Performance Cars: Are We Going Too Far?

Whether it’s the high performance cars being built by automakers all over the world, or the vast aftermarket that allows us to make our vehicles perform in ways that their original designers could only dream of, there’s absolutely no doubt that automobiles today are faster and more capable than they’ve ever been.

Take a modern performance car like the Nissan GT-R, Porsche 911 or Dodge Challenger Hellcat for example. All are capable of doing things that were strictly in the realm of racing cars not too long ago. And they can do it while surrounding the driver in creature comforts that Rolls-Royce owners used to be proud of. It sounds great, doesn’t it?


But the more I think of it, I sometimes worry that cars have almost become too good. I’ve begun wondering if we are experiencing high performance overload? Don’t get me wrong, fast cars are cool and they always have been. But the fact is, today’s performance cars have limits that aren’t approachable anywhere but on a racing circuit, and usually a very large one at that. And what fun is that?


The reality is, many of the people buying these cars have little idea how to handle their vehicles in the event they do reach their very high limits. It’s not that I worry about people hurting themselves, because I fully believe you have the right to drive whatever car you’d like. What concerns me more is the hyper-competitive numbers game that everyone is playing these days. If feels like we are losing a lot of the enjoyment, and that’s what cars should be about above all else.


Whether it’s car enthusiasts, auto journalists or the carmakers themselves, I feel like we are being made to live in a videogame-like fantasy world where performance figures rule all and hypothetical driving scenarios have taken precedence over many of the things that used to make us love cars.


Cars get faster and faster while roads only seem to be filled with more traffic and more police officers looking to hand out tickets. Try to explore the power and grip that today’s high performance cars have on public roads and you could be looking at jail time or worse. Sometimes you have to wonder what the point is…


You could say, ‘It’s not about the street, it’s about the track,’ but I feel that’s just as bogus. Watch any car review video these days and you’ll see a professional driver ripping around a race track or skid pad talking about steering feel, behavior at the edge of grip, and brake balance etc. It’s valid input, but are we buying too much into it?


Then they’ll do a comparison race, and Car A will run the track a few tenths of a second faster than Car B. And thus Car A is proclaimed the better car because Mr. Professional was able to get it around the track just a bit faster, or he felt better feedback while ripping through some S-corners. People on the internet will then argue about it. Those same car reviews will show scenes of guys driving balls-out sideways and doing other stuff that looks fun, but again, how many people are actually going to go out and do that in their brand new and likely financed car?


Car enthusiasts have always been bench racers, and I know there will always be those people that need to have ‘the best’ machine even if it’s just going to sit in their garage. But it seems worse than ever now. People will argue endlessly about which car is faster, even if they haven’t driven either one. And even if they did, what are the chances they could come close to driving it like the aforementioned professional driver? Doesn’t that make the minuscule performance differences between the two irrelevant?


And on top of that, we’ve got the limited production, even higher performance versions of these cars that are designed specifically for track use. But if often feels like they are as much fodder for online forums and garage ornaments than they are viable track day cars.


Now, I don’t have a ton of experience driving cars on race tracks, but the times I’ve have it’s been awesome. Even in a crappy car with super narrow tires and no power, it’s ridiculously fun. In fact, it’s a blast to throw damn near any vehicle around a race track. And the challenge usually comes more from improving your technique as a driver than stepping up to a more capable machine. So how concerned should I really be if one fast new car is marginally quicker on paper than another? When will that ever benefit me or make things more fun?


Most of the track days I’ve been to are about people trying to hone their skills and learn their cars; there is very little passing and no real competition to speak of. But we like to imagine non-existent scenarios where two drivers are racing flat out and Car A overtakes Car B because it’s just that much better. If you are interested in actual competitive driving, I’d think there are far better ways to scratch the itch.


I believe all of this might be a byproduct of cars becoming too good. These days no one really makes a bad car; they are all comfy, reliable, get good fuel economy and perform better than the ones that came before them. But they are also more isolated and much less dramatic in the way they carry out their business.


So instead of falling in love with the way they make us feel just firing them up or cruising down the street, we judge them based on situations that almost never happen. Competitiveness has been part of car culture since the beginning, but in today’s world of short attention spans are we going too far to stimulate our automotive minds? Should the fact that one car will go 0-60mph in 4.2 seconds and another does it in 4.1 seconds influence which one we buy?


I think this can also be tied into the decline of the manual transmission. Yes, I know today’s automatics and dual-clutch gearboxes are much faster and more efficient than a stick shift, but is that the way we want it? An old fashioned clutch and shift lever are things that makes a car fun and exciting, even when you are just driving around town. It might not be the best choice to set track lap records or squeeze out an extra couple MPG, but do we really care that much?


If you take a look at some of the most beloved and sought after cars of the past – think BMW E30 M3s, Honda S2000s and so on – you’ll find that they usually had qualities that went beyond how many numbers they could put down on a dyno, or how fast they could get around a race track. The thing that many of those classics have in common is that they were never really improved upon – at least in terms of how they made us feel.


Sure, it’s fun to watch carmakers constantly try to one-up each other by lapping the Nürburgring a little faster each year, but part of me hopes things get reeled in a bit. If we continue down this path, performance cars will be like computers and rendered obsolete the moment the next, slightly faster model comes out.


Of course, there are new models out there which are about fun and character as much as they are about going fast. The Mazda MX-5 comes to mind, as does the Ford Fiesta ST. Even the Mustang GT350 for all its capability is a car with an appeal that goes far beyond lap times and dyno numbers.


Obviously there’ll never be a return to the raw, visceral, but slower and more dangerous cars of yesterday, but I don’t think that means automakers can’t build cars for enjoyment and longevity. Why not step back from the rat race a bit and remember what makes cars so great in the first place?

Speed is fleeting, but fun is forever – at least that’s the way I’m starting to see it. I’m interested to hear if any of you guys are starting to feel the same way.

Mike Garrett
Instagram: japanifornia_media



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The funny thing is that modern super cars are FASTER than many racecars. The hypercars that actually go to the circuit are highly restricted but, many of us know that already. It's just funny how things are now a days in the automotive world.

I agree, I think they are TOO much now. They just compete by increasing the horsepower and people buy into it.

It's nice to see Lotus and Honda(in most cases) building modest cars that are practical. It's a little demoralizing to see the HP game continue on it's way up. Look at the mustang for example, the base V8 is 435hp. The corvette ZO6 with 650hp is trumping the last ZR1! It's insane! All while offering convertibles and automatics...


Performance motorcycles passed this point over 25 years ago.


I totally agree Mike...any jackass can make a car payment and pose in a overpriced car they can barely drive...why I always valued rarity/aesthetics over speed.. @vhixx


This beauty is ready for summer -16 trackdays, new cars doesent have a soul :(


I've always said, specifically for the talk about the manual transmission decline, I want the manual. I don't care if its slower, because I don't need to shave tenths of a second of time. I want to have fun and love what I'm doing.

Light at the end of the tunnel:
Porsche's new 911 R, N/A and manual trans. An article I read, they said they tried to get the most driving purity, not fastest lap times, if otherwise still go for the RS.
We've also got low power fun cars like the 86-breeds and MX-5 which also seem to lean towards driving purity.
It's up to ourselves to take a step back from comparing power figures and sprint times to tenths of a second and say "actually I don't care, I should get this because I just like it more"


I cant agree more. We've pushed automakers to focus on this ridiculous numbers game of horespower, track times, and worst of all, the amount of options you can get. Why the hell do we need cars that connect to twitter and facebook? We should be improving the machines themselves, not all the extra crap we can stuff into them. Honestly, there are very few cars I would even want to drive from 2013 or newer. They are too numb and stuffed to the brim with electronics, I dont even feel like I am driving it myself. They've lost their character, their charm. Hell, every car I want is older than 05 for the most part; even if I had an unlimited budget. I'd take an old metal death trap over these cookie-cutter bland lifeless excuses for cars we make today. /rant


K_arlstrom  NOM NOM NOM


Agree with everything. People with money buy cars that they don't even push till they reach its limits. All they do is drive around town and talk about performance figures.
This is why I also believe the Toyota GT86 is the revival of the time when performance cars were "fun" Sure it doesn't have power, but it's enough to help you see how much fun a car can be. If I had $100,000 I would buy an old gtr or the likes and use the money on track days and maintenance, then spend it on a new GTR and just let drive around town


Very good questions you pose, Mike.  I've been thinking similarly myself.  Cars are awesome now but some seem almost too refined.  You're exactly right that most of the performance from so many of these new and recent cars is so high that many people will never really know the difference unless they are capable racers.  There is too much emphasis on numbers, status, and even ego rather than fun, balance, character and real world driving.  What's even more amazing is the amounts that are spent modifying already fantastic new machines. 

