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JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
3/31/21 1:43 p.m.

For those of you scoring along at home, you may have read my column in the previous issue where I extolled the virtues of sports and sporty cars from the late 1980s and early 1990s. It was an era that gave us timeless icons like the Miata and never-to-be-seen again gems like the CRX and MR2. Ahh, those were the …

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Vajingo HalfDork
3/31/21 1:47 p.m.

Old cars=more dangerous to drive wrecklessly=peril at every turn=fun every time the ignition is turned. 

old cars FTW. 
(see F40vs.F50 argument.)

Tk8398 HalfDork
3/31/21 1:50 p.m.

I don't dislike new cars, they certainly perform better, but I also can't even come close to affording anything new that isn't completely boring, and in my opinion long term (~15+ years/150k+ miles) has drastically decreased since 2000.

captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
captdownshift (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
3/31/21 2:03 p.m.

New cars have wider and better rubber, stiffer chassis, more horsepower and fancy e-differentials to put power down in a meat that makes 3200lb pigs with less than 4" of suspension travel more entertaining then they should be. 


Older cars lean, sway, have suspensions that compress and rebound, 205 rubber is considered wide and have to be modified heavily and set up to remain remotely close to a newer vehicle on track, but the ability to find their limits at lower speeds makes some so much more fun. 


Mechanical grip is needed for speed potential, but a lack of it is needed for smiles. 

Jesse Ransom (FFS)
Jesse Ransom (FFS) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
3/31/21 2:29 p.m.

I'm sure my preference for '60s-'80s (and sometimes older) cars absolutely has to do with what I imprinted on, but my DD is a '16 Mini. It is very good. It starts every time, and the defrost is very effective.

It's not the pinnacle of everything a newer car can be, but it's got to be in the top 10% for new cars with "joie de vivre," right?

And it never, ever makes me smile like the older cars I've had, including recently enough to back to back them. It is so numb by comparison. It's clearly true that some of what you feel is "NVH," sworn enemy of the OEM engineer. But I don't dislike all the vibes, and the result of having quashed so much of it is that this small, sporty car feels more like furniture than a pulsing, vibrating piece of mechanical excitement. And it's not like the '87 535is was beating me up on road trips. In that, I felt comfy, but also connected.

New cars aren't bad. They're fantastic. But I still get much more joy out of older cars, even if they need a lot of tweaks to work well, and are arguably quantifiably worse vehicles.

I know, I know, it was an article/rhetorical question... But posted to the forum, so I was supposed to blather on in reply, right? cheeky

You'll note I do still have said Mini. If you can swing it, it's nice to have something that does always just start and run and defrost and so forth. But that's an argument for "technically better," perhaps, but not so much for "more enjoyable..."

Placemotorsports GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
3/31/21 2:29 p.m.

Older cars are only more fun in a way that they are easier to fix when broke and the level of "Oh E36 M3!" is less when it happens. 

FMB42 Reader
3/31/21 2:54 p.m.

Not more enjoyable, not less enjoyable imo. Just different. Newer vehicles are, of course, typically heavier as per general size goes (due to safety features and electrical/electronics, brakes, tires, etc, etc. I'm in my mid 60s and I seem to remember having as much fun driving my mid '60s Pontiac, mid '70s Alfa and Fiats (as a dealership employee), and my wife's new at the time '90 base 5spd 240sx coupe as I do newer vehicles. The odd thing is that one of the most 'enjoyable/fun' vehicles I've ever had was an '85 GMC 5spd std cab long bed S15 with the 4 cyl. 2.5L 'Iron Duke' eng. It had power nothing (not even pwr brakes). You could speed/momentum drift that truck on paved roads like you wouldn't believe. And that thing had long legs for what it was (my guess was just over 125+ mph). The only time I was out-cornered in it was by a young guy in a well modified Civic on a very tight mountain road.

z31maniac MegaDork
3/31/21 3:13 p.m.

Depends on the car, not it's age. 

At least for me.

ProDarwin MegaDork
3/31/21 3:23 p.m.

Are apples more enjoyable than oranges?



