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Sports Cars - The Definitive Discussion

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  • I'm not sure you're picking up what I'm putting down, Shiftmeister.

    If that's the kick you were on from the beginning, then you should've said so. First of all, I doubt Hondas will ever possess the soul of Ferrari at all. I've never questioned the almighty Ferrari mystique. Not in the slightest. I was merely stating that Honda possesses the resources to produce a Ferrari fighter, cachet aside (I hope I don't have to say it again).

    However, when the downplaying one of the greatest sports cars in the world occurs, it reeks of a blatant refusal to acknowledge the car for what it is. It seems as if this perspective is looking down from the top, sipping wine (hehe), laughing at the S2000 perspective.

    To put the effort of Honda and the S2000 on the same level of the Miata is a slanted view of the automotive landscape. True, the ethos behind the two is the same, but that only reinforces how correct the Japanese have on what true sports cars are.

    Don't take it the wrong way, as to say that the other sports car makers in the world have the definition wrong. They don't. It's just that the MX-5 and S2000 have a unity about them that really screams "sports car" more so than it speaks of their individual identities. When I drove the S2000 with the top down and the engine humming and screaming (depending on my preference) along the Florida coast, the thought came to mind that, "this is a great sports car." During the rental of a 360 in Miami--engine screaming or humming depending on how I felt--I thought, This is an awesome Ferrari."

    It's just what separates the two. The Honda staying true to all of the elements of a sports car while offering a user-friendly interface, the Ferrari further evolving the elements of it's own great sports cars with each generation, getting more user-friendly with each generation.

    I'm going to repeat, this isn't to say that anyone else has it wrong. I'm just speaking from the perspective of a person in the market for both cars, but holds value over cachet as priority (which is why I'm also in the market for a Ferrari). Shifty is merely the opposite and that's fine.

    It'd be nice if the host of "The Definitive Discussion" had a more holistic view of the automotive landscape. But the fact that this is a forum, and the host doesn't have that view, makes for awesome debate. Thanks, Shifty.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,647
    I'm not the host here actually, just visiting.

    I'm not sure where we're going with this at all, so maybe others have something they'd like to say?
  • Just a difference in 2 opinions. Nothing more. As long as I'm me, and you're you, this debate is perpetual. No need to stretch it out anymore.
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    Well they say the best way to speed is via RPM. However part of the RPM mystique is the noise that comes with it. Noise is macho. Lack of comfort is macho. You get a enough of both with the S2000. Cue… pound chest, yodel like Tarzan… think… my car is a Ferrari.

    In defense of the bargain darling… I think the S2000’s RPM takes you into the testosterone zone. When you are sticking it into the torque peak it is screamin-mimi fun, even if you have to parry with it as the Edmunds reviewer put it. And you nearly have to redline it because peak torque and redline are not too far apart. So the Ferrari… I mean the S2000… definitely has the machismo factor.

    I also disagree with any notion that S2000 styling is Japanese-derivative. In my opinion it’s one of the best-looking sports cars around and the newer 2.2 interior is drop-dead gorgeous. As far as cachet I could care less. The smallness of any sports car plus the inherent qualities are enough for me. Just don’t make it ugly like a Z4 and you have a friend here. Spinning an S2000’s engine with wind in hair goes a long way with any true sports car lover. Impressing the valets and snobs? They can kiss my cantaloupes. Now, go easy with this cachet business or I’ll spoof you again with Eustace Tilly. Sports cars are mostly about the elements and the roller coaster ride.

    What I want to know is, what is everyone going to do when electric motors come to the performance world? They have maximum torque at 1 RPM, maintain it throughout the rev range and can spin up to 12K. The problem? No noise. Not very macho.

    ;-)
  • speeds2muchspeeds2much Posts: 164
    Aha, designman pinpoints the Ferrari-S2000 connection via wailing RPMs. I wholeheartedly agree. (Of course for an extra 200 grand one gets a better sound).

    ...but what an interesting question regarding electric motors. I suppose it depends on how silent the motor and overall car is, and what sounds replace the sounds of the motor. Imagine the paradigm shift for the space age: instead of barnstorming, it's space flight. There's no sound in space, and no air resistance, making for incredible smooth power delivery and supersonic speeds. So what would an electric sports car deliver? Ungodly torque and acceleration along with maybe a little sound of the elements, wind and road, and the sound of the clock ticking inside like the old Bentley ads.....sign me up! :shades:
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,647
    ELECTRIC sports cars? Well, I guess, as long as it is somehow MECHANICAL or machine-like. I mean, even the F-16 pilot must like the noise and the stress on his body and the danger. At least those things can't be missing. But you don't need a piston engine particularly, although personally I'd miss it. Who wants a sports car that sounds like an elevator going up and down. 1925 cars are still fun, I hope 2025 cars are too.

