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Jalopnik: Eight Automotive Myths We Choose To Believe [Car Culture]

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500x_comp_4.jpgSometimes traditional beliefs run contrary to the facts. Most times it's beneficial to examine those beliefs and adjust to a new way of thinking. But sometimes ideas attain the status of myth for very good reasons. Here's eight of those.

Human beings aren't strictly rational animals. Car enthusiasts, for all their emphasis on numbers and measurements, are roughly equal parts rational and rationalizing, and there's no end to the myths that have grown around car culture. We believe that many of those myths, while perhaps not strictly true, are beneficial and help make car culture a fun place to be. Click Next to see some of our most cherished.

malibu_4.jpgMYTH: Cars were just plain better in the old days.

WHAT'S WRONG WITH IT: Cars are safer, more reliable, more efficient, and perform better today than they were in any version of "the old days."

WHY WE BELIEVE IT ANYWAY: Because there are different versions of "better," and one definition has to include some sort of subjective measure of soul. As many have said, the rear end on that '59 Bel Air has enough soul for a Motown collection. And we believe that almost any older car, from AMCs to old Volvos, can have more soul, charisma, personality, or what have you have you than something modern designed to do nothing more than hold four sets of golf clubs and then crash. Plus, owning an older car almost invariably means you're working on it, and working on your own car makes your car more yours as well as making you a smarter and more capable person.

500x_Ferrari_599_2.jpgMYTH: Ferraris are the ultimate automobiles.

WHAT'S WRONG WITH IT: The overwhelming Ferrari mystique obscures the fact that these things are overpriced, overstyled, breakdown-prone pose-mobiles.

WHY WE BELIEVE IT ANYWAY: So who gives a damn? Frankly, the question of Ferrari ownership is probably never going to be one of our problems, and it's good to have someone at the epicenter of automotive lust. Even if you're not a Ferrari person, you probably have some equivalent ultra-car marque as the angel on top of your imaginary lottery-winning Christmas tree, and the same logic applies-someone has to be the ultimate, and the ideal of the ultimate will always be more important than the reality. At least this ideal comes with its own F1 team.

500x_Indy_500.jpgMYTH: The Indy 500 is one of the greatest races in the world.

WHAT'S WRONG WITH IT: It's been trading on its storied history as it slowly becomes a boring and expensive spec race.

WHY WE BELIEVE IT ANYWAY: Because we believe there's still a chance that it could return to its innovative, anything-goes, world's-best-drivers glory days. Exactly how this may happen is unclear to us, and it won't happen by next year if ever, but we hold out hope. And it's still much more fun and interesting to watch than the other Greatest Race traditionally held on the same day, the glitzier but far more past-its-prime Grand Prix of Monaco.

car_dealer.jpgMYTH: Car dealers can't be trusted.

WHAT'S WRONG WITH IT: With contemporary consumer protection and access to information, you can probably trust them now more than ever before.

WHY WE BELIEVE IT ANYWAY: Because consumer skepticism, at least educated consumer skepticism, is a good thing, especially on major purchases. Trust must be earned, right? Now, this doesn't mean prospective car buyers should walk into dealerships and say "Prove to me you're not a crook!" because for one thing, you can't prove a negative. What it means is to do your research, don't let car lust carry you away, and always, always, always take a Jalopnik reader with you when buying a car.

500x_prius.jpgMYTH: The Prius sucks.

WHAT'S WRONG WITH IT: The Prius is a perfectly competent automobile that delivers very good fuel economy and has thousands of satisfied owners.

WHY WE BELIEVE IT ANYWAY: In its quest to save precious energy resources it's created a shortage of material resources. It's hideous. For the first successful hybrid, it's remarkably uninteresting from a tech point of view-when our sister site Gizmodo featured one at their gallery and ran its 12-volt battery down showing off its flashy dashboard, we were a bit miffed to find that it couldn't jump-start itself. And seriously, we'd rather be taken out and shot out behind the storage shed than spend $28,000 on a perfectly competent automobile that delivers very good fuel economy.

