Building the Perfect Beast

The perfect car would have to come equipped with a Corvette’s Head Up Display

fourwheeldriftHave you ever tried to put together a car in your mind that utilizes the best components from automobiles throughout history?  I’ve dedicated so many hours to this totally useless exercise that it’s not surprising that my wife makes sure she’s fast asleep by the time I roll into bed.

The basis of the exercise is in part to admit that no single vehicle is perfect.  Duesenberg SJs handled like tanks, Ferrari 365 GTB/4s would bake occupants with engine heat, big block Corvettes suffered from horrible brake fade, and McLaren F1s were downright twitchy above 175 mph.  You name the car and I can give you its most notorious weakness.

So if I took only the best the industry has ever offered, what would the car be like?

Let’s start with the most important part of the car: engine.  I’d build my car around the seven-liter Corvette Z06 LS7 small block.  Before readers start throwing hissy-fits about the so-called “lack of sophistication” due to utilizing a pushrod versus overhead cam design, allow me to point-out that this is about actually abilities, not bench racing.  The LS7 delivers the same horsepower with a broader torque curve than BMW’s high-tech DOHC V10.  It also can deliver over 30 mpg on the freewayoffers a low profile to allow for more flexibility in front body styling. 

As for service, the Chevy smallblocks don’t require timing belt replacement or frequent valve adjustments.  Change the oil, then feel free to beat on it like a red-headed stepchild. Although the cars surrounding them usually have more bugs than the newest MSWindows release, the engines themselves are death and taxes reliable.

I will admit the LS7 doesn’t produce an exhaust note worthy of my dream car.  Choosing the best engine note starts simply: go Italian.  From there it gets more difficult.  Does one go with a Lamborghini Miura’s glorious V12 – a symphony of one part mechanical purity and one part great sucking sounds from the trio of Webers?  If V12 is the desired route, there’s also a Columbo or Lampredi designed masterpiece from a Ferrari.  Nothing sounds smoother than a 275 GTB/4 (or similar 365 GTB/4) at wide open throttle.  I actually love the banshee wail of the 246 GT Dino at high RPMs, but only the modern V8 from the 355/360/430 line gives that F1 sound at all revs. 

Transmission is a tough one.  We can instantly rule out all those belligerent units found in the Italians.  I suppose I’d need the smoothness and power-handling ability of BMW’s 6 speed, the shifting excellence of the five-speed Mazda Miata box, but with the excellent ratios (like the double-overdrive sixth gear) and rear-mounted design of the C5 Corvette’s.

Wheels and tires are a debate of looks versus performance.  For show, nothing beats a set of gorgeous Borrani wires.  For go, however, something more modern is in order.  Make mine the monster rolling stock found on the new Ford GT. 

Brakes are a tie between ceramic offerings from the Porsche Carrera GT and Ferrari Enzo.  Both are capable of stopping just about as fast those cables on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier.

When it comes down to steering weight, feel and responsiveness, it would be easy to choose one of Colin Chapman’s Lotus designs.  The Elan 1600 has wonderful poise, balance and a great tactile feel through the thin-rimmed wood steering wheel.  Three decades of technology, however, makes the late 1990’s BMW M3 setup the choice for me.   Bimmer steering is so good, one can feel two coins stacked on the road through the steering wheel.  When it comes to tossing the car around, the handling is quick without being darty.

As long as I’ll be holding a Bimmer wheel, I might as well have Bimmer seats.  Say what you want about its Bangle butt or I Drive, but the BMW 750i offers the most comfortable seats available.  If I had the means, I’d put these zillion-way adjustable seats in my living room, too.  Sure, they don’t offer the crazy amount of bolstering required for racing, but I’ll exchange the ultimate level of lateral support for thigh support that changes every few minutes to promote better circulation.

Digital gauges simply won’t do in my dream amalgamation.  Not the most glamorous by any stretch, I’ve found the C5 Corvette gauge pod to offer the best quick-glance legibility.   Plus the back-lit fluorescent-esque illumination looks great at night.  While we’re at it, I’ll take the head-up display from the later C6, so I never have to look down to the gauge pod while accelerating.

Switchgear? I’m a toggle switch type of fellow, so I’d be satisfied with the Jaguar E-Type’s.  Actually, come to think of it, those were Lucas switches…The Ford GT’s are more reliable and look like fine jewelry.

The interior needs to be finished-off with Rolls Royce Wilton wool carpets and Jaguar Connelly leather.

From the doodads and gizmos department – I’ll have Porsche’s Stability Management equipped as a safety net.   I’ll take a Mark Levinson stereo from Lexus, just in case I want symphonic-quality sound when listening to the Blues Brothers’ “Briefcase Full of Blues” while driving.  

If we’re talking about making this a hardtop car, someone will have to install one of those amazing Maybach variable-light sunroofs.  I must admit, though, that I like convertibles, so the Pininfarina-designed power folding hardtop found on the new Volvo C70 might be the ticket. If it’s a convertible, though, I can’t utilize 300SL Gullwing doors.

The only thing left to decide is what this car will look like.  I’m thinking that it should look somewhere between a Duesenberg J Murphy-bodied convertible sedan and a Jim Glickenhaus’ Ferrari P4/5 Pininfarina…with maybe just a hint of Pontiac Aztek and AMC Gremlin.

And back it all up with Lexus reliability!

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One Response to Building the Perfect Beast

  1. notoboy says:

    Love the article. My car would have the NAV system from the new Acura RL, and the dash of the new Aston Rapide, but the rest is spot on.

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