One point I consider nowadays, and its not just with automobiles, is that for the better part of fifteen years now, we are in the midst of a gigantic credit bubble and whenever it actually does break, there will be a humbling return to more basic appreciations.  I bought my first car in the mid-90's(still have it and still tinker with it!) and for those old enough to remember, money was tight back then!  Someone who had a welder or a hoist in their garage was a rarity and a folk hero amongst the neighbourhood car guys.  Also, it seems as if people are never satisfied for very long these days and always itching for the next greatest thing.  They have another car more often than they get new shoes.  At any rate we should enjoy the excellent cars that are being produced these days(even if we don't own a new one) and see what we can learn from them to apply to our older hobby vehicles if we are modifying them. 
Thanks for the article, Mike.


If higher performance sells cars that's great for all enthusiasts. Sure on average 95% of the potential of a sls amg is going to go to waste and a 458 italia is just as likely a garage trophy as a track rat but so what? Remember, all this direct injection, forced induction goodness is going to be trickling into junkyards, classifieds and our grimy, power mad little fingers over the next few years. Think of an NA miata with an ecoboost 2.3, a rock crawler with a VAG diesel, an s13 with a new ATS turbo V6. We are in a golden age my friends, power flows freely and torque is available in stupid quantity. Instead of hating on people who mostly just love to talk about their girthy numbers lets quietly embrace the used car wonderland, gut the interior, cut the springs and kill some tires.


They're just numbers, go with what you like or like the idea of. If you can afford a ridiculously priced high powered supercar then go buy one, if you can't, go buy something cheaper and develop it into a faster car as you learn to drive. The GT-86 is the embodiment of this ethos (even if that is still out of my price range... sad I know)


One of the best articles I've read. Truth! I think the character of a car is the most important thing. There will always be a car with more power, more agility and more comfort, but character is something that is timeless.


My solution: buy old cars, and spend the money keeping them running, and making small improvements over time.
But the desire for a 991 GT3RS will never go away :)


I couldn't agree more. So many people live off YouTube and give hate to anyone who's car can't do 0-60 in under 4 seconds even though most of them have never even been in a car remotely that fast. Everyone seems to have forgotten the thrill of cornering a Mini Cooper or Miata WITHIN the speed limit. The slow car fast principle. What worries me about the HP arms race the carmakers are engaged in is that there are so many people out there who make a ton of money, but don't have the slightest idea how to control a car that can race from 0-60 in under 3 seconds. Where will it end? Physics will eventually catch up, and car makers will have to shift there focus from 0-60 times. But what will they focus on next?


That's some really deep thinking Mike - and I agree. Been thinking the same thing, especially the 'numbers matter' part. More computerization and high-tech thingamajigs aren't the stuff that us, diehard car enthusiasts, want, especially when those factors contributed to the loss of the joy of machine that we knew of, but maybe there's another perspective that automakers want to capture : people who are rolling with deep pockets, eager to buy any car which has the numbers that they like, be it features, horsepower, distant-race-track-in-the-middle-of-nowhere-with-confusing-pronounciation lap times, and so on; or maybe people whose pride in car ownership is driven purely by the specs of their cars, which is written on a paper, to serve as their bragging rights, and thus, all the leasings; or maybe they just recently hopped on to the car enthusiast life, and still have no grasps on the joy of driving yet, thus, the 'numbers matter' part : people whose goals are quite different from us, in terms of car ownership. Just my two cents...


I completely agree and as an owner of a 1983 mercedes-benz 240D with a manual trans (the slowest car I have ever even ridden let alone driven) is also one of my favorites to drive as it is a challenge to get up the next hill at times, but I can never be disappointed because it turns my daily commute into an adventure.


Mike Garrett has literally explained the problem with modern cars in a nutshell. When I began to read this article I was almost turned off, because I like the idea of performance cars. However he is more then right, because if you look at a wrap sheet of any vehicle today, most often it only has numbers and features written all over it. I usually have to buy a magazine with detailed accounts of how the car preforms in certain situations to truly understand what its like to drive. Even then most magazines take their cars to the track and beam them around at crazy speeds we can never reach. 
I currently own a Subaru Legacy 3.0 R which in my opinion is an amazing vehicle. It doesn't have the most horsepower especially from a 6 cylinder engine which we all know are capable of so much. It doesn't have that many feature which many people would demand as standard these days. Its interior is well appointed but isn't that extravagant. None of this matters to me because I spent countless hours researching and sourcing these cars until I found the one I wanted. The thing I care about is how excited I feel when I walk out to it and how the engine sounds when I start it among countless others. I love that car and its going to hurt to admit this but its not the best in its class but that doesn't matter to me because I enjoy it.
Mr. Garrett is imploring us and automotive manufactures to enjoy cars again instead of stressing over numbers, features, and 0-60 times. Leave those things with the race teams and performance mentalists and give us back the drivers cars made for true CAR enthusiasts.


pick the car you think is the best, drive it, work on it, love it.


I wholly agree that overperforming cars today are the reason why the manual is declining. Yes, automatics and DCfuckingTs are faster and more efficient than a manual, but that's not the point of a car, so an enthusiast's standpoint. The point of a car is to enjoy it, to have fun with it, since you drive it, you might as well be involved with driving it. Mike Garrett does have some very accurate points. Cars have come to a point where it's just more numbers like acceleration, power, times, etc. but it's just not about the thrill of using that power to your advantage and having fun driving it. Car manufacturers are selling cars mostly to sell for profit, and not for convincing people their cars are fun to drive. And with electric cars, it's even harder to have fun with cars, save for maybe the tesla model s, but that is ludicrously expensive. and cars today are just getting bigger, heavier, more bloated, so even if a car today has more power than a car 10 years ago, it needs more power to propel that car and less of it is to have fun with. I miss the times where a car was small, has little electronic assists that interfere with the joy of driving, came standard with manual transmissions, and had just enough power to propel the car and some extra to have some fun with, but not too much as so you have to worry about breaking something, which could mean yourself if you're not careful. Cars have changed in some ways for the positive, but for an enthusiast, it has taken a step backwards in development.


Could't agree more! Thats why I love my slow old cars 1990 miata and 1990 205 rallye 1.3. I have so much fun driving them within speedlimit. My 205 with twin webers have so much soul when compareed with newer hot hatches. No sound apps to make it sound cool.. no vector programs to make it turn... just good old fashioned loud analog fun! My opinion is that most fun is when you feel every thing that car is doing and you do all the work regardless are you the fastest.


Couldn't agree more, it is causing the decline of the manual transmission and the rise in the scrutinizing of statistics that make an impact on paper but not in your head and in the seat of your pants where it should count. These new cars are all very cool indeed but they lack the unique character old analogue cars have and they connection they created between man and machine. Bring back the fun, characterful, enthusiast cars!!


Thank you Mike! 

After owning a few very capable cars (Evo 9 and RS4) and driving them everyday changed my views. This was while I was building very nice Datsun's and struggled with trying to make them perform like my everyday driver. I would have this fantasy  that I would get in my Sr powered Datsun and it would drive better because look at all I have done to it. That was so far from the truth. I could not agree more with you as modern cars have gotten so good and we now don't have to know our cars and what they do in the corners or how the brake feel and so on....


"Cars get faster and faster while roads only seem to be filled with more traffic and more police officers looking to hand out tickets... Sometimes you have to wonder what the point is…"

THANK YOU!!! Nail and hammer. I drive a little 4-cylinder hatch with a 6-speed manual and I love the way the car looks and feels. On a deserted two-lane country highway it can hit just over 100mph, but it will never win a red-light drag race against anything more powerful than a Geo.

Do I get a bit envious at times when a Mustang or RX-7 pulls up next to me? Yes. Do I still love driving my car? Yes. Sure it would feel great to have a super-exclusive 700HP+ car that can do 0 to 60 in 4.1 seconds; but where would I use it? That car would waste away as a daily driver commuting me to and from work and getting dinged up in the crowded narrow parking lot of my apartment.

It's great that we have achieved so much with automobiles. But there is no point to the numbers game when the only way to really feel a difference is to go out to the Nuremberg which is 500+ miles away. That's part of the reason I loved Initial-D. It was about a bunch of crazy guys with slightly modified street cars and a LOT of technique. The driver's skill mattered more than the cars. A stark difference from the likes of Wangan Midnight, where the raw HP of the cars was the emphasis.


Speedhunters Great article, We love Hot Hatches and older performance cars because it's easier and safer to find fun near the limit.


And that is exactly why I am getting more into off-road.... slow and steady can be fun too.


I'm just going to be like Bob on this one.