    I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss cachet as irrelevant in the human psyche. The mere fact that owners of less expensive or less exclusive cars are so self-conscious about it speaks volumes about its enormous pressure in the marketplace. I sure lust for cars I can't have. Ditto fashion, electronics, you name it. It's like the man who spends all day telling us he doesn't care about money. He doth protest too much.

    Cachet is almost cave-man stuff. He with the biggest sword, the most glittering crown, the mightiest steed. Sure, it's a perfect object for ridicule, but there's tremendous power in it and some carmakers thrive on it and strive to own it for their products. Why after all, did Toyota become Lexus? Lexus has cache, Toyota doesn't, and you can't say Lexus is just a fluffy little nothing of people's vanity. There's a stark reality to cache. Also, rich car enthusiasts are not collectively stupid. A Ferrari is worth every penny you pay for it. What you DO with it is another story--that's not the car's fault. You can hitch a thoroughbred horse to a pony cart but don't call it a nag.
  • I adore the idea of a zero emissions sports car. I'd have fewer complaints from my significant other (she's an environmentalist to the nth power), while still being able to get my thrills.

    I've loved the T Zero since it debuted some years back. Not sure about the noise thing, though. It sounds like a golf cart (not that I haven't drag raced a couple of those, hehe). On track days my eyes are glued to the tach as if my life depended on it.

    I could see a powerful electric motor further defining a GT or a luxury car's mission, but it's harder to realize in a true sports car.

    In addition, the range would be the thing keeping such a wonderful car out of my driveway. 100 miles at 60mph? That figure regulates it to being a weekender.

    It'd be something very different to acclimate to.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,647
    I bet you'll see a larger electric/gas hybrid GT car pretty soon...I can't imagine current hybrid technology fitting into a Miata, but I could see it in a large fast GT coupe of some type.

    Personally in a full electric sports car, I'd need at least 150 mile range. The problem is that the idea of "sportscar" , as in full-on acceleratioin (why else would you drive one, to putter?), isn't so compatible with electric cars and how they work---yeah you get the torque from the get-go, but you drain the system pretty fast, too.
  • speeds2muchspeeds2much Posts: 164
    Shifty, what would the weight distribution be in a hybrid GT? As far as sports cars and GTs go, I wonder if the hybrid platform is compatible. A low center of gravity and 50/50 weight distribution along with good steering feel would go a long way toward making a hybrid GT work, but if it's rear or front-heavy, that wouldn't be so hot.
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    Actually I was alluding to hybrids. Lexus claims F1 teams are interested in the technology but it is not sanctioned by the F1 governing body.

    http://en.lexus-hybrid.com/benefits/performance.html

    “ELECTRIC sports cars? Well, I guess, as long as it is somehow MECHANICAL or machine-like. I mean, even the F-16 pilot must like the noise and the stress on his body and the danger.”

    Needless to say hybrids are as mechanical as it gets what with dual power sources, planetary gear sets and engineering/optimizing power and transmission for performance. Ditto pure electric. Hybrid success will mostly depend on advances in battery technology. Fascinating challenges here. I have no doubt they will be pushing the limits though. They have to, the world’s gas tank will be running on empty; estimates say 30-100 years.

    I’d like to see where CVTs go. On paper it has to be the fastest form of transmission. I understand there are problems making them strong enough for massive amounts of torque.

    I think today’s fighter jets are pretty quiet in the cockpit, and the faster they go the quieter they get due to the sound/speed relationship. Yeah, g forces on the body are something else. Take a ride in a P-51… there’s your noise. Might as well strap your head to a Marshall amp while a hard rock band is playing. WWII pilots came home with hearing problems. That said, there’s nothing like the sound of those 1600hp 12 cyl Rolls Royce Merlin engines roaring across the sky.

    I love speculating where tech is going but I guess I’m glad Scottie can’t beam us up yet. No fun getting there.

    Speeds2much… I think they’re working hybrid into the ideal front/rear/vertical balance. As always total weight is the challenge. Internal combustion engine, electric motor, batteries… sounds like an engineering nightmare for performance cars. Who cares how fast they can go? Gotta toss it! There ya go, you just gave me an idea. Maybe I’ll change my screen name to Corners2much.

    ;-)
  • speeds2muchspeeds2much Posts: 164
    I love speculating where tech is going but I guess I’m glad Scottie can’t beam us up yet. No fun getting there.

    lol...I agree. That kind of technology looks cool on Star Trek, but please, let the next guy be the one who actually tests out the darned thing. I read once that it would take an unrealistic amount of energy to accomplish this feat, anyway, but I'm not sure whether that's just geek talk.

