The World's Greatest Car
August 2, 2017 4:51 PM   Subscribe

"You can tell by the way it responds. You just feel the lightness immediately. It’s a joy to drive, a very honest car. Sitting in the middle isn’t disorienting, and the only thing that’s complicated is paying tolls in a foreign country. When you have half of Italy behind you, standing on their horn, when you’re trying to figure out how to get the toll in the damn booth." posted by the man of twists and turns (53 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
I just want this photo of this car's designer posing with said car to accompany this post. I mean even his glorious hair has a center cockpit.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 5:03 PM on August 2 [2 favorites]


No flywheel? How does that work?
posted by clawsoon at 5:16 PM on August 2


I'm afraid to click on either link in case Jeremy Clarkson somehow appears.
posted by runcibleshaw at 5:27 PM on August 2 [4 favorites]


you'd think someone rocking a glorious mullet like that would have made it a roadster
posted by indubitable at 5:28 PM on August 2


Ask ten different enthusiasts and you'll get ten different answers to World's Greatest Car.

I mean, the F1 has been around for 25 years right?, but here's the same paper (Telegraph) giving completely different answers a few years ago.
Not sure what the point is.

Btw, the Porsche Carrera GT is the World's Greatest Car. Just sayin.
And the Mazda MX-5, too.
posted by artdrectr at 5:28 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]


The answer is always Miata.
posted by spitbull at 5:34 PM on August 2 [5 favorites]


Here's some info on the flywheel thing. It's not quite "no flywheel."

Also truly an eponysterical FPP!
posted by spitbull at 5:37 PM on August 2 [2 favorites]


How McLaren F1 got it's sound
posted by djb at 5:37 PM on August 2


It's a looker, alright, but I'm not seeing what's so god damned "honest" about this machine for the uber rich aficionado.

I'd like to think that the "world's greatest car" would be something that's reliable, fun-to-drive, guaranteed to turn heads, and—check his wild idea—affordable for the masses, like my old Karmann Ghia - the car that Miatas can only wish they could be.
posted by she's not there at 6:11 PM on August 2 [6 favorites]


The Borman 6 girl is got to have soul.

But I want to touch this car. This car...
posted by Oyéah at 6:14 PM on August 2 [2 favorites]


I have never seen a car that has refused to age in quite the same way as a McLaren F1 - pictures don't do it justice. It is utterly, drop dead, gorgeous. Proportions are amazing, far more in person (pictures make it look kind of flat). The only car that looked contemporary for a similar length of time is the Honda NSX, which (interestingly, I have just realised) also doesn't photograph as well as it shows in the metal.

I love the F1. Truly love it. The current P1 is also a great looking car, but not in the same way as the F1 is - it's too much like the other things that are around for sale right now. The F1 was radical.

Other 'best looking' cars: Jaguar XJ220, Ferrari 288GTO (again, you have to see one to understand).

Here's some info on the flywheel thing. It's not quite "no flywheel."
Yes, that's always been an out of context kind of claim - it was in a discussion about teh F1 relative to a road car and the quote was intended to state something along the lines of "this car has a race car-style flywheel, which is practically no flywheel at all compared to a road car". Anyone that has tried to pull away from rest in a proper race car will attest to that being a major, major difference to a road car. Either a foot full of revs, or a stall. Either way it's never pretty.

the Porsche Carrera GT is the World's Greatest Car.
Good lord, no. I'm surprised, given Porsche's ability to produce very capable and accessible cars, that they sold something that so violently tried to be un-tameable near the limit. I've known race car drivers (good ones) that got out of that with a raised eyebrow and a "well, THAT was a workout".
posted by Brockles at 6:30 PM on August 2 [12 favorites]


i dunno it's neat but it's no trabant
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 6:52 PM on August 2 [2 favorites]


The World's Greatest Car

I can only assume the horn plays La Cucaracha.
posted by ckape at 7:02 PM on August 2 [4 favorites]


I was getting ready to make my very first FPP post to metafilter. I made sure to read the guidelines. As a last step I did a quick search just to see when the last post on the subject was. I was surprised, slightly disappointed, and relieved that you beat me to the punch.

