Let­ters

Automobile - - Contents - Wood­bridge, Vir­ginia

Af­ford­able clas­sics, ma­ni­a­cal 360s, and Maserati epipha­nies.

I LIKED Mike Floyd’s col­umn, “Buy­ing and Sell­ing” (De­cem­ber), about the high­est-priced clas­sic cars. Yes, rare Fer­raris, Co­bras, and Jags will con­tinue to com­mand high prices as long as rich guys will bid against each other. But ac­cord­ing to one com­pany’s re­search, less than 20 per­cent of car sales oc­cur at auc­tion, with 12 per­cent done through deal­ers and 71.5 per­cent done be­tween pri­vate par­ties. I un­der­stand the auc­tion mar­ket is rel­a­tively easy to doc­u­ment, whereas pri­vate sales are more or less done in opaque mar­ket­places; you men­tioned a ru­mored $70 mil­lion sale price of a Fer­rari GTO done in one of these dark-al­ley trans­ac­tions. It is fun to look at the high­fliers of the clas­sic car world, but I would re­ally like to see what reg­u­lar peo­ple are spend­ing on their cars. What’s the av­er­age Chev­elle sell for, and what type of con­di­tion does this price point cor­re­spond to? What about MGBs, C3 Corvettes? If I am new to the hobby, do I need to drop six fig­ures to par­take in the lo­cal cruise night, or can I get by with an old, cool-look­ing car without break­ing the bank? What about replica cars? They are gain­ing more in­ter­est as the orig­i­nal ver­sions be­come harder to ac­quire, even for well-heeled buy­ers. Do match­ingnum­bers cars still carry the same al­lure as they did in the ’80s and ’90s? These are just some top­ics I would like to see ad­dressed in your Clas­sic sec­tion. Thanks.

MARK PURTELL

Chicago, Illi­nois

I am one of the masses, with my big­gest auc­tion splurge be­ing a 1997 Acura NSX. But I have also bought and sold Fiat Spi­ders, MGBs, and Mercedes-Benz 560SLs on­line. I’d like to see more cov­er­age of cars like that, the ones that are less than $20,000 but ap­pre­ci­at­ing. Stuff like Volk­swa­gen Bugs and Kar­mann Ghias, Cor­vairs, Healeys both Jensen and Austin va­ri­eties. I would deem these “af­ford­able clas­sics.” While it’s nice to dream about a BMW Z8, it’s even nicer to fix up a clas­sic Fiat with a neigh­bor and en­joy the Ital­ian melody as it roars back to life. And even that pales to the top-down ride in your af­ford­able clas­sic, know­ing your car will prob­a­bly be the only one of its type on the road to­day. Keep up the good work. I’m back to read­ing your mag­a­zine now and catch­ing up with my 15-year-old Audi TT. Oh, which I also put in that “af­ford­able clas­sic” cat­e­gory. You know, for the masses.

R.J. MARKS

Tal­la­has­see, Florida

AN­OTHER EPIPHANY

I couldn’t agree more with Arthur

St. An­toine’s thoughts ex­pressed in his “Epiphany in a Maserati” col­umn (De­cem­ber). I have two Maser­atis, a 2012 Qu­at­tro­porte S and a 2014 GT cabri­o­let. Sure, there are faster cars, but few of those are styled as el­e­gantly as these two Pin­in­fa­rina beau­ties.

And the en­gine and the sounds! In the cabrio, top down, the belches, bur­bles, and wails are worth the price. Those who have heard it walk away say­ing, “Wow.” I once en­coun­tered a neigh­bor, and he re­marked, “Watch­ing you at play in [those cars], you’re

13.” I con­sid­ered it a com­pli­ment.

The Maserati for­mula truly is an in­tox­i­cat­ing elixir.

CHRIS EISENHART

York, Penn­syl­va­nia

360 VIEW

Re­gard­ing your drive of the Subaru 360 (De­cem­ber): I lived near Cherry Hill, New Jer­sey, dur­ing the ’60s and ’70s, not far from Subaru of Amer­ica’s head­quar­ters. Af­ter the com­pany stopped re­tail­ing the 360, some or all of the ve­hi­cles left were used at a small go-kart-like track be­hind the head­quar­ters. I re­call it was $5 for five laps; you could run wide open and not go very fast. I think you had to sign a waiver and wear a hel­met. I had a great time with friends try­ing to de­stroy the cars. They drove just like the ar­ti­cle said: SLOW.

PETER LEE

Nash­ville, Ten­nessee

I en­joyed Aaron Gold’s fea­ture on the his­tory of Subaru in the U.S. The com­pany has come a long way, as have many Ja­panese man­u­fac­tur­ers. It’s dif­fi­cult to imag­ine there was only 25 hp in those orig­i­nal cars! But please let him know that what he refers to as “ce­ment trucks” are re­ally con­crete trucks. Ce­ment is a dry, gray pow­der, which, when com­bined with wa­ter and gravel, makes con­crete and is then trans­ported in the large trucks he is re­fer­ring to. Ce­ment is not hard and does not weigh a lot by it­self, and it is com­monly con­fused with con­crete. But I’m do­ing what I can to cor­rect this er­ror!

