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Thread: Is the fix in at Ferrari?

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    Is the fix in at Ferrari?

    This UK journo says yes.

    http://ca.jalopnik.com/5760248/how-ferrari-spins

    (note the ca. subdomain gets you away from the truly awful site redesign all Gawker Media sites are now suffering from)

    Basically, before a journalist is able to run one of their cars at a track, Ferrari sends out a team to run the track and take measurements. They then go back to the factory and tune the press car to do well at that track prior to turning it over to the journalist.

    Chip H.

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    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    I'm not surprised.

    I think a lot of test cars are doctored, and have been for a long time. Like the Pontiac Catalina that C&D tested in 1965 that had a 3.9 second 0-60. Ferrari are probably the most consistent, and the most blatant, but I doubt they're alone.

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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel View Post
    I'm not surprised.

    I think a lot of test cars are doctored, and have been for a long time. Like the Pontiac Catalina that C&D tested in 1965 that had a 3.9 second 0-60. Ferrari are probably the most consistent, and the most blatant, but I doubt they're alone.
    For track days, I would not be surprised but I can tell you from direct, personal knowledge that (at least in the Northeast/Southeast) the press cars are not touched. They're "factory" in every respect.

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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chiph View Post
    This UK journo says yes.

    http://ca.jalopnik.com/5760248/how-ferrari-spins

    (note the ca. subdomain gets you away from the truly awful site redesign all Gawker Media sites are now suffering from)

    Basically, before a journalist is able to run one of their cars at a track, Ferrari sends out a team to run the track and take measurements. They then go back to the factory and tune the press car to do well at that track prior to turning it over to the journalist.

    Chip H.
    I doubt it. Here's why:

    Very few car journalists are professional race car drivers. Many of us do have some experience as weekend/club racers (SCCA, etc) do track days and are - generally - better drivers than the average person.

    But, few, if any, are good enough to be able to run a car like a Ferrari at the edge of its envelope - where factory "tuning" would be a noticeable factor.

    The performance capability/limits of a car like this are so high that 99 out of 100 of us would never be able to tell between a prepped car and a factory stock car,because we just can't drive it fast enough/hard enough to tell.

    Now, back in the '60s, sure.

    That notorious C&D test mentioned, for example. I know I could easily push a stock (or modified) Catalina to the edge of its limits and would absolutely be able to tell the difference between a stock and a modified one.

    But today?

    I dunno...

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    I think the fact that Ferrari does this at all is bad. Even if the journalist doesn't have the skills to get it to the edge of the performance envelope, it strikes me as being unfair.

    If I were to go down to Ferrari of Austin and drop a half-million on a car, I'd expect the same performance (and treatment) that the test car got.

    Chip H.

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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chiph View Post
    I think the fact that Ferrari does this at all is bad. Even if the journalist doesn't have the skills to get it to the edge of the performance envelope, it strikes me as being unfair.

    If I were to go down to Ferrari of Austin and drop a half-million on a car, I'd expect the same performance (and treatment) that the test car got.

    Chip H.
    Oh, I agree in principle.

    But the reality is you'd never be able to tell (me either) because neither of us is going to drive the car anywhere near its factory maximums, let alone on the edge of them - as a pro driver would, on a race track.

    The limits of modern supercars are way, way beyond the limits of 99 percent of the people who'll ever get behind the wheel.

    It's all about bench racing and talking points.

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    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel View Post
    I'm not surprised.

    I think a lot of test cars are doctored, and have been for a long time. Like the Pontiac Catalina that C&D tested in 1965 that had a 3.9 second 0-60. Ferrari are probably the most consistent, and the most blatant, but I doubt they're alone.


    When I ran a salvage yard, the father of one of my workers would come in and hang out from time to time. He worked for Ford and GM during the 50's until he retired in 1979. Most of his time he worked with the engineering sections to build mock up and prototype modifications. I.e. new engines for the next model year. He also would talk about the stuff they'd do to make cars perform just a little better when being tested.

    Things like removing the rear brake adjusters before an economy run like Mobil Oil did on a regular basis. Dropping the beads in catalytic converters to get a hotter performing car when the press looked at a new model. I don't doubt they still do it today. You can do a lot just by playing with the computer.
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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grouch View Post
    When I ran a salvage yard, the father of one of my workers would come in and hang out from time to time. He worked for Ford and GM during the 50's until he retired in 1979. Most of his time he worked with the engineering sections to build mock up and prototype modifications. I.e. new engines for the next model year. He also would talk about the stuff they'd do to make cars perform just a little better when being tested.

