Friday, May 29, 2015

Coffee Brake: Too Much Technology?

Welcome to DT's Coffee Brake, where the sugar is ground and the beans are cubed.  Today, I'd like to bring up the subject of technology in cars...and I've got to say that enough is enough.  The amount of inter-connectivity, touch screens, and general digitization is not only a distraction to the driver today, but will be an absolute pain in the butt when trying to debug issues 10 years from now.


Let's take the 2015 Ford Taurus SHO for example (picture credit Ford).  First of all, I'd like to mention that I am a big fan of the new SHO, driven a company car SHO many times and it was fantastic, fast, comfortable -- a massive rocket sled with limitless torque and good looks.  But, what happens when the climate control knob on your 1990 SHO fails-- you can head to a junkyard and find an extra part or perhaps some superglue, worst case you can probably figure out a way to turn the heat off temporarily and fix it in the future.  If the heater stops working in 2040 on this 2015 SHO I can't imagine you'd be able to debug the system without a full contingent of specialty Ford dealer scan tools and a degree in embedded programming from a top university.


Anybody who has ever worked on an old car (like a Saab 99...for instance) will tell you that each wire connector is a potential source of failure, and modern cars with touch screens turn that up to 11.  How long do you expect your current TV to last?  When it fails you just buy the next/latest/greatest TV in a larger size, but that touchscreen infotainment system in your new car is a bespoke piece of equipment specifically engineered for that car and within the decade will be 100% obsolete.  


Perhaps this is just me getting old, but the level of complete integration of wires (and near-field wireless) in a modern car is just staggering. Thankfully there is some standardization on communication protocols between manufacturers (like ISO 15765 & 15031) but the future for the home mechanic is going to be interesting.  My advice, start collecting cars from the late 90s/early 2000s because they will be the classics everybody wants in a few decades....not because they are faster/better, but because they can be fixed.

79 comments:

  1. Boy does this hit home. We just got a 2015 Subaru Crosstrek with every option available. My wife traded in her unbelievably troublesome Mini Cooper so having a ton of doo-dads and hoo-ha's doesn't worry her as much as it does me. I' m guessing that the Subaru is going to be quite a bit more reliable, though. The problem is that she doesn't even use the keyless entry (by touching the inside of the door handle to unlock the door), let alone 90% of the other things that we paid dearly for! We could have saved $8,000-$10,000 by getting a base model and could have added on another garage stall instead. Sigh..

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    1. We (my wife) just got a 2015 CX-5. I was pretty proud of myself for figuring out how to set the presets on the radio the other evening (cue the surprised it even has a radio comment). The owners manual is an intimidating. thick book, so it also comes with a colorful quick start guide pamphlet.

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  2. Cars today are disposable objects. They are in the same class as your TV, PC, etc. Heck, even dishwashers have sofisitcated electronics designed to cost more to fix than to buy a new one. When we buy a new car we always get the 100k bumper to bumper warranty with the understanding that after that we just get a new one. Sad but true.

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    1. And yes, V...you're getting old.

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    2. Mount Kill a man jar o, you're even funnier than my dear old dad sometimes

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    3. Thoughts, mrkwong?

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    4. It's a slippery slope, to be sure.

      At this point in time you have to go back a long way to get away from electronics and etc. So where do you draw the line?

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    5. Typo fixed from original comment; "More reasons to buy used!"

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  4. I don't think cars being produced today have much of a chance for collectability as we know it. They are a far cry from past collecibles like the 66 Mustang. First of all is the sheer number of parts that go into cars. You can more or less build many classics from aftermarket parts. I just don't see this as economically feasible for current cars. Second, all of the plastics in cars has a half-life. This stuff will turn into faded, brittle junk eventually. As has been mentioned, the electronics on cars will eventually break down and be obsolete by the time it needs replacement. Who really wants to breathe new life into old electronic gear? It doesn't have the appeal of bringing an old big-block back to life.

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    1. Andy -- I think it will be interesting to see how people deal with the complex technology in the future. Will we see hot-rodders pulling direct injection out of their E90/92 335i and replacing it with a simple port injection system in the same way that SPICA is often tossed aside for webers in an old Alfa? I think that cars from today will be collectible, it'll just be different. -Vince

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    2. If you pull the SPICA out of your Alfa, I will hunt you down...

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    3. He really will. Don't piss him off.

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    4. Nah. And we've just about gotten to the point that BMW engine controls, at least through a model or two old, have been hacked and can be fiddled with by a guy with a few hundred dollars worth of software.

      The point about plastics, though, is right on the button, and some manufacturers are much better about parts availability than others are.

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    5. I am thinking more about stuff like navigation options, climate control, audio stuff, etc. A lot of these all-in-one screens will be ugly dinosaurs in a few years. Some already are, if you ask me.
      I have thought of starting a company that does nothing but 3-D scan and catalog plastic bits from every car imaginable. Then, you could station 3-D printers in auto parts stores who could then print new ones and have them ready for you in a day. It would certainly be better than searching junk yards for used crap.