This is my favorite car.

It's simple in that the design goals dictate much of the design. The goal is to make it better than every other super car. That means you want to make it light. How light? AS LIGHT AS YOU CAN MAKE IT. It needs to be fast. How fast? AS FAST AS YOU CAN MAKE IT. Etc.

You sit in the middle because that's the best place to sit, the tub is carbon fiber because it's the lightest material. Everyone who makes a wheel makes it round. Anyone who wants to build a car that can do everything the F1 can do and it will end up looking a lot like the F1.

0-60 in 3.1 second
1/4 mile in 11.1 seconds
Top speed of 231mph (239mph with the later "long tail" version that isn't as pretty)

There are some cars that can out-perform it in a few categories but no car that can out-perform it in every category.

I totally understand why a person might like other cars more but it's hard to argue that any other car is the best.
posted by VTX at 7:16 PM on August 2 [5 favorites]


the car that Miatas can only wish they could be

A stock MX5 is hardly a powerhouse, and most enthusiasts consider it underpowered for a sports car, although it was never intended to be fast. Even so it has 155hp (US 2.0l current gen, or 115-35hp in earlier generations) to a 1973 Karmann Ghia's 72 (1.5l), and the torque ratios are similar. It hits 60mph in 6 seconds (nothing special at all, an accord V6 can do that with many more pounds of metal to move ) where the VW would take 19 seconds (1973 spec) -- and the Mazda will also stop in 1/2 the distance required for the VW, with far more balanced weight distribution (front engine/rear drive vs rear/rear)) and far more sophisticated and responsive suspension and steering. The Mazda is heavier by a lot but faster by a lot more, and light as hell for a modern car. If you haven't driven a Miata, maybe you don't know, but it's everything you loved about your VW -- simple, direct, impossibly engaging -- without the need to rebuild the motor every 50k miles.

I submit that the Miata is an order of magnitude enjoyable to drive, in the same parameters of "fun to drive" as the VW, *far* more reliable (Miatas driven normally are as reliable as a Honda Civic), and as for affordability, the 1973 Karnann Ghia listed for $2800. That works out to roughly $16,000 in 2017 dollars. A base new Miata is $24K, about the same price as the most popular base model midsize Japanese and American sedans or a higher trim level of any major compact. All are priced below the average new car purchase price in the US, which I believe is now north of $30K.

On top of that you are far far far more likely to survive a wreck in an 2017 Miata than in a 1973 Karmann Ghia, which is where a lot of the extra weight and cost have come in during the intervening decades, and get slightly better gas mileage despite more weight, bigger motor, and more than double the horsepower, and I say Miata is still always the answer.

/fanboy I admit it
posted by spitbull at 8:01 PM on August 2 [3 favorites]


Unless you want to go really fast in a straight line for cheap in which case Mustang is the answer.
posted by spitbull at 8:08 PM on August 2


Also with Brockles I think the original Honda NSX was the most beautiful production car ever made for human money.
posted by spitbull at 8:10 PM on August 2


It's a looker, alright, but I'm not seeing what's so god damned "honest" about this machine for the uber rich aficionado.

No traction control, no anti-lock brakes, no active yaw control. These are things that are now required on supercars because rich assholes who only think they know what they're doing need those thing in order to keep from killing themselves.

It doesn't have a trick suspension with magnetic fluid or active anti-roll bars. It's made with the same basic components as cars 50 years older. The car very purposefully gives you a POWERFUL tool for moving very quickly and does absolutely NOTHING to hide your mistakes. If you try to push this car without really knowing what you're doing it WILL make you regret it. Modern supercars lie to you and tell you that you're a better driver than you really are but it's done through technical wizardry that adds weight and complexity that ultimately makes the car slower than it could be. The F1 does not make that compromise and that's why, in the hands of an expert, it will drive circles around everything else.

