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Too Much of a Good Thing

Toyota Supra burnout

Recently, I was reading the May 2013 issue of European Car that featured a Lamborghini Gallardo on the cover.  The horsepower figure said 1200.  That is a smorgasbord of power.  But this wasn’t the first time I’d seen such powerful cars being exhibited.  I’ve come across various YouTube videos of 1,200 horsepower Lambos, 900 Horsepower GTRs, the list just goes on; name any supercar and I’ve probably seen a 1,000 horsepower version of it somewhere.

On paper, these monstrous machines seem awe-inspiring, the type of car that has the sort of performance to make the hair on the back of your neck to give a standing ovation.  But in the real world, well it’s a bit of a different story.

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Racers for the Road

2014 Porsche 991 GT3 at NYIAS
2014 Porsche 991 GT3 at NYIAS

After an early wakeup, an unexpected overnight stay,  and a bus trip I’d rather not talk about, I found myself amongst the thousands of others who had also flocked to 2013’s edition of the New York International Auto Show.  Having endured the exhausting trials of the trip to the Big Apple and being dragged to a late-night Broadway show by mom (although seeing Ferris Bueller in person can’t necessarily be complained about), I was ecstatic to finally be standing with the sorts of cars that I had only previously seen in pictures and read about in magazines.

One car in particular stood out among the rest; that controversial Porsche 991 GT3 has been the topic of an immeasurable amount of cooler talk conversations.  Granted, it doesn’t look all that different from the 997 GT3, but the knowledge of all the differences under the body frame was what made seeing the car in person so special.  So, after cramming my cell phone’s memory card full with photos of the car, I took a moment to stand back and examine the car – including a gander into the tinted windows to take a peek at those notorious paddle shifters.

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Too Much Tech In Racecars?

#4 Corvette at the Sebring 24 Hours
#4 Corvette at the Sebring 24 Hours, courtesy of Motor Trend

If you watched the 2013 Sebring 12 Hour race, you already know that Corvette won.  If you didn’t watch the 2013 Sebring 12 Hour race, the vibrant, yellow Corvettes with the brutal and grunty V8 engines won the 61st edition of the 12 hour endurance race held in Florida every year.  However, if you watched the race, you also know that in order to win, Corvette Racing had to endure some nerve-wrecking technical difficulties rather early on in the event that forced the #3 Corvette Racing car to retire.  Luckily, the #4 team was able to look past the problems of their sister car and provide an exhilarating final few hours on their march to victory while ‘Vette Racing lovers slowly but surely recovered from their mini heart attacks.

It also, however, caused me to think a bit about the growing change in the complexity of racing cars.  And unfortunately, not all teams have been able to overcome non-driver-error technical difficulties like Corvette Racing did, resulting in disappointment among the team’s fans and racing lovers alike (let alone the team itself).  With that being said, I asked myself: ‘Is there too much technology in today’s racing cars?’

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To Shift Or Not To Shift

2014 Porsche 991 GT3

Controversy isn’t rare when it comes to the automotive industry.  There’s not a manufacturer on earth that hasn’t made something that, to put it nicely, didn’t quite stick.  However, I think it’s fair to say that we’ve not seen such a controversial topic as Porsche’s new 991 GT3 for quite some time.

Now if you’ve for some reason had your head fully submerged in a pit of mud, let me explain why this new GT3 is so controversial.  Recently, Porsche has been equipping it’s freshest sports cars with the company’s own PDK gearbox.  Along with the new electric power steering, Porsche’s latest creations have received quite an earful of complaints from nostalgic Porsche fanboys concerning the paddle-shifters located behind the shining steering wheels.  And when Porsche came out and said that the new GT3 would also be equipped with the PDK twin-clutch gearbox, the automotive world’s close followers erupted into an immense amount of complaints about the car.

Even after evo magazine released an almost twenty minute long interview with Porsche GT3 head Andreas Preuninger, and other online magazines also did their best to convince the growing population of groaning car enthusiasts that the car could still be great, many still remained unconvinced (keeping in mind that no one’s actually driven the car yet).

However, the new GT3 is not alone.  It seems that the conversion of manual ‘box cars to semi-automatic, paddle-shifting machines is a growing trend in the realm of sports cars.  Car after car, more and more companies are pressing on and equipping drivers with the flappy paddles as standard, and sometimes, it is the only option.  So, taking this into careful consideration, what can be said about the future of the sports car?  Where will manual ‘box cars be within the next two decades?  Where will paddle-shifting cars be within the next twenty years?  It’s a growing concern among many, and they’re all dying to find the answer.

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