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Depth of Speed
September 18, 2012 1:23 AM   Subscribe

Depth of Speed is a web series of videos that try to capture the essence of what it means to love cars. while there are so many corners of the internet dedicated to one brand, type, or model of car, Josh Clason sought out a diversity of machinery. from british sports cars to bikes, both human and gasoline powered. even a 1957 Mercedes 300SL Gullwing. with cinematography at times stunning, visceral, emotional, and raw, these short films go right into the heart of what motivates people to turn wrenches and burn endless hours in pursuit of a true passion.

earlier this year, the crew took to an airstream and traveled the country:
The time is fast approaching and I cannot believe it. Come May 1st, our time from the past few years will change in a whirlwind. There will be no more 9-5 jobs, an apartment, or commitments to attend to. On May 1st all of our belongings will be in storage and we will set out on our long planned journey to travel the country in our trailer and film automotive enthusiasts. So much time has been spent watching people fulfill their passion and dreams and now we are ready to follow ours. We have been planning on this for over a year now and we will begin to live our dream. Lots of preparation has happened over the past few months. We have spent a lot of time deciding on the right trailer, packing our stuff up, moving 401k’s, getting insurances(health,rv,production), and planning our routes.

there are still releases coming from this road trip, it seems. this is the newest episode -Back to Life

all of the 'season 1' episodes on one page

vimeo page with all videos

JDM Legends Part 1 & Part 2 (part 2 is far and away my favorite of the series. everything about it. from like 3:00-.. *dies*)

the two cars featured with JDM Legends are the Toyota Celica and the third generation Nissan Skyline スカイライン or hakosuka
posted by ninjew (25 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
Death of Speed?

Today's cars are faster than anything produced in the past. No speed freak should have any nostalgia whatsoever for days gone by.

The standard 1982 Volkswagen Rabbit (first car listed under Death of Speed) had a 65 horsepower, 1700cc engine. It should have been called the Volkswagen Dog.

The standard 2012 Volkswagen Golf (successor to the Rabbit) has a 2500 cc engine producing 170hp (in a lighter vehicle with a six speed gearbox.)

That Gullwing Mercedes, the fastest production car of it's day, had just over 200hp under the bonnet and I bet the much lighter 2012 Volkswagen would give it a run for its money. I'd bet lots of standard production models would make quick work of that old, slow Mercedes PoS.
posted by three blind mice at 1:50 AM on September 18, 2012


Huh? The lightest Golf I could find in my market is 1130 kg vs 845 kg for the Golf I that the Rabbit basically is. Quite a bit heavier, in other words. Were you thinking of some of the other cars? Otherwise technically your point is sound, but clearly nostalgia is a powerful emotion. I recommend some of sonascope's writing on vintage cars on MeFi, which is quite evocative.
posted by Harald74 at 2:28 AM on September 18, 2012


Because it's obviously not just the speed that's the subject. If that's yor criterion, you my as well give up, because you'll never go as fast as that antique X-15.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:49 AM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Death of Speed?

It's "Depth".
posted by nathancaswell at 4:19 AM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Great series. I really appreciate the aesthetic departure from the extreme/bro-metal nightmare that most auto enthusiast videos represent. Not to mention excellent choices of subjects.
posted by a halcyon day at 4:34 AM on September 18, 2012


Death of Speed?

It's "Depth".

posted by Slap*Happy at 5:12 AM on September 18, 2012


No speed freak should have any nostalgia whatsoever for days gone by.

Obviously, if you take the early '80s (probably the automobile industry's deepest point) as a reference, nostalgia is rather difficult, but even those years had some classics like the deLorean DMC-12, the Ferrari 308, the Aston Martin Lagonda, the Porsche 959 or the Audi Quattro. That was also the time of the completely bonkers Group B rally cars, like the Ford RS 200, the Renault 5 Turbo (not your average Le Car), the Peugeot 205 Turbo 16, or the Lancia Delta S4, turbocharged 200+ bhp, mid-engined, 4wd, ultra-lightweight beasts that spawned road-certified versions for FIA homologation purposes.

More to the point, and vastly more affordably, here in Europe, it was the dawn of the hot hatches. The US-spec VW Rabbit may cause little nostalgia, but a whole generation fondly remembers its tweaked European brother, the first VW Golf GTI. Sure, 110 bhp don't sound like much, but they sure were plenty enough for its weight. Even if, on the paper, those cars weren't necessarily faster or better-handling than modern cars, they felt (still feel) faster. And that's what counts.
posted by Skeptic at 5:19 AM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I first came across this series at JDM Legends, I think, but have also seen it at Speedhunters. I am a nostalgic car owner myself and have been since I was a teenager. Great links!
posted by Slothrop at 5:43 AM on September 18, 2012


>slow Mercedes PoS

Oh no you di'int.