Among gear-heads the best car means first and foremost that it's the fastest or at least one of the fastest cars, physics doesn't care about cost. The best affordable sports car is a different category in which you will find many different definitions of "affordable", lively and fierce debate, and many wonderful cars. I'll not have you bad mouthing the Miata. It's cheap fun and being short on power is not a terribly difficult problem to solve. Besides, it's a spiritual successor to your VW.
posted by VTX at 8:12 PM on August 2 [5 favorites]


guaranteed to turn heads

I'll just leave this here. And this. And what the hell, this.

First time I saw a new Mx5 RF in person in machine gray I literally slobbered.
posted by spitbull at 8:19 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]


I have never seen a car that has refused to age in quite the same way as a McLaren F1


Richard Hammond in a Veyron vs. The Stig in an F1

The Veyron looks zeerusty.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:29 PM on August 2


I'd like to think that the "world's greatest car" would be something that's reliable, fun-to-drive, guaranteed to turn heads, and—check his wild idea—affordable for the masses, like my old Karmann Ghia - the car that Miatas can only wish they could be.

Karmann Ghias (Ghee? Ghiaes?) were coachbuilt right? Insofar as I understand that word in regard to automobiles (and wiki bears me out a bit) it means handmade body. I'm an oldschool VW fan as well, we own a 62 Beetle that I've put my fair share of wrenching on, but I shudder to think what a handbuilt and/or something near enough to it in terms of smooth and/or single piece construction bodywork would cost these days. Affordable is not the first word that comes to mind. They are slick and fluid and look great, better than Miatas for the likes of us, that's for sure, but to say it'd be affordable nowadays (was it even affordable in yesterdays dollars when it was released? I find that hard to grok if so) is a stretch right?
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:34 PM on August 2


The one time I was sure I was going to die, I was in a Porsche.

The XKE is still a fave of mine, for dreaming. I once had a dream, I was in a dinosaur park, where motorized creatures, were on slow trains concealed behind foliage, and bending down and so forth. I was driving an XKE with the top down, it was the paint job. The car was painted like stretched over, warm, pink, taffeta, shimmering, with black lace stretched over that, and a deep acrylic coat, that was like crystal clear. I knew I was having an extra special dream, when I saw the paint job on that car.
posted by Oyéah at 8:35 PM on August 2


I'll just leave this here. And this. And what the hell, this.

Apropos nothing, and I think there's a word for it specifically, but I do not like this style of car photography. It does no favors in my book as it looks like how cars look going under lit overpasses/roadways/through tunnels, which, while distinctive I suppose, isn't my cup of tea.

posted by RolandOfEld at 8:37 PM on August 2


I'll just leave this here. And this. And what the hell, this.

Meh. The new MX5 is good looking sure, but it isn't as pretty by any means as a Karmann Ghia. Especially if you consider the other cars around it - an MX5 doesn't look all that different from lots of other cars - smaller, cuter, etc., but it's not 'striking' like a Karmann Gia is. The MX5 is a better car, obviously, because it is 40 years newer. But while the MX5 is capable, it has lost some of the pure feedback of older cars, and weight *does* matter for responsiveness. I'll bet a mildly modified Karmann Ghia (with new shocks and some mild, mild tweaking) would easily match your perspective of 'fun handling'. One of the most fun cars I drove was a 1973 Triumph 2500S. It didn't handle particularly well, but with the big sidewalls and the more pure suspension design (not compromised for production ease) it was a hell of a lot of fun, and I could get that car up to Stupid Speeds (tm) where my knowledge of crash safety makes it very scary, now. I could slide it around and essentially pick an angle to hang the back end out at any corner. LOVED That car.

Modern cars are just not as sharp and nice to drive unless you get into track prepared ones. There are inherent compromises (mainly from the need to drop transmission and suspension into the car in less than 3 minutes with 4 bolts etc) and also 'safety' is designed in, which basically means make the car as stable as possible, which HAS to alo mean 'harder to turn', so it doesn't handle as well. Is the MX5 head and shoulder above the vast majority of cars of the last few years in the affordable range? Yes, and emphatically so. I like the car a lot, but it is not the comedy answer for all things that it is made out to be.

