It's the age old debate of old versus new.
Almost every gearhead has been asked, "do you like old sports cars or newer ones better?" To most of us that's like choosing between pizza and ice cream or deciding to have a one-night stand with either Megan Fox or Scarlett Johansson. We'd be happy with either option and are glad to inhabit a planet where each possibility hypothetically exists. But questions deserve answers, so we had Joel Patel and Gabe Beita-Kiser debate it. Joel is taking the side of classics while Gabe prefers his cars a bit newer.
Cars may be inanimate objects, but each one has a personality. And while modern cars may be faster, safer and more technologically advanced, having a car that speaks to you is something only a classic can do. Unlike modern cars, classics have less driver aids, which not only makes them more enjoyable to drive but will also make you a better driver. There are too many nannies keeping the driver in line in modern cars, but a classic has no tech and allows you to feel like a true race car driver. Since classics don’t have the latest technology, the cars are usually much cheaper. Take this 1967 Porsche 911R as an example. The classic is expected to fetch $140k at auction while a new 911 R starts at $185k.
If you’re not interested in spending so much, classic cars like the Mazda Miata can be had for under $4,000, while the modern variant costs $25k. Unless you go after a unicorn, classics tend to be much cheaper than modern cars, which makes them better for enthusiasts. When it comes down to it, who cares about being comfortable when commuting to work? Classic cars are good at one thing: their intended function. A classic sports car like the BMW E30 M3 is good at tackling back roads, not commuting to work in. But isn’t that the point of a sports car? With a classic, you’re getting a car that’s great at one thing. Whether that be spirited driving or putzing around town, classics do one thing well, which gives you more time to enjoy driving.
Speaking of enjoying the act of driving, classics were made at a time when fuel-economy and safety didn’t matter. Even the act of turbocharging was better in cars of the past as turbo lag was used to make cars like the Ferrari F40 more thrilling to drive. Don’t forget, Jeremy Clarkson called the F40 “the greatest supercar the world has ever seen” and that’s a classic.
Buddhist monks and spiritual types like to talk about one of the greatest revelations that someone can make in their lives: becoming aware of the present moment. This maxim also holds true when it comes to sports cars. Focusing on the present crop of sports car offerings is better than becoming the bitter person who dwells on the past complaining how things just used to be better. It’s not like old Porsches and Miatas won’t forever hold a place in our hearts. It’s just that when it comes down to which one you’d actually buy, the new car wins every time. We always have to have respect for cars like the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL and the Jaguar E-Type for being the game changers for cars that followed.
But if you’re thinking about bringing these on your morning commute, you must be crazy. It’s like taking an old age home to a theme park. They will get cranky, overexerted, and an ambulance might have to be called. Similarly, owning a classic sports car is a responsibility that not many people are prepared to handle. Ding a fender in a parking lot accident? Then you need to find someone who specializes in your specific classic car or scan the junkyard and expensive aftermarket parts catalogs to replace the piece. Do you live a busy high-mileage commuter life? Then make sure you're ready to live at your mechanic's if you put that kind of wear and tear on a less-than-reliable 1970s Porsche 911.
Logic aside, since most buyers of classic cars are making an emotional purchase, just remember that emotional bonds are forged between man and machine one drive at a time. How do you know you won’t buy a new sports car that will turn out to be the next mega classic twenty years from now? With styling, power, and personality oozing from most new sports cars, it’s hard not to find a car to fall in love with. And don’t mention that hearsay about newer cars having a diluted driving experience. If you can get behind the wheel of a new Porsche 911 GT3 RS or a BMW M4, take the car to an open road, and still not find a way to have fun, then the problem sounds like one of the personal variety.