But really, it's not just about speed. If you are actually after speed, just get a full-fairing sport bike of any engine size and be done with it.

To an enthusiast, one of the worst thing to happen to modern cars has been bloat in technology and physical dimensions. Modern passenger cars will run up to 60 mph just fine, but you are insulated from the road, and there is no fanfare.

You could invest in a true sports car like a Corvette, or Nissan Z, and you will be rewarded with either
A: Slow driving, with a harsh ride, and tires locked to the road or
B: Highly illegal speeds

Especially with modern tires, the limits of modern sports cars are very very high.

Modern cars are also balancing safety, low maintenance, and economy. These criteria just matter less to an enthusiast with a weekend car.

But you can have an old, lightweight weekend car, and have a lot of fun at more normal-ish speeds on public roads.
posted by colinshark at 5:46 AM on September 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Even if, on the paper, those cars weren't necessarily faster or better-handling than modern cars, they felt (still feel) faster. And that's what counts.

A lot of that is because car manufacturing then was materially worse, not better. I've been in that leaky, rattling old Suzuki Samurai that would crawl its way up to 100kph, but all the wind and cabin noise made it feel like you were Chuck Yeager about to break the sound barrier.
posted by mhoye at 6:20 AM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Death of Speed?

It's "Depth".


I'm honestly perplexed at how anybody got to "Death of Speed" at all. I mean, I can understand if it was spoken and somebody mistook one for the other, but this is written.
posted by kmz at 7:02 AM on September 18, 2012


A lot of that is because car manufacturing then was materially worse, not better.

Yes and no. There is a lot of "feature bloat" in modern carmaking, making cars much, much heavier. If you go like a bat out of hell, rather than drive in high comfort, you are possibly better served in an old car.

Also, carmakers were once allowed to sell cars to the public which today wouldn't stand a snowball's chance. The original hot hatches were kneecapped by the insurance industry, which reckoned that putting twenty-somethings at the wheel of light, fast cars was a recipe for high insurance claims. Those Group B homologation specials were so insanely fast that the FIA banned the entire category from racing.

Plus, indeed, some of today's cars may be too insulated even for your own safety. For instance, I once road-tested a Porsche Boxster and a Smart Roadster the same day. At the end of the day, it wasn't just that the Smart was vastly more fun out in normal roads: a glance at the Porsche's speedo made me realise that, without even noticing, I was going far, far too fast for my own (and anyone else's) safety. You may have great brakes and steering, but your kinetic energy increases proportionally to the square of your speed, and at some point, the laws of physics will take over, superb German engineering be damned.
posted by Skeptic at 7:07 AM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


My 1969 MGB GT could, when it was brand new, get up to somewhere around 105 mph. I've taken it to 95, and while that's not as fast as I've gone in a car, it certainly FELT like I was setting a new record.
posted by 1adam12 at 7:23 AM on September 18, 2012


My 1969 MGB GT could, when it was brand new, get up to somewhere around 105 mph. I've taken it to 95, and while that's not as fast as I've gone in a car, it certainly FELT like I was setting a new record.

That's the joy of classics. We have a 1962 Morris Minor 1000 with about 37 horses (tested on the dyno) under the hood and tyres that look like they're from a wheelbarrow. On a good day, and with a long flat road, we can get it up to about 75. (I think. The speedo is of questionable accuracy).

Driving it is an absolute riot at any speed. It's like a go kart!
posted by generichuman at 9:02 AM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


you can go to a Toyota store right now and buy a brand new Camry. and it will ruin almost every one of these old cars in a straight line while blasting cold air in your face and playing pandora on the radio. but these machines, and the work put into them, it is about taking pleasure in the pursuit rather than the endpoint/numbers. well, except for the guys running on the salt flats.

it is about taking pride in ownership of something. of using something you built. when you spend months cranking away at your project, and that day comes when it rolls down the road under its own power, there just aren't many deep satisfactions like that.
posted by ninjew at 9:20 AM on September 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Really nice videos. They remind me in a way of Step Into Liquid, which looked at people who were passionate about surfing but who didn't really fit into the stereotype of surfers.

The guy with the rabbit talks about the smell of his car, and the second JDM video starts with a comment about the sound of side drafts. It's really hard to explain those things to someone who doesn't share that passion, and I think these videos do a good job with that.

it is about taking pride in ownership of something. of using something you built.

Husbandry sounds like such an old-fashioned word, which is a shame.
posted by Killick at 9:43 AM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cars nowadays are too fast. First, they have too much power. A base Mustang GT makes over 400hp. (The Shelby GT-500 variant makes over 650hp. The Super Snake variant makes around a thousand. In a factory MUSTANG.) And that's getting to be pretty common.