On top of that you are far far far more likely to survive a wreck in an 2017 Miata than in a 1973 Karmann Ghia, which is where a lot of the extra weight and cost have come in during the intervening decades

A far, far smaller percentage of the bloat of the modern car is because of the safety stuff than you think. Most of it is sound deadening, wiring looms, electronics, carpeting, etc. A friend of mine (working for an automotive consultancy, of which he now runs his own) did a study on the Mk1 Golf, and he was confident he could get it to pass current crash regs for between 300 and 400lbs of extra weight. So considering the current golf is about 1200lbs heavier (almost double the weight it used to be) that is a LOT of extra non-crash gubbins...
posted by Brockles at 8:55 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]


I decided not to look at the URL when hitting the link because I wanted to see what got anointed the "world's greenest car," expecting it to be something bizarre. A McLaren F1 absolutely counts.

Then I realized the headline actually said "world's GREATEST car," and was a little disappointed. Because it would've been really neat if somehow the F1 turned out to also be the world's greenest car.
posted by chrominance at 9:40 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]


I much prefer the Fiat 124 body over the MX-5 for the 4th generation. More classic, more striking. But hey, it's a Miata built in Japan with Italian flair, i.e. best of both worlds.

(I drive a 3rd generation Miata, a 2013 Club PRHT, and yes, I still prefer it over the above)
posted by linux at 9:41 PM on August 2


I finally understand why I have never liked Jay Leno... he is the kind of guy who buys a 1m dollar car.
posted by mary8nne at 12:45 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


No traction control, no anti-lock brakes, no active yaw control. These are things that are now required on supercars because rich assholes who only think they know what they're doing need those thing in order to keep from killing themselves.

seems to me the important thing is trying to stop them from killing someone else
posted by thelonius at 1:48 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


That Road & Track logo makes me twitch every time I open their site.

Besides that, it is a fascinating oral history and yeah, that car is beautiful.
posted by dominik at 2:00 AM on August 3


> The answer is always Miata.

by which you mean Miata Is Always The Answer
posted by thedaniel at 2:36 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


Until this thread I had never heard of Karmann Ghia. Now for the first time in my life I may understand douchebro car enthusiasts to some extent because I now want to talk about dem curves and call a car "she".
posted by Pyrogenesis at 2:45 AM on August 3 [3 favorites]


Actually, I've had a several people tell me recently that my 93 Honda Civic hatchback is the best/most favourite car.
posted by bonobothegreat at 3:47 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


To each their own. I find the Karmann Ghia body design butt ugly. Just hideous. And I have driven one actually. "Sharp" wouldn't be my word for it. "Putt putt" would be closer. Also not sure sound deadening materials add much weight to a Miata. It's a convertible and noisy as hell!

And finally I like the look of a fiat 124 and the idea of a turbo Miata but I wouldn't buy it. If anyone can fuck up even a Miata it's Fiat.
posted by spitbull at 3:55 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


mary8nne: I finally understand why I have never liked Jay Leno... he is the kind of guy who buys a 1m dollar car.

I grew to like him in the first place after I found out that he's also the kind of guy who has stationary steam engines from the early 1800s restored.
posted by clawsoon at 4:52 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


seems to me the important thing is trying to stop them from killing someone else

Yes of course. I don't have a cite for this but I've heard it said that Dodge Vipers are nearly impossible to insure because they have a high claim rate and they're mostly single car accidents.

It makes sense to me that the people who have these kinds of cars don't really get into trouble when there are other cars around. But when the roads are empty and the only one that can crash is me, a rich asshole who doesn't understand that being rich doesn't automatically make you good at everything, I've got nothing to worry about!
posted by VTX at 6:38 AM on August 3


I don't like Leno as a performer but I like him a LOT as a person and as a gear-head. He has a shop where he employs a crew to maintain his cars and a sign in the shop that says, "More money than sense". I've taken this to mean that people do silly expensive things because they either don't have a lot of sense or DO have a LOT of money. So he does stuff like build a wind turbine to power his shop. Why? "Well it's gonna take something like 30 years to pay for itself but what do I care? It's the right thing to do." -Jay Leno

He buys cars because he thinks they're neat or important. Because someone should own them and use them and enjoy them. No one else is willing to do it and he has the money to burn so why not him?