500x_steve_mcqueen.jpgMYTH: LeMans is a great movie.

WHAT'S WRONG WITH IT: LeMans is a collection of racing footage inside of a really terrible movie.

WHY WE BELIEVE IT ANYWAY: Because that's a really, really stupendous collection of racing footage in that terrible movie. Also, the terrible movie includes Steve McQueen, which softens the blow somewhat. It really seems like making LeMans was an excuse for the director, cast, and crew to hang around the Circuit De La Sarthe with race cars for a few days, and that's something we can all understand.

500x_miura_transmission.jpgMYTH: Manual transmissions are better than automatic transmissions.

WHAT'S WRONG WITH IT: Automatics are catching up; the dual-clutch units can outperform manual boxes in many cases, and even their fuel-economy advantage may be disappearing.

WHY WE BELIEVE IT ANYWAY: Again, there's better and there's better. In this case, being in total control of your car is fun and interesting, and more fun and interest are better. To many, learning stick is still an achievement-although maybe it shouldn't be, heck, it isn't all THAT hard, but no matter-and being more capable is better than having everything done for you. We could really give a damn if the Porsche PDK systems are a tenth faster to sixty or whatever the numbers are; we didn't bother to look them up because we don't care. We would rather drive to
sixty a bit slower than ride there.

thumb160x_Bob_Lutz.jpgMYTH: Gaze upon my works, ye not worthy, and despair; for I am Bob motherf@#king Lutz.

WHAT'S WRONG WITH IT: What, Bob Lutz? So-called Father of the Viper? He's just a marketing guy.

WHY WE BELIEVE IT ANYWAY: Listen, we need colorful figures in this world, and Bob Lutz is the most colorful person we have in the American car business. Perhaps in any business. His is a tradition going back as far as Barnum, or at least Don King. Are auto writers worried that Fritz Henderson will land a helicopter in their backyard, walk into their house, and yell at them? Is Alan Mulally or Scott Monty going to challenge us to a duel anytime soon? Nope. And seriously, without Lutz, we wouldn't have so much of modern car culture, from the phrase "The Ultimate Driving Machine" to the aforementioned Viper. Yes, there's way too much marketing in the world today, but that's not the problem. The problem is that Lutz isn't doing all of it.

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Indy is cool because of its heritage-Too bad Americans have never caught onto the idea of open wheel racing. I myself love it, and in another lifetime when I am not an overwieght father of five children I'm going to race a Formula Ford. Really.

The Prius-Hell yes, let's sell a bunch of them. Save money from going to the middle east, save gas for racing and rallying, and the latest version actually is supposed to drive much better.

Manual Shift-I enjoy it, and the next car I want to buy doesn't come with a good auto matic. The two cars that I am in lust after at the moment are a Cooper S (automatic is dumbed down) and the GTI VW (automatic is a DSG that costs $400 to service and is not all that good).

Lutz-a Car exec is like a woman, I don't like to play guessing games. I'd rather she/he just be up front. But it would be better if Lutz was a little less senile.

Ferrari-fun to bash anything on the net, how many internet pundits have an ability to drive a Ferrari F-40 at the limits??? NONE. Ferrari's are way beyond the driving ability of everyone but perhaps J. Pablo Montoya or someone of his caliber.

Chris

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>>"Because there are different versions of "better," "<<

Egg-zactly. Some value 'safety, efficiency, economy', some value longevity, servicability, repairability, mod-ability & attention to detail. But the way some folk talk- there's not a millimeter of room for discussion on the matter.

>>"being in total control of your car is fun "<<{/i]

Not sure that's remotely possible in a new car to the same degree it always used to be, what with throttle by wire, braking by wire, electric steering, ESC, TC, and all the other electronic nannies in the way.....

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On Top Gear a few years ago they raced a 60s Aston Martin DB4 and a Jag E-type against a 2.4L TSX. The TSX walked all over them.

Also, Bob Lutz is indeed just a marketing guy. I still like him, but not as much as I used to.