The only way you can release a 400ish hp car to the untrained, potentially litigious masses (both especially true in the US) is to saddle it with all manner of driver's aids -- traction control, stability management, ABS, etc. Hell, over 90% of cars sold today have automatic transmissions. And several affordable manual transmission cars will heel-toe downshift FOR YOU. Automatic parallel parking is available on a Ford Focus, for christsakes.

All these things take the driving out of the driver's hands. And not for bad reasons; safety, efficiency, and convenience are well-served by these driver aids. But the upshot is, it's not so much the driver doing the work -- it's a bunch of computers. How much fun would your favorite sport/activity be if half the skills were automated? What if the basketball auto-dribbled? What if the robot did yoga for you?

The other problem: With the cars being so capable, with such an incredible performance envelope (acceleration, braking, traction), you can't drive them anywhere near their limit on public roads. And the limit is where all the fun stuff is: oversteer, understeer, threshold braking, etc. that requires you to really engage with the car. You can play with, say, an MGB or a Miata on mountain roads and have a whole lot of fun without putting yourself and others in too much danger. Try that with a Ferrari 458 or Dodge Viper... Actually, please don't. Driving a modern supercar at its limits without driver aids is like juggling eels. You can't do it unless you're really, really good.... and very few drivers actually are. (Myself included, and I've done a fair bit of amateur road-racing, got 3rd in a couple regional championships, etc.)

tl;dr: It's more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow. Modern fast cars are mostly just status symbols.
posted by LordSludge at 1:56 PM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


That Gullwing Mercedes, the fastest production car of it's day, had just over 200hp under the bonnet and I bet the much lighter 2012 Volkswagen would give it a run for its money.

The 1955 Mercedes 300SL Gullwing weighed 2851 lbs. and had 212 bhp. It did 0-60 in 8.8 seconds and had a top speed of 163 mph. In 1955.

The 2012 Volkswagen GTI with the DSG transmission weighs 3428 lbs. and has 207.5 bhp. It does 0-60 in 7.3 seconds and has a top speed of 146 mph.

That "old, slow Mercedes PoS" Weighs less, has more power, and goes faster than a 2012 GTI. And there are only two reasons the GTI is a very tiny bit quicker from 0 to 60: 1) It has one of the most advanced and expensive transmissions in the world; 2) It has modern tires. Give the Merc. a DSG and sticky tires and it would destroy the GTI. Give it a modern suspension and it would destroy it the GTI even more.
posted by The World Famous at 2:07 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm one of those guys who feels the hair on my neck stand up when I hear the raspy sound of an air-cooled, six-cylinder coming down the road. I love the sound of old 911's and while some kid in a Mitsubishi 3000GT might beat you in a straight line he won't be having the same experience. There are cars that blended art and science and created something that looked and felt primal. The lines of the 911 Carrera from '84 - '89 are some of my favorites.

When I look at cars on the road today I see a lot of attention to aerodynamics and a certain soullessness. It's sad when some of the most recognizable cars on the road are really redesigns of old muscle cars. I miss the days when my Car & Driver showed up and I headed straight for the centerfold, then to the latest Brock Yates piece. Some of my favorites?

The Lancia Stratos

The Porsche Turbo

The Lamborghini Countach (despite being in Miami Vice!)

The Shelby Cobra

The Ford GT40

The Jaguar E-Type


Hard to reconcile my love of cars with my environmental concerns. I have an older E300 now that I run on 100% biodiesel, it's penance for past petroleum sins. A boring bankers car. I'm getting old.
posted by skepticbill at 2:21 PM on September 18, 2012


> A: Slow driving, with a harsh ride, and tires locked to the road or
> B: Highly illegal speeds


Sorry, the answer we were looking for was C, Trackday.
posted by fragmede at 4:22 PM on September 18, 2012


Trackday is fantastic, but the cost of driving a new modern sports car on trackday, as opposed to a race-prepped track car, is outrageously high, considering that it's nearly impossible to get insurance for it. The cost difference between having a 911 as a daily driver (which is already way out of my reach) on the one hand and having that same 911 as a track car puts the car in a whole 'nuther cost bracket.
posted by The World Famous at 4:29 PM on September 18, 2012


That said, you can build a B-Spec Ford Fiesta with Ford's OEM conversion kit for $25,000, including the cost of the donor car, and I'd venture to guess that I'd have a lot more fun in that on a track than in a 911 on the street.
posted by The World Famous at 4:36 PM on September 18, 2012


Or buy a used Spec Miata for <$10k, trackday it, and if you really like it go wheel-to-wheel racing. (And prepare to burn $1-2k per race weekend...)
posted by LordSludge at 4:58 PM on September 18, 2012


Or build a LeMons car . . .

Hmm. LeMons does need a Team MetaFilter. And the MeFi color scheme could make for a very nice livery.
posted by The World Famous at 5:08 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mefi Project?

And can we talk brockles into it? No. The answer is no.

reverse psychology!
posted by LordSludge at 8:53 PM on September 18, 2012


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