Tom1200 SuperDork
3/31/21 4:10 p.m.

In reply to ProDarwin :

Apples are more enjoyable; no peeling, you just take a bite and enjoy.......far simpler.

As for older cars; I like to explore the limits of a car but I like long lazy 4 wheel drifts. 

New cars are superior in every way, they're faster, ride better, more comfortable and a whole lot safer. I enjoy new cars a lot because they are so amazing but I find older cars more enjoyable because of, not in spite of, their being less refined.


Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/31/21 4:30 p.m.
ProDarwin said:

Are apples more enjoyable than oranges?



My '81 RX-7 is more enjoyable than the new(er) car because it has direct feeling manual steering of just the right weighting, direct feeling brakes, light clutch and shifter controls like a proto-Miata, and driving it feels like the contact patches are hardwired to your nervous system.  And the dashboard and instrument panel feel delighfully minimalist.

My '06 Volvo is more enjoyable because it is faster in all directions, quieter, more comfortable, more sound insulated from road and traffic noise, has hot heat and cold A/C and heated seats.  It also, in theory, is less maintenance intensive, although in the past month it did require a front suspension rebuild and two replacement wheel bearings...


Sometimes you feel like an apple, sometimes you feel like an orange yes

Kreb (Forum Supporter)
Kreb (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
3/31/21 5:17 p.m.

Skinny/pleasingly plump, blonde/brunette, focused/scattered et cetera. No right/wrong answer. My only real observations are A - I generally dislike doing anything mechanical to a post smog car, and B - give me a modern car for day-to-day use. 

The real problem with new car is the expense.  Are you really going to drive your new very expensive sport car at it's limits with nary a care in the world?  I doubt many will.  I will drive my old cars right up to and past their limits with absolutely no concern whatsoever.  In fact, I will do it with a giant smile on my face that only I know is there thanks to my helmet.

Sure if I won the mega millions, I'd buy that new Rally car by Lamborghini and do the same thing.  It's all relative to what you can risk and what you enjoy. 

I suppose if I had an endless fleet of press cars to abuse, I'd wax poetic about modern cars too.  As long as I'm paying the bills for the fun it'll be older cars. 

P3PPY GRM+ Memberand Dork
3/31/21 7:06 p.m.

Man. All I see in each thread is how I shouldn't buy the stickiest tires for my car but should get some midrange rocks so I can find and dance on the limit at a less dangerous speed. 
That said, it's still fun to track a car without a ton of grip, right? Like a TNIA? 

New York Nick
New York Nick GRM+ Memberand Reader
3/31/21 7:12 p.m.

For me this is one of those you want the thing you don't have questions. I agree with all the previous posts, new cars are amazing but they can be a bit bland. My daily is 26 years old. When I got it I was moving backwards 15 years. I was all excited because it felt so simple. Now that it has been my daily for a couple years I really love all the high tech in my wife's brand new CRV. Pushing the button to start it or having the door unlock when you touch the handle sure is spiffy! I'm sure if I drive that everyday I would be wishing for my old truck. 

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/31/21 7:13 p.m.

Maybe it isn't apples and oranges, but more like hot wings and cottage cheese pierogies.  Both are completely awesome, and both are pretty far from each other to where you can never have ONE food that contains all of the awesomeness of both.

gunner (Forum Supporter)
gunner (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
3/31/21 7:25 p.m.

Ah, it's great to have choices. One thing that really differentiates model years is that NVH has been  engineered out more successfully every year from better technology. There's a reason to get super low NVH in the 70's and 80's you had to drive a heavy luxobarge. In the early 1980's I asked my dad during a conversation where he was waxing poetically about his past ownerships why they no longer make cars that can go 80 mph all day long, and he replied that he didn't know why but probably because of the 55mph speed limit, they no longer needed to. I had not been introduced to non american cars at that time, aside from a VW Beetle.

When I bought the E28 M5 I learned that there were definitely cars built back then that would do 80 all day long. Not only that, They were amazing. That car had the perfect amount of rawness mixed with the ability to keep up with modern traffic without issue. My 2001 Corolla is definitely put together better and required way less maintenance but is definitely slower, but will still do 80 mph all day long. I still own the Corolla.