My dad has a Boxster S rs60 Spyder that Ive grown up driving and it's so dissapointing when supposed car enthusiasts completely discredit its splendid character because it ONLY has 303 horsepower... Your WRX might beat me to 60mph, but does that worry me? Not at all because the thrill you get from connecting with your vehicle will always overshadow the numbers. Does the lack of a roof reduce the rigidity and aero efficiency of the car? It certainly does. Will that hurt lap times? Perhaps. But the deficit in the numbers is compensated ten fold by the connection to the environment. The wind in your face, the olfactory and aural inputs you just can't get with a hardtop... On track the loss of rigidity even makes the Boxster a bit more "slippery" around the bends than the Cayman, which can be fun. Then there is the sensations you feel through the seat, the peddles, the steering wheel and the shifter. Numbers can never describe driving pleasure. The 997 GT3 RS used to be my ultimate dream car, but right now I just want my dads Boxster. I hope one day I can afford to buy it from him. I can generally tell if somebody is a true enthusiast by how they react to "my" Boxster. If they dissmis it I can be fairly certain they have little grasp of what driving pleasure really entails. They call it a hairdressers car, they call it feminine, they call it a wannabe Porsche (which is a load of dung because it totally embodies Porches brand ethos: driving pleasure), they even call it slow... But I love it. Its my dream car. Heck Ill take a first gen standard model boxster. I just love what it stands for. Pure driving pleasure, unfettered by the numbers game. When I go for a drive I dont need, let alone want, massive horsepower. Just give me something relatively light, with reasonable power, no roof, and a manual gearbox. My dads rs60 is also part of the final generation of porsches before they transferred to electric steering, and that particular special edition version was meant to harken back to the 718 Spyder through vintage styling cues, so its about the closest a truly modern age sportscar can get to emulating the feeling of a vintage racecar. Maybe Im shooting low or something but I think Ive found my absolute dream car, and my passion for that car well illustrates the purpose of the article: It's not about numbers or mass apeal. It's about the emotions a car can provoke. I hope one day in the distant future, when my dad has passed and the memories of my childhood are fleeting, I'll have that car sitting in my garage and I'll think of him and the journey to wherever I will be. I am gettin the feels just thinking about it. Thank you for this article.


Daily drive a 2015 fiat 500 abarth in city conditions. I wouldnt trade the auto teams for anything. And when I get to more country roads it's still as fun if not more as my old manual challenger. The 500 in comparison just zips around and it's so fun.
Everyone should experience some big lumbering grunting vehicle at some point in life but I've lost the daily feel for manuals and still get heaps of enjoyment. I get the gear banging out on the dual sport.


This is exactly why im happy with a 1.6 na engine with 120hp.. Still have all the driving joy without the risk of crashing at 250.


This is inevitable. Better numbers appeal to the fake enthusiasts, who wish to show off and quote numbers... Plus numbers are easy to sell. This why it is happening. The young and new enthusiast is wowed by the numbers. So was I, when I got interested in cars a few years ago. But after reading blogs like speedhunters and watching Petrolicious videos I like classic cars. Less weight, less flashiness, none of the assistive bullshit. Sadly, I don't think this will stop anytime soon... Cars like the 911R may drop by once in a while, but that's it I guess...


There is 2 different of performace car.   One is to drive to the car limit and over drive it,  (mr2, MX5, AE86, etc),  other one is to drive to your limit, not the car..   (super car, and those really fast car like skyline R35)

i prefer first one,   where you can really push the car to max and over it and have lots of fun.


I couldn't agree more. I used to drive E30s and moved up to more modern sports cars E46 E90 M3 GTR even some track prepped cars I drove on the street. I literally have sold them all and gone back to trying to find a fun car to drive that communicates with the driver. I am back in market for E30 M3 or S2K or something of that nature.

These cars are so capable there is simply no way to have any fun on the street legally. I mean you can go around a corner at 100Mph and not even squeal the tires or fully load the suspension and they just shrug it off. 

Whats the fun in that? 

Yes for the first year or so with these cars they continue to wow you with performance but after the how far can I push this on public roads, turns into terror and the car never blinks you realize there isn't much fun to be had cause the car will never be near its limits. Yes you can go to track days and then get stuck behind someone in a way slower car and wait till they get out of the way.

Simple is the best sometimes.


Speedhunters nope. Never. :D


I just want an FQ340 Evo 8 and an RS500 Cossie... Both pretty reasonable power standard, look amazing, and so much potential


Are you comparing S2000 with GT-R's and M3 E30 with GT2's?  Don't think that is right. Fast cars have always been fast... Ferrari, Lambos etc. The difference is, you are less likely to die when you drive one today compared to 40 years ago.
I'm happy to see we use technology to our benefit and make better products. Safer, faster and more reliable cars is a good thing. Let's keep it up. 
I don't agree with the theory of people looking at stats and numbers when they make a final choice of what car to buy. The big saturation in the community is a good example of that. If we all had chosen cars by what the reviews says is the fastest car, we would all be driving the same brands and models.


"What concerns me more is the hyper-competitive numbers game that
everyone is playing these days. If feels like we are losing a lot of the
enjoyment, and that’s what cars should be about above all else." - Just buy a new MX5 then. Great handling, good looking, enough power to enjoy. Perfect.


There needs to be more cars like the 86 and brz, working mans sports cars. The 90's were full of them and in the 70's muscle cars where common occurrence. Manufacturers are too focused on being being the fastest when there is a huge gap in the market for the imbetween guy.


Thing is, these cars can only get so powerful and so capable. There's still a hierarchy of performance, and perception between the numbers and what the base car is. And oftentimes there are only certain cars that can get a pass when they show muscle, like most American performance cars. As snazzy as a 200 mph F-type is, it doesn't really fit, because there's a mid-engine car that can make a similar act with a different, probably more desirable, effect.

You're right--not a whole lot of people will be able to fully appreciate these cars because they don't really have the acumen to drive them, and because the world is too safe for the shenanigans that follow when you do drive them. I can argue that some of the cars aren't as numb as you think they are, and dare I say they have soul, but they're shackled. And. here's my theory, the only way automakers can try to break that shackle is to make cars like these as powerful as they are now.

If, say, these cars were actual persons, athletes, and you ask them what they really want to do, they'd probably say that they'd very much want to both run free by themselves and with their rivals, all day long. But they can't, because the world needs to be safe, and until we put the disinterested in robo-transporters they wouldn't have free space. (On the other hand... we sure could use a Showroom Stock class for this tier of performance cars. Open call for any and every owner of any one of these cars on days where a track is free. And they race, mind you.)

Part of the problem is how these cars are presented by the automotive media. Road trip-style reviews don't come often for these cars, and I haven't heard of them take regular people as passengers and ask them what they think of the car. And then there's the roads and cities, with their speed limits and law enforcement.

Maybe the reason these cars are too good is because the world they're in is locked to a certain level of good?

That said... I still am a fan of these cars. And I don't know why, despite acknowledging the fact that their capabilities have gone further than regular humans.

And classic cars are only so strong. They don't deserve to stay in museums and get passed around in auctions, but if they break beyond repair, they're gone. They have more of the things that we often wish these cars have, and they're slow enough to feel fast, but dr

Plus, there's still machinery that can elicit the right emotions and leave the same mark the classics do. And automakers do listen. They do make cars that focus on driving, stripped of the frivolous and made as simple as possible. BMW M2. Alfa Romeo 4C. Porsche Boxster Spyder and 911 targa 4 GTS. The base F-type. The Scat Pack Challenger. A Caterham 260. The regular versions of the cars listed, barring the R35 and New NSX, has enough go to satisfy leadfoot junkies, but they serve it at the right dose.

I agree--speed is fleeting, but the experience, the fun will last longer. Now, more than ever, the intangibles will make or break this tier. There's already a tier--two, in fact--that we wouldn't mind slapping Top Trumps on in. It's the tier below them--this tier, where the experience matters more than the numbers.


I think you're exaggerating a bit. Still not many people can afford a GT-R or SLS AMG, or any other expensive sports car. A lot of people still go in their old loved car with ~100-150HP carb engine, and having fun driving it, without thinking of over 500HP-crazy-monster. 

Even though, speaking about overloaded Subaru`s and Evo`s - i`ve always got ont thought: "Why not?". You can build a crazy AWD road turbo monster ? Okay, have fun! Drive well, stay alive, and that`s it. Not a big deal loving that cars too, even if the HP numbers are more than "soul".


Car manufacturers simply need to make money and therefore stimulate consumers with new models. For many brand new high performance car is just a reflection of their social status.


This! This
is exactly my problem with modern day sports cars. They are fast, luxurious and
silent on the highway. Great as an overall package. But as an owner of an 2003
WRX that isn’t that silent when driving I just can’t seem to enjoy this craftsmanship.
I own my car for almost two years now and the car is still so much better than
my driving skills. I still love it and try to improve myself. Now, I’m already
used to the speed but I had the privileged to drive an 2012 S Coupe AMG and
Jaguar F-type V8. To summarize, those cars are just amazing. No truer words can
be spoken. They are insanely fast, luxurious and silent of the highway so you
never have to compromise just like I already mentioned. But when I got out of
them, I didn’t want to drive them again right away. The experience of speed and
the enjoyment while driving are gone. They’re great, just not fun. That’s why I
would never buy them if I had enough money to actually do so. Instead I would
buy a new Lotus or an car from the zero’s or before 2000. They are all about
the driver and the car itself. Not about listening to the new Selena Gomez song
on your Ipad-sized touchscreen navigation while speeding.


