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Thread: The Future Looks Not So Bright Ahead

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    The Future Looks Not So Bright Ahead

    I got into writing about cars because I enjoy driving -- which is why I find myself less and less interested in new cars.

    As our roads have congealed into mobile parking lots where it doesn't matter whether you're driving a '78 Chevette or brand-new Corvette; as the automakers fall over each other in their frantic scramble to idiot-proof their products against an ever-less-competent driving public; as traffic laws become more and more over the top (and wet diaper totalitarian), the joy of new cars - even very powerful ones -- wanes.

    What, after all, is the point of owning a 500 horsepower Mustang Cobra in a world where using even half of that capability (if you can find a place to do so) risks a felony (drive faster than 80 mph in many states, and that's what you've opened yourself up to)?

    And the Cobra is one of the very few modern performance cars that actually lets you -- the driver -- decide how much power to apply, when and in what manner. Most new performance cars have some kind of "dynamic" or "active" electronic controller that will only permit so much hooliganism. Spinning the tires is either not allowed at all -- or severely limited -- by the electronics. There may be an "off" button, but these system don't shut themselves off, at least not completely. The transistorized nanny is a suffocating omnipresence that makes driving even a very high-powered car far less engaging than driving a non-neutered car of far less potential capability. Having 100 percent control of a "50 percent car" is better, in my mind, than having 50 percent control of a 100 percent car.

    The automakers are systematically working to take the driver out of the equation; it may not be deliberate -- and is probably more due to the convergence of piranha lawyers on the one hand and mewling mobs of "safety" advocates on the other. Still, the end result is the same. New cars are increasingly defined by the presence of "perpetual training wheels" that not only presume incompetence -- but encourage more of it.

    For instance, consider the electronic parking system Lexus now offers on its top-of-the-line LS sedan. Using sensors, an electronic brain and various actuators, the thing is capable of sizing up a potential parking space, determining how the wheels should be cocked to slide in -- and basically drives itself into the spot. It's fascinating stuff, from a technical standpoint. But it must be asked: If a person is lacking the skills to safely and efficiently guide his car into a parking spot without help from the onboard nanny, perhaps this person needs a few remedial hours of "behind the wheel" training, eh?

    And what do we make of "lane departure" warning systems that beep at you if the car begins to wander over the double yellow line? Is it asking too much to ask that drivers actually pay attention to what the car is doing?

    The nut of it all is that these "advances" result in drivers who are detached from the act of driving; who are more and more like passengers, regardless of seating position. It's not too hard to imagine a future car of five years hence that will handle the entire job, curb to curb.

    But it's a pretty bleak thing to contemplate for those who can recall a better time, when driving well was a skill to be proud of and which took some time to acquire. When cars were a little bit scary -- and demanded full time and attention. Learn to master something like an old F100 with three on the tree (and no hydraulic assist for the clutch) and you came away from it with a sense of accomplishment -- and generally speaking, were competent to drive virtually anything on wheels in a way that today's crowd, who grew up with "modern" cars, can't begin to appreciate.

    It's a shame for them -- because they're missing out on some great experiences. And it bodes ill for the future -- because the skill level of the typical driver is sure to get worse, not better. That will require more built-in idiot-proofing technology, more suffocating laws -- and perhaps make the whole thing not worth the effort.

    I'm glad I got my licks in before things got ugly....

    END

  2. #2
    Senior Member Kwozzie1's Avatar
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    Re: The Future Looks Not So Bright Ahead

    I enjoy driving -- which is why I find myself less and less interested in new cars.

    They have to be quirky or even slightly different from the norm for me to be interested...
    ie: 300C

    But then it does have similar lines to my old Rover....sorta chunky
    http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homep...w/Rover35.html

    We disagree on the Ford Interceptor though....... I don't like that grill.....looks more like a train
    Aussie report on that car http://www.drive.com.au/Editorial/Ar...rticleID=22559


    Rex
    On the Sunshine Coast, in the Sunshine State Queensland (QLD), Australia

  3. #3
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    Re: The Future Looks Not So Bright Ahead

    I think I read somewhere that vehicle stability control will be required by the feds within the next few years.

    The idea is both good and bad; the new RAV4 has such which can make it impossible to get out of certain snowy 'stuck' situations which is bad because there is no off switch. There is an 'under the table' method to disable that part of the stab control which involves some 10 steps mainly with the parking brake and the foot brake - I could put it up for a laugh, if you wish.

    Overall, I like the 'help' from all the new automatic stuff; I've driven a lot of different vehicles and am a firm believer that for on the road, normal driving, new and automatic is better. That, admittedly, is a matter of taste, not an eternal truth.


  4. #4
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: The Future Looks Not So Bright Ahead

    "I think I read somewhere that vehicle stability control will be required by the feds within the next few years."

    Yep; unfortunately. The "moms" are demanding it.

