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True speed in a classic car is seriously hard work

Let’s make one thing clear: driving anything fast is not, by any stretch of the imagination, easy. Naturally, car tech and the science of speed have progressed substantially since the heroes of the Goodwood Revival were in their prime. An unfortunate side effect of these advancements is that the work and skill required to drive the cars has become less apparent. No less real, mind you, and perhaps more mental, but less obvious.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/09/13/classic-car-speed-seriously-hard-work
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While the driver aids try to make these newer cars idiot proof, I would go as far as to disagree that they are easier. Why? Well two late model 5.0 Mustangs on their roof in front of my office would be one reason. Hearing the driver put their foot in it, the computer try to “take over” and the subsequent sound of metal scraping pavement would be the other.

While newer cars with “driver aids” will reel in a slight mistake, they aren’t idiot proofing driving fast cars.

Does my '68 Cougar require more attention at high speeds? Yes. Does it require me understanding understeer, oversteer, and when they are about to happen? Yes. Does it want to turn into an air foil at any speeds over 130? DEFINITELY!

This is why I give this car the respect it deserves. This is also why my parents, mom and dad, when I was learning to drive got me in a gravel parking lot and made throw my first car, a '77 LTD II that handled like a Conestoga wagon, into a slide and learn how to pull it out at increasingly higher speeds. The gravel parking lot was the Scout camp.

Learning how to actually handle a car will never be replaced by computer aids.

No matter how far we have come technologically, there is just no way to overcome a lack of skills, or the stupidity that often accompanies it.

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Here here, guitar74.

Something wrong w/Mini Cooper or driver or both. He was passed by 10 or more cars as soon as flag dropped. After a few moments, driver seems to have gotten some car control.

@guitar74 - I believe part of the problem with modern cars is also some drivers being coddled by the tech that works so seamlessly that the driver doesn’t realize it is there until they switch it off and then get in real trouble–real fast.

Many newer cars still have drivers aids that can be switched off. A good and bad thing considering the amount of power that is easily accessible.

It was the driver that got it wrong. He tried to select first gear 3 or 4 times before the flag fell only to discover that it hadn’t engaged. After he got it going he didn’t do too bad.

The biggest driving problem with American cars of the 50’s and early 60’s was that the engine technology was way ahead of the brake technology. The cars would go fast but if you made a hard stop from high speed by the time the car was almost stopped the brakes were fading. A second high speed stop was out of the question until the brakes cooled off.

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Wow!! I learned some car control in a snowy high school parking lot with my dad in my first car a '77 LTD II. Which I still have today about 30 years later.

I finally got rid of my 77 LTD II three years ago. I owned it from Oct. 1984 until Oct. 2016. That car served me well.

I agree with you about the being able to turn them off being a good or bad thing. A perfect example of someone who should NOT be able to turn them off is my stepson.

Of course, he’s also a walking monument to the type of person who should NEVER own a performance car. And what does he own? An EcoBoost 'Stang which is way above his skill level. Especially when he can’t put his cellphone down. Oh well, he’s grown. He can learn
from his own mistakes or not…

The shifter falls out of gear into neutral just as the flag drops. He made the mistake of taking his hand off of it. Sloppy old gear box!

This is really funny. I got mine in Oct of 88. Hasnt seen the road in awhile need to re fresh the suspension, exhaust wheels and tires. To many other projects plus kids the II gets put on the way back burner.

Snow, ice, old muscle car, and posi. You either learn how to push and recover, or find every panel dented in short order. Asphalt is a breeze after you’ve learned to handle ice.
New or old, it takes skill.

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Agreed…many, many years ago my '69 Shelby GT 500 was my ride all year long…including during the winter going to ski at Mad River Glen in VT. Over and back on Route 17 with some wicked curves and one hairpin turn. Ran, I think, on Goodyear Polyglas tires. Quickly learned how to gently apply either gas or brakes going through those turns w/o any off-road excursions! Definitely helped me over the years despite what I was driving or the season…as well as autocrossing many years later. Always loved racing in the rain, when other folks couldn’t seen to figure it out…John

Lots of years practice sliding around on snow and ice does make handling a car less scary, but the real trick is controlling the car as it breaks away, and on snow it breaks so smoothly you get no practice in that first lurch. That’s the one that gets you, it starts to slide and the reaction is to lift off the gas, and then it catches again and off you go in a new exciting direction.

Great points made in the article. I guess ABS, launch control, traction control and all the other driver’s aids were inevitable. Like computerized flight controls to tell a plane which end goes first.
A re-appreciation for the drivers of those older cars. Can’t imagine how some did those long stretches in the endurance races. Tough guys.

Absolutely! I remember driving my LTD II (400 cleveland 270/280 degree cam,intake and Holley two barrel reworked by my freind’s circle track mechanic Dad), and my '79 4 speed Camaro (327 350 horse out of a mid 60s vette-solid lifters-wonderful engine) in the snow in Illinois back in High School. You learned to both be gentle with the throttle. I never took my '69 Sport Satellite out in the snow.

Minnesota, first car 1966 GTO.

Taught my buddy first how to drive a stick, then later how to steer with the right foot.

Always will have a soft spot for those solid lifter small blocks.

327 was in an Opal wagon with a 4 speed and 4.10 posi

302 was in a real 1967 Z/28 that had trans am history

350 LT1 in a 1970 Z/28 with an M22 and 4.10 posi

current ride is 1969 Judge that my dad bought in 1975.

Put a RA 3 back in it, but still has the 4.88’s

Still have the solid lifter RA 4 that was in it. Early Butler motor.

Pretty sure my old Z is the one sold at Scottsdale this year.

Ermine white, with the cowl plenum induction.

Grew up in an amazing time, and looked at a lot of unique muscle cars.

Found a 1968 Hurst Olds a couple miles from where I live that used to go through the car wash I worked at.

And was at Scottsdale a few years ago and found a 1970 Boss 302 being sold by the original owner.

Wished I was there on Saturday when it went up on the block. Would have been interesting to talk to him again.

So it’s nice to see some of these cars I remember as a kid are still around.

My son bought a 351W powered '69 Mustang Sportsroof (fastback) as his high school car. I remember him coming home one winter evening with wide eyes. The Stang had almost swapped ends on him when he munched the skinny pedal in the rain making a right turn. No amount of nanny circuits will ever save a bad driver from himself. My kid wound up totaling a '97 Camaro Z28 on the freeway in a driving rain storm when he was doing 80 mph. Some folks never learn.

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My cousin had a 70 1/2 Z28, LT1 4 speed. Fun car. He was 5 yrs older than me. I just remember how hard that car would set you back with each shift. Man that Judge has to feel tight with 4.88s. I had 4.56s in my '69 Sport Satellite for a VERY short time. 4.10s seemed to get along better with that 440. I eventually went to 3.54s which were much easier on my wallet at the time.