Super narrow tires and no power? The Citroen 2CV comes to my mind instantly...(LOL)
You can fully use all the power and always pushing to the limits on public roads, Sure!
Despite lower performance compared to new ones, old cars were real fun, because they require true skill to enjoy.
(If I can, I'd definitely go for a Hakosuka GT-R rather than the R35, or a 930 Turbo rather than the latest 991 version.)


That is why I bought a 1973 Toyota TA22 Celica for my first car. It's nothing overly sporty or heavy or ugly, it's just a nice balance with a tiny amount of power from a pretty much stock engine. The way me and my friends have been living so far even though we are only 16/17 it doesn't mean that we want to put huge engines pushing massive amounts of horsepower and compare them and challenge each other constantly, no way man. I would buy an older car over a new one any day. I'd have a Hakosuka GT-R over the new R35, or a 930 Turbo over a new 911 (no I'm not copying the guy that commented before me, we just appear to share an interest in cars. :D)


@Lurker I agree but riding a motorcycle is still far more fun than driving a fast car even if you cant use 100% of it capacity.


Got an '01 E46 325Ci, more than enough to be honest.


Great article, Mike. I totally agree on your point that performance cars will be like computers and rendered obsolete the moment the next, slightly faster model comes out.


Blake Jones I couldn't have put it in words any better than that. Thanks.


I had a mk1 Ford Focus which in terms of engine tuning was pretty standard but it had coilovers, thicker anti roll bars, lightweight alloys and sticky tyres. On a twisty country lanes it was ####ing hilarious, it only had 130bhp but I would always think to myself 'I don't need any more power, this is brilliant!'.
Being able to explore the limits of handling without the risk of wiping out a whole village is where it's at (for me at least).


Speedhunters only lines that matter are the red line and the finish line


I don't really feel the same about having a problem with modern performance cars. My view is more about all new cars in general. Problem is, they're too tech laden. Whenever I bought my first vehicle, (which I am still dailying to this day) my requirements were very simple: rwd, ac, and a radio. What I ended up with was 30 years old and still needed the latter two requirements. I wasn't looking for heated/cooled leather seats, built in gps, lane monitoring, etc. Not because I had a low budget, because I didn't. I find modern tech absolutely useless. Is it really that difficult to manually adjust your mirrors? Use a key to unlock your doors? Use a map? Actually pay attention while driving? I love new cars for the performance they provide, but let's face it; they're turning everyone into spoiled driving zombies that have no idea of what's going on. It makes what was a fun drive to the grocery store 10 years ago miserable, because people aren't engaged enough with their cars to find any satisfaction in driving, so they distract themselves with their phones; which in turn affects me since they drive slower and less attentively than snails. Sorry for my childish tantrum, and thank you to anyone that read this to the end.


@Jo Cool i think we've reached the edge of the 0-60 for street cars....i think most cars are hovering around the 2.8 seconds and that probably limited by the traction current tires can provide...the next big thing is bound to be top speed. That and the Ring times will always be in fashion i think.


most cars made after year 2000 suck.


As I was reading this all I was thinking about was the death of manual transmissions. Dual clutches and what not are faster, there is no doubt about that but in terms of sheer fun; would you rather be flicking through the gear of a beautiful 2016 MX5 with it's glorious gearbox, or the same car with two paddles on the wheel? And while now that would seem like blasphemy to most, that is the future of our cars (maybe not flappy paddle boxes in everything but you get the idea).
Another point I found interesting was the fact that in the past 10 years or so, other than balls out hypercars what sports cars do we have that have the noteriety of the likes of S2000's and E36 M3's? All that really spring to my mind are the aforementioned Mustang GT350R, MX5 and Toyota 86 brethren. Is it that we build less interesting cars? I wouldn't say that, I feel it is just simply the evolution of cars. No longer do you find cars with technology that is a decade ahead of anything else, you don't find cars that dominant a segment because another competitor is promptly built. The fact that we don't have these iconic cars anymore is simply because cars now are so good that you can't find a single one that stands out beyond recognition. Sure in a comparison one car is obviously better, but that doesn't guarantee the legacy that some cars have today.


This is happening everywhere in modern culture, over saturation. That's why I find records so much more enjoyable. Not overwhelming, because I only have my records to listen to. Nowadays anyone can watch any movie, listen to any music, for free with zero effort at any time on their ipod. And it's not even enjoyed.


Dill Pickle Sadly you and I are the minority. I know someone who bought a 2016 car because "it had bluetooth".


I do agree with this 100%... Cars are becoming not only stupidly disconnected from the driver via technology, aids and so on, but also stupidly pricey... I wonder if the 2 facts I'm pointing out here, are tearing car culture apart (drivingwise, I'm not including other aspects of car culture here)...

Technology is cutting a lot of improvement to be done on the driver's side of the equation, just because things like drift mode, TCS, active aerodynamics are interfeering with the driver's inputs and feelings. Therefore masking up mistakes that could be easily noticed before, for instance too much or sudden throttle application.

Moreover, this technology is driving costs up dramatically and now earning a few tenths on the Nürburgring by a professional driver is increasing the price of a new car by thousands of €. That makes me wonder how does it feel to total a car on track and still owe the bank half of its price. That makes exploring your car's behaviour A LOT MORE EXPENSIVE.

Now, if tech does it all and risking your car at a track is simply not affordable, can someone tell me where's the point on going to the track? For me driving is a way of challenging myself, if all this is removed from the car's nature... I will jump off the train right now and stick to older cars that offer that challenge feeling that most of the track enthusiasts enjoy on any sunday morning.


What happened to the uniqueness to every cars these days? No wonder kids nowadays believes driving is just some old-timer interest.


ethosVeritas_Z32 True, I can't imagine spending extra money on a car because it has a slightly higher top speed that I'll never use anyway, but I see your point. I guess that's why the Bugatti Veyron, excuse me, Chiron has such a ridiculously high price tag.  :)


Like everyone else (I assume), I agree with this totally and it's a proper f___ing shame.


I agree with this and this is why I haven't bought anything new in over 10 years.  I find enjoyment in the cars I have now more than ever.  I love the connection between man and machine without all the gadgets that disconnect the driver from the feel of the road.


Larry Chen That's where my roots lie. Rock crawling is what got me into Motorsports as a whole.


That's one of the reasons I'm saving up to buy a 280z for my daily. I just want something fun, something reliable, and something with soul. I can put a Bluetooth capable radio in it, I don't need to buy a new car for that feature...


What you're describing has always been, and always will be whenever a yardstick is brought out.  Things are subjectively better or worse in ever facet of life, cars, or otherwise.  Which is ultimately why, no matter if it's buying a car, modifying a car, buying a house, renovating, donating your time or resources, pleasure can truly only be found if you're doing it for yourself, and not for any other reason.

People who suggest cars aren't unique in some way are putting their blinders on.  They are every bit as unique, if not moreso, than they were a generation ago.  Rose colored glasses towards the past doesn't alter this.  You may yearn for the raw-er feel of nostalgia, and if that's your thing, as it is for many of us in the hobby, there are infinite ways to indulge that.

Sure, the argument can be made that cars are less engaging than they once were, particularly in the form of moving away from manual transmissions.  But there are more and more ways to enjoy cars than ever before.  Even 20 years ago, there wasn't an abundance of track days that there are now.  There wasn't the abundance of gatherings that there are today celebrating both new and old cars, and, there wasn't the extensive, interactive coverage that we enjoy today, just from sites such as this alone. 

The constant thing is change.  Things have changed; just like they have always done since Mr. Benz created the "first one", and things change with regularity as technology develops.  What we have more of than ever before is information.  What we choose to do with it is still our choice.  The fact that teams engage in one-upmanship at the 'Ring or elsewhere isn't really consequential to anything.  You can enjoy this information for what it is, without letting it cloud your judgement of simply enjoying what you have, learning how to work on it, honing your track skills, etc.  If nothing new strikes your fancy, then turn your attention to something old.  There are even many a modern car that still retain the charm of cars of years past - if you spend the time to learn them.  Most people don't want to spend the time or convince themselves they don't have the time.  They want it spoon fed to them.


I super agree with your post Mike! and everyone comments... to dont repeat the same of all you guys are comment here im just want to say... If in my Island the Nissan GTR R32, R33 & R34 was legal I will choose one of those any day before buying an GTR R35... I dont care the power and all the stuff that the new R35 have or can do... For me the older ones are the real deal!


Brewbert For me, a car its about emotion, the ultimate car I have built is a 44hp vw bug, and I built it for the pleasure or driving it with my dad, i build it for him, unluckily my dad passed away a day before finishing the car, but i swear every time i see the car, and take it for a ride, a tsunami of emotions hits me, and just make me cherish the moments i had with my dad, and the moments i'm having with the car, :.)