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    6. I don't believe there is a single car in mass production today that is a future collectible with any significant potential investment value. I'm emphasizing mass production. I'm not talking about hand-built Italian supercars. Some may stick around the scene longer than others, but collectible, no way. Collectible implies value, otherwise we're talking about nostalgia. Like others have said, the cars today are disposable appliances. Plus they're produced in staggering numbers. Collectibility with any real value needs some degree of rarity. That's why your '89 Miata with no miles is worth no money.

      As a counter to my own argument though, cars of the 50's and 60's were also designed and built in large numbers and were meant to be disposable, hence the annual re-designs. It's just that they were built with better materials and arguably had more style.

      The cars built today that stand out are the ones with new technology. New gets old and becomes a novelty. Anyone sane collecting 386 computers today? Would anyone consider the Tucker Torpedo more collectible than a '48 Chevy if Preston had produced 500,000 instead of 50? No, we'd laugh at the center headlight like we do at the Edsel grille. Chrysler Airflow? Bricklin? Advances in design that few appreciate. I think the high tech inside the cars today will be more troublesome in the future than the tech under the hood. Touch screens will never be better than knobs and switches.

      Plus, there are massive depreciation drop-offs on high end cars which is what one would expect to be more collectible. Like Rolex vs. Timex. Hope you didn't buy a Mercedes 600SEC because you thought top of the line two doors will pay off in the future. The Tesla Model S is the Oldsmobile Diesel of Generation Z. Once a better technology (likely Hydrogen) comes along, electric will be passe. Besides, young people don't care about cars the same way anymore. All those hipster d-bags will ditch cars in favor of old-tyme big-front-wheel bicycles. Sorry, I've slipped into Angry Old Man territory and I no longer remember where I was going with all of this. Get off my lawn!

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    7. Hey Nony Nony,

      Excellent points, all. I would interject that you do realize that those arguments, comments and observations have been made since not long after cars became mass-produced objects, right? Every generation of car enthusiasts have expressed those very same thoughts. The only difference that I can think of is the unprecedented 80s boom in collectible car values that we still enjoy/suffer to this very day.

      For cars in general to become uncollectable, there would need to be a massive paradigm shift, as you noted. It's possible but just as likely not, I think. Judging by our continued fascination with automobiles as a species, I'm thinking there will always be collecting going on. If young people today were truly not interested in cars, then that paradigm shift could be coming. But it's not, because they are. With a vengeance. It just may not look exactly like what you and I were expecting. I have been informed by an extremely reliable source that some teenage boys actually think the VW Rabbit Cabrio is a cool car. I never saw that one on the horizon, no sir.

      My apologies for crushing your crapemyrtle (I just love writing that word).

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    8. Well, since the 50s, at least.

      And if you look at the current collector car auction results, you'll note how many cars sold for quite a bit of money that aren't rare. The original Fiat 500 is a good example, plus plenty of VWs. None of those cars were even remotely rare, with bazillions sold.

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    9. Anonymous, I agree with pretty much all of your points. The biggest threat to the collector car will likely be the self-driving car. I predict that even the most die-hard purists will tire of the chore of navigating from A to B when he or she could be doing something different (like staring into a phablet) enroute. Once this happens, it is a matter of time until non-autonomous cars are regulated out of existence as too dangerous. Cars produced in 2020 will probably not be around long enough to become classics.

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    10. Brand new (2014 and 2105) mass-produced, under $90K MSRP cars already collectible. It doesn't even matter if you and I like them or not; they already are.

      2014 Ford Shelby GT500 (5,685 produced)

      [img]http://i.imgur.com/AfxGRfw.jpg?1[/img]

      2015 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 (2,500 projected)

      [img]http://i.imgur.com/VGTPuwq.jpg?1[/img]

      2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat (1,200+)

      [img]http://i.imgur.com/lMIfv6g.jpg?1[/img]

      2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray (37,288)

      [img]http://i.imgur.com/EO5hjdD.jpg?1[/img]

      2014 Ford Transit Connect (just kidding)

      [img]http://i.imgur.com/kadsqXm.jpg?1[/img]

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    11. I get your point, but I'm still sticking to my comments because I respectfully disagree. I think that even a production run of 5000 cars is still pretty limited. It's on the borderline of mass production for me. Not to mention that those are special versions of more common cars. The standard versions are not collectible. The Stingray above is a "standard version". Basic Corvettes hold value, but it's the special ones that are collected. Is there a C4-C6 standard model considered collectible? I haven't seen it.

      Show me a car that has 50,000+ in production and has collectible potential. But regardless, with the examples above, I think it's much less a factor of collectible and more a factor of market speculation. Remember when the Ford GT came out? Same thing. People pay over sticker on these things with speculation that they can make money, sometimes in short time. Think 25 years down the line though. Will a real car collector pay the same kind of attention (and money) to that 2014 Shelby GT500 as one from the early Shelby era? Doubtful. Does it mean that it's not collectible? Not sure. I think time will tell.

