Government’s the world over have been pushing carmakers to adhere to their ridiculous norms that are rather counter-intuitive and end up becoming counter-productive in due course. Emissions regulations for example, have made cars and bikes less polluting, but have also made them heavier and hence nullifying the overall effect.
That is because in the real world, things work differently. Maybe that is why manufacturers are finding ways to make their cars faster and more powerful, despite the apparent increase in weight. Yet, they fall short in some aspects and that takes away what forms the crux of a real sportscar – the driving experience.
Even Porsche 911s have become heavier in their latest iterations to cater to stricter norms. That takes away the soul of what a sportscar is. If a car is devoid of soul, I have no reason to drive one. The rise of hot hatches denotes the same. Because, people realised that if sportscars are going to be heavy, then they could do with small hatchbacks that now produce over 400 bhp with a slight tune. What works in their favour is that those cars weigh no more, accelerate like a spaniel and can carry five people and their goods without a fuss.
Is it the end of sportscars then? Well, I believe that it is not. I believe that the last car standing on earth will be a sportscar (supercars included, although the lines differentiating them are all but erased now). It is a simple concept. People buy sportscars with their hearts and because they want to, despite the shortcomings, not because they can just do with them. Other cars, well they are bought for a reason and that is what doesn’t make them special.
One other chap who thinks in the same lines is Gordon Murray. He has now sketched his 50th car, named unimaginatively, the T.50 (Gordon has the habit of putting the same suffix in every design of his), it looks set to make the lawmakers very unhappy. The headline figures are as follows- 650 bhp, 980 kg, 12,100 rpm redline, 4-litre naturally aspirated V12, seating for three, only 100 models to be built and oh, there is a fan at the back of the car, for better aerodynamics. Gordon has gone the same way as Alpine, producing a car with decent power, but reducing weight so that power can do miraculous stuff.
According to Gordon, who has designed Formula One cars mind you, the car was not designed to chase records and that is a good thing. He says the car will be the highest-revving engine ever used in a production car.
I haven’t seen the car yet and I do not care if it doesn’t make a good road car. The fact that one small manufacturer decided to go one better and give it to the lawmakers who do not think things through is what being a human is all about. In the press release, Gordon, who heads the group formed under his own name, speaks repeatedly about cars becoming heavier and unnecessarily more powerful. He says his car will be one-third lighter than the current crop of sportscars and deems it unfit to make a car heavier just chasing top-speeds as a powerful engine also adds, wait for it…weight.
I hope that the owners of the T.50 take it out to the roads often, just to shame other manufacturers who forgot what their motto was. Endlessly speaking about driving thrills and making a two-tonne SUV and plonking in a bloody heavy V8 and heavier-still electronics are contradicting ethos. Yet, some manufacturers (guessed who?) keep banging on about it, failingly so.
Yes, their sales might be higher and they might make more profits. But are those cars desirable? Do those things make young boys go weak in their knees? It would be a great feat if such cars make it as bedroom posters. But, I bet supercars and sportscars are the ones boys choose.
Coming back to my point then. The last standing car will be a sportscar and some cars, that are lighter and made to give the drivers the fizz rather than producing tonnes of useless power, will be the ones that will last longer and bite the dust after all others. After all, when all sportscars are equal, some are more equal than others.