The 'Nürburgring Effect,' and the supercars that came before it
Forget lap times. Sometimes the old ways are just the best.
Brands attempt to push the performance envelope all the time, but few succeed in doing so without forgetting where they came from. Some may call this progress, but I call it the 'Nürburgring Effect,' so-called not for that 13 mile stretch of tarmac in West Germany, but for what it means to the car world today.
Imagine if you will, Lamborghini, by no means an outlier in the supercar landscape, was always a company that had sold cars based on sheer "Look at me!" factor.
Most people think that Lambo's of old such as the Countach had to be sold on 'look at me factor' because they weren't much good. But talk to anyone who's driven one, and they'll tell you that the only people who say that the Countach drives bad have either never driven one or are too bitter about not owning one.
The thing is that some of these people have grown up, and can now afford an Aventador, the Countach's spiritual successor. And if all they've ever heard was just how bad Lamborghinis are, well, they might as well just buy a McLaren.
So, this left supercar makers with two options, sell out to the 0-60 crowd or face bankruptcy.
Lap time, lap time, lap time.
To satisfy the growing market of supercar buyers who had no idea what the hell they were talking about, both Ferrari and Lamborghini had to play the numbers game.
What this meant was that Ferraris and Lamborghinis were quickly reduced to nothing more than a set of performance statistics, numbers which the hapless new owners couldn't hope to replicate in their own cars without blowing their clutches.
So, in an effort to make their cars more useable, supercar manufacturers had to fit 'flappy paddle' gearboxes, which worked well on the track, but when presented with a traffic light would absolutely crap themselves.
So, they started fitting cars with two clutches, and because owners now wanted seat heaters and Apple Car Play, the cars got heavier, so to make sure that the cars would still set a good lap time, stiffer, harder suspension had to be installed.
All of which makes me pine for the supercars of old. I like the fact that it might not start in the morning. I like the fact that it can kill you. I like the fact that its soft suspension won't ruin my back after five minutes. And most of all, I like the fact that it wasn't built to please anyone who wouldn't drive it.
Because who the hell wants a poster car with Apple Car Play?