How Cars Taught Me About Perspective
About the only time a YouTube argument results in a positive...
4 Years. 4 Years since I began writing and now and again I keep coming back to this one thought: “How the hell did cars of all things make me mature like this?” Obviously that sentence is pretty vague and doesn't explain much, so let me give you context.
As with most kids, the phrase “self-awareness” and the word “perspective” weren't in my vocabulary. When you're really young the only thing that matters in your world is you, for the most part. Kids –more often than not– tend to be quite selfish and I was certainly no exception. They also tend to take their side in most issues and I was also guilty of this. Especially when it came to Mopars (I was a bit of a “blind loyalist”). This was something I believe I slowly began correcting when I turned 14, but the correction was really catapulted when I did one of the stupidest things I've ever done: Get into an argument on YouTube.
I know, most YouTube comment sections aren't the last word in civil disagreements and intelligent debate (believe me I know that all too well) but the argument I got into taught me so much about how not to be. The argument started when Dodge unveiled the Viper ACR and released some of the on-board videos for the laps at, among other tracks, Laguna Seca. There was one other video where this argument took place but I think the Laguna Seca video was where it was most prevalent.
To paraphrase their position, they were essentially trying to invalidate the achievement of the Viper ACR. Saying that the Viper ACR beating the Porsche 918 Spyder around Laguna wasn't much of an achievement considering it's basically a race car with number plates, and that anyone could make a similar type of car. Porsche did something far more interesting and did far more “actual” engineering with the 918.
My argument was simple: Given how technologically advanced the 918 was, it's amazing that a car with RWD, a traditional (as in no trans-axle) manual transmission, natural aspiration, and far less horsepower was even able to keep up, let alone go faster. That's no small feat even if they accomplished it through established means. The 918 wasn't built with many mechanical or chassis compromises. While not as bare-bones as the P1, Porsche did throw everything they could at the 918 and it shows. Dodge, on the other hand, always built the Viper with compromises. Not in the sense that it straddled the line between being a hardcore supercar and a GT car, but that they couldn't use bespoke parts everywhere (nor could they use extremely exotic materials everywhere they wanted). Dodge constantly had to make the most of what they had (whether that was money or whether that was Mercedes stealing an all-aluminum chassis meant for the Viper but taken for their car, the SLS AMG). That, among the RWD, manual, etc, is why I thought (and still think) Dodge accomplishing what they did wasn't and isn't trivial.
What I imagine you're thinking right now.
As the argument continued (for about a year if I'm honest), one thing sticks out to me now that might've been the tipping point that made me realize they weren't entirely wrong. At one point, they said something along the lines of “Dodge wouldn't have been able to make the 918. They don't have the engineering knowledge or competency to do so.” I thought about that realized he might not have been wrong. However, Dodge didn't need to in order to beat the 918 (a counterargument I made to them). What they said, and what I said in response, made me realize that neither of us were completely wrong nor right. There's an argument to be made that Dodge can't make something like the 918 (at least not as well as Porsche did), but the other side to that is they didn't need to in order to go just as fast around a track.
This argument was the catalyst for my journey into the world of perspective, and other similar arguments and statements I've seen throughout the internet have reminded me not to rule out someone else's perspective just because I disagree with it (or because of how ludicrous it may sound at face value). You those memes that say “Oh it took Dodge 8 liters just to compete with a car that has 3.8 liters and two turbos”? Well that's one way of looking at the situation, but you could just as easily say “It took Nissan two turbos, high compression, a sealed factory, and tons of tech just to compete with a car that still has pushrods?” and neither person would be right or wrong. It just depends on how you choose to look at the situation.
That's not to say all arguments on perspective will cancel each other out so easily like that of course, because not all of them will, but arguments of the aforementioned nature really are just a matter of perspective.
While I do wish I didn't spend so much time arguing with that person on YT all those years ago, I don't really regret it either. That argument (and every subsequent argument) was so formative and the lessons I learned then I keep with me now (expanding on them as things change and I change). Without that experience, I wouldn't have learned what NOT to do in arguments (or not nearly as soon as I did) and I don't think I would be as open-minded.
How have cars changed your life? Were there experiences through the automotive world that made you a better person? Let me know in the comments below. As always, I'll see you all next time.
This article was original posted on my website: Cody's Car Conundrum