E60 M5, you were so hideous. Bulges and creases and you were so loud, and so stressful with your tiny gas tank. And now your smoother, better, lovelier replacement has me missing you.
The new M5 is categorically a better car that the one it replaces, with more range for each fill up, lower emissions, more power, and more tasteful, conservative styling. But whereas the last generation M5 was defined by a howling naturally-aspirated V10, the new car will forever be known as the one with the fake engine noise.
Confusingly, the technocratic, iDrive-dominated E60 M5 leads us to another discussion today where we questioned the need for any digital interface in automobiles. While we were talking about one of the most revolutionary cars of the past few decades, the Prius, NinetyQ chimed in to talk about his fiancée's family's 1952 Buick. it's not a "better" car than the Prius in any way, but its imperfection is something to appreciate.
It sparked an interesting conversation on what toys, exactly do we want in our cars. Even the author Neal Pollack chimed in. The whole discussion a great read, and I suggest you go through the whole thing, but I'll give you NinetyQ's comment to read, just to get you started.
I'm the exact opposite. I'd prefer to drive a classic like the '52 Buick Super my fiancée's family owns. They've let me drive it over the past couple years, and it is a great thing to behold, despite being all-original and 60 years old.
I don't care that it probably gets single-digit gas mileage, nor that its 0-60 time would probably best be measured with a calendar. I don't even mind the fact that the ride is so pillowy soft that it makes you feel like you're piloting a pontoon across a particularly wavy lake. If I were to be in a serious accident in that car, I'd likely be maimed or killed since there are no crumple zones, seat belts, airbags, or anything else we take for granted.
I would still drive that car on a daily basis if it were mine. The money I spend on gas could have easily been spent buying new parts for a more complicated newer car, and the parts would probably end up being more expensive. Despite the press, gas is still relatively cheap. For less than $10 in fuel, I could drive the old Buick into town, do all my errands, give hundreds of passers-by and fellow motorists something interesting to look at, and head back home to the countryside.
There is great satisfaction in driving a car that doesn't distract you to help you. Beeps and bright screens are there to attract your attention. Turning a metal knob on the dash until you hear the click of metal gliding across metal results in the radio coming on. But you might be confused at first, because you're going to have to allow the tubes to warm up for a little bit before you hear anything. If you're tuned in to static, you'll have to turn the other metal knob to select a new radio station, or press one of the B-U-I-C-K lettered mechanical presets. The turn signal stalk is metal and makes a satisfying click as you flick it into position. Moving the gear lever sounds like heavy, oiled metal moving around, selecting the gears.
If I were to daily drive that car, the only thing I would do is restomod it to improve the braking (unassisted drums all around, as it is) and maybe install some seat belts.
I'd rather deal with all of the inadequacies of that car in modern traffic than all the patronizing electronic nonsense a Prius would have to offer.
So where do you stand? What toys do you or don't you want in your car?
Photo Credit: Otis Blank