice.

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    Senior Member J. ZIMM's Avatar
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    I'm glad to see others as peeved the way new technology is force down our throats. I can remember my dads old '36 Chevy took a Model 'A' off the road in one easy swipe. He took the fenders from it as well. The door handles off the '36, an so on. We could still open and close the doors on it, so that was good. Now days, in just about every fender bender, they have to cut the top off the car to get the person out.Thus destroying a car that possibly could be repaired. Crumple zones have been on cars for many years. My 1964 Falcon has them. My 1955 Studebaker Pick-up didn't. I don't remember when they were built into the design of cars, but they were used to help determine if the car was repairable or not in the front end. But that was then. We have had many improvements over the years. some were good, some were unnecessary. just a way to get us idiots to buy into their way of thinking, and the Morons in DC. There is a video of a newer Chevy crashing into a '59 full sized Chevy. The 59 lost that round. The newer one was totaled as well, but at least the occupants would have survived, where the people in the '59 would not have. We now have electric windshield wipers over vacuum. Our head lights are much better than the old Sealed Beams. Electric door locks can be a safety issue with the idiots we have running around. So it is nice to have some control over when to lock and unlock them. Power windows I can live with or without. What I can live without are all the Bull Crap they put in cars now. GPS is a nice touch, we now have the notion that we couldn't get from point 'A' to point 'B' with out it. I wonder how in the heck my Great Grand-parents ever found their way to the West Coast. Or did they stop and ask for directions. Most of the stuff we can do without. Just give me a simple car that is dependable, has plenty of room, so I don't feel like a sardine in a can, get descent fuel mileage, and doesn't ride like a buckboard.

  14. #14
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J. ZIMM View Post
    I'm glad to see others as peeved the way new technology is force down our throats. I can remember my dads old '36 Chevy took a Model 'A' off the road in one easy swipe. He took the fenders from it as well. The door handles off the '36, an so on. We could still open and close the doors on it, so that was good. Now days, in just about every fender bender, they have to cut the top off the car to get the person out.Thus destroying a car that possibly could be repaired. Crumple zones have been on cars for many years. My 1964 Falcon has them. My 1955 Studebaker Pick-up didn't. I don't remember when they were built into the design of cars, but they were used to help determine if the car was repairable or not in the front end. But that was then. We have had many improvements over the years. some were good, some were unnecessary. just a way to get us idiots to buy into their way of thinking, and the Morons in DC. There is a video of a newer Chevy crashing into a '59 full sized Chevy. The 59 lost that round. The newer one was totaled as well, but at least the occupants would have survived, where the people in the '59 would not have. We now have electric windshield wipers over vacuum. Our head lights are much better than the old Sealed Beams. Electric door locks can be a safety issue with the idiots we have running around. So it is nice to have some control over when to lock and unlock them. Power windows I can live with or without. What I can live without are all the Bull Crap they put in cars now. GPS is a nice touch, we now have the notion that we couldn't get from point 'A' to point 'B' with out it. I wonder how in the heck my Great Grand-parents ever found their way to the West Coast. Or did they stop and ask for directions. Most of the stuff we can do without. Just give me a simple car that is dependable, has plenty of room, so I don't feel like a sardine in a can, get descent fuel mileage, and doesn't ride like a buckboard.
    I have two "modern" vehicles - a '98 and a 2002 Nissan Frontier pick-up. Both basically identical except one is 4WD (manual control, part-time) and one (the '02) has intermittent wipers.

    The trucks have the standard four cylinder engine (sufficient for me), AC and heat, disc/drum brakes and a basic AM/FM stereo with two speakers. No power windows or locks, no cruise control. Manual five-speed stick on the floor. Fifteen-inch rims.

    They are about as simple and functional as you can get in a modern vehicle, but I don't ever feel like I'm driving a stripper or missing anything (except a hole in my wallet).