I used proceeds from the BMW to buy a Triumph Street Triple, searching out rawness again, which I missed, but it was time for the BMW to move on. The damn bike is too refined but it is so FAST.

Cars are so fast now, speed hardly matters. Electric cars can go as fast as you want with pretty much the only limit being range. Now, it's about the joy of driving.  Post-speed wars? Manual transmission sales are going back up, they are way slower than auto shifting these days. We have technologied (new word I just invented) our way into the perfect car. Just like anything else  that's perfect, now we want to give it a flaw so we can enjoy it. I'm enjoying the hell out of what I have. One day long after I'm dead, The human driven car will go the way of the horse. Then we'll be heading to space for the next risk/thrill.

stuart in mn
stuart in mn MegaDork
3/31/21 7:37 p.m.

I daily drive a couple 35 year old BMWs.  Maybe I don't know what I'm missing by not owning anything newer, but they do everything I want them to do.  

I also get thumbs up from other people nearly every time I'm out, which probably wouldn't happen if I was in a newer car.  smiley

frenchyd UltimaDork
3/31/21 7:43 p.m.

In reply to JG Pasterjak :

Those aren't old,  they just aren't new anymore.  Old is 1930's 40's 50's 

 My MG falls into that category because of its hand crank. The same method of starting since the very beginning.  
    The cars of the 80's and 90's are several generation removed from the cars of the 40's-50's 

Driving that MG feels similar to driving a Ford Model A. ( with a sporting attitude )  compared to the cars of the 80's which were faster safer and more efficient.   But nobody thought of them as light hearted fun. 

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/31/21 8:00 p.m.

In reply to frenchyd :

My '06 Volvo is "old".

It has a torque converter fed transmission.  Sure, it's a clutch-to-clutch 6 speed unit, but modern automatics have 8-10 gears if they aren't CVTs.  Or they are twin clutch automated manuals, colloquially called DSGs, since Porsche/Audi did invent the breed in the mid 80s.  (Porsche apparently ran them in some 962s, and Audi was testing them in some S1 E2 cars in 1986)

It has port fuel injection.  That is WAY old tech for 2021.  Stock compression ratio was 8.5:1.  I have updated it with a 9:1 engine, but with direct injection this engine would have 10:1-11:1 compression were it to continue to run only 15psi boost.  On that note...

It has a separate exhaust manifold.  Practically NO turbo engines nowadays, and most nonturbo engines too, have a separate exhaust manifold.  All exhaust ports join to one point in the head and there's one exit out.  On a turbo engine, this is a direct attachment to the turbo.   Which brings me to...

The turbo.  It's very old school in design.  Granted, it has roughly the same flow as the gigantic KKK K27 turbo used in the iconic Audi Sport Quattro from 1984, but turbo tech changed markedly in the twenty years between then and when my car was first made.  Even so, my 2003-engineered "giant" KKK K24-7400 turbo is pathetic compared to the modern offerings from Borg-Warner (who own the rights to/bought/grew from KKK) that are used in so many turbo cars today.  Thanks to extensive CFD and better manufacturing techniques, modern turbos can be sized one frame-size smaller for the same flow, meaning much less lag.  Drive, say, a 1.5l Malibu, or a 1.6l Escape, or a 1.4l Jeep, and it feels like a small V6, not a laggy small-displacement four.

Catalysts.  Volvo has a big ole cat mounted practically under the driver's seat.  Modern engines have stainless steel matrix cats bolted to the turbo.  I really can't explain this one, Volvo had been bolting cats to the turbo since 1998 in the US.  It does make for cool noises on a cold start as the variable cam timing goes to full retard in an attempt to heat the cat up, the exhaust noise is pure turbine whine.    Not very fuel efficient though.

Speaking of warmup.  The engine is very old in design.  It has a pressure side thermostat, and there are no solenoids to control coolant flow.  Modern engines shut off flow to the block or even to the intake valve side of the cylinder head, for faster warmup.

