The Slow Car Movement


You’ve heard of the slow food movement. How about the slow car movement? This article in GQ by Jamie Lincoln Kitman describes perfectly why old school is most cool. New cars are so fast and packed with electronic gizmos that driver skill is seldom required or utilized on public roads. With nostalgics, you can push the car (and yourself) to the limit every time you get behind the wheel.

From the tuner crowd to the massing army of drifters who get their kicks sliding through corners in ’80s-era Nissans and Toyotas, from the motorists who get their jollies commuting in Honda Fits, low-end Subarus, and diesel-powered VWs to the old-car lovers like me, whose idea of bliss is a well-oiled 1960s sports machine—our nation’s relentless march to horsepower oblivion has finally got some real competition. The times demand we burn less fuel, yes. But we slow-car types are also demanding that we have more fun.

The full article is an excellent read and perhaps something you can show your spouse when she (or he) asks what that old heap is doing there.

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13 Responses to The Slow Car Movement

  1. Kev said:

    Amen to that. Always liked Jamie Kitman’s writing!

    The great thing about old cars is that it’s not a speed contest, and nobody cares if a Lamborghini Miura is quicker than a Ferrari Daytona down the quarter. It’s just about character and fun.

  2. DerrickS said:

    I’ve always known this – hence my love for older cars. Light and nimble, and when you get a good drift going and look down at the speedo and your doing 50 mph, well, that’s just fantastic. Try breaking the rear end of a 370z loose and see how fast your going when it happens.

  3. E-AT_me said:

    this is exactly why i love my miata for the track. so much more rewarding than driving something like a Vette..

  4. Nigel said:

    My 81′ Corolla would hang out the tail if you tilted your head wrong…way more fun than my Civic.

  5. JT191 said:

    That’s an interesting assertion that I have never heard expressed by anyone I have ever come into contact with. Perhaps the writer should do some time behind the wheel of a race car before taking on this subject.
    And as someone who spends the entire race season doing my best to embarrass the owners of the new and outrageously high sticker price cars such as Lotus Elsie Superchargeds, Lotus Exiges, V8 Cobra kit cars, and BMW M3s, with 20+ year old econoboxes, neither I nor my competition would say my cars are “slow”.
    The main difference is that 20+ year old cars were built to hold four 170 pound, reasonably physically fit, human beings, and every car currently on the market was built to carry four or more buffaloes. The control arms and frame rails do not have to be the size of I beams out of the Sears Tower, because it wasn’t expected to haul 2000 pounds of passengers.
    My econobox was additionally not saddled with hundreds of pounds of noise and vibration dampeners so that the driver could do their makeup in the rear view mirror while cruising at 40 MPH. No cup holder, ice box, radar sensors, or cup holders, either. The driver’s seat is not a Lazy Boy recliner with extending footrest so I can lay back and stare at the dash mounted fireplace on long drives. Instead, it holds your behind so that your legs press against the pedals and your hands against the wheel. And modern cars with the thousand pounds of creature comforts all drive like trucks, causing the need for stability control system or ABS, neither of which my 20+ year old econobox are saddled with, because it drives like a car. Regardless, ABS and stability control are banned by just about every track racing sanctioning body, because they are not safe on a track. And neither is an air bag with a full face helmet (see FIA warning).
    What makes old cars more fun? They weren’t built to haul around obese people, they were built in a time that driving was a skill that was expected to be learned, and the experience of travel was not expected to be as sedate as laying on the couch and watching a large screen TV. Think how different cars could be, if kids would stare out the side windows at the world going by, instead of at the flat screen TV mounted in the headrest in front of them, and automakers returned cars to their original intent.

  6. Jamie Kitman said:

    Hey Guys,

    You’ll be glad to hear I just picked up a Datsun 1600 (late 1970 model) and I keep looking to see if someone didn’t switch the radials back to the original bias-plies.

    Jamie Kitman

  7. Tyler said:

    Thanks for this link. It’s so true- even in an old fwd car you can sometimes get the tail out.

  8. formuladread said:

    How about mixing old school and new school! Best of both worlds! Datsun 510 with F20c !

  9. bert said:

    My bone stock 86 MR2 was stupid fun! Without ABS or traction control. It was a little faster than Toyota originally said too. Most people who saw it’s compact size said I was going to get killed in it, but I thought it was safer than a lot of newer cars with all their technology! Some of the new cars I see seem kind of dangerous, with all the techno robot stuff that takes control away from the driver! Just watch Richard Hammond try to park a Lexus LS460 with the “Intuitive Park Assist” (ooh fancy words) to prove my point! Even though it was small, the MR2 made me actually drive the car, wich made my senses more alert, and aware of traffic, and it gave me a lot more feedback about what was going on with the car than some of these heavier electro bricks we drive today!! I will always love the older “slower” cars, and the day I’m forced to sit in some boring peice of plastic made in Silicon valley that drives itself to wherever it thinks I want to go, my soul will wilt into a sad pile of gasoline and old engine oil:(

  10. bert said:

    @JT191- AMEN on the tv thing bro!!! My mother in law just bought a Honda Pilot with a DVD player, and whenever we go for a ride in her car my kids are always missing something cool that we just passed by!

    Me: Louis! Look at that old WW2 fighter plane that just flew by! Isn’t it awesome!

    Son: What, huh, I don’t see anything! Can you be quite, I’m tryin to watch Jonny Quest!

  11. Nigel said:

    The main safety devices of a car: driver, steering wheel, throttle & brake.
    Common sense says, where your seat belt. Airbags were invented for people who don’t wear seat belts. The laws of physics don’t change. Automakers just try to cheat those laws.

  12. glitched said:

    Yeah, I’ve always said that it’s more fun/rewarding to drive a slow car fast than it is to drive a fast car slow… (slow car driven to it’s full potential vs not being able to drive the fast car to it’s potential)

  13. Jun said:

    I’ve been out on mountain drives with BMW M-somethings, STI’s and other go-fast cars with my 510 running the stock L16 for all it’s got. Sure I get to the rest stop a heck of a lot slower but you couldn’t wipe the grin off my face if you tried. Fantastic article! Ben how the hell are ya. And how are my Star Sharks looking on your ride?

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