Journal: How Can Car Manufacturers Reclaim That Vintage-Car Driving Feel?

How Can Car Manufacturers Reclaim That Vintage-Car Driving Feel?

Afshin Behnia By Afshin Behnia
February 28, 2013
31 comments

 

Today car manufacturers have a lot of obstacles to overcome in order to make a car that I can get excited about.  A lot of these obstacles were created by the manufacturers themselves, others are external, such like the dreaded pedestrian safety requirements that have rendered the noses of modern cars so big and bulky. Though I could write pages on all the reasons why modern cars lack excitement, for me it boils down to one fundamental reason: a lack of connection.

In a modern car, I don’t feel connected to either the road or to the car.  So much technology goes into modern cars to isolate the driver from the driving experience. Drive-by-wire, overly assisted steering, aggressive traction control, and excessive sound deadening, all make for a detached experience.

So, manufacturers: if you’re listening, give us a car that makes us feel connected!

– – –

Now we’d love to hear from you. What do you think car manufacturers need to do to help us reclaim the feeling we get when driving vintage cars? 

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Jose DelgadilloChris BoydAlvin Woomr smeeReilly Dowd Recent comment authors
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rivguy
rivguy

One of the realities of vintage cars owned by enthusiasts, is the realization that these are vehicles that force you to make a lot of compromises. They are not every day cars for all around consumers. They don’t “fit” everyone. Sometimes they are too small like a Fiat Topolino or too big like a Cadillac Fleetwood. They are too much trouble or require too much involvement to drive. Manual transmissions, manual chokes, hand crank windows, poor heating, no a/c, raise you own convertible top. Starting takes a little finesse with old school carbs, gotta let it build up a little… Read more »

Chris Boyd
Chris Boyd

Realistically if you want classic then you need to buy an older car. However if you want a modern car with the feeling of a direct connection to the road and driver, you need to look at things like the E36 BMW. They were modern (when they were made obviously) but are an epic driver’s car. I also drove a 2017 Challenger RT in the states recently which I think captured the classic muscle feel while maintaining the modern comforts of climate control and an 8 speed auto perfectly. Having also driven a Zl1 Camaro and Shelby Stang the last… Read more »

Alvin Woo
Alvin Woo

I think cars from the 80s-90s were the best balance of modern practicality yet not disconnected.

Nowadays, they are just trying to sell cars with spec numbers. So boring. Even the FT-86 which a few would say is the closest, lets be honest…its no where near with all the comforts and assists.
The focus was on the driver, now its on selling the car…but thats what drives their numbers. I guess we are all to blame?

mr smee
mr smee

I had a 1990 Cressida and it’s no sports car, despite Supra underpinnings, but, it had a lightness no recent car could match. At speed the steering felt like it was manual and not powered – and in a good way! My other car is a 2000 Lexus GS400 and even it feels old-school when I’m given a 2017 IS loaner from the dealer where I get maintenance done.

Simon Lockie
Simon Lockie

A couple of cars that spring to mind that have a ‘classic feel’ are the first generation Mazda MX5 (Or Miata to some of you). The designers certainly did their research and got a lot of things right. And also the new FIAT 500, while it has many concessions to modern life, it also remains a very faithful modern interpretation of the original 500. By which I mean, it does not drive the same, but it occupies the same space in the modern car world. Small, economical and stylish.

Steely
Steely

If you want that classic car feel, classic is the only way to go, apart from safety and other regulation, i don’t think there is mass market appeal, most people want a lifetime warranty and to be driven by the computer . The type of car refered to, back in the day, made best use of the technology available at the time and was refined by certain manufacturers to be as good as it could be (at a price), cheaper mass produced cars occasionly got it right, often due to simplicity rather than design, but most cars were horrible to… Read more »

Thomas Stevenson
Thomas Stevenson

I agree with a lot of sentiments above. It’s a hard question to answer. Manufacturers are always going to chase the profit and it leaves those like us with few meaningful choices. The SUV craze, these CUV oddities, the hybrid wave… Electronic nannies are here to stay. Airbags and super mega crumple zones and whatever other safety devices will continue to be stuffed into our cars with reckless abandon. My only suggestion is to cultivate the excitement the way my dad’s ’69 Mach I cultivated mine. Get that kid to stare slack jawed at a metal masterpiece driving by them.… Read more »

Bruce Stanley
Bruce Stanley

The question is very hard because I don’t think comfort and convenience and engagement to can exist together or be manufactured into a single platform. Part of what makes a great drive is the right combination of Noise, Vibration and Harshness, something that is starting to make a little bit of a comeback after years of being engineered out. Manufacturers are figuring out that some NVH is good, but the danger is that it could be over-engineered and sterile. The best ways to get NVH are stiff bushings and motor mounts, louder intakes and exhausts, thinner seats, manual steering, stiffer… Read more »

Ae Neuman
Ae Neuman

the toyota 86 mention previously is good for a modern car but it’s talents don’t feel natural.
the whole thing smacks of contrivance, hence if it came to a showdown it would be an original ae86 over the pretender.