He bought a Porsche Carrera GT because the ceramic clutch it uses means it's one of the few supercars you can do repeated hard launches from a stop without immediately wearing out the clutch. He has a turbine powered pickup truck (and a motorcycle I think), a steam powered car, that one car with a giant tank engine, a bunch of other stuff. It's like this wonderful automotive museum but all the cars still get driven. If I had more money than I could spend I would absolutely do the same sort of thing. Leno isn't some rich asshole buying cars meant for rich assholes, he's a rich gearhead driving cars that other gearheads built for their fellow gearheads.
posted by VTX at 6:42 AM on August 3 [3 favorites]


(and a motorcycle I think)

Yes indeed!
posted by TedW at 6:53 AM on August 3


VTX: He has a shop where he employs a crew to maintain his cars and a sign in the shop that says, "More money than sense".

He's like a 16th-century aristocratic patron of the arts, but for gearheads.
posted by clawsoon at 7:10 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


And finally I like the look of a fiat 124 and the idea of a turbo Miata but I wouldn't buy it. If anyone can fuck up even a Miata it's Fiat.

I wouldn't worry. The 124 is built in Hiroshima. It's engine may be Fiat but it's a well regarded, robust little motor. The transmission is Mazda (third gen, which can handle the torque), etc

It is more a Miata with Italian flair than a Fiat.

I would take one in a heart beat if it had a power hard top.
posted by linux at 7:22 AM on August 3


The transmission is Mazda (third gen, which can handle the torque)

Yeesh. I'd be concerned more about that transmission than anything else. The engine is strong, but that gearbox is weak as hell. I ran a couple of cars in the MX5 cup last year and gearboxes were constantly failing - 7 at one event once. They were cheap to replace (for a gearbox, at $3,500 each!) but stripping gears just because of a few hard shifts on slicks on a hot track doesn't at all say 'robust with more torque' to me.

not sure sound deadening materials add much weight to a Miata. It's a convertible and noisy as hell!

The Global MX5 Cup race car is 200lbs lighter than the road car. The only things removed are (basically) the seats, the AC, the airbags, the carpets and the sound deadening. An entire - full - roll cage, strut brace, heavier fuel cell, 8lb extinguisher, data logger etc are added. And it's still lighter than the road car by 200lbs. There is a LOT of comfort in that stuff. The seats alone are REALLY heavy.
posted by Brockles at 8:04 AM on August 3 [3 favorites]


I appreciate the Miata derail. My dad had one when I was in high school (mid-90s ragtop with the flip-up headlights) and since he traveled a lot for work it ended up being my (mostly) daily driver.

Of course, letting a teenager with a newly-minted drivers license loose with a super-light car like that was incredibly foolish. I never crashed it, but I did do a 360 in the middle of an intersection once after a heavy rain. That taught me to let the clutch out a little slower.

I would love to have another one, but we really only need one car (and have nowhere to park a second one anyway). Miata is not a great daily driver in New England with a dog.
posted by backseatpilot at 8:07 AM on August 3


It's engine may be Fiat but it's a well regarded, robust little motor.

A friend of mine is doing the ECU programming for the Abarth motorsport programme and he has nothing but good (albeit badly pronounced) words to say about that engine.

Side note: He is Italian and we showed him that Family guy 'Babbety-boopy' sketch and he thought it was the funniest shit ever. If he was telling us something in the workshop and we couldn't hear or didn't understand him he'd start waving his arms around and yelling 'Babbety-Boopy, Inglese!'. It was hilarious.
posted by Brockles at 8:10 AM on August 3 [4 favorites]


It is more a Miata with Italian flair than a Fiat.

IIRC, it was supposed to be an Alpha Romeo. There was some kind of partnership agreement that required Mazda to build a Fiat branded car in Japan or something like that. It was developed as an Alpha up until it was time to start building it and the partnership agreement came to light so it got branded as an Fiat instead to fulfill the requirements of that agreement.

Platform sharing is MUCH more flexible and...diverse? than in years past, especially compared to the era in which the F1 was built. Mrs. VTX was just starting to be comfortable with the idea two different models of car from two different brands were "the same" car. You could take a Pontiac Grand Am and an Oldsmobile Alero and swap basically any part between them. The branding and a little of styling were the only differences between them.