    My trucks may not be rocket ships off the line, but they can easily cruise at 75-plus mph for hours (and get close to 30 mpgs on the highway if I keep it around 65 mph). They have plenty of power for just knocking around, picking up things at Home Depot, etc. (If I need speed, I have a sport motorcycle than can do 10 second quarter miles - quicker than a six-figure Porsche. It cost me less than $8,000 brand new.)

    Both my trucks are comfortable, nice-looking machines. Even the '98 - which is now more than 12 years old. The paint still shines and unless you know your Nissans really well, it'd be easy to convince you the truck is no more than six years old.

    I expect it to last another five years, at least. After all, it only has 120k on the clock - which for one of these things is "low mileage." (Frontiers with the bulletproof four-cylinder engine often go 250,000 miles or more, which is diesel-like longevity.)

    Neither of my trucks cost me more than $7,500. In part because I bought them used - to let the first owner eat the depreciation. But also because I didn't need the optional (and thirsty/more expensive to maintain) V-6, fancy automatic push-button 4WD, 16 or 17-inch rims, lots of power options, or leather, etc. - which would have pushed the purchase price up by at east 30-40 percent.

    I've had the '98 for almost seven years now, so it's essentially become free transportation (I could still sell it for about $4,000 if I wanted to, in which case my total cost of ownership would likely show a profit).

    The '02 has just turned 60,000 miles so it has about another 150,000 miles (at least) of reliable service left in it - which means I should still have it 10 years from now.

    I have never felt the need for anything else - certainly not massive chromed "rims," GPS or "entertainment" systems.

    To me, this makes sense.

    Unless you're rolling in dough and buying all these baubles is like an ordinary person deciding on a whim to pick up an extra six pack of Bud, it's just crazy. It's like a child, bedazzled by some shiny object - oblivious to the consequences. Like the child, there'll be an initial rush of enthusiasm, followed in short order by disinterest and boredom. Time to move on to the next new thing.

    Is having a car with all the modern "stuff" installed kind of neat? Sure. But it means (for most people) spending way beyond their means for things that in some cases didn't even exist a few years ago and which they managed to live quite comfortably without.

    This never seems to occur to them.

    It's as if the country has been seized by some mania that can never be satiated. Even if you buy the "latest" of everything today, tomorrow there will be something else. Which our neurotic brains have been conditioned to believe we're behind the curve if we do without - or just don't care.

    Count me among the latter.

    Roll-up windows work just fine for me!

  15. #15
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    For some time I have said that the automakers have been their own worst enemies. The horsepower and top speed races we have been seeing, first from the high-end German cars, then trickling down to many other automakers, have been nothing short of insane. Vehicles that can do 200 mph in a world of 70– to 80–mph speed limits are blatantly ridiculous and are obviously simply an ego trip for the manufacturers.

    The resources and engineering talent used on such vehicles have essentially been wasted when what we really needed is something like a low-priced, full-sized sedan that can achieve 75 miles per gallon of fuel. The same resources and talent could have been turned loose to have created such a useful vehicle by now had the automakers' CEOs stopped their ego tripping long enough to look at the storm clouds in the distance. The storm is getting a lot closer, and it's plain that 500–hp factory hot rods simply won't be part of the new car mix in just a few years...

    A couple of years ago one member of the European Parliament, Chris Davies of Britain, proposed governing new cars built after a certain date to no more than 100 mph on environmental and fuel conservation grounds. He pointed out in his proposal (which was studied and defeated for then) that 100 mph was roughly 25% faster than the maximum speed limits in most of Europe, Germany's autobahns obviously excepted. I disagree with his approach, but understand his logic—and supporters cited many of the same reasons I just did above to pass his proposal.

    Congress and President Obama have passed draconian fuel economy standards for future new private vehicles. I have to wonder what part such highly visible cars as the 1000–hp, 250–mph Bugatti Veyron played in their passage.

    But what do I know? When I criticized the Veyron on another auto forum some time back, everyone else on the forum pilloried me for pouring sand on their wet dreams without seeming to comprehend my point... The bell tolls.