I think we view today's cars with the wrong mindset. Sure, an analog car appeals to my generation as well as the many physical sports and activities we had growing up - 1970s - 2000s. What is happening is a shift from that analog age to digital. Everyone has a smartphone, tablet, console, pc, etc for entertainment. Look at how I am communicating now.........back in the day you would meet up with the guys and discuss these things face to face with true emotions and expressions.

So, if you were born in the late 90s and 2000s you more than likely will not experience the same as we did, is that a bad thing? No, I bet the guys with the horses said the same when cars were invented but look at where we are now.

We are still gripping onto our passion of an analog experience whereas the next generation of enthusiasts may never even experience it. It is for this same reason we are so attached to those cars, we had to exert energy and play with feedback to be rewarded. Does a new era car do the same? Of course WE won't think so but those who never felt our emotion can't comprehend that.


I agree to a degree Mike, yes cars have become more refined, yes cars have more technology than ever and yes some may even say that today's cars are "boring" in comparison to the raw-ness of yesteryear cars.
Now I own a GT-86, a Integra DC2 and I had a leased C63 until a few months ago. I can certainly tell that in the 14 year gap between the 86 and the DC2 has been momentous changes in the car industry but for the worse, no actually I would say for the better.

If I had bought a car built in the 80's and compared it to the DC2 would I feel that there was the same shift, probably yes. The car industry is forever evolving, it is forever trying to push the boundaries of what is possible in terms of both technology and performance. Take cars from two adjoining decades and there will be progress, the newer car will be faster, it will have more technology and it'll be more expensive.

On the cost issue, the world is based around finance and loans. Yes cars are more expensive but it's probably never been easier to purchase what you would define as a performance car.

Also as you know everything on the internet is to provide entertainment and/or facts, would I want to watch a review on a Dacia Duster on the motorway at 70mph, no and neither would the rest of the population. It's all about entertainment, Speedhunters is all about entertaining the consumer, if we weren't entertained in some way we would go elsewhere. Therefore car shows (internet or otherwise) have to go balls out (as you put it) to stand out, so that the consumer will be entertained and come back for more. Just because I won't be sideways down the A43 won't mean that I aren't interested in seeing which car is better at the limit.

This doesn't mean that older cars shouldn't be appreciated but is this discussion new? No, it will be been discussed since the beginning of cars and will continue until the end of time.
In 10 years time we'll have the same discussion that cars have become faster and safer and more boring and we all wished that they could go back to making R35's again...


I agree with Mike on this one. I would consider myself a major enthusiast. I love cars. They are moving art. The lines of car, the feel of the curves, the sound of the engine...the feelings I get when I see a beautiful car is very much like that of a beautiful woman. 

But things have definitely changed. The media certainly drives our desire to want the faster, most powerful car. Much like the fashion industry tells people they want to be thin, or muscular. They tell us what sex appeal is...the auto industry is no different. Sure we have a choice, but we are all being convinced that this is what we want. Do I want a fire-breathing, over-powered performance car? Absolutely! But I want it for different reasons. I love cars, but let's be honest. Most of us will never take our cars to that limit. How many Bugatti owners have actually topped out there cars? Probably's a nice driveway ornament...maybe it goes to starbucks for an overpriced coffee, or gets showboated on instagram, saying look how rich I am, I bought this. And if they do end up testing the limits of their car, it'll usually show up on YouTube with the title "Idiot wrecks his Bugatti"

I drive a Mazdaspeed3. Have a topped it out? No....would I like to, absolutely. But the truth is, it's a daily driver. I love my car. She treats me good, and I treat her the same. I can't afford to go to the track and thrash a set of tires and maybe break some things. But even just driving to work or to wherever I'm going, I have a sheer joy in just driving. I love throwing through the gears. I find my joy in driving with the bond I share with my car.

Back in my glory days, I used to race on the street and it was a huge rush. But my car had absolutely nothing done to it. But why was I winning? Sheer driving skill...They had the faster car, but like Mike said, having the faster car isn't really that important. Is it really that fun if you have the biggest stick? It's like being a bully, no one wants to play with you. There is no challenge in that.

New cars are not challenging to anyone but their competitors. The truth of the matter is, the people who can actually afford these high performance cars, are not the ones who would actually enjoy them and appreciate them for what they were created for. These auto companies are catering to a market of people who can afford these cars and advertising to a market who dreams about these cars. It's all about perception.

Hands down, you will get a better overall driving experience from an older car. You feel the vibration in the steering wheel, you feel the components moving as you shift gears, hell you can even smell the exhaust. You wont find that in a new car. There is no's just this empty feeling you have as you sit behind the wheel of a car that does all the feeling for you.


I definitely agree. Your tend to simply rely on superficial reasons to support certain makes of cars these days. But the real interesting thing is what it's done to the aftermarket. Now when you buy yourself a car, you risk screwing it up immediately when you modify it! I recall the days when you could improve a car with a few items! Those days weren't that long ago!! Now you add something, and immediately give up something else. These cars are so good, and stock is almost perfection with many makes.....
Maybe my tastes have just matured, and realize that most of the cars I modified, weren't actually improved. LOL


"Did you read that in the manual"?


"Did you read that in the manual"?

Gianluca FairladyZ

i don't care if my car is makes 8.00 minutes or 9.00 minutes on Nordschleife, as long it is fun i will drive it! this is what most People don't understand. they judge cars only by numbers. not by driving expierince. i rather drive a v8 new Generation Mustang than a Renault megane RS, even if the Mustang is slower, i'd still go with it! it's just more fun!


Couldn't agree more Mike. As cliche as it is, "It's not what you drive, it's how you drive it that matters."


The chances of even running into a car that costs as much as a house here in the rust belt are so remote all the fancy cars are purely academic. Even if I had 50K+ to blow on a car... I'm too good at money to set a pile of cash that big on fire. I will always get my #joyofmachine from building cars to the best of my abilities on a tiny "hobby sized" budget anyway. i applaud the rich guys that crash these things though... i need their spare parts.


Next time an automaker reveals their new sports car, I want them to say, " Here's our new car, it's got an engine to make power, some seats and stuff for you to sit in, and we threw in a suspension for some handling... We gave it to some car enthusiasts for a day and they seemed to like it so here you go. Have a good day".

Random old bloke

Agree. Totally.
Couldn't be less interested in all this modern plastic, metal & tech if I tried. I guess it appeals to the super-rich amongst the techno generation, but really wtf is the point if actual enjoyment of driving and an appreciation of vehicles made by humans (not CAD) is your thing. This is just showing off for kids & bragging rights for wealthy men or "investors", although I'm not sure who they think is coming along behind them who will even want such irrelevances...
Back on topic though, I say a car needs to be driven at the edge of its envelope for proper enjoyment. So as a road car a max of around 300bhp, manual, rear drive to give you all the options, some half decent brakes & a chassis that lets you feel the road. Anything beyond that is wasted except for the odd momentary pleasure, and what skill does it take to just get flung up the road & then have to hit the brakes? WOT is where it's at, & impressive whilst the engineering within the latest fast cars is, we are humans not computer sims. I think we like operating within our range & the limitations of our road environment, don't we?
I think for old skoolers like me, our interest has been taken over by a tech-hungry new generation. Good luck to them but I don't think they are getting anything like the fun out of it we are. It should be about human reward, not just ownership.


Speedhunters ..way far.


Very Good!


Give me an old Jap car, old Detroit steel or even an old Kraut can, keep the hi tech stuff out of my garage. No thanks.


Completely agree. Horsepower has gone through the roof in the last 10 years; everything seems to have hundreds of horsepower now. At the same time, speed (and box junction, traffic light, bus lane) cameras are everywhere, along with packed roads. I think reality will hit at some point. Already, today's young people seem less interested in learning to drive than in my generation, when it was practically a right of passage. 

It seems like the next version of anything always has to have bigger stats than the version before (same with software, cameras etc.). The 3 series is now 5 series sized. Perhaps facts and figures are just the simplest way of judging the worth of something, like with Top Trumps? Or it's a 'value for money thing'? I think marketing departments are convinced you can't sell something with lower specs than the previous version.


90nissanS13@my350z K_arlstrom 130 km/h top speed in 2nd gear is.. interesting, but kinda useless on any normal road :) 
(Thats about 82 mph)


I actually wrote an article on Car Throttle around the same subject found here, However, I compared how people perceive the cars based on their generation. The old cars we praised were looked at as technologically advanced and non engaging for their time. That ideal similar to how we perceive modern cars today. In the long run, I'm personally still going to modify a car new or old to the standard of the Midnight Club and hone the skills to control it, maybe even smash the rich folk on the streets that think they're entitled with their expensive super cars.


Agree with you here Mike. Here in Australia around 8-10 Ferraris & Lamborghinis  have been crashed, mainly on city streets (where the speed limit is 50km/h (31mp/h)) due to drivers "losing control" -case of too much money, not enough skill.


B to the Ruce the issue here is not understanding that you don't take high powered/ high performance cars and drive them dangerously on the street. i don't really think it's lack of skill causing these accidents, more just not being responsible enough to drive safely on public roads.


