Take a look at the hero photo above. For the uninitiated or those who don’t care to look it up, the car on the left is a 2015 Ferrari F12 TRS, and the one on the right is a 1958 Ferrari 250 GT California LWB. The former was a special edition valued at around $4.2 million, while the latter was recently auctioned off for somewhere between $12-14 million. This raises an interesting question. Why would someone spend $8-10 million more dollars for a car that would lose to a Golf in a race, instead of a machine that only a handful of cars on earth could outrun? They could purchase a couple Chiron and a handful of LaFerrari for the difference in cost between the two. Not to mention they would still have the staggeringly good looking F12 TRS to boot.
Classic cars are awesome. Make no mistake; in some cases, they are literal works of art. Some helped define generations, some helped to sell a space program to a nation, and some were giant middle fingers to the establishment. Cool people drove them to cool places so they could do cool things. In many ways they were the embodiment of freedom, they were a ticket to wherever you wanted to go on 10 cents worth of fuel. And the destination was that of your choosing; no one could tell you different. They were also built by a person. You knew some fella called Jim or Buck left much of his blood and sweat on various bits of the drivetrain. The Ferrari pictured above, the 250, is one of the prettiest things ever created by a human being. Giacomo or Secchio put that together as if his mother’s life depended on it and it shows.
THE COCAINE-POWERED TESTAROSSA TOOK OVER FIVE SECONDS TO GET TO 60MPH.
The thing is, even though they are awesome things to behold, they aren’t very good. Think about it. Every time someone tells you about their “amazing” resto-mod, they compare it to a modern car. “They don’t make cars like this these days.” Or “You don’t see this on cars anymore!” Of course, they aren’t wrong, modern cars have safety features, and Bluetooth systems, and autopilot, and climate control. They get better than 5 MPGs and can get to freeway speeds in under an hour. They have engine displacements that match their power outputs; a one-litre Focus can get you 124 hp, where a classic Cadillac required at least six liters to do slightly better. It gets worse for the classic cars when we discuss sports cars or better. The first 911 to reach the US had a whopping 128 hp on tap, for a car that would cost $50,000 in today’s dollars. The cocaine-powered Testarossa took over five seconds to get to 60mph. It was all yours for $130,000 in 1984 or $306,000 in 2017 dollars.
Some will argue that these classics laid the foundations for modern cars to flourish. While this may be true in some cases, I don’t think it’s a universal truth. The ’80s happened, after all, and nothing that had been good pre-1980 survived the decade. Cars had to be reinvented for the post neon era. Recovery took a while, with only a few examples of great cars being built in the ’90s and early naughties, but even those, compared to their modern equivalents – were down on power, highly inefficient, and styled as if the design team was wearing glasses with the wrong prescription in them. Even Porsche which, as we know, makes changes at a pace that would make glaciers blush, makes a modern car that is in every way more desirable than a classic version.
We are at a crossroads right now in the auto world. This generation of the motor vehicle has more automated features than any other before it, with more and more cars driving themselves around. Your next car purchase could be the very last one that you can actually drive. I’m torn on the issue of autonomous cars, on the one hand, the tech is really cool, and the massive increase in safety is welcome. Flip that over, however, and you’re left with a near-sentient missile that removes the joy and spirit of motoring. This, then, is the difference between a modern and a classic car. A modern car is faster, more economical, more comfortable and leagues safer than the classics, or put another way, better in almost every way. But the classic wrings out more joy than a modern car. Until it breaks down, in a rainstorm, on your birthday, many, many, miles from home, the connection felt between you and a classic machine just can’t be replicated. Plus, modern cars are boring, no one is going to want to remember their CRV once they have gotten rid of it, even though it is many times better than a Willys Jeep, which they will remember for eternity.
Originally posted @ThreeInSeven on DriveTribe