      You should buy a Transit Connect and put it in dry storage for 25 years then take it to Barrett Jackson in 2040 and prove to me a mass produced car with 10 miles on the odometer can be collectible. I dare you. ;)

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    12. By "a car" you mean a brand new car with production numbers in the 50K+ range that will be a guaranteed collectible....well, NOBODY knows that! Unless you're this guy...

      [img]http://i.imgur.com/ZzUFVVb.gif[/img]

      So there's not point in arguing that with you I suppose, regardless of the sure bets above (well, most of them anyway). I did notice that you've completely ignored my previous comment about the 500 though, with nearly FOUR MILLION sold. How convenient. Touche!

      5,685 cars produced in one model year is not my idea of rare. But you don't feel that way and that's fine. No worries.

      I accept your challenge! I've created a group funding site to raise money for my Transit Connect dream car, so feel free to donate however many thousands you see fit. I want one in poopoo brown just like the one pictured above. Isn't it dreamy? The URL is www.yeahsurewhatswrongwithk2.hemustbementalorsomething.com

      BTW, could you please create a username so that I don't have to talk to "Anonymous"? Something creative like "K2 Sucks Eggs", "I Heart K2" or "K2 4 Prez" would work great. Thanks!

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    13. Holy moley, I keep forgetting the entire point here! Pass the ginkgo biloba.

      THE REASON WHY these are all going to be collectibles is because they're all in the video games that kids are playing right now, this very moment. The cars they're interacting with as pixels are all modeled meticulously on these very cars (okay, not the Transit Connect). Not made-up, mythical cars that don't exist.

      Until my stupidphone decided it didn't like it any longer and would take a dump at the most inopportune times (usually when I did really well and won), I was playing Real Racing 3. That game was the greatest marketing tool I've ever seen in my entire life. And I HATE video games. Got no time for them.

      I'd earn a new car, race it and then latterly lust after the car so bad that I was stopping owners on the street to ask them about the characteristics of their cars. And every time, to the exact nuance, these cars were being displayed in the video game hyper-realistically.

      And THAT, my friends, is who is going to be buying collector cars in 30-40 years; the kids playing these games. They'll have fond memories of the fun times they had - and then they'll own them!

      And I...will be dead. Make sure you pour a forty on my tombstone, Holmes. All hail Real Racing 3!

      This guy isn't very good.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2717jQj6OQQ

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    14. Another, just for fun....

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtgEocsQ3aY

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    15. Instant collectible? Nah, never happen. I'd rather have a Yaris, preferably in beige.

      [img]http://i.imgur.com/PSapjFz.jpg?1[/img]
      It's, how you say? A SURE THING.

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    16. What cars made since 1973 have actually appreciated? T/A Super Duty, BMW M1, GNX, Ford GT? The Delorean, NSX, 930 and a few others on an upswing of late. The ones that keep their value are hardly driven and mileage still weighs heavily on resale values of most of these cars. For as much as an unmolested Supra TT is worth, you don't see people restoring them like a '60s Hemi. Why? Like I said earlier, they are too complex and plasticky to make it worth your while. You couldn't just restore it to concours and reset the odometer to zero like you could with a 356 Speedster and expect to recoup your investment on ebay. The fact that cars have been steadily improving in performance since the late 1970's has a lot to do with why cars are no longer future collectables, too. Why mothball a car that you know will be bested by the next year's model?

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    17. [img]http://media.caranddriver.com/images/09q4/300858/2011-aston-martin-cygnet-photo-317056-s-original.jpg[/img]

      My previous post does not apply to this sexy bitch. Collectable right out of the box.

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    18. Z8
      Vanagon Syncro
      Buick GNX
      Mid-oughts Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited
      Evo
      Landy 90 and 110
      FJ40
      911...pick one, even the 912
      4C
      M4 drop-top
      Ghibli S

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    19. Not the same, though. Would it make sense to actually restore any of these from a financial standpoint? I get the air cooled Porsches and Rovers, but these were still very simple machines compared to those getting produced today. Even the Ghibli would be a borderline labor of love. The rest retain their value only if driven very sparingly. Roll the odometer over on an Evo or a Z8 and the car is a sunk cost. Not really comparable to a 70 454 Chevelle or a Hemi Cuda.

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    20. I can't really tell if you're being serious or you're just pulling my leg. And you keep adding seemingly random criteria to support your claim (I would too!), such as post mid-70s, production numbers, restoration costs and odometer total.

      Have you seen any of the collector car auction results lately? Every single one of those cars above is a no-lose proposition at this moment in time, with no end in sight. Your odometer barometer(!) is true of any collectible. A Cuda with a million miles is going to be less than one with very few miles, that's a given. That logic doesn't preclude any of the cars I mentioned. Restoration is also not a very good criteria, see the Fiat 500 once again - a car surprisingly costly to fully restore. Besides, what's hot right now is unrestored; people want patinaed.

      Of the list just above, at least 6 of the 11 are new cars. In fact a couple have been on the market only a matter of months. And these are just a few cars that are already bonafide collector cars.

      You may not see any of these cars as collectibles but the market doesn't agree with you. Personally, I wish they weren't because then maybe I could afford to acquire a few of them. I'll take a GT500, GNX, 4C and the Evo, please. Oh, and the Transit Connect.