JAMES WALKER

Franconia, New Hamp­shire

Ce­ment isn’t hard—and nei­ther is the ce­ment slurry in the truck. Con­crete is the so­lid­i­fied end re­sult.— Ed.

COME ON, FORD

Your New and Fu­ture Cars is­sue (Sep­tem­ber/Oc­to­ber) is great. I loved your ren­der­ing of the Lin­coln Mark IX Coupe. I won­der why my in­tel­li­gent note to Ford was ig­nored; I sim­ply suggested that the com­pany giving up sedans is a fine idea, but I asked them to please tell me what the mi­gra­tion path is these days for a Ford buyer? Mus­tang to F-150? I think not. Once the Mus­tang owner has a fam­ily, the ’Stang goes. So why not a sexy, sleek, four-door ver­sion of the Mus­tang? The idea is good enough for Porsche, As­ton Mar­tin, etc. How about hav­ing your tal­ented artists do a ren­der­ing of that? I would love to see it, and maybe some­one at Ford will wake up. Keep up the great work. GREG CHAGARIS

Hills­bor­ough, Cal­i­for­nia

THE PAS­SION IS DEAD

It is with a heavy heart that I am con­sid­er­ing al­low­ing my 26-year-long sub­scrip­tion to Au­to­mo­bile to lapse. As I look at the con­tent of each new is­sue that ar­rives in my mail­box,

I’m faced with so many cars I have zero de­sire to drive. With nary a man­ual trans­mis­sion in sight, it’s all manu­mat­ics, elec­tric cars, and self­driv­ing drones as far as the eye can see. Why do I care that a new Ford GT or Porsche GT2 RS are mind­blow­ingly fast if all it takes to get there is to put your right foot down? Where is the pas­sion for the per­fect up­shift or the sat­is­fac­tion of a wellex­e­cuted heel-toe down­shift? As I look in my garage at my new Subaru WRX, I know it will likely be the last new car I will ever be able to buy with a man­ual trans­mis­sion, and I will hang onto it un­til they pry it out of my cold, dead hands.

EVAN LON­DON

Or­ange, Con­necti­cut

Even our staff is di­vided on this one, Evan. We will al­ways love man­ual gear­boxes. But in the con­text of modern hy­per­cars—es­pe­cially when driv­ing them quickly on tracks or in oth­er­wise suit­ably con­trolled en­vi­ron­ments—you quickly find thoughts of stick-shift­ing van­ish when you’re try­ing to catch your breath af­ter ac­cel­er­at­ing to 60 mph in less than 3 sec­onds, brak­ing later than you ever imag­ined pos­si­ble, and hold­ing on while cor­ner­ing at more than 1 g. The way these cars achieve per­for­mance to­day might be dif­fer­ent than in the past, but the rush is still the same as al­ways.— Ed.

LONG LIVE THE PAS­SION

Arthur St. An­toine’s col­umn in the De­cem­ber is­sue was a great read. While I’ve never had the op­por­tu­nity to drive a Maserati Gran Turismo—an “If I win the lot­tery” must-buy—I did have a pretty great ex­pe­ri­ence in a car over the sum­mer. It was a first-gen­er­a­tion new Mini Cooper S con­vert­ible, my mom’s. I wanted some qual­ity man­ual-trans­mis­sion time and to take my 5-year-old son for a ride. When we got a rea­son­able dis­tance from my par­ents’ house, I floored it, shift­ing into sec­ond, then third. My son laughed from the back seat. For the next 20 min­utes or so, I drove quickly on the straight stretches and only slightly slower through some great bends in the road. Be­ing able to take a cer­tain type of turn at 40-plus mph with no drama is pretty great. My son loved ev­ery minute of it. It was great hear­ing him laugh and see­ing him en­joy it so much. Maybe a few more quick drives on the windy roads near Granny and Pa’s house will get him lov­ing cars as much as I do.

DEREK MAR­TIN

Conway, Penn­syl­va­nia

A TT TALE

Hav­ing once bought a 10-year-old orig­i­nal model Audi TT Qu­at­tro,

I was pleased to see “Audi TT at

20” on the cover of the De­cem­ber is­sue. I first test-drove a Denim

Blue (in­side and out) 2000 TT at a lo­cal dealer, but the car was sold at auc­tion. I even­tu­ally tracked it down at an­other dealer. My wife had not seen or driven it, so we hopped in. She looked left, punched it, and turned right onto the street. I was slammed back into the seat; she hit sec­ond and kept the pedal down. I saw the speedo and told her to slow down. “This thing is fast!” Af­ter com­plet­ing the sale, I no­ticed the large in­ter­cooler where there should have been none. Open­ing the hood, I saw “FORGE MO­TOR­SPORTS” on the hose from the in­ter­cooler to the in­take. “APR” was on the blow-off valve. We found a re­ceipt show­ing the work done to the car, in­clud­ing the re­flashed com­puter. Oh, boy! Our lo­cal ser­vice writer later stated the car was con­ser­va­tively putting out at least 50 per­cent more horse­power and torque than stock. So, that was $10,500 well spent. Ex­cept, as many dis­cover, a $40,000 Ger­man car is still a $40,000 car when it needs some­thing. Af­ter a few is­sues, it was time to put it on eBay. But I’m glad I had the op­por­tu­nity to own one. SCOTT ROBB

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