    "The idea is both good and bad; the new RAV4 has such which can make it impossible to get out of certain snowy 'stuck' situations which is bad because there is no off switch. There is an 'under the table' method to disable that part of the stab control which involves some 10 steps mainly with the parking brake and the foot brake - I could put it up for a laugh, if you wish."

    There should always be an "off" switch" - and it should completely shut off the system.

    "Overall, I like the 'help' from all the new automatic stuff; I've driven a lot of different vehicles and am a firm believer that for on the road, normal driving, new and automatic is better. That, admittedly, is a matter of taste, not an eternal truth."

    So long as we can choose, each according to our wishes, it's ok by me. I just object to it being crammed down our throats!




  5. #5
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    Re: The Future Looks Not So Bright Ahead

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric

    So long as we can choose, each according to our wishes, it's ok by me. I just object to it being crammed down our throats!
    The 2007 RAV4 has such a choice (I've tried it, it works):

    DISABLE STABILITY AND TRACTION CONTROL

    1. Shifter: PARK; Parking brake: OFF; Engine: OFF.

    2. Engine: START

    3. Parking brake: ON

    4. Brake pedal: PUMP TWICE (full press and release)

    5. Parking brake: OFF

    6. Brake pedal: ON (full down).

    7. Parking brake: PUMP TWICE (pull and release,
    WHILE holding brake pedal).

    8. Brake pedal: OFF

    9. Parking brake: ON

    10. Brake pedal: PUMP TWICE

    When the VSC "Skidding Car" light is displayed,
    procedure successful. To restore, shut down
    engine and restart.

    This is a great procedure for those who like to do things the hard way.



  6. #6
    TC
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    Re: The Future Looks Not So Bright Ahead

    Quote Originally Posted by jdm
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric

    So long as we can choose, each according to our wishes, it's ok by me. I just object to it being crammed down our throats!
    The 2007 RAV4 has such a choice (I've tried it, it works):

    DISABLE STABILITY AND TRACTION CONTROL

    1. Shifter: PARK; Parking brake: OFF; Engine: OFF.

    2. Engine: START

    3. Parking brake: ON

    4. Brake pedal: PUMP TWICE (full press and release)

    5. Parking brake: OFF

    6. Brake pedal: ON (full down).

    7. Parking brake: PUMP TWICE (pull and release,
    WHILE holding brake pedal).

    8. Brake pedal: OFF

    9. Parking brake: ON

    10. Brake pedal: PUMP TWICE

    When the VSC "Skidding Car" light is displayed,
    procedure successful. To restore, shut down
    engine and restart.

    This is a great procedure for those who like to do things the hard way.


    Maybe they wanted to make it too difficult for most people to do it inadvertently.

  7. #7
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: The Future Looks Not So Bright Ahead

    Quote Originally Posted by jdm
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric

    So long as we can choose, each according to our wishes, it's ok by me. I just object to it being crammed down our throats!
    The 2007 RAV4 has such a choice (I've tried it, it works):

    DISABLE STABILITY AND TRACTION CONTROL

    1. Shifter: PARK; Parking brake: OFF; Engine: OFF.

    2. Engine: START

    3. Parking brake: ON

    4. Brake pedal: PUMP TWICE (full press and release)

    5. Parking brake: OFF

    6. Brake pedal: ON (full down).

    7. Parking brake: PUMP TWICE (pull and release,
    WHILE holding brake pedal).

    8. Brake pedal: OFF

    9. Parking brake: ON

    10. Brake pedal: PUMP TWICE

    When the VSC "Skidding Car" light is displayed,
    procedure successful. To restore, shut down
    engine and restart.

    This is a great procedure for those who like to do things the hard way.


    BMW and Lexus have a similar process; a curse on 'em all!

  8. #8
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: The Future Looks Not So Bright Ahead

    Quote Originally Posted by TC
    Quote Originally Posted by jdm
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric

    So long as we can choose, each according to our wishes, it's ok by me. I just object to it being crammed down our throats!
    The 2007 RAV4 has such a choice (I've tried it, it works):

    DISABLE STABILITY AND TRACTION CONTROL

    1. Shifter: PARK; Parking brake: OFF; Engine: OFF.

    2. Engine: START

    3. Parking brake: ON

    4. Brake pedal: PUMP TWICE (full press and release)

    5. Parking brake: OFF

    6. Brake pedal: ON (full down).

    7. Parking brake: PUMP TWICE (pull and release,
    WHILE holding brake pedal).

    8. Brake pedal: OFF

    9. Parking brake: ON

    10. Brake pedal: PUMP TWICE

    When the VSC "Skidding Car" light is displayed,
    procedure successful. To restore, shut down
    engine and restart.

    This is a great procedure for those who like to do things the hard way.


    Maybe they wanted to make it too difficult for most people to do it inadvertently.
    Or to do it at all!