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    21. Plus you continue to ignore salient points, the main one being the video game factor. Sounds like none of the above cars are your cup of tea and that's coolio. Some are mine and some aren't. But you love classic muscle cars; I get it. They ARE great. I'd be crazy to argue that one!

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    22. Random criteria? Nothing random about them. Horsepower numbers dropped off badly starting in 1971. This is the main reason why 70s cars are overlooked by collectors. By the time cars became fast again, they were essentially disposable from a collector's point of view. Mileage is an incidental factor with pre 1971 muscle. Matching numbers and a proper restoration are what counts. You take a 1950 something 356 speedster and an intact data plate is essentially all you need as a basis for restoration. A total basket case can be a 6-figure car. Also, a 4C, an M4, and an evo? They are all awesome cars that will never appreciate unless mothballed. You will be able to afford to purchase one in a few short years if you want to roll the dice on a high mileage example. I guarantee they will depreciate at a rate similar to a Transit Connect. If you plan on actually driving it normally, I put my money on the Transit, especially if it is a diesel.

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    23. All good points, Andrew. If I may ask, how old are you? If you're under the age of 30-35ish then I think you will have the last laugh. If you're over, then your opinion is worth precisely what mine is; what we paid for them.

      In the meantime, I've mothballed nothing. That whole world of folks who do that strikes me as alien. I'd rather drive and forget about future collectible worthiness, as you suggested.

      Of course, there are other angles...but let's not go there!

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    24. Opinion has nothing to do with it. I am simply breaking down what Hagerty and NADA can show you.

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    25. I'm not sure Hagerty is going to support your argument in this one. What does NADA have to do with collectible cars? I've always used the little gold books but I've never seen any sort of tracking of collectibles. Is that new? And why won't you answer my questions, Meestor Liss? Are you hiding zee treasure?

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    26. Yes, I am hiding zee treasure. You can collect cars made in the last 40 years, I suppose, but you will probably take a bath on them if you drive them. Show me a Chevette with 50 miles on it and there is probably somebody who will pay more than the original sticker price for it. This does not make it a collectable, does it? The same holds true for even the most desirable vehicles made since 1971 or so. I think we are arguing over the definition of the term "collectable" here.

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    27. Zee treasure of direct answers! Ah, the glow and majesty of it. Ha! Oh well.

      I'm game for a discussion of what a "collectible" is. I'd say anything, including brand spanking new, that 1) is the exact scenario as you described with the Chevette or 2) anything a well-known auction house, Barrett-Jackson for instance, would choose to sell more than one of because they see potential financial gain in it or 3) any vehicle that can be sold for more than what the original MSRP was.

      Here's a 2014 Ford Transit Connect Titanium Wagon with wheelchair adaption that Barrett-Jackson sold for $100,000 last year.

      [img]http://i.imgur.com/At2fj0T.jpg?1[/img]

      Okay, so it was for charity (but is REAL and sold for that amount of $$$). But I had you going there for a moment, didn't I? How about these recent B-J auction results;

      2009 SHELBY GT500 sold for $38.5K
      1959 FIAT BIANCHINA 2 DOOR COUPE sold for $49.5K
      1974 VOLKSWAGEN THING ACAPULCO sold for $27.5K
      1975 CHEVROLET BLAZER K-10 sold for $15K
      2014 CHEVROLET CAMARO 1LT sold for $55K
      2006 SHELBY GT-H sold for $66K
      1987 BUICK REGAL GNX sold for $47.3K

      So you're telling me/DT/the world that none of these cars is truly a collectible car? That B-J doesn't know their business better than us interwebz keyboard jockeys? Then -whatever you do for a living- you're in the wrong business. You need to get into collectible car flipping, toot sweet!

      [img]http://i.imgur.com/aqBtGEM.jpg?1[/img]

      Here comes the excuses and non-answers...I can (not) hear them already. Ha ha! BTW, you still didn't answer my direct question regarding your age. So I'm going to assume that you're 40+. Which means it's highly unlikely that you will be a collector in 40 years, as most folks in their 80s are more concerned with green bananas. That means you're just like me and our guessing about what will and what won't be collectible is moot.

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    28. My age has nothing to do with car collectability. Barrett Jackson is an auction house and they wrote an article to increase viewership of and interest in their site. Mission accomplished.
      I am not into car flipping because, like any other speculation it is a high risk game. Betting against any newer "collectable" car taking a depreciation hit is more of a risk than I am willing to take.
      We agree that mothballing a car will make it "collectable". This has more in common with cabbage patch dolls than motoring, but still the only consistent way you can make late model cars retain or gain value.

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    29. If you say that you can predict which cars will be future collectibles, then it has every thing to do with it. If you're under 35, then you ARE the target market in 30-40 years. If you're older, you AREN'T the target market in 30-40 years and your basing your assumptions on who you are now and what the market is at this moment...which would be the present, not the future. See what I'm saying here?

      I don't agree that mothballing just any car will make it a collectible and I don't think you're saying that.

