Lose Pounds, Quickly

Oi, ferrari, ya fat bastards.

4y ago

Back in the very early days of cars, they were ‘series produced’ but not yet truly mass produced; that is, each was a faithful copy of an original, but not yet built with interchangeable parts made to strict tolerances

So the people assembling the cars were ‘fitters’, meaning they had to massage the parts to make them go together – ease out a hole, scrape a bearing surface away slightly, and so on. With time and experience, they learned to achieve assembly removing less and less material, which lead to something called ‘dimensional creep’. The finished cars grew minutely larger.

Cars have been getting bigger ever since. We all know that a new VW Polo is bigger than the original Golf, and that a so-called Mini has the same wheelbase as the first Range Rover. Is there a car that became smaller? I don’t think so.

A lot of people imagine that the rash of short cars we’ve seen over the last decade or so – starting, famously, with the Smart FourTwo – will ease congestion, but I’m not so sure. It’s great for parallel parking, but not traffic jams. The length of the road is not the issue. It’s the width.

More heat, less meat. Ferrari should try my egg curry.

More heat, less meat. Ferrari should try my egg curry.

It’s therefore the width of cars that counts, and my concern is not with congestion, but fun. Cars are getting wider as well as longer and taller. Meanwhile, the sort of road where a supercar would be a right laugh hasn’t really evolved that much. I’m talking about winding back roads in England, Italy, France. They’ve been the same width since the Middle Ages.

The Ferrari GTC4 Lusso I drove last week is a tremendous car, but it would be even more tremendous if I could’ve punted it with vigour down a B-road. I couldn’t, not with complete confidence, because it was often more than half-a-road wide, and Antonio could be coming the other way in his van.

Now I have a Ferrari 308, I realise how much bigger the Ferrari 458 is. It’s 217mm wider, which isn’t a lot if you’re buying a house but a hell of a lot when you’re driving a car. Look at 217mm on your ruler. You get that much extra clearance on one side, in effect, because the other side of the car is at the edge of the road.

Extra power begets fatter wheels, which means more bodywork and more weight, and needs a beefier gearbox, and so it goes on. I want Ferrari to make something mid-engined but not much bigger than an MX-5; with a fizzy 2.5-litre turbo V8 of 375hp and weighing not more than a tonne. Fastest car in the real world, probably.

I’m avoiding saying ‘Dino’, because that’s what everyone always says. But you know what I mean.

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Comments (137)

  • So what you're saying is they need to sack Sir Cumference and lay off the π, even the square ones.

      4 years ago
  • my solution

      4 years ago
  • Egg curry might reduce corpulence, but I can only imagine it increases flatulence. Just sayin.

      4 years ago
    • I was just thinking something similar. Eggs and curry? Looks rather good if I may say so although the extra width in vehicle interiors might not be such a bad thing for dispersing the afterburner gases from James' rear end...!

        4 years ago
    • Yes, no one wants to get caught in that wake turbulence.

        4 years ago
  • Look at the way 911 has gotten wider along times. The 997 was the last 911 that could be used in tarmac rallies.. 991 is way too big even according to Andreas Preuninger. And Romain Dumas just stated something that the roads of Corsica are very tight (for his 997 GT3 RS 4.0).

    Porsche has used further widening with every generation of 911. It is a simple trick to increase grip with wider track (reducing weight transfer and net friction losses) but ultimately the car gets too big and you loose the real Fahrspass on road because you get the "lorry" feel. Let's face it, 95% of driving is on roads and 5% on track. If it is the other way around you can always call Rauhwelt and hotrod it superwide.

      4 years ago
    • Very good. Track performance is buggering up a lot of road cars in general. Hence my objections to the Nurburgring.

        4 years ago
    • Will the manufacturers ever move away from it though? They seem to think a track association/performance sells their cars, but it doesn't to me. Perhaps I'm not their target market.

        4 years ago
  • Here in California we still allow developments to include "compact" parking stalls which originally were to encourage buying compact small Japanese cars back in the 1970s because they were fuel efficient. Today NOBODY makes a compact car aside from the Chevy Spark or Fiat 500. So you get the ludicrous situation where you find people shoehorning their Ford F150s into stalls originally created for the Datsun 210.

      4 years ago