K_arlstrom I have wet dreams about owning a R32 and a Cappuccino lol  Look at this beauty, i'd take it over a R35 any day! There's something about old Skylines that the GT-R will never have....


I enjoy driving my slow (ish) car fast sometimes.


Exactly from what i see In America , High Horsepower ... and use it for straights and nothing more generally speaking. 


A couple points I'd like to make:

1) it's called progress, if you don't like it go buy something older and please yield on track
2) historic racing and various racing classes exist for this purpose and are a riot to drive by comparison
3) "enthusiasts" are not racers. If you associate with the former you will become very recognizable to the later. 
4) 125cc TaG karts
5) Formula cars
6) Miatas.


jbfromsiliconvalley Agreed 100% i personally like being the underdog


RandyGHone I applaud you 100% agree


Ymani  B to the Ruce But if your Ferrari spends 99.9% of it's time on public roads, being driven responsibly, what's the point of 600HP?


Supply and demand.


mazda always has had that idea firmly in mind


((In case you don't read to the bottom, future piece about drivers vs engineers/designers vs automakers??)) I agree and disagree, like had been said somewhere in the comments about guys with horses. I'm sure they could've swayed minds talking about the bond between a living breathing creature you feed, groom and feel between your legs ( that just sounds a bit...), but efficiency as well as safety has always been an equally good way of increasing lap times as skill and speed. 8 litre engines making 120hp unreliably, versus today's 8 litre engines making 1200hp reliably. Altho I remember having the argument with non-car friends when the veyron came out that production cars are crap because it's such a waste of a 7 litre, quad turbo engine to make "only" 1000 horses when skylines and supras had that with around 3 litres and one turbo. High school logic! ( U0001f615 There was a time when guys who had more than 50 horses usually had crown, a flag and 50 men to ride them)
To be fair I have been about more of what I like (power) and less of what I don't (caring about anything else), but that may be because I grew up with games where I didn't have to learn how to wrench and adjust carb needles to gain, I just won races and bought faster vehicles. Using the pikes peak escudo in open races in gt2 comes to mind.
But comparing the automotive to say the aeromotive world and you see cars are still pretty old-school. Technology gives us different ways to master a vehicle. If combustion gives over to electric then clutch control becomes irrelevant and maybe the ability to hear your ti/yres becomes a thing, they are still the weakest link in the situation.
The reality is we all like a bit of inefficiency, we like to hear a bit of anti-lag but it's there because turbos are laggy.. We like it when the back end gets a bit loose because we reach the limit of grip, we like aero on cars but lets face it we ruin a cars shape by being in it! (future progress? Prone position with vr goggles?)
As for us enthusiasts, apart from the sleeper niche, we all appreciate the performance look, hence why some stick liveries and wrc spec spoilers on cars that wont see a rally stage and every car maker now sticks fake diffusers on rear bumpers. When silent electric fiestas have active spoilers kids will hack them to stay up and look fast all the time and adults will stick monster stickers on them and talk about hooning lol.
Cars on the road will always be a homage to card on the track. The same topic we discuss here about road cars being too fast for the road can be had about race cars on the track. Maybe just maybe... The road/track needs to change! Why is NASCAR not like NASCAR racers that came on cartoon network..? WE HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY U0001f61c


First comment on here... first article that I MUST comment on. THANK YOU!!!!!! You put my exact thoughts into words, I can reference this article to all car people raving about the newest this best that, that they will never own in the following 5-10 years. Judging a car by tracktimes and just numbers on their brochures is killing the magic and simple joy of getting behind the wheel of one and just go for a fun spirited drive or good hoon on the track. This is why I love new cars that seem not to care about numbers like the MX-5 or GT86. They are keeping in the old fun spirit which I think is a lot more important than 0-60 and 60-100 times.



But some suppliers are creating demand via paid presentation events for media, viral social media campaigns etc. It is undermining the basic concept of economy we are taught. Call it hype, call it what you will but it's starting to feel like poison.


ChuChu2  except tons of the highest hp US cars being produced today are also track beasts with nothing more than a tire swap.  Your comments would have held water 30 years ago, but nothing could be further from accurate today


1000 hp car step on the gas 3.5 sec 100km/h ...guy goes holly shit this is scary..
250 hp car steps on the gas 5.0 sec 100km/h .... guy goes holly shit that was fun...
1000 hp takes a corner not full throttle because it'll loose control.
250 hp car takes a turn floors it because it wont loose control.
drive an automatic dual clutch like I do that on a play station. What's the difference the computer does it anyways. I push a clutch in my rx7 when I wanna drive a car, no matter how much technology gets advance u just cant replace a car that has a clutch.


Great points but I don't know if I agree?  If it wasn't for these high HP car wars and technology battles between the car makers what would we aspire to want going forward?  I personally love reading about the next hypercar and what technology it uses to compete against the competitor to meet up to or surpass.  Similar to the race programs of each automaker, it fascinates me to see what they use in their Prototype/GT3/DTM/WorldChallenge car and then see it translate it to their road performance cars for purchase.  It builds such an inspiration to me to want to own one and experience it as a choice to drive every day.  That inspiration is the result of the competition and it works for me to want to work harder to attain one.  Instead of looking at it as too much that can't be used, are we sure it isn't a "grass is greener" issue with what we strive for but can't attain yet?  I may be on my own in my thought process, but as soon as I see an article on here or anywhere that talks about any new "RS" or "GTR" I am drawn to it right away so I can learn what the latest envelope pushing edge is....and I want one!  So I personally love it and hope the battles continue so my passion for cars keeps getting stronger!


E30M3 Robb I agree it's fun to watch the technology advance, but I'm just not sure how much of it I want. If for some reason I had the funds to buy a hypercar, I'd probably be like 20 old cars and a cool daily driver instead haha.


@mistery I agree. There's always something great about a car you can really push without scaring the crap out of yourself.


@Mghost Good points - especially about the historic racing. Are the old cars the fastest? Probably not. But who cares when they look and sound that cool and are that much fun to drive/watch?


modell3000 Yep. I love to see the progress, but if it's just for the sake of "replacing" the previous model it doesn't feel like we are getting anywhere.


@Random old bloke That's a good point. I love my Mustang and it only has about 300 horsepower to the back wheels and for me that feels perfect in just about all situations. It's fast enough to be quick and fun, and there haven't been many occasions where I genuinely wanted more power.


Gianluca FairladyZ I agree. Even the older V8 Mustangs that handle "poorly" are still quite fun to drive. There's a certain charm in the imperfections.


JasonBenias Well said. I love new technolgoy, especially in a car you drive every day, but I'd rather have it be stuff I'm actually gonna use on a regular basis rather than just more horsepower and more grip that might be usable on a race track.


@sherlock Yeah, it's a never ending cycle. Maybe when all cars are electric we will look back on today's cars fondly? It'll be interesting to see for sure.


patelhishaam I agree with all of this. My issue is more "how fast do we want our cars to be?". What good is all the super advanced technology and mind blowing performance if you can't even enjoy it 99% of the time?


@lms Well said. I'm not trying to say today's cars aren't unique or are worse than the ones from a decade or two ago, because that's certainly not the case. Just like everything else, it just seems like we need and more and more to stimulate us when it comes to cars - and I'm not sure if that's a good thing.


ThelamusCeasar I enjoy tech and gadgets that you actually use everytime in you climb in the car. I'm less interested in features that are worthless 99% of the time.


tyleredwards888 I agree so much with the last part. It's not they are bad or boring neccesarily, it just feels things are getting too predictable - just like we know the computers and smart phones made one year from now will be "better" than the ones we have today.


JPRedhead Yep. That seems to be the state of things.


Anthony959rs Haha. I get you. I guess in the end I just want a car that makes me feel good, I don't need to be going 150mph or hitting 60 in two seconds to smile.


UWerqxTeam_MJ Thanks for the observation. There does seem to be disconnect between the cars and the world in which they are going to be driven.


@grazingdeer Well said!


Definitely a lot of truth in that. Hard to enjoy modern performance cars on the road.

Cars can be a lot of fun if you stop worrying about what people think of you and your car and just do things for the right reasons.

Thats why I've built the RB in my S30 to be very responsive and have a great midrange instead of hunting huge hp figures, it makes a car which is hugely nicer on the road and its still got more than enough for a track. 

I think very light cars like the Atom or Caterham 620R would be epic fun at all speeds,


It seems to me the main issues are size, weight, and complexity, which ultimately result from a demand for safety and comfort. 

Stamping cars out of steel is still much cheaper than using aluminium or carbon fiber. A heavy shell also helps with ride quality and NVH. And if everyone else drives a heavy car, do you want to crash in a light one?

Complexity is an issue for those who want to fix or modify their car themselves. But safety systems are by their nature complex, loaded with sensors, actuators and so on. AC, infotainment, flappy paddle gearboxes etc. add to this.