M2Pilot Dork
3/31/21 8:54 p.m.

I often think I enjoy my '98 e36 M3 more than my '16 f80 M3.  But the f80 has several features that i wish the e36 had.

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
3/31/21 9:50 p.m.

I'll say my 2018 GTI is damn excellent at pretty much everything...braking, handing, great seats, great ergonomics, pretty quick etc. I enjoy knowing it will do whatever I want it to and do it well. That said, I find it not terribly exciting to drive, probably BECAUSE it is so good, so solid, so quiet, so without any drama.

My 32-year-old Porsche 924S has a few rattles and lousy door handles (ironically, they are from a VW), but it makes all the right noises from the engine and exhaust, and while it's not as "easy" to drive as the GTI I have no doubt at all it can take corners faster (both cars are on the same tires in the same width, incidentally) and can stop faster too (even if the brakes dont' "feel" as good as the GTi). There's something to be said for a car being lightweight, and that's something that few new cars are. No matter how good you tune the suspension or add power or put on big brakes, the laws of physics still apply. And I still LOVE driving the Porsche, while the GTI is simply "nice to drive and very good"

Likewise, my 31-year old Dodge Raider is in all measurable ways a hunk of junk compared to modern SUVs, hell even my 2005 Sequoia. It leans, has mediocre brakes, is pretty slow in every respect, and street handling is best described as marginal. But I'd rather drive it any day than my Sequoia or my wife's (excellent-handling) CX-9 or any other new SUV (or new Jeep, I might add). 

There's also this general sense of pride driving an old car (especially an uncommon one). I can drive my very nice GTI and nobody will take a second glance at it, since ther are 100 others just like it within a 10-mile radius (that goes for things like an M3 in this area, for that matter). But in the Porsche or Raider, I constantly get people stopping to ask about it, or talking about it at the gas station, or whatever, which is kind of fun.

IDK, I have no desire at all to do my daily commute in any of my classic cars (or other classic cars, no matter how nice). Modern amenities make boring commuting much nicer (heated seats, bluetooth, auto wipers, etc etc). But when I'm not driving to work, I almost always leave the GTI parked all weekend and drive the Raider, Porsche, maybe the Sequoia, or even occaionally the e30 rally car (though it has NO amentities). They are all more "fun" to be in than the GTI, for various reasons. 

(when I had my moderately-modded WRX, I probably considered that a more "fun" car, but that's because it had a number of flaws, like a vintage car that it had to make up for by being "fun.") . At the time I did not have the Porsche or the Raider, though....so my only "vintage" options were my then-beater rallycross e30 with a weak M10 (yawn) or my 1990 XJ (which amazingly drove far lousier than the Raider and I hated driving it). 

Classic cars aren't automatically "fun" to drive. Some just suck. But if you get the right ones, they'll beat out a new car for pleasure driving any time. 

Tom1200 SuperDork
3/31/21 10:13 p.m.
P3PPY said:

Man. All I see in each thread is how I shouldn't buy the stickiest tires for my car but should get some midrange rocks so I can find and dance on the limit at a less dangerous speed. 
That said, it's still fun to track a car without a ton of grip, right? Like a TNIA? 

This is why I vintage race. It's also why I have a 40 yr old motocross bike along with my modern dirt bike.

For me, no. 


I appreciate older cars. If I had my choice between a 2020 Mustang Turbo 4 and a 1986 XR4Ti I would be in the Mustang like a mofo. 1970 1/2 Camaro or a 2020 V8 Camaro? New one. Now if it were between the 1970 Camaro and the XR4Ti I would rock the xratty all day long. Here's where I go stupid. 1956 Cadillac Series Sixty or 2020 Cadillac Escalade? Series Sexy all day long.

Driven5 UltraDork
4/1/21 1:15 a.m.

I don't think I should have to choose. It is possible, but not common, to build a new car that captures the emotional response of something considerably older. Using (largely hidden) modern technology can get rid of the worst parts of the original ownership experience, while keeping enough personality and character that will cause the driver connect and bond with it in a way that's impossible to do with the relative perfection of so many 'better' cars.

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