      Reminds me of our last trip up to Canada (not far from you, B, I think!), several years ago. While we were up there (yes, that long ago), we were told by a friend to buy a Beanie Baby that was only released in that country. We bought 3; 2 were for those friends who paid us back, paying something like $30 per. In the time it took us to complete our trip, about a week and a half, those BBs went from $100+US down to about $5US because they were released in the US. Ouch. Lost a couple of bucks on that one. Still have it, BTW. Anybody interested in a Canadian Beanie Baby for $100? Bidding starts...now!

      Car collecting based on forecasting is not much different and I know you understand that, Andrew. But if you're 35+, like me...we are not the folks who will be buying collector cars in 30-40 years.

      BTW, I still think a Transit Connect is a bonafide possibility. I'd write an article about why I think so but I think you guys have heard enough from me on the subject.

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    30. This is a rare case where I'd listen much more carefully to what a younger person thinks, as opposed to an older collector.

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    31. I don't think the video game market aimed at today's youth (and youthful) market should be underestimated. Besides the future collector factor with that demographic, manufacturers are now using these "games" as testbeds, releasing concepts that would have cost them a fortune to create in real life. But don't be fooled, the majority of the cars featured in these games are real cars, mostly modern vehicles with some highly customized classics thrown in. Here are a couple of examples of those concepts that engineers are creating for video games. And you better believe marketers are massively involved.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVA0KBLYo_s#t=18

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWSOvOL1Z7I

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    32. In case any of my fellow DTers didn't already know, "Gran Turismo" is a video game, not Daily Turismo's beloved Nanna.

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  5. Being in the car business (manufacturer side), those of us who are enthusiasts have often lamented about the ridiculous amounts of doodads and googahs in today's vehicles. They're mostly disposable cars now. The fiber optics, plastic, electronics, touch screens, massaging seats, AWD, traction control, DSC, ABS, etc., ad nauseum. Add to that the "nanny state" recording systems (similar to an airplane's black box) and - honestly - I don't want to buy another new car.

    My wife has an E46 that sits in the garage. It has 42,000 miles on it. We have embarked on a mission to keep it alive for the foreseeable future simply because it is a relatively simple car by today's standards. Further, you can probably retrofit parts from E36, E30's without a lot of fuss. So... that's going to be our stalwart car. The "new" one will likely be leased and let the manufacturer deal with disposing of the carcass.

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  6. Oh, and re 'climate control on a 1990 SHO' - most were equipped with EATC, which was a fairly early stab at an electronic climate-control head unit. The first couple years were notorious for cracking buttons, you could either find a later one in the junkyard or you could open yours up and dribble some epoxy into the backsides of the button shells.

    But even there...if you truly wanted to FIX a failed EATC (often failed solder joints) you needed some fairly decent electronics/board chops.

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  7. I like my 81 corolla. Power nuthing, pushrods, steering box, holley 2bbl. Nothing to break but basic maintenence stuff.

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  8. Also, i work in a salvage yard and i have to say id rather pull engines and 3/4 ton truck rearends then have to figure out how to remove any of this electronic crap from an 09 up car. Ive broken so, so many dash trim panels.

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  9. Jason Cammisa writes about one example of technology gone amok in, "Why BMW's N63 twin-turbo V8 eats batteries"

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    1. @Gianni (in particular but not necessarily); speaking of Cammisa, he also recently wrote an article comparing the FR-S versus the 228i and the Mustang Ecoboost. The technology of the BMW and the Ford versus the basic goodness of the Toyobaru was very interesting and a worthwhile read. If you're feeling overwhelmed by the relentless foisting of unwanted tech on us, then you should check it out. Don't miss the quote; "If you see a photo of a Scion Fr-S that isn't sideways, the picture is fake or the car is parked".

      I'm starting to sound like I'm the president of the Cammisa fan club. Maybe I am.

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    2. Thanks for posting this article. It will be interesting to see how the ND Miata stacks up to the Toybaru twins. Based on this article, BMW needs a new slogan. No more ultimate driving machine...

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    3. Sheesh. My memory sucks. I recall very recently reading an article saying exactly the same thing (that you said, G). I think they were saying the new ATS is taking over with the whole "ultimate driving machine" mantra. Or maybe it was a different car, I forget. But you're right; it seems like BMW is going in a different direction these days. Maybe they see more profitability in that new direction. They must.

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    5. So does Cammisa's article about the N63 issues indicate why we (DTers) are nervous about the tech explosion in cars? We're mostly, if not all, tinkerers and it's pretty scary to think that it will become nearly impossible to do so in the future. By altering one tiny thing, the ripple effect could be nearly unimaginable and catastrophic in our cars.

      Even though he didn't make that connection (I did), I think there may really be something in that.

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  10. A good example is the Radio/Nav system in my 2000 E39 M5. It turns itself on and off at it's own desire, which is a common problem. A lot of folks upgraded to the units out of the 2002 and 2003 E39's. However, by today's standard, it's still like running an old 286 PC. It just cannot keep up to what people expect today. Who knows - in 20 years, you'll probably connect your own special brain shunt to the car and know and see everything!