    Things like removing the rear brake adjusters before an economy run like Mobil Oil did on a regular basis. Dropping the beads in catalytic converters to get a hotter performing car when the press looked at a new model. I don't doubt they still do it today. You can do a lot just by playing with the computer.
    Also, it's not really necessary.

    Camrys are quicker and faster than the quickest/fastest American cars of the '70s like my old Trans-Am.

    200 hp is - yawn - pedestrian. Before about 1984, that was a V-8 number, not routine for a current four-cylinder (and weak for a current V-6).

    Current V-8s put out more power than most V-12s did in the '80s. 400 hp is fairly common.

    All cars have very good brakes; many have superb brakes.

    Etc.

    No need to doctor them.

    They're good enough as they are!

  9. #9
    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    Also, it's not really necessary.

    Camrys are quicker and faster than the quickest/fastest American cars of the '70s like my old Trans-Am.

    200 hp is - yawn - pedestrian. Before about 1984, that was a V-8 number, not routine for a current four-cylinder (and weak for a current V-6).

    Current V-8s put out more power than most V-12s did in the '80s. 400 hp is fairly common.

    All cars have very good brakes; many have superb brakes.

    Etc.

    No need to doctor them.

    They're good enough as they are!


    Eric, you ought to know better. YOU are part of their marketing process. You drive all sorts of cars and pickups. They want YOU to be impressed enough to gush about it in writing. I'm not the average consumer. I run a NEW car up on a rack so I can see how it's built, how the exhaust system is hung and so on. Most people don't do that. Man or woman, it makes little difference, they look for reviews in magazines, sometimes on TV and they listen to what the pundits say. The press fleet rarely gets sold. The car you drive and the car I buy are not always the same. If Toyota wants to sell a Camry and it's competing car does 0-60 in X number of seconds, Toyota wants theirs to do 0-60 in X-.5 seconds. Real world numbers rarely come out in advertising. Watch or read the ads carefully, they SEEM to say it will out perform the competition. A lot of copy though is just noise. I remember a few years ago, one large company (possibly Toyota but it might have been Nissan) bragged about their "multivalve engine". Show me a car that is powered by gasoline that DOESN'T have a multivalve engine? Toyota made a lot of hype about "regenerative braking" and other details in the Prius when it came out. Not one thing was new. It was used nearly a century before on the Woods Dual power in 1915. All Toyota did was add modern goodies like a/c and use old technology with updated controls.
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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grouch View Post
    Eric, you ought to know better. YOU are part of their marketing process. You drive all sorts of cars and pickups. They want YOU to be impressed enough to gush about it in writing. I'm not the average consumer. I run a NEW car up on a rack so I can see how it's built, how the exhaust system is hung and so on. Most people don't do that. Man or woman, it makes little difference, they look for reviews in magazines, sometimes on TV and they listen to what the pundits say. The press fleet rarely gets sold. The car you drive and the car I buy are not always the same. If Toyota wants to sell a Camry and it's competing car does 0-60 in X number of seconds, Toyota wants theirs to do 0-60 in X-.5 seconds. Real world numbers rarely come out in advertising. Watch or read the ads carefully, they SEEM to say it will out perform the competition. A lot of copy though is just noise. I remember a few years ago, one large company (possibly Toyota but it might have been Nissan) bragged about their "multivalve engine". Show me a car that is powered by gasoline that DOESN'T have a multivalve engine? Toyota made a lot of hype about "regenerative braking" and other details in the Prius when it came out. Not one thing was new. It was used nearly a century before on the Woods Dual power in 1915. All Toyota did was add modern goodies like a/c and use old technology with updated controls.
    True!

    What makes me scratch my head more and more, though, is the unreality of it all.

    For example, the standards that used to be applied mostly to high-performance cars only (maximum acceleration, top speed, cornering ability) are now reference points for almost all cars, including SmoooVeees, minivans, family sedans, etc.

    Also, that there's a huge - and increasing - disconnect - between what a given car is theoretically capable of and the way it's going to be (or even can be) used.

