Life of a jobless car lover
I keep reading about how unwanted the Dodge (can we call it that again?) SRT Viper is in the Supercar world. There is absolutely no doubt that the Sub $100k rival in the form of the C7 Corvette is proving hard to compete with, only looking to get even more dire when the Z06 hits showroom floors. Economics aside, I’m still struggling to understand why it’s so hard to sell a car that is this unabashedly honest about what it is. Are all these “driver friendly” aided up performance cars taking their toll on a genre of motoring that is slowly, and what seems to be quietly, disappearing.
Not having driven one myself (more than happy to give it a try), it seems that the Viper is one of those cars that will quite regularly keep your ego in check and assert its authority over you. Reminding you that if you do not show it the proper amount of respect, it will bite you. Admittedly this is an old school way to build a car, but it does seem to be a common trait amongst the greats.
You don’t hear Journos or owners talking about the cars of this generation like that anymore. The most common theme is apparently “refinement” and “how easy it is to drive hard”, that even when pushed, they feel “balanced” and “sharp”. To me this means that any muppet that gets behind the wheel can drive it quite well, and close to, if not on, the limit. Is that what buyers want? To be able to conquer the beast that they have just purchased the first time out. Please don’t think that I am taking anything away from how absolutely amazing some of these cars are, I’m more focused on the mind-set of the buyers, and ultimately, the manufacturers. Are they (the manufacturers) looking to make Joe Blo feel like an expert every time he gets behind the wheel? I must say, that is an admirable offer. You spend your hard earned dollars, and immediately get the satisfaction of being able to get in, take the car by the scruff of the neck and do what you want. Have your way with it, so to speak.
What about the driver who isn’t interested in being better than the car? Who likes the challenge the car throws right back at them every time they decide to push it. Knowing that an uncontrolled rush of blood to the head (or right foot) could lead to disaster. The person that believes that they are the “balance” and “refinement” of the performance of the car, not it to them. Are the demands of these buyers so small now, that they have been forgotten by the big marques? Relegated to the smaller “Boutique” performance car market. Perhaps this is just a reflection of today’s society “Have all the fun you want, but we’re going to take as much of the human element out of it as possible, you can’t be trusted”
I can see the attraction of the Manufacturers wanting to provide a car that anybody can love, because they can do what they see on TV/YouTube. Have less buyers afraid of them, therefore, more will buy them. The logic seems sound. But just how far away are performance cars that you really can’t put a foot wrong in? With fully automated vehicles on the not to distant horizon, one can only assume that the driver aids that will come standard on these types of vehicles will be that of the “nervous nanny” type. Meaning the driver will become less of a factor in how the car performs. The whole point of these cars is the thrill of driving them, and if you’re not driving it, you’re a passenger. I don’t know about you, but I hate being a passenger on any given day in any given car.
I really hope that the issue with the Viper is just an economic one and not that buyers are shying away from a mutually respectful relationship with their Supercar.