    BTW, anyone got a good recommendation on a new Audio/Nav system to replace mine? One that connects right in, so all the doodads and controls work?

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  11. I'm due for a new car soon, and all this technocreep is -- for me -- a huge turn-off. Maybe I'm turning into an old geezer at 46, but I really don't want any of this crap in my next car. I don't want to pilot a spaceship. I just want to get from point A to point B. I don't want to have to tap an in-dash touchscreen to adjust the radio or HVAC when simple knobs and levers do the job faster and better, without having to consult on-screen menus or a manual first. It's not that any of this crap intimidates me; I'm a smart guy, I can figure it out. I just don't want it in a car. Or a truck. At the moment, it's possible to avoid much of this crap, but only in the most basic trim levels of new cars. You want fog lights and larger wheels? You gotta upgrade to the trim level that includes navigation, bluetooth, etc. It's not just frustrating -- it's infuriating.

    I think my next car is going to be a 1972 Ford truck. Or a Trabant.

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  12. I don't know, I remember when the muscle car generation felt that way about 90's 2000's cars. I feel like when the current technology becomes obsolete there will be better tools to deal with it. Yes, you can't see solder joints anymore or epoxy switches back together but there will be something. If for no other reason than that there will be a huge market for adapter harnesses and chinese knock off climate control computers. BMW's are a good example, they have gotten beyond ridiculous with the control software linked to every bloody thing in the car. Do I need to tell the ECU that I got a new battery on the side of the road with a laptop? Really?

    That said I'm really loving my low tech mid ninties cars right now. The Mercedes has a ton of parts from their indestructible 80's era and the Mazda just doesn't have anything period. I'm not terribly afraid of getting a new car though, not that there are many that I want!

    Keys here, tools/software for dealing with things will get better, market will drive the availability of (probably inferior?)
    replacement parts.
    The huge user base of millions of car buyers (along with their ease of networking and troubleshooting with each other).
    Lastly with the cheapening additive manufacturing technology will fill in the gaps. you could easily print out that cracked whatever panel, if not on your home deck there will be people with dash sized printers for hire.

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  13. Ummmm.... Why would you not want bluetooth for hands free phone and internet music streaming? Are you really going to say that modern ergonomics are worse than those on an old car? Just because you are used to it doesn't mean it's better it just means you don't want to learn something new and that's fine. Don't blame the hammer because you're used to a rock.

    But seriously, modern cars are such a huge leap ahead of stuff we drove just 10 years ago it's hard to justify clinging to old heaps. The "it's too complex to fix myself" argument is meaningless when a new car is likely to go over 100k miles without any mechanical issues.

    I did my work daily driving vintage cars and had a great time doing it but things have changed and parking on the 101 in my 1970 911 in triple digit temperatures got old after a while. Modern A/C, sound, safety, and performance is really hard to beat and most of the people I know who don't like newer cars just haven't used one. I still totally love old cars and they have a place as pleasure use toys, but let's not be idiots and say that they offer a driver more utility then modern cars. And that's without even beginning the discussion of emmisions and crash safety.

    As for future collectability, I bet the pattern will continue where as people age and have extra money they will want to buy whatever car they dreamed of having in high school. It's the cycle of life in a way. The deal changer on that may well be autonomous cars as driving yourself might just seem silly after a while. In the mean time let's enjoy our old clunkers because we may be the last generation who wants that sort of thing.



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    1. I use "newer cars" - actually brand new - and get different ones several times a year (they're free... I work for a manufacturer and am presently driving a MY16 luxobarge) and I don't like much of the new technology simply because I don't have the time, nor the interest, to read manuals that are now approximately 4 inches thick in order to adjust the settings for the door locks, interior lights, key fob, radio, navigation, seat coolers, suspension, steering/throttle response, and all the "personalization" presently allowed. You can waste your time doing that, but I choose not to. What was once one button to turn on recirculation for the HVAC now requires three screens to access. It cannot be done by touch as there is nothing other than a slick screen available to manipulate those controls. Driver distraction? Nah. "Convenience". Voice command? Hahahahaha! Driver: "Recirculate" Car response: "Headlights on".

      Wait until the new Android interfaces become more mainstream. Android isn't glitchy, is it? (Ever had your phone crash?) It's also "secure" just like all open source software. Oh... and then there's that boot time (aftermarket radio / navigation companies have been wrestling with that issue for awhile). To keep it from having to cold boot, it needs battery. Let it sit for a week on "standby" and let me know how that works out for you. Letting it shut down to conserve said battery requires a long boot time. Set it to 20 minute standby and do errands. That would be the equivalent of leaving your car on accessory plus the drain for the numerous short cycle starts. Weak battery? You'll find out in short order. Want to wait a minute to have your radio start playing? Oh boy. Can't wait for that new "technology" that will be obsolete by the time it hits the showroom floor. Talk about a 286.... You'll be begging for a Selectric.

