After reading an article by an ‘80’s-Kid-gone-Editor talking about the era of poster cars of the period (Countach and Testarossa), there was a flash of “kids these days” about it. I find myself wondering if the current generations have become immune to the pleasure that is exotics tacked into the plaster. For instance, I know my older brother—an ‘80’s child, just as Jonny Lieberman was—had posters and stickers of cars and racecars, as well as books about Ferrari, Porsche, and one entitled “Exotic Cars.”
However I never really had the urge to hang things on the wall in the same way. Maybe a Hotwheels poster with a list of new-at-the-time toys, but otherwise nil. The closest to that now is an obituary cutout of John Delorean, a quick review of the then-new Ford GT out of the Modesto Bee, and a proposed racetrack map of a never-started motorsports park in Merced, CA. There are even a couple old leather AMC Hornet key fobs from a 1976 Sportabout, which I shamelessly (and endlessly regret to this date) sent to the scrap yard. Alas, no posters.
Skip to that same brothers’ son, now of driving age, when we were surrounded by a number of Pebble Beach bound classics. Among the ranks were the most pristine Jaguar XKE and XK120 I can recollect seeing outside a museum, a Dino 246 GT, and even a Mercedes 300SL Gullwing. Yet my nephew, a proclaimed but not confirmed car guy, had no idea what the XKE or 300SL were, but recognized the new Bentley Mulsanne (or at least the fact it was a Bentley). Of all these timeless machines, that’s what he’d have? Given, I’m pretty clueless on classics myself, as it’s something that takes time and practice.
It then occurred to me what was meant in the remake of Gone in Sixty Seconds, when Nicholas Cage’s character is talking about numerous “self-indulgent wieners” parked in the same Starbucks parking lot in the same new Ferrari, and how he’d rather have a classic. The salesman replied back “You would not be a self-indulgent wiener, sir… You’d be a connoisseur.” That’s something that a lot of us young guys seem to forget—the history behind a marque; the things that make what we have now, what they are now.
The car that most pulled me in to that parking lot was the front of the 246 GT sticking out. That V6 engine note (yes, a V6!) is found throughout my Youtube “favorites” playlist, from the Lancia Stratos, to the Dinos themselves. What makes the Dino infinitely cooler than the modern 360, 430, and 458 is that it was genesis to what we now see in the Prancing Horse showrooms: the first mid-engined, somewhat practical Ferrari. Yet, it wasn’t technically a Ferrari. It was named after Enzo Ferrari’s lost son, as a tribute. Where’s that same genuine passion in this (or any) brand now? Heaven forbid my nephews generation even wrap their VH1 heads around that… if kids even bother watching music videos on TV, that is.
The same with the 300SL. Before I started realizing how a car worked, or the names and brands, I knew three cars: VW Bug, Corvette, Porsche (the 911 of course). But among those also commonly sprouted among my early-‘90’s upbringing included the Testarossa (which I mildly dislike now), and the 300SL Gullwing. Why the Gullwing? I had one in Micro Machines, complete with opening doors, hood, and trunk. I still have it lying around somewhere missing the hood, and some crusted in old putty for some reason… perhaps I was making molds? Anyway, look around today, and one can see the impact the 300SL still has. The AMG SLS can show it even more.
Where has the automotive reverence gone? I can recognize an early 1981 Delorean from a late 1981 based off the hood (albeit I’m a fan of the car), yet wouldn’t be able to point Jessica Alba out in a crowd. Perhaps I have my priorities wrong? Maybe not, because if Alba looks half as good as the 300SL does after nearly six decades, then you can sign me up. What’s more, the owner of a classic is a little more willing to let you look (maybe even go for a ride) in their car. This doesn’t mean I’ll ever claim to know what something is—far from it. But I’m open to learn and understand.
Is technology to blame here? Perhaps the amount of music videos flaunting the newest carbon fiber monocoques and Youtube video’s from countless magazines and Cars-and-Coffee events are leaving the youngin’s cold? I grew up mostly in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, still remembering the days when The Fast and the Furious looking cars were not just copying the movie, and tiny wire wheels and hydraulics were as equally prevalent, and Lamborghini’s were still rare. We had Supercars.net and many internet forums to start bench racing, armed with 0-60 times and tops speeds. Ferrari F50 pictures would flood across the then-fast dial-up, then be plastered on the monitor for maybe four hours before my older sister would change it back to a basic “Windows” logo.
Fast forward to now, and we have cellphones, iPods, Windows 7—which I myself have many scrolling pictures for my desktop image. Who needs posters? But I think the youth and even some kids my age are missing the point. They still look at 16” wheels as too small, and having super-low and hard suspension will make them faster because it looks faster, when in reality it makes them stop everyone because of a railroad crossing they have to crawl over.
Image trumps imagination. Our goals in life are too short; too close. There’s too much want for pulling g’s on a skidpad for the sake of pulling g-strings (hopefully sans pad), but without the finesse of real handling and control. Instant satisfaction with little regard for what else there is outside the tunnel vision of our smart-phones.
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