    Back to the definitive sports car discussion, though. Imagine a future where sports "cars" could leave the garage, then the atmosphere and then race around in space. Now THAT would be a sport. Speed limits? I doubt it. :P
  • beall1beall1 Posts: 1
    I tested one and had the same problem. Somebody told me that you can have the seats made specially for you, but I do not know how much.

    What, they only mak the car for short people?
  • I think the Porsche approach would be the most logical way to properly execute an electric vehicle. All of the elements that have made almost every iteration of the 911 such a dynamically complete vehicle would further communicate the overall design ethic of the vehicle.

    Centering the weight either over or behind the rear axle yields huge dynamic advantages over having the horse in front of the carriage. I'm sure most members are aware of the inate handling benefits of of the mid-rear and rear engine. The lower polar moment of inertia allowing quicker transitions and such. Not to mention the subterranian center of gravity levels some of these cars have achieved in recent years.

    As far as acceleration is concerned, if the static weight distribution of any given vehicle is rear heavy by more than 55% (read 45/55 front/ rear,or more), then the dynamic weight distribution under acceleration places about a third or more of the total weight over the rear wheels. This means that fewer horses are needed to accelerate the car at the same rate as an identically geared front engined vehicle with the same weight/power ratio.

    In the braking department, the reverse distribution allows maximum stopping power by evenly loading the front and rear brakes. Gotta love it.
  • xkssxkss Posts: 722
    check out this video of an LS7 being built

    LS7 video
  • Hey xk. How nice would it be to have a lightweight, mid-engined coupe weighing in at about 2400-2500lbs. powered by a Powertec V8?

    I'm not sure if everyone's apprised as to the specs of this wonderful little powerplant. What I've learned so far is that using a bespoke block and fuel injection, this 203lb flat crank V8 employs heads from the Suzuki GSX1300RR, also known as the Hayabusa. The results are impressive.

    360bhp@10 500rpm from 2.6 liters
    11.0:1 compression ratio
    180 degree crankshaft
    Dry sump lubrication

    Check out the site and post your comments.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,647
    Sounds like great fun on a track but a real pain in a street car in the real world. You'd get the same complaints that were levelled against the original S2000, only much worse, and where in the world will you find the high octane fuel? I'm a little wary of HP numbers posted at 10,500 rpm. Makes me wonder what I'm going to be doing at 2,500 rpm on a city street. It'd be like driving a Ninja in traffic don't you think?
  • starrow68starrow68 Posts: 1,142
    The guy who owns Radical West, the distributor for Radicals out here was driving one at Thunderhill yesterday. It was just about the fastest thing on the track but not quite. They did an exhibition race after lunch and had a split grid for the, I think, 8 Radicals in front and then ten or more more common vehicles that started about 200 yards back. The Porsche caught and passed each of the Radicals in turn and picked off John Morris in the V8 Hayabusa twin on the last of a ten lap race, 30 miles. Impressive driving, but I don't know the specs on the 911 except it had a huge double wing on the rear. Fun to watch. They were both very fast cars. BTW, the Radical is the right hand picture on the Powertec header of the four vehicles shown.

    Funny thing about the little V8, in the pits it has a supurb sound, deep and rumbles, but going by on the straight it just screams. Also FWIW, an IMSA Mustang with about 700hp passed most of the Radicals as well, and it sounds great anywhere.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,647
    it screams probably because it's a cammer and also probably doesn't have massive piston weight, so revs up fast. That's one reason I hate to see modified V8s running on the track with cars of other classes...you can't hear anything except those monsters. It's like NASCAR or something---I want to hear the other engines, too. It took me about 6 different mufflers before I could get a sound out of my car I could live with. The Ansa I have does a nice job..it sounds like a German Mustang.
  • Hopefully, the car would be light enough for torque not to be a huge issue. I'd factor in a lightweight flywheel and underdrive pulleys to allow engine speed to pick up where a weak low end left off.

    What was the model designation of the Porsche you saw, Starrow? I recently saw a couple of Porsches lapping that I'm glad I didn't have to go up against. One was a 934, the other a slope-nosed 935. Truly amazing sports/race cars. Always striving for more knowledge, I picked the 935 owner/driver's brains a little bit. The car weighed in at 880kg, which equates to 1 936lbs wet with no driver. coupled with a nearly closed wastegate on that Type 930/72 2.8 liter engine, he estimated around 900bhp@7000rpm. I've seen fast cars. However, this car was fast.

    Always a good thing to see Porsches on a racetrack.
  • starrow68starrow68 Posts: 1,142
    http://www.ncracing.org/members-200.html

    Check out member 277, but that is not the car he was driving, I think, may
    just have new paint but didn't look like that to me.
This discussion has been closed.