    That includes car writers, too.

    For instance: Porsche sends me a 911 turbo. I will have a lot of fun with it. But I don't have the skill (or the roads) to meaningfully test the car's maximums, because they're way above my own. And I am probably a better driver than 90-plus percent of the people out there. It takes a pro driver to explore the limits of a car like the 911 (or the Ferrari mentioned in the original post). Tweaking up such a car therefore is probably a moot point, insofar as the journo being able to notice the difference.

    For the average consumer, it's mostly an exercise in mind games. They may be lured to buy "x" over "y" because they read a report that "x" is 2/10ths of a second quicker or 5 MPH faster on top, or corners at .98 G vs. .96 G but it's not unlike those people you see on their $4,000 bicycles, all body-suited up in lycra and wind cheating little teardrop helmets. They may think they're Lance Armstrong because they're dressed like him, but they're not Lance Armstrong - or riding anywhere near the way he rides - anymore than the guy in the Mustang next to you at the light is Steve McQueen.

    It's especially annoying (to me) to constantly be boxed in by all these Clovers in their high-powered/super-capable vehicles poking along at just barely (or just over) the speed limit.

    It's only once in a blue moon that I come upon another driver who is actually driving his car with real gusto.

    The truth is 90-plus percent of the public doesn't need, won't use, or can't use, anything fiercer than something along the lines of a late 1980s Taurus.

  11. #11
    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
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    I often wonder, why do we need several hundred horsepower in something that will never need it. I've got a truck that will slam you back in the seat if you stomp on it. I don't do that since on a good day, I'm lucky to get 13 mpg and it will smoke the tires that cost me nearly a grand to put on. However, I bought it because I use it for towing and it's perfect for that.

    I often feel that if the car companies would spend as much time on increasing fuel economy, rather than power, Uncle Sammy wouldn;t be on our cases as much.

    I don't feel I'm a super great driver but when I was younger I did have a fairly hot shoe. I still try to improve my skills whenever possible and I can usually get the most out of a piece of equipment regardless of what it is. I drive a lift truck for a living and I can do everything with it that it was designed to do and a few others besides. I don't do that with my cars as I really need to keep my drivers license.
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  12. #12
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grouch View Post
    I often wonder, why do we need several hundred horsepower in something that will never need it. I've got a truck that will slam you back in the seat if you stomp on it. I don't do that since on a good day, I'm lucky to get 13 mpg and it will smoke the tires that cost me nearly a grand to put on. However, I bought it because I use it for towing and it's perfect for that.

    I often feel that if the car companies would spend as much time on increasing fuel economy, rather than power, Uncle Sammy wouldn;t be on our cases as much.

    I don't feel I'm a super great driver but when I was younger I did have a fairly hot shoe. I still try to improve my skills whenever possible and I can usually get the most out of a piece of equipment regardless of what it is. I drive a lift truck for a living and I can do everything with it that it was designed to do and a few others besides. I don't do that with my cars as I really need to keep my drivers license.
    I routinely find myself outdriving (in the sense that I am going considerably faster, including cornering) the other - much more capable - vehicles out there while I'm trundling along in my 13 year-old, 150 hp four-cylinder Nissan pick-up.

    That's what makes me label the whole thing a manifestation of retardation (or, if you want to be nicer, very effective marketing).

    All these people, sold on "performance" - who don't perform, themselves, at all!

    Nothing much has changed since the '80s (to pick a yardstick) as far as the way the typical person drives (if you want to call it that). Yet almost across the board, horsepower has probably doubled; the typical 0-60 time is now about 7-8 seconds (and many cars are quicker); family cars like the Camry and Accord can do 130 MPH, easily; nothing (not even a Prius) is slower than about 115 mph; minivans come with 18 inch wheels/tires. Etc.

    Yet the masses' driving hasn't improved along with it, in terms of people driving faster (especially when cornering).

    Mostly - overwhelmingly - they just poke along at roughly the speed limit, which is still (even on highways) no higher than it was more than 40 years ago. Often, it is lower.

    I love cars, including fast cars - but I hate stupid.

    And that's what the industry's all about today.

    400 hp SmoooVees with chromed-out reee-uhms and 150 mph-capable (but never actually used) "luxury-sport" cars are the vehicular equivalents of bulging codpieces.

