Welcome to Must Read, where we single out the best stories from around the automotive universe and beyond. Today we've got reports from Petrolicious, Autoextremist, OppositeLock, and The New Yorker.
We paused yesterday because the only Must Read stories were about the bombing, many of which we'd already linked to. Also, we were glued to the televisions like many of you were.
928 Ways To Kill The Porsche 911 – Petrolicious
Today we have the Porsche 928 on our mind, and you'll probably see why soon. We also have ledes on our mind. A lede is the intro paragraph (or paragraphs) in journalistic prose. All the pieces today have great ledes or are about openings of some form. Here's one where the lede is just smack-dab-good.
A world without the Porsche 911 is not a place I like to imagine, but to paraphrase Hunter S. Thompson, you’ve got no place as a writer if you’re not willing to indulge the occasional dark thought. So here goes: no iconic uber-beetle, that unmistakable silhouette honed by decades of aerodynamic refinement no more than a dream, the gruff, off-beat idle and yowling, warbling top-end scream of that fabulous pancake six merely an echo from an alternate plane of reality, that gently bobbing front end, living, ethereal steering, initial understeer and physics-defying post-apex traction no more corporeal than an emotion. This 911-less world is a cold and colorless place for anyone with petrol in the blood, a nightmare scenario for those of us who love great cars like others love the sun, so we should all be thankful that Porsche never had their way—they never killed the 911.
The Penalty Of (Bad) Leadership – Autoextremist
I'm never fully sure how full of shit Peter De Lorenzo is. I often find myself shaking my head up and down in agreement as I read what he says . Other times I'm shaking my fist. Today's attack on GM CEO Dan Akerson has a lot of both, but it also includes the opening paragraph from one of the great, Draper-esque bits of ad copy. It's worth a read just for that story.
“In every field of human endeavour, he that is first must perpetually live in the white light of publicity. Whether the leadership be vested in a man or in a manufactured product, emulation and envy are ever at work. In art, in literature, in music, in industry, the reward and the punishment are always the same. The reward is widespread recognition; the punishment, fierce denial and detraction. When a man’s work becomes a standard for the whole world, it also becomes a target for the shafts of the envious few…”
The Diffuser Revolution – Oppositelock
Speaking of openings, what about the one at the end of a car? Here's a long take on the rear diffuser from OppositeLock, which is something most of us probably don't think much about.
For decades, rear diffusers have brought Formula 1 cars back to earth, and now these clever bits of aerodynamic trickery have found an everlasting home adorning today's hypercars. I love the idea of a rear diffuser, especially since aerodynamics are still considered to be somewhat of a dark art; this means that no automobile manufacturer will dream up the same design. Each hypercar manufacturer has different ideas on how to craft their diffusers for the greatest aerodynamic effect.
The Martian Chroniclers – The New Yorker
This is just a bang up lede.
There once were two planets, new to the galaxy and inexperienced in life. Like fraternal twins, they were born at the same time, about four and a half billion years ago, and took roughly the same shape. Both were blistered with volcanoes and etched with watercourses; both circled the same yellow dwarf star—close enough to be warmed by it, but not so close as to be blasted to a cinder. Had an alien astronomer swivelled his telescope toward them in those days, he might have found them equally promising—nurseries in the making. They were large enough to hold their gases close, swaddling themselves in atmosphere; small enough to stay solid, never swelling into gaseous giants. They were “Goldilocks planets,” our own astronomers would say: just right for life.