One of the most recurring issues with pretty much all of us at CC is our tendency to…ah…live in the past. Well, that’s largely why we’re here, right? And our memories of how our cars performed, ran, handled and otherwise did their job were created in the context of their times. We most of all remember the specific qualities of our cars that stood out relatively at the time, like a jet-smooth smooth ride, a super powerful high-revving engine, superb handling, infallible reliability, etc., that gave our favored cars real or perceived superiority then. But do we tend to transpose those qualities on them today, even in relative terms? There’s nothing like getting into an older car now, for a reality check, like my recent drives in the ’63 Galaxie or the ’67 Corvette to put things in perspective. I’ll be writing up my drive in the ‘Vette in more detail soon. Here’s an example from one of our recent COALs:
I started thinking about this a couple of weeks ago, when rplaut wrote the following about his 280Z (and I sincerely hope he doesn’t mind me using his words as an example, but it so well illustrates what we undoubtedly all do here):
Thinking now about how the 1978 Z handled compared to my current 1999 NB Miata, I believe the Z was pure power and thrust with better straight line performance; the engine seemed un-endingly strong.
Well, the 280Z’s 2.8 L six’s 145 or 149 hp peaked at 5600 rpm. The NB Miata’s BP-4W 1.8 L four makes its 140 hp at 6500 rpm. There’s no doubt that the Miata’s engine is substantially higher revving. And there’s also no doubt that the Miata would run circles around (or straight lines from) the 280Z. The NB Miata’s average 0-60 time is 7.5 seconds; the significantly heavier 280Z’s is 9.3 seconds.
The point is that comparing cars from our memories to cars in the present is a very real challenge. Do we remember our favorite cars through rose colored glasses? It’s certainly something I struggle with. How about you?