Ed’s Let­ter

Bang For Your Bucks is a timely re­minder af­ford­able fast cars have never been bet­ter

Motor (Australia) - - CONTENTS -

Cars have never been so fast and cheap

DICK JOHN­SON said that all you get from look­ing back­wards is a sore neck. He’s cer­tainly right in a mo­tor­sport con­text, but doesn’t quite ap­ply to cars. Hero cars from yes­ter­year are still ac­quirable (with the right coin) ex­actly as they were the day they left the fac­tory. And in some as­pects per­for­mance cars were ab­so­lutely bet­ter back in the day, safety not lim­it­ing stylists, and en­gi­neers able to ex­per­i­ment and take big­ger risks.

But let’s not kid our­selves, per­for­mance cars in 2016 are vastly, vastly bet­ter cars – safer, bet­ter to drive, more com­fort­able and much bet­ter value. Take Bang For Your Bucks 1996. The BMW 328i knocks off 14 other cars at Phillip Is­land to be our third-ever Bang champ. Its 142kW 2.8-litre straight­six was good for 0-100km/h in a sur­pris­ingly perky 6.6sec. But it cost $85,650. In 1996. Trans­lated to 2016 money, that’s about $110K (based on in­fla­tion, a crude cal­cu­la­tion but proves the point).

Or fast for­ward an­other 10 years, to Bang For Your Bucks 2006. Holden’s new, 270kW VE SS smokes a whop­ping 25-car field. “400M in 13.4! $45,000! Who’s your daddy?” splashed our cover. Pretty healthy num­bers, but 45-large in 2006 is about $57K today. Con­sider the kind of SS that gets you now. At the same 2006 event the twin-clutch MkVI VW Golf GTI had a crack at our oc­ca­sion­ally be­fud­dling but al­ways ef­fec­tive Bang for­mula. It cost $42,490. Today’s MkVII di­rect de­scen­dent is $43,490 and a vastly su­pe­rior per­for­mance car. And the MkVI Golf GTI was Golf R money in its day. Of course, I have a bad feel­ing I’m telling a lot of you to suck eggs here – cars are bet­ter than ever? Did you know fire is hot, and water is wet? – but I’ve seen nos­tal­gia win out over com­mon sense too many times. For all our prob­lems it’s worth re­mind­ing that af­ford­able per­for­mance cars are, as a bunch, the best they have ever been. Makes to­tal sense that our Bang For Your Bucks 2016 field – which kicks off this is­sue – should be the strong­est, most po­tent ever. But it shouldn’t be sur­pris­ing.

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