      If you're condoning "self driving cars" then you are not an enthusiast. The more googahs that are installed on the vehicle, the more problems arise. Example: Collision mitigation braking. I have it on my car.... it false positives and jams on the brakes without warning. Explain that to the guy who either 1) thinks you're a complete idiot and are "road raging" or 2) hits you as a result. Yes, it's true. Heads up displays that "flash" on the windscreen. This stuff isn't anywhere near prime time, despite what Elon Musk and Google claim. If you want a "self driving car", kindly take a bus, train, or cab. That will put fewer idiots on the road for those of us who still enjoy driving (not aiming) our own vehicle.

      Emission laws (as well as cheap junk replacement parts from China) will kill the dream of "buying whatever car they dreamed of having in high school". The fiber optics, etc. that control the technology you dream of, will have cracked and rethreading the car will be cost prohibitive. Ask BMW how the 7 Series worked out for them before they built in redundancy (and what happens when those fail as well?).

      If not that, then the exploding airbags (they will all deteriorate at some point) will be deterrent enough.

      There comes a point when there's too much technology in a vehicle. Some is useful (Bluetooth for hands free, airbags, traction control, ABS, for examples) but others are moving vehicles towards a rolling living room with all the distractions associated with them. Then the vaunted technology becomes a detriment to the motoring public - especially to those who are techno-phobes or simply do not have an aptitude for using it. If you want a rolling living room, just go buy a sofa and make "broom broom" sounds - and pretend you're driving. You can have one of those self-driving cars bring your pizza.

      As I said before, my E46 has all the technology anyone should need.

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    2. Ive oft wondered if ten years down the road, a bad wire gets crossed, causing your ford fusion to attempt to self parallel park at 80 on the freeway.

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  14. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1BQPV-iCkU

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  15. Everytime i ride in my friends 2011 Ford Edge I go crazy just trying to set the odometer, change the temperature or find a radio station. Just crap, Add in the rear mounted camera for backing up...and whoa Nelly! Absolutelyly overengineered and totally useless. Just crap. And people spend $35,000.00 for these rigs. Idiots. Including my friend

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  16. And I use to think my now 20 yr old E36 318ic had too many bells and whistles when I bought it new.! But it has lasted 269,000 miles.........and it'll make 300,000.

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  17. Mr. Anonymous-

    "If you're condoning "self driving cars" then you are not an enthusiast." You should probably get to know me before you make a statement like that. And your staunch refusal to learn how to use a device yet yell about how useless it is to you is fascinating. I'm sure you are a blast to work with in a collaborative production environment.

    Anyhow, I'll leave this here and let it be known that I have done EXACTLY what this article talks about many times. It's really hard not to but I'm working on it.

    http://www.psmag.com/health-and-behavior/confident-idiots-92793

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  18. So my question is this. What opportunities are created by overly complex, impossible to fix, finicky cars?

    Does anyone think that this development opens up a window for builders or importers of super-simple, super-efficient cars with a small amount of reasonable technology and connectivity?

    For example, does a $40K entry level, techno-heavy bore car (think Camry, Civic, etc) leave room for a $15K car built around the combustion Honda Insight engine, a 5-speed trans and a minimum of safety and luxury? Better yet, can it be a small, 4x4 truck?

    Something interesting will come out of this technology stampede. Perhaps, even something good.

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    1. I like your thinking Steve, and I thought the same thing myself. Unfortunately, I think the answer to that solution will most likely be no. There's not much profit in it for the car companies, that I can see. As much as i don't like it, I think they're doing the smart thing these days and playing the high-tech card, which is clearly a bigger draw that the simple vehicles you and I would find interesting. There's no money in "basic", unless it can be somehow leveraged (doable, but not all that appealing).

      My dream car company would mean a few body styles (wagon, sedan, sports car) and plug and play major components, like they're doing with the Tesla battery units. That would be interesting, though it's massively pie-in-the-sky, I know. That would remove a lot of the ripple effect, I'd think. Or maybe it would make it worse!

      But I do think this current tech trend will create car hackers (I'm talking about the good kind here), for lack of a better term; folks that are savvy with the ins and outs of these technologies, that can manipulate, customize and repair them. If I were going to an automotive repair school, I'd sure be interested in this stuff. Surely it will be where the expertise will be needed.

      I just bit down on my tongue a little when you referred to $40K as "entry level". Ouch.

      So let me ask you this; what do you think of the basic models of the Hyundai Accent, Mazda Miata, Nissan NV200 and Ford Transit Connect? All of these cars can be had cheap, with a minimum of bells and whistles. Would you buy any of them? Is so, why? And if not, why not?

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    2. K2 - I think the chance that you are correct is much, much higher than me being correct. I also think you are right regarding a future full of car hackers. The kids will figure out how to make stuff work in the same way that kids have always figured out how to make things work. It should be exciting.

      And I think some of the starter cars will prove themselves to have a future. Of all that you mentioned, I think the Transit Connect will become an icon of those with a need for transportation and a creative spark (think the 1970's van revolution).

      But, I'm still hoping that somehow, somewhere my simple car is built. Perhaps as a global entry level car launched in Eastern Europe and Asia. And, if not, I think I'll start working to corner the market on 5-speed Jeep Cherokee's and Toyota 4Runners!

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    3. Let's give Bricklin a call! If anybody could do it...

