One of the great things about the internet is that if you can take a pair of mechanical arms and somehow connect them to a 18" high pile of mulch, that pile can type opinion articles for a website. Which seems to be precisely what's happened here, in this Car Connection article about why sports cars are now irrelevant.
Well, to be more precise, the article is 4 Reasons Sports Cars Are Now Irrelevant, because the internet loves lists. And, to be fair, this article does make some good points, with only one exception: this article makes no good points whatsoever.
Seriously, it's rare I've encountered something so beautifully, comprehensively, joyously wrong. I can vividly imagine the author, Richard Read (who seems to hate fax machines — sweet, innocent fax machines) happily unscrewing the top of his head and gingerly placing his brain in a bubbling nutrient broth just prior to writing this. And then giving it a couple affectionate pats. It clearly wasn't needed.
Let's go through this crapwich so I can show you exactly what I'm talking about. Right off the bat, there's plenty there:
Porsche will unveil a new model this month — one that would've been almost unthinkable a decade ago.
It's a compact crossover called the Macan, and when it arrives in showrooms in early 2015, it's expected to cost around $40,000.
Paired with its larger, $75,000 sibling, the Cayenne, Porsche SUVs might outsell the company's better-known sports cars for the first time in history.
So what he's getting at here is that Porsche's small SUV is about to come out, and that's relevant because he claims it marks a big change where these SUVs will outsell Porsche's sportscars. Which I get would be big news, if it hasn't already been that way for a long-ass while.
In fact, his very first line is wrong with a really remarkable degree of precision — the event he says would be unthinkable a decade ago actually happened almost exactly a decade ago when the Porsche Cayanne SUV was introduced.
And, Porsche's SUV sales are already outselling all their sports cars, Macan or no — this is nothing new. Read extrapolates from this bad data by saying
And if stalwarts like the Porsche 911 can't keep up in today's booming market...well, that looks a lot like the death of the sports car.
... which makes no sense. He's assuming a lot here, and it's all wrong. From the idea it's new that Porsche's SUVs have been the company's bread and butter, to the inane idea that sports car relevancy has to do with sales volumes — none of those are true.
In fact, you could argue that it's precisely because Porsche is willing to debase themselves (no offense, Cayanne/Macan folks, I'm just being dramatic) by making SUVs so they can keep on making 911s and Caymans and 918s then sports cars must be deeply, profoundly relevant. Relevant enough that a company will still want to make them despite the fact that there's not nearly as much money to be made.
If a company — a cold, calculating, greedy company — is willing to keep building sports cars without regard for the bottom line, then you can be damn well sure there's some relevancy there.
We haven't even gotten to his numbered list! Let's do that, now.
Okay, his first reason is
1. Tinkering is no longer possible.
... and that's bullshit. In fact, tinkering may be getting even more possible. Sure, it's not the same as it was when we were swapping carbs on a Slant 6 with a hickory stick and our teeth, but if this dipshit spent five minutes Googling he'd see that tuner culture and tinkering culture are alive and very well.
Tweaking or swapping ECUs, for example, is easy and incredibly effective. That's sure as hell tinkering, even if it's using code instead of wrenches. There's turbo kits being created for BRZs, there's backyard guys doing crazy engine swaps and putting bodies on upside down, and more.
Plus, with car computer network busses starting to get open standards, like what Ford's been trying out with OpenXC, the level of tinkering is only going to grow.
It's not the same tinkering as it was back in the '60s and '70s, sure. But it sure as hell is tinkering.
Okay, on to number two:
2. Driving is no longer fun.
That's your own damn fault. And, maybe it would be more fun if you tried out one of the sports cars you condemned to irrelevancy. Has this guy driven an FR-S/BRZ around? Or a Fiat 500 Abarth, or a Ford Fiesta ST? There's all kinds of fun to be had in that 30-60 MPH legal-enough-in-cities range, just in the course of your normal daily errands.
Hell, he even says
Nowadays, just finding an open road is a chore. For most of us, "driving" involves snail-paced commutes and clogged Costco parking lots.
Sure, if you live in the middle of a big city, it's congested. But if you want driving fun, drive 20-30 minutes out from wherever the hell you are and I'm sure you can find a road that's at least a little fun. It's less of a chore than doing anything at Costco, believe me.
I live in LA — arguably the most traffic congested city in the country — and I can find fantastic driving roads within 15 minutes of almost anywhere in the city. Canyon roads in Malibu, the 2 up to the Angeles Crest highway, Mulholland Drive, even roads in Griffith Park. If you think driving is no longer fun, you're not trying.
3. Cars are no longer novel.
First off, how old is this guy? Sure, I suppose any Horseless Carriage was a real petticoat-dropper when you'd stop to fill up with Hayless Feed at the Combustibile Spirits Station back in aught-four, but now?
Seriously, what era of automotive novelty is he referring to? Happily, he tells us!
When James Dean crashed his Porsche 550 Spyder in 1955, sports cars — in fact, all cars — were still a bit novel.
Cars were novel in the mid 1950s? Maybe on, oh, Easter Island, but in the US? Oh, wait — he's right. I forgot about how popular those gallop-in movies were for teens to go to and make out in their saddles, or the rise of the horse-in restaurant.
This couldn't possibly be more wrong. In fact, in 1955, GM became the first company to make a billion dollars in profit. And I'm pretty sure they weren't selling horses. The 1950s was smack dab in the middle of the era where the automobile was having its greatest transformative effect on how we lived.
Cars were everywhere, and the one true thing about his statement that cars are no longer novel is that this has been true for many, many decades. Decades packed full of sports cars.
Okay, last one:
4. Gas is no longer good.
This is irrelevant. I see what he's getting at, ecological concerns and efficiency are a big deal. And I totally agree— these are important factors. The article states, in reference to sports cars,
... typically poor fuel economy is just as decadent as their luxe leather seating.
... which sounds like something somebody would say if their entire research into sports cars was limited to a found 1979 copy of Hot Rod. Except for that "luxe leather" part. I don't know where the hell that came from.
Gas-guzzlerhood is just not true of modern sports cars, generally. Sure, they're not what you'd buy if fuel economy was your top concern, but they're by no means awful anymore. Take the car he was predicting the passing of from the beginning, the Porsche 911. Let's compare that to a common 4-door sedan like the Nissan Maxima, which has a similar sized engine:
Porsche 911 MPG: 20 city, 28 highway, 23 combined.
Nissan Maxima MPG: 19 city, 26 highway, 22 combined.
Porsches now even have stop-start functionality. And there's plenty of other sports cars that get way better mileage than you'd expect. And that doesn't even begin to address the upcoming generation of electric sports cars, which absolutely will happen.
This one's busted, too.
So, let's recap: this article is lazy bullshit.