Ik now I’m preach­ing to t he choir a bit here, but geez I love old cars. Now, obv iously, part of t hat is t he big nosta lgia trip we a ll ta ke just by open­ing t he garage doors, but an­other part of it for me is t hat I can trust old cars. I k now t hat if an oldie has spark, f uel and com­pres­sion, it’s prett y much obliged to run. But not so the malev­o­lent, treach­er­ous new bas­tard.

Not t hat I rely on any par­tic­u­lar old car to get me from A to B on a reg ular ba­sis, a lt hough I am still ca­pa­ble of do­ing cra z y stuf f like driv ing a 30-year-old LandCruiser to the tip of Cape York. But you k now what? Twelve-thou­sand kays and t wo months later and my ad­mi­ra­tion for cars that don’t need com­put­ers con­tin­ues to grow.

Any way, the other thing that both­ers me these days is the way tech­nolog y is be­ing ma­nip­u­lated to per­form tasks it was never rea lly de­signed for. Stop-sta rt tech in new cars where the en­gine stops when you ar­rive at a red light is one ex­am­ple. In t he old days, a car t hat sta lled at t he lights needed an­other turn on t he idle­speed screw. Now it’s a sell­ing point. And sud­denly, t he starter-mo­tor is now start­ing t he car 50 times in a peak-hour com­mute ver­sus the once it used to. Yes, I k now bat­ter­ies and starter-mo­tors have been em­biggened to cope wit h t his, but rea lly?

Fact is, I’ve a lready met en­gi­neer­ing t y pes who reckon t hat stop-sta rt is k illing en­gines. They tell me that in some makes and mod­els the turbo starts boost­ing long be­fore the oil pres­sure has had a chance to build up, mean­ing that the turbo bear­ings are cop­ping a ham­mer­ing. At least one car-maker has had to re-de­sign its tur­bocharger units to cope. Three times. I’d have diced stop-start and saved my­self a whole bunch of grief.

But what about t he f uel sav ings, you ask? Frank ly, stop-sta rt was only in­tro­duced to gain a bet­ter of f icia l num­ber in in­de­pen­dent fuel-econ­omy test­ing; the tests t hat re­sult in t hose litt le ef f iciency st ick­ers on t he wind­screens of brand-new cars. In t he rea l world, t he sav ings are less im­pres­sive and would a lmost cer­tainly be out weighed by the ex­tra mass and ex­pense of the big­ger bat­ter y and starter mo­tor. But since t he test­ing has the car sit­ting idle for a per­cent­age of the time, switch­ing the mo­tor off can gain the man­u­fac­turer a few pre­cious tenth sofa litre to be re­flected on that manda­tory sticker.

An­other one that causes me to won­der is the cur­rent trend in off-road ers to do away with the trans­fer-case and the low-ra­tio gear sit once pro­vided. To en­sure the end re­sult can still climb out of a river, t he car-mak­ers are now us­ing eight, nine and even 10-speed auto gear­boxes with su­per-low first gears. But even those are no sub­sti­tute for a trans­fer-case’ s low-low ra­tio, so the next en­gi­neer­ing short-cut has been to keep the en­gine on boost by – wait for it – slip­ping t he torque con­verter in the tranny, al­low­ing the car to crawl a long and up and over the ob­sta­cle.

Now, this is fine if you’ re only go­ing to drive over one rock or log per hour. How­ever, that’s not been my ex­pe­ri­ence of off-road­ing, and I reckon some­where like the high coun­try or on the sandy in­land tracks of Fraser Is­land, t hat torque con­verter is go­ing to be slip­ping a lot of the time. Which, in­evitably, means the pro­duc­tion of heat. And lots of it. And as any­body who knows auto trannies will tell you, heat is the en­emy. In fact, it roots auto trannies good and proper.

I’m not sug­gest­ing we go back to points and car­bu­ret­tors( re­ally, I’m not) but I would like to see an end to tech­nol­ogy be­ing used as as top-gap fix for poor de­sign in the first place. Any­body else feel this way?

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