There are still cars that are spartan, light weight and have few driver aids. But the market generally wants safety and comfort, which means heavy cars being pushed by powerful engines.



Thanks for sharing, I'm a fan of the R32-R34 skylines. There is a few that roam around my streets in plain clothing. It's nice to see the simple ones.


Also, enthusiasts may eye up the cars above as second hand purchases 5-10 years down the line, but manufacturers are aiming their designs at the rich people who can afford to buy them now. You might not care for a 911 with 4 wheel drive, automatic gearbox and a convertible roof, but the dentist who's buying it new might.


Couldn't agree more. Today's cars are all about performance figures, not the enjoyment that comes from driving them. The limits get raised higher and with that comes the inability for most people to handle them. To combat this, they add more driver aids. This makes the driving easier, so they up the performance again. The end result is a car that goes so fast that when everyday joe tries to have a bit of fun on their favourite piece of road, they need to push so ridiculously hard that when they come unstuck it occurs at a significantly higher speed, and they've got no chance to react. Basically we're setting ourselves up for cars that need full computer control, because we insist on pushing harder than we can actually handle.
The solution? For me it was to simplify things. Each of my toys has relatively low limits, but each of them is fun to balance right on the edge of those limits. My current garage includes several old sub-600cc motorcycles with very basic chassis designs and below 60hp, a two-stroke 150cc road bike (this only spits out 40hp but is super light), a 1960 Ford Zephyr ute and a 2003 Subaru Legacy wagon (the extra weight over the rear makes it less balanced than its Impreza sibling). Each is tweaked to extract maximum fun, rather than record the fastest lap time.
The fun of speed is the adrenaline rush, and these machines are all capable of delivering that rush under the right conditions. You don't need 2000hp and race tuned suspension to have fun. People need to stop reading figures and just assess their rides on the ability to put a smile on their face. And before anyone says I need to go on a track to understand, I've got the trophies to back it up. Speed on track does not equate to fun on the street, and we not to stop thinking that it does.


I won't bore you with it now but when I went from motorcycle to car I had a massive realisation: safety makes you complacent. on a bike your being and maintaining control is the only thing between you and having Tarmac for lunch. The Numbers war we see currently is a by-product of safety features imo.
I dont think you can appreciate the speed or capabilities of what you have built unless it's dangerous. You shouldn't be able to exceed your actual abilities due to having a computer doing half the work for you while managing TC/ABS/yougetmypoint and knowing that the cars got more airbags then the speedhunters comment section if you have a failure.
In short You shouldn't ever really feel safe. Safety breeds a cavalier attitude and an inability to deal with the situation when you do finally push it too far one day or something fails. You don't have the skills needed to drive out of the situation as you never developed the basics and this is
You should be aware if you really fuck up its going to mean death.


Said far more eloquently than I managed. I feel the safety features are in reality making people less capable as drivers. My first car was the most basic POS. No airbags, ABS, no TC no engine management... Power steering came from my arms and though I didn't drive much till recently, no synchromesh really to speak of... when I did find myself in bad situations (used to ride a bike unless the weather was really bad) I was much calmer then my friends at the time. Don't even get me started on automated cars.......




TarmacTerrorist yup, that's why at 500whp and no safety aides I keep the windows down and the suspension hard. Makes it feel terrifying to corner at 70, which it should be. Meanwhile land barge luxury M/AMGs dive into the same turns without a care in the world, only traction control keeping them on the road


Cars companies put a lot of effort into market research, so if they are making these kind of cars, it's because people are buying them. Fast, sporty cars with huge horsepower numbers are primarily status symbols for the well-off people who can afford to buy them new.
Levels of performance that would have been lethal in the 80's can be controlled relatively easily using modern electronics, brakes and tyres. These flatter the driver and keep them safe, but the trade off is raw thrills. High end sports car makers didn't deliberately build wild-handling cars (e.g. 911 Turbo) in the past, they were just limited by the technology of the time. If you want a fast-enough, well balanced, skinny-tyred car, you can still buy them (e.g. BRZ, MX-5), but the expensive end of the market has other priorities.


Used to drive a moderately modified Mazdaspeed 6. If you ever upgrade the clutch, don't ever get rid of the dual mass flywheel for a regular flywheel. It destroyed all the refinement in my car. Don't listen to all the b.s. about lighter flywheel means faster. It's irrelevant in a street car. Ditching the dual mass was my biggest mistake. But that MZR motor is incredible. In 2006 only Mazda n VW had direct injection turbo motors. Now look at em all. Definitely ahead of the curve. Mike knows his turbo Mustang runs basically the same motor as the Mazdaspeed twins


Pre64slider Agree and disagree here. I'll preface this by saying that I currently own a pretty-much stock Miata, and I've only ever owned one car that weighs more than 1000kg - I like light weight and nimble handling, rather than outright speed.
However, I disagree with the blanket assertion that today's cars are all about performance figures. Many are, and modern cars certainly offer higher performance than their older counterparts, but chassis and tyre technology has also improved alongside power. I don't just mean electronic safety nets either, but basic things like better geometry, greater structural rigidity, better tyres, much better damping etc.
While there's a degree of truth that a modern performance car will be travelling much faster before it lets go, the best performance cars also telegraph their intentions early and let go in a progressive way - so even though they're travelling faster, they're also easier to gather up much of the time. I've only driven a few modern high performance cars that actually felt "snappy", like you'd struggle to react if they suddenly relinquished grip. In some cases - hot hatchbacks, say - modern ones are much more progressive than their older counterparts despite having higher limits.
Electronics have undoubtedly made some seriously high performance cars easier to drive, and brought high performance within the reach of far more people, but I've driven dozens upon dozens of modern performance cars that are fun even when you're not absolutely flat out. Cars like the Porsche Cayman GT4 are a perfect example - great to drive fast, but also great to drive slow, thanks to fantastic feel and weight to the controls, a good driving position, a sense of low inertia - all the things that make lighter, simpler cars great to drive.


Yeah, I my 350z sounds like a dumptruck hauling rocks when im traffic. Those lightweight F/W's are a bitch.


Amen Mike, that was a nice read and i get your point. I never driven on a track, im happy with fast driving on my back roads here in germany.
And my weapon of choice, a V50 T5 Wagon! And still its so riddicolously fast and fun. I think i would have lesser fun in a more powerful vehicle, because lets be honest, not everyone of us is born a racedriver. And thinking about ripping a back road witha 500hp rearwheel drive wagon. well lets be honest, few people have the skill to do that.
(for my part i dont think i have the skills for that power figure)
still all argue which car is best, since on the autobahn they can go at it, in a straight line, with speed limited to 250km/h a speed which is achievable by medium powered diesel wagons. But yeah. 
I love AMG or M-Division Cars or RS Models from Audi, but sometimes i wonder if you need that "look at my mansausage" lingo. 
If one can afford a car, one can drive it hard, doesn't matter if its an old 55hp Ford Fiesta or a 350hp Mustang or whatever. My point is, where is the limit, does one need a wagon or a saloon with 600hp?
anyway im ranting, and missing my point.
Short, yes the horsepower race is awesome, but my two cents is that we are getting to a point where it is somewhat riddicolous


I want them to say, " Here's our new car, it's got an engine to make
power, some seats and stuff for you to sit in, and we threw in a
suspension for some handling.


Yep we have lost our way a little bit. Remember when 400hp was considered insane? It really wasn't that long ago. Now with Ecu tunes and turbo technology improved, achievable easily. I build Fraser sports cars here in New Zealand and while yes we have built cars with higher horse power figures, the ones that are the most fun are around 160hp to 200hp. We have a demonstrator car that car that customers can hire, the engine in that? 20 valve 4age toyota, 8000rpm all day, every gear change and nothing but big smiles from everybody. Fun is NOT dependant on power. I have had just as much fun in my old 626 wagon with good tyres at a max of 120kph as I have in cars with a lot higher capabilities and higher speeds. Sure the better car is better but in what context?


"Everyone likes the idea of a 500-hp sports sedan, but not everyone needs or can afford a 500-hp sports sedan"
This is the opening line for a review Car and Driver did on the new Alfa Giulia


I love my MR2. It really is a car that doesn't get any props, despite being awesome to drive. It is so tail happy that you have to learn how to drive mid-engined.


John Key NZ Love the MR2 as well. I envy you my friend.

To SH,
Toyota/Subaru is smiling at your article.  That was exactly what they concluded years ago then they designed the 86.  A little surprised that car isn't in the article.


I have a Mazda 1200 Ute which I have put a 12a bridgeport in and people tell me it is fast. It is not fast. It is SCARY. This is not due to it being fast though, it is due to the fact that if you crash it, you're dead. 

You don't get that in today's vehicles, unless you are doing properly dumb stuff, and as a result, you need more power. If you increase the safety or comfort, you need to increase its power for the same amount of excitement.