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The 2.4L TSX has some great thinking in its build...

However I still love vintage Jags!

Chris

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The last one cracked me up.

I've always thought of Lamborghinis as more exotic than Ferraris. Even if they aren't as great driver's cars, they always manage to make Ferraris look almost pedestrian.

I haven't seen Le Mans, but I've seen Grand Prix which was a bunch of amazing race footage inside of a terrible soap opera. But I still love it.

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On Top Gear a few years ago they raced a 60s Aston Martin DB4 and a Jag E-type against a 2.4L TSX. The TSX walked all over them.

skip to the 2:20 mark for grand disappointment...

theeeeey were LYING!

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The old E types were fairly quick.

They raced with some good bit of success back in their day. To me the E type (the original serieis) is probably one of the best looking cars ever built.

But I still think the 58-62 Corvette is sexier. Flame me at will, but to me that is the best looking postwar car of anything built...period.

Chris

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Not sure the degree of modification on race e-types vs. RP cars, but OK. Weren't they either the V-12 (3.8L IIRC) or I-6s - what was the performance of the 6-cyl cars in the quarter?

I am not a monster Corvette fan, but IMO the '56-57s are the best of the breed; so pure ... and that goes against my preference for 'jewelry' (aka: the '58-60s).

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MYTH: Manual transmissions are better than automatic transmissions.

WHAT'S WRONG WITH IT: Automatics are catching up; the dual-clutch units can outperform manual boxes in many cases, and even their fuel-economy advantage may be disappearing.

So they are countering the "myth" that manuals are better than automatics by saying that "automatics are catching up" and that DSGs (which account for, what 1% or less of autos) are better in many cases.

Way to go logic!

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Not sure the degree of modification on race e-types vs. RP cars, but OK. Weren't they either the V-12 (3.8L IIRC) or I-6s - what was the performance of the 6-cyl cars in the quarter?

I am not a monster Corvette fan, but IMO the '56-57s are the best of the breed; so pure ... and that goes against my preference for 'jewelry' (aka: the '58-60s).

See, I love the 56-57 cars but they are almost a little too clean and too plain for me.

Same thing goes for the C2 Corvette, I like the 64-66 Variant best-the 63 is slightly over dressed and the 67 is slightly "too clean" IMHO.

To each his own.

Not sure of the I6 car in the 1/4, most of their racing was road racing IIRC. The V12 cars seem to be pigs from every thing I hear.

Chris

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So they are countering the "myth" that manuals are better than automatics by saying that "automatics are catching up" and that DSGs (which account for, what 1% or less of autos) are better in many cases.

Way to go logic!

Have you ever noticed that logic and automobiles never seem to go together?

Chris

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I never hated automatics. they make traffic bearable. whens the last time you commuted in a corvette in a 1.5 hour commute in thick 10 mph traffic. It sucks!. my left leg get destroyed.

but I still dont trust used car dealerships

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Not sure the degree of modification on race e-types vs. RP cars, but OK. Weren't they either the V-12 (3.8L IIRC) or I-6s - what was the performance of the 6-cyl cars in the quarter?

I am not a monster Corvette fan, but IMO the '56-57s are the best of the breed; so pure ... and that goes against my preference for 'jewelry' (aka: the '58-60s).

XKE 1/4 mi time click here http://www.dragtimes.com/Jaguar--XKE-Series-Drag-Racing.html

As far as the V12 it was a 326cid so make the comparo to asmall block here's some more info http://auto.howstuffworks.com/jaguar-xke-series-3-v-123.htm

In the machine shop we would getmany I6's in for bent valves not as many as Fiat though

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^ Right! : not 3.8L, but 326 CI. Tiny 12.

But the 1/4-mile time car is driven by a 555 CI alcohol-injected V-8.... and I'm guessing w/ Edelbrock heads, it isn't a Jag 8.

Other link says a complete V-12 weighed in at 680 lbs... please tell me the V-12 is an iron block!!

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