A Common Fault of Automotive Heroes

I think we all have heroes we reference when talking about cars and what they mean to us and why we love them. Cars, by themselves are just objects, static pieces of glass, metal, plastic and many other components all brought together to create an object of lust and desire that all us of here can't and wont live without.

For those of you who don't know, the above picture is of Chris Harris, man, myth, legend of the drift who we all watch on YouTube on the Drive Network Drive Network. He has worked for several publications over the years, British based and has been fired from them all. That may not be fair or completely accurate but it sounds great and gives him a 'Hemingway' air about him. These automotive heroes are what bring our objects of desire to life and enrich our lives with stories and a real physical connection to the world and enables our expression of pure enjoyment, usually.

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Recently he posted his video of the Porsche 918 Hyper Car that the manufacturer previewed for journalists just this past week.

It's his usual great stuff and full of interesting 'tid bits' about the car and some great in car footage even under less than ideal conditions in a prototype worth millions of dollars which you simply cannot hurt in any way!

It's a joy to watch him drive and most times a refreshing, adult and thought provoking conversation. Maybe it's his British stiff upper lip and or dry humor that I/we enjoy but something was decidedly different this time.

I took the liberty of pulling a few quotes from him in the video. He starts by prefacing the car and it's "pioneering technologies" and then goes on to show some of those technologies. He was fascinated by the dash and its' "galvanized carbon fiber with aluminum" and moved onto "forged carbon" pieces developed to replace aluminum hard points in the chassis. He then sums this all up by saying, "they tried to peel weight from this car everywhere, everywhere!"

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Then the downward spiral starts. Over the next few minuets he stops reviewing the car and basically, in his quiet British manner, tirades against battery and hybrid technology. To be fair I agree with much of what he says in principal but I think he just loses the plot completely and his judgement gets completely clouded.

"Electricity seems to spoil sports cars." That's basically his principal for the resat of the video. I just find it incredibly shortsighted of him, especially in that moment with that car. The very technologies he was so enthralled with just a few minuets earlier are now pointless. just give him his 600 HP V8 and 1100 KG.

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Here's the problem and a common fault with many automotive heroes these days: all of the lightweight technology, innovative engineering and materials implementation are there precisely because of the hybrid technology. Yes the battery and componentry have a weight penalty, but it spurs advancements in other ares, such as "forged carbon" and "galvanized carbon fiber" So yes it can be seen as one step back but two steps forward.

In his very own words he explains this very principal: "You have to lump these cells around, in doing so you have to make incredible weight savings in other areas." Now I have no idea whether or not Porsche engineers would have done so with or without the battery or hybrid systems but we all know they have to do it because it's in there anyways.

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I appreciate just like you the old school naturally aspirated joy of yesterdays technology but, and it's a big but, time and technology march on. I would bet if you gave Mr. Harris his 600 HP 1100 KG car and put it up against this hybrid system, he would lose. The system while heavy, makes the car faster.

In the end isn't this what we really want, more speed more fun? In an earlier post I touched on this subject, kind of, and perhaps it sheds some more light on why I'm a bit disappointed in Chris Harris today.

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