This article is so spot on,and this comes from a former R35 GT-R owner. Great, super fast car, but as I was never able to afford binning it on the track the only driving I did was on regular roads, and there the car was simply boring. It never made me smile because the way it felt - it felt numb, it felt not very special because it only operated at 60-70% of its capacity. Even pushing it really hard the artificial feel and all the computers just didn't make it fun. Now, I have removed the shackles of this ultra performance, number chasing game, and I am having SO MUCH FUN driving a Toyota 86, manual, bare bones - the only mods I think about is how to make it handle better and how to make it lighter. This little 86 made me fall in love with cars again, something that R35 never did. Fun forever, purist forever.


B to the Ruce Therein lies the main problem. In the past, there were way fewer exotic cars to be bought and you had real enthusiasts for the most part driving them who knew how to drive them (I'm talking about the 70's and 80's where all supercars were still M/T). Today there are many more people with disposable income buying crazy horsepower cars. A majority of these people are not hardcore enthusiasts and have way too much car in their hands for them to know what to do with. 

I'm not complaining just pointing out what I've noticed from going to car shows, auto shows, the track, weekend driving over the past 30 years.


MichaelGrayen Completely agree with that statement, but let's see what really sells: Mx-5, 86 and the Mustang. All these other hyper sportscars are not volume sellers nor money earners. I truly hope Mr Toyoda is reading these articles, would love to have a purist only next Toyota Supra.


Papamoeziz Exactly! reminds of a ride in an old fiat. I don't remember it being slow! The kid had no fear.


@lms ChuChu2 Hellcat


@RotaryNissan I love the comparison between Wangan Midnight and Initial-D. In initial-D Ryosuke even detunes his engine to better suit the road and opponents driving style. He drops like 100 ps when he races Takumi, then tunes it back up to 350 ps. So badass.


I'm in agreement that the 5% of cars that are made for people who love to look at cars, drive cars and are excited by them, but of that 5%, only 10% of those are affordable.That is 0.5% of the cars made world wide are attainable by the "average" person.

This is the lower cost advertising to sell more of the boring cars the other 95% want.Without the statitstics handy, saying the FCA have sold more Charger and Challengers because of the hellcat engine, than they would have if the 707hp option didn't exist isn't a stretch. This "skunk-works" system sold cars for companies like Subaru, Nissan, Mitsubishi and Mercedes, so it's not surprising that they are all getting in on it.

When watching the annual beauty pageant of cars, the stats portion of the show gets them invited, the skills competition allows some to shine, and others eliminated. It's the judges who determine who is the winner and who are the runners up. 

Every auto manufacturer is just trying to make cars to be invited to the pageant. The ones that are at the top are made of unobtainium, and will either sit in some showcase, or be converted to a Dubai cop car. The lower class winners will sell the lesser models of the brand, and are held up as examples of how good everyone's Engineering has become.

As great as the GT86, or MX-5 are for driving, not enough of us buy them to change the direction of the auto juggernaughts marketing and engineering teams for those 5% of the cars to be attainable fun variety.


John Key NZ It is a great car, and always was. I agree that it's odd it never seems to grace blogs like this one, but it was a wonderful drivers car.


Onecton My friend has spend ridiculous amounts of money on making his Mustang have 600hp / 580 lb-ft tourque. The verdict: he doesn't enjoy the car as much as when it made 400hp. The tires never get traction unless he shoes it with R-comp rubber, he has to slow excessively to corner without powersliding, and is always worried about crashing.

Less is more sometimes.


This article brought a tear to my eye, dammit! I've felt exactly this way about cars for years now, while having my opinion (and many others of the same mind) being buried under auto journalism that just blindly lops up every new techno-overload brought out by OEM's, and pretentious kids and fanboys arguing in comment sections (arguing over which car they've never driven is the FASTEST AND BEST THING EVAAAAA) telling us that we're just bitter traditionalists who hate progress. Practically all of them just blindly swallowing a big load from our corporate overlord's trouser snakes over how automation and sterile performance is the future.

Most people these days just don't understand how important the experience is, how cars can make us feel when we drive them. I'm all for the pursuit of speed, but it becomes pointless when you take the element of human improvement and skill out of it. What's the point in being the fastest if your input as a driver hardly mattered in what made the car go faster? And so I've always just shook my head seeing developments in the car world turn cars, just as Mike aptly described, into computers that become obsolete once the next faster more spec-sheet-tacular generation comes out that's got just that bit more power and faster shifting dual clutch flappy paddles, and could go around the Nurburging a second faster than the last one. Not one bit of soul, and not one bit of it that actually encourages drivers to bond with their cars and improve themselves as drivers.

I've always at least felt that the openness of the aftermarket scene to
maintaining that sense of appreciation in cars that goes beyond sheer performance
numbers has always safeguarded opinions like ours, whereas big auto companies continue to appeal to least common denominators and to armchair enthusiasts who're easily swayed by meaningless abstract data. So it's not
surprising for me that this article was posted on SpeedHunters. Thanks a million for writing this. This needed to be said at one point or another, and needs to be said more often.


Good read, and I definitely loved this line: "Speed is fleeting, but fun is forever". Another factor that I think gets lost in the "fastest car" discussion is: who's behind the wheel? Sure, we all think we are the best and fastest drivers, but we are also human.


You are quite right. My first car was a '68 Datsun 510 which I did not fully appreciate and had no idea why guys in 2002s were constantly challenging me.  Later, I had a '61 Morris Cooper (the other company that made the original Mini) with a transplanted Austin America 1275cc with all Cooper S internals; 68hhp and 1400 lbs wet.  Four years ago I sold my '91 MR2 Turbo which, by the time it left me, had over 400hp, stout suspension and Barbie doll brakes. I now have a '16 WRX.  I wanted to love this car but, the built-in protections, driver's aids if you wish, serve only to insulate me from the driving experience.  The car is capable of road behavior that surpasses a good driver's skill in an analog car, even a very good one.  Active yaw control, I hate it.  It's not me driving.  I'm sitting in the driver's seat, operating the controls, and the car is saying, "yes sir, at my earliest convenience".  The problem, as I see it, with brake biased yaw control is that it encourages the driver to attempt cornering maneuvers at increasingly greater velocities, because the car can do them.  At some point, the limit of adhesion will be exceeded, and it will be by surprise.  It will likely be environmental, slick surface, decreasing radius turn, anything, that just yesterday, in similar, but not identical, conditions, the car handled just fine.  This is not a car I want to drive on track in anger, as I did the MR2, which I time trialed regularly.  I knew when the car would break loose, at which end and by how much, because I was the one provoking over-the-limit behavior.  Freeway on-ramp oversteer was a favorite.  I know, the stability control can be disabled, then I'm left with a heavy, ponderous car, not a Lotus.   Of all these cars, not a complete list, just the fun ones, the Mini was the most rewarding to drive. No abs, no power steering or brakes or windows.  This was a car that highlighted the difference between knowing how to operate the controls and knowing how to drive.  The MR2 taught me that when we set out to improve a street car with more power and more suspension to handle that power, we are just raising the speed at which the unfortunate incident WILL happen.  Cars, particularly the car you drive on the street, should be driven on track, in a performance driving school,  so you can learn both the car's performance envelope and your own.  To drive a track prepped car for a weekend, and then step back into your own car is not particularly helpful.  Driving is a learnable skill, like tennis or dancing.  It is a skill that benefits from practice, city traffic is not the time or place for that. If all you want is transportation, driving skill is still an asset.  If you want to be a driver, skill is mandatory.
Jeff Radin
Venice, Ca


Great article. Yes I've been feeling like this about the car world for a while. That's why I've been driving the same car for 12 years. It's not about being the fastest but enjoying, building and improving on a chassis I fell in love with. As a matter of fact, I hope to have one for as long as I'm alive.


To hone logic, supported with open minds and a lot to learn. For logic that is already extensive, balance it with humility

Richard Autenzio

I am please that someone feels the same way I do. I wanted a very luxurious soft and smooth driving car and had to go back 20 years to buy a Jaguar X300 to give me what I wanted for traditional value for money. Even with all it offers, in performance, when I leave my drive way I have to travel at 50 k and when I reach the main road it's 60k and then I have to slow to 40k at schools and around the city. On the busy freeway I can only get up to short bursts of 100-110k but I can enjoy my smooth quiet soft ride surrounded by connolloy leather and walnut dash at any speed. I have new cars too but I don't find them any better than my classic Jag. I would say that probably this Jag is one of the last of the era that offered real value for money in traditional comfortable luxurious motoring. I have been looking at Bentleys too and to get the luxury I want, without over the top performance and gadgets I would have to go back to a 15 year old Arnage.
Richard Autenzio Australia


I know this is an old article but I think the premise is the same. I recent;y had the use of a 2017 Cayman S for the weekend. 350HP, 309fp torque makes for a very fun car but the speed was always fleeting and I felt that it really wanted to be on a track. For the street I bet the base model, which still gives you 300hp and 280ft lbs of torque...that's no slouch. I'll have to try one to know for sure but that's what I took away from it.