  16. #16
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ekrampitzjr View Post
    For some time I have said that the automakers have been their own worst enemies. The horsepower and top speed races we have been seeing, first from the high-end German cars, then trickling down to many other automakers, have been nothing short of insane. Vehicles that can do 200 mph in a world of 70– to 80–mph speed limits are blatantly ridiculous and are obviously simply an ego trip for the manufacturers.

    The resources and engineering talent used on such vehicles have essentially been wasted when what we really needed is something like a low-priced, full-sized sedan that can achieve 75 miles per gallon of fuel. The same resources and talent could have been turned loose to have created such a useful vehicle by now had the automakers' CEOs stopped their ego tripping long enough to look at the storm clouds in the distance. The storm is getting a lot closer, and it's plain that 500–hp factory hot rods simply won't be part of the new car mix in just a few years...

    A couple of years ago one member of the European Parliament, Chris Davies of Britain, proposed governing new cars built after a certain date to no more than 100 mph on environmental and fuel conservation grounds. He pointed out in his proposal (which was studied and defeated for then) that 100 mph was roughly 25% faster than the maximum speed limits in most of Europe, Germany's autobahns obviously excepted. I disagree with his approach, but understand his logic—and supporters cited many of the same reasons I just did above to pass his proposal.

    Congress and President Obama have passed draconian fuel economy standards for future new private vehicles. I have to wonder what part such highly visible cars as the 1000–hp, 250–mph Bugatti Veyron played in their passage.

    But what do I know? When I criticized the Veyron on another auto forum some time back, everyone else on the forum pilloried me for pouring sand on their wet dreams without seeming to comprehend my point... The bell tolls.
    What's especially ludicrous is that so many (probably 98-99 percent) of the people who buy such cars and worship them like totems of virility never (or simply can't) drive them anywhere near their built-in capability.

    I've been test driving new cars for about 20 years now and have driven almost every late-model car there is, including numerous exotics. Even if you have the nerve - and the right car - it is almost impossible in most areas of the country to get much faster than around 175 mph for more than a few seconds or so at most. There just isn't room - leaving aside traffic, leaving aside the law.

    I doubt one in 1,000 people have ever driven faster than 110 on a public road (or otherwise). Yet virtually every new mid-sized car with a V-6 can do 130-140; 150-plus top speed capability is common in the luxury segment.

    As you say, it is demented - and grossly, stupidly wasteful.

    I love fast cars, but it's ridiculous for everyone (or even most people) to own them, given the realities of our roads, traffic, legal restrictions and so on.

    But then, it's a lot like the now-common 4,000 sq. ft. big box McMansion. Showy, big and wasteful.

    The American Dream!

  17. #17
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    Fact check: the number of cars on the road that can exceed 150 mph are a very small percentage of vehicles sold. Most nanny loving government licking dick sucking auto manufacturiers want to sell us cars that can do 0-60 in 5.4 seconds but have a 120 mph electronic speed limiter programmed in to the firmware of their engine management systems. Beam me up! I would rather have a car that can accelerate from 0-60 in 8 seconds that can do an honest 140 than some POS that can do 120 and can make it to 60 in 6 seconds.

    What the hell is wrong with a 250 mph car anyway? NOTHING. Besides the fact that you can't use it on our overcrowded roads. There is nothing wrong with a fantasy. Let them build the damned thing. They only make about 10 per year anyway. It's not going to destroy trees or bother deaf kids in the neighborhood.

    It bothers me that only 1 in 1000 people have never exceeded 110 mph, but I like the fact that cars can exceed that speed.

    I would yield no ground to the idiots in Parliament or in the halls of our misnamed government. They don't deserve 1/10000th of an inch. They'll take the proverbial 10,000 miles anyway.

    Pedal to the metal. Damn the idiots in the left lane or hit them with a torpedo.
    Last edited by swamprat; 06-05-2010 at 09:05 PM.