  13. #13
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    For track days, I would not be surprised but I can tell you from direct, personal knowledge that (at least in the Northeast/Southeast) the press cars are not touched. They're "factory" in every respect.
    How about a lap with "The Stig", or the C&D or R&T road test results panel?

  14. #14
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel View Post
    How about a lap with "The Stig", or the C&D or R&T road test results panel?
    Doing track days is fun - and I know some of those C&D people (but not "The Stig").

    The thing is, it's just more PR.

    As I posted earlier, very few people - including the C&D and R&T people (but not "The Stig") have the skill/training to drive even a middling-capable modern car such as a Mustang GT or even a Miata to the limits of its capability. And even if they did have the skill, using that skill on public roads is a non-starter. Whether because of traffic/density, a desire not to kill themselves or possibly other people - or legal repercussion from The Man for doing so.

    And that's the "enthusiast" crowd - which is a minority.

    I get to drive all kinds of stuff, including very high-performance exotics. And while I do drive them fast and do sneak in some illegal activity, I can't realistically explore the depths of 170-plus speeds, or the handling limits, of cars like 911s, Corvettes and so on. Even trying to max out a Camry on public roads is no easy thing - and that's for someone with the desire to try and at least some of the skill necessary to make the attempt.

    Most people don't even want to try to drive fast - and by that I mean, fast. Not 80 on the highway and a few MPH over the posted max in the corners. But fast. Well over 100 mph. Taking curves at high speed, well beyond the posted maxes.

    If you don't do that sort of thing, then you don't need 300 hp, 19 or 20 inch reeee-uuuuuhhhms and W-rated tires.

    The typical American driver needs something along the lines of a mid-late 1980s Taurus. It had all the power, handling ability and so on that such drivers will ever realistically take advantage of.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    If you don't do that sort of thing, then you don't need 300 hp, 19 or 20 inch reeee-uuuuuhhhms and W-rated tires.

    The typical American driver needs something along the lines of a mid-late 1980s Taurus. It had all the power, handling ability and so on that such drivers will ever realistically take advantage of.
    The markup on the higher powered, more optioned car is probably worth it to someone. (ie. -- It probably comes to money)

    I am sure there is not much difference between a 150hp engine and a 200hp engine in terms of manufacturing costs.
    (There may be a significant difference in R&D. If you plan on selling over 100 thousand cars with a particular engine,
    the extra R&D costs of a high hp engine can be made up through volume sales.)
    However, I think a car company can have an easier time in justifying an extra 2-4 thousand in price for a higher output engine.
    ================================================== =====
    My cousin's Citroen 2CV (from the 1960s) had a 0.6L engine and was able to drive at 75mph (120 kph). Granted it took some time to get to 75pmh and on some hills it did struggle to get to the top. The point is I agree that most engines are more powerful than needed for most driving situations.

    The only time that I really need quick acceleration is when I am trying to merge into high speed traffic or into a small gap in slower moving traffic. A larger, higher hp engine will help (and is needed) in these cases. Lacking the higher hp engine, I and others would need to wait for a bigger gap in traffic to safely merge into traffic. In most situations, this is not a problem. During rush hour traffic, this could mean waiting at some areas for a noticeably longer amount of time until you are able to safely merge into traffic.
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  16. #16
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mithrandir View Post
    The markup on the higher powered, more optioned car is probably worth it to someone. (ie. -- It probably comes to money)

    I am sure there is not much difference between a 150hp engine and a 200hp engine in terms of manufacturing costs.
    (There may be a significant difference in R&D. If you plan on selling over 100 thousand cars with a particular engine,
    the extra R&D costs of a high hp engine can be made up through volume sales.)
    However, I think a car company can have an easier time in justifying an extra 2-4 thousand in price for a higher output engine.
    ================================================== =====
    My cousin's Citroen 2CV (from the 1960s) had a 0.6L engine and was able to drive at 75mph (120 kph). Granted it took some time to get to 75pmh and on some hills it did struggle to get to the top. The point is I agree that most engines are more powerful than needed for most driving situations.

    The only time that I really need quick acceleration is when I am trying to merge into high speed traffic or into a small gap in slower moving traffic. A larger, higher hp engine will help (and is needed) in these cases. Lacking the higher hp engine, I and others would need to wait for a bigger gap in traffic to safely merge into traffic. In most situations, this is not a problem. During rush hour traffic, this could mean waiting at some areas for a noticeably longer amount of time until you are able to safely merge into traffic.
    No doubt!

