Friday, August 8, 2014

"Uncompromised Luxury"

It's interesting to see how far the culture and expectations surrounding cars has changed throughout the last century.  I mentioned that in an earlier post and today, I'll take my opinion about the subject into a little more detail.


Video from Audi of America

I saw the above advertisement one morning and near the end of the video, the words "uncompromised luxury" jumped out at me.  I laughed at myself, noticing how much my preferences for a luxury car differed from what people today expect from a luxury car.  Today, most luxury cars (not limited to Audi) are pretty fuel efficient, laden with electronic features, and have sporty handling.  Regular cars are also getting more luxurious as they come.  The nice Audi in this advertisement isn't even expensive by today's standards.  While I can't deny that today's luxury cars are very fancy indeed, it seems like my preferences for luxury cars are more on par with those of an old man.  

1976 Lincoln Continental Mark IV, Givenchy designer series
Image from http://en.wikipedia.org/

If it wasn't made clear already, everything here is purely based on my opinion.  There is no doubt that luxury cars today are much better cars than the Lincoln pictured above ever was.  Why, then, would I prefer the big, old Lincoln as a luxury car? Well, it can be said that luxury cars today are a compromise between a sports car and a luxury car.  Of course, the argument is double-sided and someone else could say that luxury cars don't have to handle like boats and the poor handling itself is a compromise.  The same can be said about abundant electronic features making the fast-paced life convenient or the lack thereof for a more simple, relaxed driving experience.  Arguments can be made about a small, efficient engine that likes to rev versus a laid-back, bulletproof big block V8.  

1976 Lincoln interior
Image from blog.hemmings.com/

When I think of a luxury car, I think of big cruisers from the '50s to the '70s.  I think of cars that had an interior and ride so plush that I could just as well be lounging in a sofa, effortlessly floating over the road.  In my eyes, an archaic, rock-solid big block V8 would make an appropriate source of propulsion.  An engine that prefers to cruise, but can still push plenty hard when extra thrust is needed.  Most of the big engines from back in the day had a reputation of being extremely durable and reliable.  Also, simple technology can be fixed more easily and less time in the shop means more time for cruising.  Less money on repairs means more left for gasoline and fancy dinners!  

The 1957 Lincoln Premiere came with a rugged 368 cubic-inch, 300 hp V8
Image from hooniverse.com

Almost all luxury cars today are a blend of a weekend track car and a comfortable, high-end commuter and there's not a single thing wrong with that.  I understand that people these days don't want to be "limited" by luxury in terms of handling performance and ease of parallel parking (If you're complaining about dragging the door handles on the ground in a turn, then you're in too much of a rush to be driving luxury.  Don't take me too seriously, though).  Today, you can drive your fancy car to and from work during the week and take that very same car to the track for the weekend and perform reasonably well.  Many advertisements, including the one above, market the cars in exactly that way.  There is a convenience associated with not having dedicated vehicles for each task; however, that's just not my style.  Everyone knows that the harder you drive a car, the sooner it will break.  Driving a car fast on a track also has risks in itself.  For a race car, I'd prefer something built by myself for little money, something that I can throw around and break without much regret when extracting every bit of performance.  It doesn't have to be very comfortable or technologically advanced, it just has to be fast.  If I was to drive an expensive car around the track, I wouldn't be so willing to push its limits out of fear of damaging it.  That entirely defeats the purpose of a race car for me.  Then, if I was to have a purpose-built track car, why pay tens of thousands for the same attributes in a new luxury car, right?

1946 Cadillac Series 62
Image from oldcarbrochures.com

Many land yachts from the 1970s can be found today in great condition for only a few thousand dollars. Not having to pay through the nose for a fancy car is another plus for me, but that was more of a pleasant discovery than a deciding factor for what I prefer.  These examples were probably well cared for and softly driven by elderly folks to the church and the store, rather than on a race track.  The thirsty V8 torque motors barely had to work to get the big metal hulks moving. In today's culture filled with disposable goods, car enthusiasts forty years from now will be hard-pressed to find our new luxury cars in good shape for low prices.


Late '60s - early '70s Lincoln Mark III.  The big block V8s like this 460 c.i. (7.5 liter) Ford had mountains of torque just off idle.  Try doing this in a new Lexus! Video from tylerhodgson699

UPDATE August 10: It seems that someone not so old has taken a confident step into the realm old-school luxury, at least for the smoothness of ride.  Not American, but this will be interesting ...