  9. #9
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    Re: The Future Looks Not So Bright Ahead

    The sequence for deactivating those safety 'features' reminds me of the menu-driven system on modern cameras and cellphones.

    Possibly younger people's brains actually think in this sequential way. Certainly BMW i-drive is a bit like this. Five suspension settings, for example. Subaru have an i-program for engine management which limits throttle to about 80%...AND slows many inputs... as if drivers who wish to save fuel inadvertently mash the throttle to the floor!

    Sometimes when floundering around with sequential menus you can deactivate things without knowing it, which is rather dangerous. How many digicam owners know what kind of auto-focus is 'enabled' in their camera, for instance? I prefer centre point focus but default is 'centre-weighted-multi-point-average'.

    Somehow my cellphone has become loud. The volume control is deep in the innards. I just don't use it. Can't be bothered searcging for the control.

    But it does appear that modern appliances are afflicted with 'features', and cars can be seen as appliances. Sadly.


  10. #10
    Senior Member Kwozzie1's Avatar
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    Re: The Future Looks Not So Bright Ahead

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric


    "Overall, I like the 'help' from all the new automatic stuff; I've driven a lot of different vehicles and am a firm believer that for on the road, normal driving, new and automatic is better. That, admittedly, is a matter of taste, not an eternal truth."

    So long as we can choose, each according to our wishes, it's ok by me. I just object to it being crammed down our throats!
    I have Traction Control on my 4WD as well as central diff lock. I manage to drive in soft sand without needing either, but I have lowered tire/tyre pressures to help save the environment. Amazing when I let others drive..the traction control goes crazy. I guess that is "knowing" your vehicle that makes the difference
    Rex
    On the Sunshine Coast, in the Sunshine State Queensland (QLD), Australia

  11. #11
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    Re: The Future Looks Not So Bright Ahead

    >>This is a great procedure for those who like to do things the hard way. <<

    Anyone with a smattering of coordination could do that on the fly---

  12. #12
    Senior Member Kwozzie1's Avatar
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    Re: The Future Looks Not So Bright Ahead

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Rose
    >>This is a great procedure for those who like to do things the hard way. <<

    Anyone with a smattering of coordination could do that on the fly---

    Let's do it on ice! get the adrenalin going
    Rex
    On the Sunshine Coast, in the Sunshine State Queensland (QLD), Australia

  13. #13
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    Re: The Future Looks Not So Bright Ahead

    >>Let's do it on ice! get the adrenalin going<<

    I'll bet JDM has already tried that---

  14. #14
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    Re: The Future Looks Not So Bright Ahead

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Rose

    I'll bet JDM has already tried that---
    JDM never understood Britcars, at least in public.

  15. #15
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    Re: The Future Looks Not So Bright Ahead

    >>JDM never understood Britcars, at least in public.<<

    I can think of no reason for wanting to---

  16. #16
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    Re: The Future Looks Not So Bright Ahead

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Rose

    I can think of no reason for wanting to---
    That'll be because both of you are misguided rebellious colonists.

  17. #17
    D_E_Davis
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    Re: The Future Looks Not So Bright Ahead

    Quote Originally Posted by robmcg
    JDM never understood Britcars, at least in public.
    Such conceit, to say such while implying that you do -HAH! I challange you to rebuild the front suspension of a Morgan Plus-4 properly on the first try.


  18. #18
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    Re: The Future Looks Not So Bright Ahead

    I might be a sanctimonious misanthrope, but conceited I am not.

    What, praytell, means "proper", in Morgan suspension rebuilds? Actually applying the Ackermann Effect to a geometrically perfect set of toe, castor, trail and camber settings?

    Do it with me eyes closed, guv. Just like the plunger frame rear on my BSA B31, only two of 'em.

    What's the next test?

  19. #19
    D_E_Davis
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    Re: The Future Looks Not So Bright Ahead

    Quote Originally Posted by robmcg
    I might be a sanctimonious misanthrope...
    Not yet, but you get closer each day.

    What, praytell, means "proper", in Morgan suspension rebuilds?
    'Tis apparent you have no knowledge of the sliding pillar front suspension. I shudder when I visualize the gaps in your knowledge. I feel you should turn your energies to the subject of Iraqui oil.


  20. #20
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    Re: The Future Looks Not So Bright Ahead

    Quote Originally Posted by D_E_Davis



    'Tis apparent you have no knowledge of the sliding pillar front suspension. I shudder when I visualize the gaps in your knowledge. I feel you should turn your energies to the subject of Iraqui oil.

    The B31 has what we call 'plunger frame' suspension wherein the axle hub was connected to the lower element of a tube-style shock absorber which contained a coil spring. A was essentially a modern version of sliding pillar. Almost up there with inverted laminated quarter ellipitical leaf springs, as an artform.
    Nothing was ever as good as BMC Mini hydrolastic though...

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