As current automotive forms are purged of individuality to serve the causes of efficiency and safety, the essential flaws that define some of our favorite cars are on the way out. Here are what Jalopnik readers picked out as ten "bad ideas" that are indispensable to a car's character.
Welcome back to Answers of the Day — our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day's Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It's by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!
Photo Credit: Ben Jenkins
10.) Viper side exhausts
Suggested By: Robert Mintun
Why it's vital: As the modern day Shelby Cobra, the Dodge Viper sported side exhausts since day one. They don't just give a loud and sometimes flaming reminder of the car's rough nature, but they also keep the massive heat made by that V10 right where you put your leg when you get out. Ever-tighter noise regs will probably make side exhausts a thing of the past, but until then the Viper will happily surprise-burn you like the mean bastard it is.
Photo Credit: Steve Sewell
9.) Subaru's backwards-facing jump seats
Suggested By: beercheck
Why it's vital: While there are many like me who have indelible memories of sitting far out in the back of a station wagon, or even those who recall the strangeness of rumble seats, there has never been a strange seats / car combo like the pickup-bed-mounted seats on the Subaru BRAT. Though some remember them as a way to get around LBJ's Chicken Tax, the BRAT's seats look best as a stylistic element of the car's free-living compact pickup image. In today's battened-down, he-man truck ethos, the little exposed BRAT seats look great compared to those in clean, contained crew cabs.
Photo Credit: ASR Photos
8.) Reliant Robin rides on three wheels
Suggested By: wmg
Why it's vital: Three-wheelers are as old as cars themselves, but Reliant's Robin was metaphorically launched (Richard Hammond literally launched one more recently) to pay lower motorcycle tax rates in the UK. But unlike old Morgans with two wheels up front and one in the back, the Robin went for one to steer and two in the rear. Drive a three-wheeler with the right configuration — like the new iteration of the Morgan 3 Wheeler — and you'll be in automotive bliss. Drive a Robin, and you'll be relying on yourself for rubbin'.
Photo Credit: Sludgeulper
7.) The Mazda Rotary
Suggested By: dimebag dimen
Why it's vital: Part of what makes Mazda Mazda are its like-nobody-else Wankel engines. From torqueless trucks to screaming RX-8s and all kinds of RX-7s in between, there is something wonderfully eccentric about the free-spinning rotary. The writing has been on the wall since the 1973 Oil Crisis, and with the RX-8 now dead the continuation of the age of the rotary is in jeopardy.
Photo Credit: Mazda
6.) Sticking an engine in the middle of a hatchback
Suggested By: toyotasupraman
Why it's vital: Hatchbacks are built for practicality. Ripping out the back seats and filling up the whole back half of the car with an engine is not a very space-efficient way to package a drivetrain. If you're going racing and you need to homologate a road car-lookalike rally car, like the Puegeot 205 T16 above, or if your company just wants some enthusiast buzz like with the Nissan Micra 350sr or the Renault Clio V6, then it's a perfect idea.
Photo Credit: Peugeot
5.) The Corvair's swing axle
Suggested By: jetstar88
Why it's vital: There's a part of us that loves the VW / Mercedes-esque rear suspension of the Corvair. We kind of like the idea of spinning off curvy roads to our fiery demise, and the car's rear-engine / swing axle combo is only too ready to help. The Unsafe At Any Speed suspension isn't really what killed the Corvair (that duty fell more to the low-priced Falcon and Chevy II) but the two remain forever linked, for better or for worse.
Photo Credit: Don O'Brien
4.) Morgan's wood chassis
Suggested By: SennaMP4
Why it's vital: The Morgan Motor Company may have just forgotten to stop making cars from the 1930s, but that's fine with us so long as the still have flexing, pseudo-suspension frames underneath their old school bodypanels. Morgan is moving towards efficiency-minded aluminum, so this may be another worn-out automotive tech to be relegated to the history books.
Photo Credit: Brian Snelson
3.) Jeep live axles
Suggested By: SarojiniCairns
Why it's vital: They may be shit on the road, but a solid axle is cheap, simple, and great for offroading. That's what Jeeps are all about, right? As electronic dynamic traction control safety stability programs get better, crude and eccentric mechanical solutions may become a thing of the past, so enjoy your real Jeeps while you can.
Photo Credit: Bryce Womeldurf
2.) Engine over the front wheels
Suggested By: wolverine001
Why it's vital:Audi builds its cars like reverse 911s. The engine sits completely in front of the front axle, which is great for highway driving, for packaging, and for interior space. It doesn't work great for Walter Röhl, or for everyday BMW hoonage, but that's not the point. Audi could do well with sticking to its offbeat quirks, but as engines creep back a few millimeters with every new S4 and S5, we're not holding out much hope.
Photo Credit: Audi
1.) The Mustang's live axle
Suggested By: snapoversteer
Why it's vital: Mustangs are about cheap powerslides and burnouts. Crude but easy-to-build live axles make that happen. Independent rear suspension may have been the stuff of the future half a century ago, but we don't want it messing up the everyman hoonmobile that is the Mustang.
Photo Credit: Jerry Edmunson