Travis Barr
Travis Barr

simple…. get rid of the plastic… that simple step will bring back the vintage and craftsmanship to the industry…

John Abrishamkar
John Abrishamkar

in my opinion, what defines a vintage feel is lack of perfection. when you drive a vintage car, you can feel and sense the imperfections of it. the steering, it’s cornering ability (or lack there of), the imperfect gaps in body work. These are things that give a vintage car the character it has, it lets the driver “learn” the car, and in my opinion, get attached to it. today’s precision in manufacturing, replaces that personality with a different one. I guess what I’m saying is, car manufacturers should limit some of the electronic drivers aids and let the driver… Read more »

Gruns
Gruns

When Porsche discontinues the sale of manual transmissions, all hope will be lost. Face it guys, we are the odd-balls. Everyone else wants an iPad on their dashboard. They want to drive a toaster. They want it big, quiet, comfortable, with all kinds of gadgets to keep the kids entertained, and they want it fast even though they’ll likely never exceed 75 MPH. Government conspires with the appliance people. We get pedestrian impact standards, multiple airbags, traction control, ABS, auto transmissions, power everything, CAFE standards, hybrids, everything, and boring. You can get them in any color as long as it’s… Read more »

Reilly Dowd
Reilly Dowd

I think you have to be right; since you wrote this, cars are more detached than ever, beige is definitely a part of the colors you listed, and even the best of the performance-driven production have less character than it’s worth mentioning

Leucea Alexandru
Leucea Alexandru

Today only several car companies can partially reclaim this feeling and thus a better connection between the car and driver. I would say that Porsche and BMW for example, are still remembering their roots and remain faithful to the true driving experience with models such as the 911 or the 1M Coupe. From the above i have only experienced the Porsche, but i think BMW’s package is quite interesting. But that’s only if you can afford it. So what about the people who cannot? I say to the manufacturers, give us more possibilities. Give us more choices. I’m not talking… Read more »

Lewis deSoto
Lewis deSoto

I believe that one way to restore driving feel is to have assisted steering work only during parking maneuvers and the like and that when one pushes the “sport” button, it turns off the assist completely, thus saving more gas and returning real driving feel to the steering wheel.

Ahmet Köseleci
Ahmet Köseleci

Absolutely no EPAS, more steering feel, less sound insulation, characteristic exhaust note, close ratio manual transmission and lightness, lightness, lightness…
Although i do not like its design, Toyota GT86 is on the right way.

Ahmet Köseleci
Ahmet Köseleci

I dream of a cheap Mclaren F1 LM :p

Darren Lane
Darren Lane

Get the car back to basics, I drive a series 1 lotus elise, rifle bolt gear change, no driver aids, mechanical steering, stripped out light, not big on power (circa 160bhp) but very rewarding to drive, you drive her smooth and the rewards are great, ok a fuel injected engine but it gives a sense of road feel that is unsurpassed to anything I have driven. And thats how a car should feel.. like when your a kid and you build yourself a wood gokart its raw, bumpy but loads of fun and the chance you may graze your knee… Read more »

Sid
Sid

I don’t know if I want my new cars to feel like vintage cars. Or my vintage cars to feel like new ones. What I do think would make new cars more enjoyable in a vintage car way is too make everything interface between driver and car more tactile. I wouldn’t mind paddle shifters if they felt like you were doing something. A nice crisp *snick* feel or “chish* sound or something. Steering feel needs to be engaging. Engine/Exhaust note should be unique. When I drive my wife’s ’12 VW CC I feel so disengaged from machine and surroundings that… Read more »

French Autodrome
French Autodrome

Very interesting question. One reason of the actual car is that majority of drivers are not really driver but just “users”. A lot of people don’t care about drive feelings. They just want confort, equipment… And the manufacturers followed these demands to ensure their “happy” days… To have a change the majority of people sould change point of view…and understand that less equipment could ensure more efficiency, so less panne, fuel consumption even better, lower purchase price….and lighter therefore more dynamic…and therefore more pleasure behind the wheel ! 😉 all this a bit philosophical 😉 That’s right that it still… Read more »

French Autodrome
French Autodrome

i forgot.
for those who are interested : http://thefrenchautodrome.blogspot.fr/
Thanks.

Hans Efde
Hans Efde

Buy a kit car. Build it yourself and drive it. Most rewarding automotive thing you’ll ever do and you will never be more connected to your car. Modern cars are like Iphones. They are full of gadgets (most of them you’ll never use) and when a new model comes out, the old model devaluates with 60\% and won’t be economical repairable anymore. Anyway nothing is properly fastened with nuts and bolts, it’s just beng beng slammed into place with plastic clips (check out the new Viper or Corvette build and you’ll see what I mean). So yes you can buy… Read more »

Josh Clason
Josh Clason

This is a fantastic idea that I don’t consider often enough.

Adam Holter
Adam Holter

Carburation, and everything that comes with it. Boom.

Andreas Lavesson
Andreas Lavesson

There are still some stripped down “club sport” or “cup” version, but they’re far too few. Also, keep the manuals! Even the Porsche 911 GT3 is an all automatic car these days and that’s just wrong. While fuel efficiency has got some manufacturers to realize that low weight is good, it’s done more harm than good. Drive-by-wire, electric power steering and all that shit is done in the name of “saving the planet”, but to enthusiasts those kinds of things are almost worse than death. Even the “back to basic driving pleasure” BRZ/FR-S has got electric power steering for crying… Read more »

Mauricio Lizama
Mauricio Lizama

Leave out power steering and add a manual transmission that will make you feel connected to the road and car

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange

Skinnier tyres. Wheel and tyres are getting bigger and bigger at the expense of feel. The GT86/BRZ/FRS is a step in the right direction with that.

William Wagner
William Wagner

Offer more cars with manual transmissions

Inigo Loy Colmenar
Inigo Loy Colmenar

Manufacturers should give us a choice if we want the stripped down, lightweight version or the more comfortable, cushy and decked out one.

Adam Kellar
Adam Kellar

I agree. I’d like that option a lot.

Afshin Behnia
Afshin Behnia

I second that. I even miss having cloth as an interior option (used to be standard).