    Horsepower - like other things - is a selling point. But it's become ridiculous.

    People circa 1988 (when cars were much less powerful than they are today) were driving pretty much like they're driving now - despite the much higher power/performance of current vehicles.

    Yes, some highway speed limits are higher because the 55 MPH max was rescinded in the mid-'90s. But most mid-late 1980s cars (which by then all had fuel injection and overdrive transmissions) would have no trouble comfortably cruising at 80 MPH - which is faster than all the legal maximums everywhere except a few places in Texas. Yes, on some "fast" highways (like I-95) traffic is often running close to 90. But it's still not necessary to have a 300 hp (or even a 250 hp) to do that, easily.

    Most of the cars I test drive can hit 130-plus; many of them are capable of more 150 mph.

    How many drivers in this country ever - even for a few seconds - drive much faster than 100?

    Most any new car can go 0-60 in 8 seconds or less.

    How many drivers of such cars accelerate their cars to their maximum potential, or even 85 percent of it?

    The dopes just lope along; they stop on freeway on-ramps. They gimp away from traffic lights; they "cruise control pass" a driver doing 60, doing 63 themselves.

    Yes, there are drivers who understand the concept of acceleration; who know how to merge/pass. But they're in the minority, as any drive out there in the real world will quickly establish.

    I'd like it if people actually used (and were able to use) the current crop of very capable/quick/fast cars. But for the most part, they don't - and can't.

    So, the whole thing's just stupid. Typically American showiness and wastefulness for its own sake.

    The masses would be fine with that mid-late '80s Taurus I mentioned. They'd pay less, they'd use less gas.

  17. #17
    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
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    Perhaps we need to rethink the gas guzzler tax. Usually, this is on the high end cars like a Bentley. Keep that for sure but to encourage lower powered engines, maybe work our a formula that considers the amount of horsepower and the curb weight of the vehicle. Anything under X number of pounds per horsepower would be taxed. This would encourage people to buy less powerful engines that they doon't need. In a large truck that needs the power for hauling or towing, the heavier weight would allow more power with no tax penalty.

    Put this tax into the road fund to fix the roads that have been allowed to deteriorate over time. Some schmuck who just needs cheap transportation wouldn't pay since he doesn't need a high performance car. Some young buck with more money than brains and wants a high end super car, he gets to pay for the privledge. This will also encourage the horsepower race to tame down a bit and the car companies will start to concentrate on economy rather than power.
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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grouch View Post
    Perhaps we need to rethink the gas guzzler tax. Usually, this is on the high end cars like a Bentley. Keep that for sure but to encourage lower powered engines, maybe work our a formula that considers the amount of horsepower and the curb weight of the vehicle. Anything under X number of pounds per horsepower would be taxed. This would encourage people to buy less powerful engines that they doon't need. In a large truck that needs the power for hauling or towing, the heavier weight would allow more power with no tax penalty.

    Put this tax into the road fund to fix the roads that have been allowed to deteriorate over time. Some schmuck who just needs cheap transportation wouldn't pay since he doesn't need a high performance car. Some young buck with more money than brains and wants a high end super car, he gets to pay for the privledge. This will also encourage the horsepower race to tame down a bit and the car companies will start to concentrate on economy rather than power.
    I hesitate to approve any tax, but this at least would be a voluntary (that is, avoidable) tax. I also don't like to come off as an elitist (and really do try to self-censor on that score) but I can't help thinking that there are so many people out there who seem to be incapable of exercising sound judgment.

    Of course, the other side of that is there's little choice. Almost all new cars are over-powered and over-capable (given how they are used - or can be used). Even the four-cylinder versions of cars like Camry and Accord are quicker and go much faster than either their owners can or will drive, or the law allows.

    For the typical American driver, a car that gets to 60 in about 9 seconds and which can comfortably hold 75-80 MPH, with a top speed of maybe 110 - is plenty.

    Such performance is easily obtainable with a current technology four-cylinder engine (for example, the Hyundai Sonata has a 200 hp four that also gets 34 MPGs highway).

    For the most part, the rest - anything more - is a waste of resources.

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