In praise of slower cars

‘Ere ‘ere.  What’s occurrin’?  Jimbo’s going a bit mad.  He’s banging on about slow cars this week.  What’s wrong with the fella?

I’ll tell you what’s wrong.  My fast cars are costing me an arm and a leg, but the slow ones are giving me more fun.  Something needs changing in Jimbo’s world..

Take the NSX.  Pretty quick car in its day, 20 years ago, and it’ll still do 160mph whilst feeling rock solid (in theory of course, officer).  But I’ve just had to have a new exhaust put on it, which cost 3 and a half grand (!), then I went out for a pizza and whacked a chunk out of the spoiler trying to get over a speed hump.  At one mile-per-hour.  And then last week the clutch gave up while I was joining a packed M25, so I had to limp home without using it.

NSX's chinned spoiler

The NSX's chinned spoiler after clobbering a speed hump     (click to enlarge)

When I take it on track, it’s a bit of an animal … not particularly quick by today’s standards (a Focus RS would toast it) but it still holds its own.  But for some reason I don’t feel I can properly fling it around like I can with the shaggers, because it’s a bit special.  So I can’t really get the most out of it.

Now don’t get me wrong – it’s a great car and I do enjoy driving it, but is it worth that much money and pain?  Is it bollocks.

Now the Mitsubishi.  This is an Evo VI RS Monte Carlo special edition, of which only six were ever made.  It has a little over 300bhp and, Jesus Mary and flapping hellcats, it’s properly quick.  It accelerates so manically that you can only hold each gear for about a second and a half before you smack into the rev limiter.  And it never, ever wheelspins.  You can dial up five thousand revs, dump the clutch and it just reaches forward, grabs the sky and yanks it towards you.  I doubt even a 458 could keep up with it around the back roads.

But.  It’s on its third engine.  It’s now developed an oil leak so it’s off the road.  It costs me four figures in insurance every year and it has to be serviced every four and a half thousand miles.  And it still breaks down.

On top of all that, the Evo has a different problem to the NSX.  I have no qualms chucking this one about, because you can do truly bonkers things with it and it’ll still go round the corner without killing you.  That’s the problem.  It’s too good.  It’s too fast.  If I were ever to use all the performance and then crash, they’d still be finding bits of Jimbo in the woods six months later.

On track that isn’t an issue, but it’s still too good.  You can sail into a corner waaaaaay too fast on the brakes – all that will happen is that it’ll nonchalantly scrub the speed off, wag the tail and pachoo down the next straight like nothing had happened.  That’s colossal fun the first few times, but it gets old very quickly.  And you do tend to rip off bits of tyre in the process.

So it’s comically quick.  Is that worth it?  Cockfosters is it.

Next chapter in the fast-car bashing saga.  Some time ago I learned never to impulse-buy a car when I acquired a TVR Cerbera.  That was another ridiculously quick car.  I ran it down Bruntinghorpe runway once, with the speedo wobbling between 160 and 200mph and still rising when I had to choose between braking and dying.  Mind you, I wasn’t convinced at the time that those two things were mutually exclusive.  Jesus that was a bad car.  I’m sure it sat outside overnight plotting how to kill me.

Was the brute speed of that car worth the cost and pain?  Not even in a world so surreal that Piers Morgan can make a career in television.

Compare that to the slowies.  If you know anything at all about driving-for-fun, you’ll already know the Mk1 Elise is just about as good as it gets.  It isn’t quick; it only has 118bhp, which is the approximate power of a gnat farting.  My old 306 GTi-6 would lap most tracks in the same time as the Elise.  But there’s magic happening while it does it.  There’s no excess weight to drag around – it’s under 700 kilos – and so it feels like it’s going fast, even when it isn’t.  It’s completely brilliant, and it’s soooo much cheaper to run than either of the aforementioned beasties.

Further down the scale, we have the car that’s led me down this road in the first place.  A scabby old Eunos Roadster (MX5 to you) with the interior stripped out.  Regular readers will know the epiphany I had when I first ran it on crappy concrete ditchfinder tyres.  The joy of properly leaning on a car and still not breaking the speed limit is an exquisite sensation.  The childhood glee of poking the throttle on a wet roundabout and riding out the slide without endangering anything is one that never, ever gets old.  I want to build myself a roundabout and slide round it until the petrol runs out.  Not just until the car runs dry.  Until all the petrol runs out and everybody else is running their cars on mashed sparrows and moonbeams.  Oh yes.

So at the moment I’m experiencing an inversely proportional relationship between cost and fun.  The MX5 is worth less than a third of what the new exhaust cost for the NSX.  And it’s ten times more fun.

There can be no argument.  The quick ones have to go.

2 thoughts on “In praise of slower cars

  1. Pingback: Jimbo’s mid-life crisis | Team Moo-Moo

  2. Pingback: Spa days are supposed to be relaxing | Team Moo-Moo

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