  18. #18
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swamprat View Post
    Fact check: the number of cars on the road that can exceed 150 mph are a very small percentage of vehicles sold. Most nanny loving government licking dick sucking auto manufacturiers want to sell us cars that can do 0-60 in 5.4 seconds but have a 120 mph electronic speed limiter programmed in to the firmware of their engine management systems. Beam me up! I would rather have a car that can accelerate from 0-60 in 8 seconds that can do an honest 140 than some POS that can do 120 and can make it to 60 in 6 seconds.

    What the hell is wrong with a 250 mph car anyway? NOTHING. Besides the fact that you can't use it on our overcrowded roads. There is nothing wrong with a fantasy. Let them build the damned thing. They only make about 10 per year anyway. It's not going to destroy trees or bother deaf kids in the neighborhood.

    It bothers me that only 1 in 1000 people have never exceeded 110 mph, but I like the fact that cars can exceed that speed.

    I would yield no ground to the idiots in Parliament or in the halls of our misnamed government. They don't deserve 1/10000th of an inch. They'll take the proverbial 10,000 miles anyway.

    Pedal to the metal. Damn the idiots in the left lane or hit them with a torpedo.
    Let me clarify:

    I would never support or advocate legal restrictions on the type/capability of cars that can be built (or bought).

    I just turn my nose up at the gratuitous wastefulness of people who never drive faster than 80 or so (if that) - and who have neither the skill nor the nerve to "corner" - driving around in vehicles capable of 130-plus, with 18 inch alloy wheels shod with WR-rated, low aspect ratio tires - and so on.

    It's like 80-ish Hugh Heffner marching around with a 20-year-old on each arm. It's For Show Only.

    On my way home from downtown Roanoke, I drive up Bent Mountain - a series of pretty aggressive switchbacks that takes you up about 1,200 feet in about two miles. Almost every week, I sail past someone - in my '98 Nissan Frontier 4x4 with a 4-cylinder engine and M/S truck tires - in a "high performance" car who can't keep up with me. A week doesn't go by that I don't see some breeder moo-cow in her 300 (or even 400 hp) S-moo-Vee.
    Or some old guy waddling along in a Porsche/Corvette/BMW... .

    If you're going to use the car as designed (and know how to), that's lovely. I am all for it.

    But the reality is most of the people driving these high-powered, incredibly capable cars have no clue how to use them, don't have the nerve to do so - or simply can't, even if they did because, let's face it, if you drive something like a new Porsche or BMW or any modern high-performance car anywhere near its capabilities on anything like a regular basis, you will be in jail (or have lost your license or be uninsurable) very, very soon.

    I don't like that - as you know well. But it is the reality. In the US, it is virtually impossible to get away with driving faster than 100 mph (or even 90) for more than the occasional furtive, brief burst.

  19. #19
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    My truck is governed to 112 mph because that's the speed rating on the factory tires.
    Why not use different tires? Cost for one thing. Load rating for another (it *is* a half-ton truck).

    Auto design is all about compromises.

    Chip H.

  20. #20
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chiph View Post
    My truck is governed to 112 mph because that's the speed rating on the factory tires.
    Why not use different tires? Cost for one thing. Load rating for another (it *is* a half-ton truck).

    Auto design is all about compromises.

    Chip H.
    Yep.

    And buying - if you're smart - should be based on actual use.

    Personal example: I never drive either of my two Nissan pick-ups faster than 80-ish (and even then, it's just briefly). So I don't need high-speed tires, disc/drum brakes are fine - and I absolutely don't need the power (or the fuel usage) of the optional V-6.

    On the other hand, my sport bike routinely sees 140-plus mph. So it needs - and I buy - the finest high-speed tires available. It needs high-capacity disc brakes, etc. etc.

    But I can't help but laugh at all these people I see moseying along at just about the speed limit, maybe a little faster (sometimes a little slower), never launching hard from a light, etc. etc. - in their $40k (and up) high-powered, high-performance sport/luxury-sports cars.

    These cars are the equivalent of a bulging codpiece... .

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