Today, there is a much better tradeoff between the cost savings inherent in designing major components to be used on many different vehicles. You can still get something like a Toyota FRS/Subaru BRZ and those are basically the same car. But even then their suspensions are setup differently enough that the two cars feel somewhat different. Most of the time, we're talking about the same platform being used to make a Toyota Camry, Venza, Sienna, Avalon, Highlander, and a few others. All of those cars are wildly different. I can absolutely tell that they have some of the same DNA but I'm a car nerd. This is actually great because it means that if there is a car that I mostly like but doesn't quite fit my needs, I can look at other cars built on the same platform.

I like the Miata but wish it had more Italian flair, that's the Fiat 124.

The thing I've never understood is why Mazda so famously developed Wankel rotary engines and took great advantage of that engine design's small packaging advantages but never put a rotary engine in the Miata, even as a special high performance special edition or something.
posted by VTX at 9:42 AM on August 3


The engine is strong, but that gearbox is weak as hell. I ran a couple of cars in the MX5 cup last year and gearboxes were constantly failing - 7 at one event once. They were cheap to replace (for a gearbox, at $3,500 each!) but stripping gears just because of a few hard shifts on slicks on a hot track doesn't at all say 'robust with more torque' to me.

For Cup car racing, maybe. Looks like the fourth generation Cup car had a strengthened gearbox to address the issue, but for stock, it suffices. Besides, the new one is branded Sky-Activ and I believe Mazda is keeping those parts out of the 124.

IIRC, it was supposed to be an Alpha Romeo.
Yes, it was going to be an Alfa Romeo, then Fiat said Alfas would only be produced in Italy to elevate the brand. Meh, tthat would have just been the badge (and perhaps the styling would be sportier, complete with a higher sticker price).

The thing I've never understood is why Mazda so famously developed Wankel rotary engines and took great advantage of that engine design's small packaging advantages but never put a rotary engine in the Miata, even as a special high performance special edition or something.

The MX-5 isn't their performance car -- it's their British roadster. These are low power, nimble, tiny little cars for packing a basket lunch and enjoying the country air. The RX-7 was their performance car, and many hope they bring back an RX-7 "FE" instead of an RX-8 or RX-9.

As to the F1... I'm afraid that thing would kill me. Besides, a car that needs a 20+ year old Compaq to service cannot in my book be the greatest car ever.
posted by linux at 10:37 AM on August 3


  I totally understand why a person might like other cars more but it's hard to argue that any other car is the best.

But I will still take your coveted F1 card in Top Trumps in the playground if I call miles per gallon with my Smart Car …
posted by scruss at 12:37 PM on August 3


RolandofEld: the handmade body is news to me and my heart breaks a little bit at the thought that a new model wouldn't be affordable in today's market. Come to think of it, I probably couldn't have afforded a new model at the time—I bought mine used.

As you know, part of the appeal was the simple, air-cooled engine, that allowed folks like me to feel like a gearhead while doing basic tinkering. I know those days are gone for good.

Re Miatas: I've driven a couple and they were OK/fine, but just not the same. Admittedly, the major issue could have been that a Miata couldn't capture what it felt like to be 25 years old and driving the only car I would ever truly love.


Until this thread I had never heard of Karmann Ghia. Now for the first time in my life I may understand douchebro car enthusiasts to some extent because I now want to talk about dem curves and call a car "she".

posted by Pyrogenesis at 2:45 AM on August 3


To my first husband's chagrin, he was frequently told he was driving a "girl car". I've heard the same thing said of Mustangs, although I've met a few people who were willing to fight over these words.
posted by she's not there at 2:00 PM on August 3


Looks like the fourth generation Cup car had a strengthened gearbox to address the issue, but for stock, it suffices.
I'm talking about the 4th Gen. The brand new one that doesn't have a lot of power, but just has slick tyres on it. It is woefully near the edge of it's load envelope. I consider it a fault in the car, because you just can't be THAT much more rough on it racing it - I mean, there's flat shifting and violent kerb usage, but this is not shift forks bending, it's gears stripping all the teeth off. It's too weak for racing, and I'd suggest only *just* strong enough for road use. I'd be wary of putting an engine on one that had >40hp/>10% more torque over standard in the road car.

he was frequently told he was driving a "girl car". I've heard the same thing said of Mustangs
Mustangs are barely cars.
posted by Brockles at 3:52 PM on August 3


But I will still take your coveted F1 card in Top Trumps in the playground if I call miles per gallon with my Smart Car …

This is actually a useful example of why the F1 is so great.