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    4. Just so long as he doesn't design the bumpers!

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    5. True!

      Does anybody remember the Russian or Chinese SUVs he tried to bring into the US in the late 80s-early 90s? I can't remember what they were called but it was something stupid simple, as were the vehicles. I don't believe they ever quite made it here. I have a sales brochure around somewhere for one but I can't find it.

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    6. Aha! I just remembered. It wasn't Bricklin and it was the Romanian ARO! Too bad we didn't get these rust buckets. They looked like fun - stupid simple, like I said. I can't recall what the MSRP was on the brochure but I don't think it was over $20K.

      From Wikipeeonyourshoe:

      In 1998 an American businessman, John Perez, offered franchise agreements to US auto dealers. Some 200 dealers paid $75,000 each for franchise rights, for a total of $15 million. These rights were offered by a company called East European Imports. The ARO was offered as a Warsaw Pact surplus military vehicle. After the franchises were sold, dealers were pressured to send cashiers checks or wire transfers to start receiving vehicles that were allegedly being held in a port in Florida. Dealers refused and insisted to pay upon delivery which eventually led to East European Imports closing its doors.

      In September 2003 the Romanian state sold 68.7% of ARO to Cross Lander, a company owned by John Perez, for $180,000 US. The contract stipulated that the company had to invest $2 million US, which allegedly never took place. Instead, all of ARO's production tooling and equipment were sold off; this was an action which violated the privatization contract. The Romanian state sued John Perez in 2006 for falsifying documents in order to acquire the company.

      The ARO 244 model was planned to enter the US market as the Cross Lander 244X, but funding ran out in February 2006. The company Cross Lander USA Inc fired all its employees, sold its headquarters and closed down in February 2006.

      ARO went into bankruptcy in June 2006.


      [img]http://i.imgur.com/xecRfRj.jpg?1[/img]

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    7. Holy Driver...!

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mDB5aUSsx4

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    8. And while I'm on the subject of the youth of today, I've got a major complaint.

      The last concert I went to that featured music with a danceable beat, in this case featuring an EDM group...which is all about the beat, I realized that the current crop of kids can't dance to save their lives. The boys have two go-to moves; mindless, distracted pogo-ing and randomly pointing at nothing. The girls are no better; the spineless, jelly-fish swaying looks like a poor imitation of the pot-addled movements back in the day at a Grateful Dead jam and the only other thing they have is to make a heart shape with their hands, thrusting it desperately into the face of strangers. "Do you love me? Do you love ME?" it seems to scream.

      They seem too self conscious to let go and just let the rhythm take them away. Instead, they appear to be embarrassed that someone they know will see them, so they mimic the pathetic actions around them to blend in. Or they just stand there stupidly, which is even worse than all of the above.

      What happened to the mosh pit, slam-dancing, the Conga Line, Funky Chicken, break-dancing, Moon Walk, skankin', slippin', slidin' and just letting the music get into your soul?!? Let your body move to the beat, the beat, you GOTTA get the beat!

      Sad. And a bit scary, the zombie-like qualities that the youth of today exhibit. But mainly just sad.

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    9. You forgot the Watusi and the Monkey.

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  19. WoodieMan - my personal vehicle is a 1987 Land Cruiser with 287,000 miles, but this weekend I became one of the "idiots" who paid $35,000 for one of those rigs (a 2015 Silverado). It has touch screen, wi-fi, etc. You can pause live radio in fact, which is amazing to me. It has GPS, back up cameras, all the stuff that, frankly, confuses me.

    But I bought it for my wife. We live in Montana where driving on a normal sunny pleasant weather day can still be dangerous - we have to cross mountain ranges in any direction to get anywhere. Having everything voice controlled (change radio station, call home, show mileage, etc) is actually safer than fumbling around by hand (yes, yes, I know - pull over, what did they do before GPS? etc - but it's a different world).

    I can set the electronic trailer brake gain at my fingertips and it will show me how the trailer is behaving. It has heated seats and remote start - which comes in handy when it is -30 degrees and I'd prefer not to get dressed and go outside and open the truck and start it just to go back inside.

    And so on. And for all that $35k ain't that much. It also rides like a dream and is extremely quiet inside.

    So I'll be an idiot all day long but it's a lot of peace of mind when my wife is out on the road. I also insist on trucks here because car + deer, elk, moose, bear has a much lesser chance of survival than truck + moose, elk, bear, deer.

    Yes I am slightly concerned with the longetivity of all the electronic doo dads in the truck but the 2008 Silverado with 165,00 miles was still going strong electronically and it was the hoses and mechanical stuff that was starting to leak and need repairs, not anything electronic.

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  21. More on the state of current and future tech...is the small-block doomed? Are its days numbered?

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    1. I wouldn't think by electronics, more by CAFE.

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    2. Agreed, precisely. The power from a turbo or supercharged (or both) V6 is meeting or exceeding what I believe the public expects. I'm betting a lot of them don't even realize the sound of the engine is fake in a lot of new cars, too. But they see the better MPG, that's for sure.

      Bye bye V8...I coulda hada...V6?

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