The Smart is not the best car in any category. Compared to the F1 it wins on fuel efficiency, cost, and ease of ease of entry (as does pretty much every other car). But even among cheap fuel efficient cars, there are cars that are more fuel efficient, more fun to drive, faster, and and and. It's not a bad car by any means and I see enough of them driving around to know that it's the best fitfor someone.

The Ferrari F40 is a fantastic contrast to the F1. The F40 is all about speed. It's a production car in the barest sense of the term. There is only one coat of paint so thin you can see the carbon fiber under it. The interior door handles are just cables you pull on. If it wasn't legally required or make the car go faster, it wasn't in the car. The F1 has A/C, a great sound system, a nice interior, and a decent ride. All while out-performing the F40 in every way shape and form.

While I can appreciate Ferrari's approach, I can understand why a person might be annoyed every time they grab one of those cables to open the door of their "as fast as we can possibly make cost is no object" F40 knowing I could have had an F1. The F40 wins on cost and ease of entry. The F1 even gets better gas mileage than other supercars.
posted by VTX at 4:25 PM on August 3


That bit where they are talking about rebuilding a wrecked F1 but are too polite to name the customer... the customer was Rowan Atkinson.
posted by w0mbat at 5:37 PM on August 3


Linux, by FE do you mean the RX7 twin-turbo 3rd gen FD?
The RX-7 was their performance car, and many hope they bring back an RX-7 "FE"

I enjoyed my silver on red lthr for many years.
If Acura can bring back the NSX, may Mazda can do likewise!
posted by artdrectr at 6:24 PM on August 3


Linux, by FE do you mean the RX7 twin-turbo 3rd gen FD?

Yeah, many Mazda enthusiasts would rather see an RX-7 FE over an RX-9.
posted by linux at 9:07 PM on August 3


The MX-5 isn't their performance car -- it's their British roadster.

Right. So if you're Mazda and you have this cool twin turbo rotary engine in your flagship, halo sports-car and that car's competitive advantage comes from the tiny package of it's engine, why not make a non-turbo version of the same engine to give it a clear connection to that?

They already broke away from the British roadster mould when they made the canvas top functional and watertight.

Instead of the 1.8L I4 with around 160hp or the 1.3L twin-turbo two-rotor 280hp RX7 engine, you develop a 160hp rotary engine. Maybe it would have made sense to strip the turbos and whatever other internals to use most of the same engine but naturally aspirated and hopefully gaining in some other areas as you don't have to compromise as much to make 160hp vs. 280hp.

Or, just develop a whole new engine specifically for duty in the Miata. It doesn't need a lot of power but it's a small car and the compact packaging of a rotary engine could have made it lighter and more nimble. My guess is that the advantages of the rotary engine are outweighed by a bunch of disadvantages and I'm not familiar enough with those engines or the engineering/physics behind them to really understand.

In other words, I think Mazda only ever developed rotary engines because they're cool and unique even if it doesn't have many real advantages over more traditional designs, it might still help sell cars but it's not such a slam dunk that they're going to hang the company's fortunes on the idea. I submit as evidence the fact that no one else has ever been real enthusiastic about making rotary engines.
posted by VTX at 9:59 AM on August 4


Rotaries are more difficult to make emissions compliant. They have an unfortunate reputation re: apex seals that would have made marketing the 1st gen Miata more difficult outside of the hard core enthusiast market (and buy in from the people looking for an appliance was immensely important to the success of the Miata.)
posted by Mitheral at 9:23 PM on August 4


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