What is my favorite car?
I often get asked this question. People see that I am a car enthusiast and induce that I should know what exact car I would love to own. What is your dream car, Abhishek? Every time I get asked that, I do not have an answer. So, since I am convinced that my thoughts organize better when I write, let’s write. People deserve an answer. Hell, I deserve an answer. Of all the car magazines I read, I should finally proclaim my true love.
Performing a complex cause and effect analysis, my mind raises the following questions:
Q. Do I dream of a particular car? मेरे सपनो की रानी !!!
A. No, I don’t.
Q. Do I have pictures of a particular car model or even a brand stuck up on a wall?
A. Scaled models in Jacksonville and many many posters in my Thane home.
Q. Am I a fan of a particular team in a particular racing series?
A. I am not a fan of F1. I like WRC and I think Subaru and Peugeot have good cars. Do I want the Subaru Impreza WRX STI? I don’t know.
I dream about the driving experience, not the car. Remember, the journey is more important than the destination! Let’s think about the journey and we shall reach the destination. What is my dream driving experience? That, my friend, is the right question. Do I dream about the perfect driving experience? Hell yeah.
Location: Mercilessly twisty roads. Downhill. Tall peaks on one side, deep ravines on the other.
Weather: Spring, coolness of the shadows of the mountain interrupted by the sun's warm rays. Early morning weather. Misty.
Soundtrack: Torquey six to eight cylinder engine roaring with high and low revs in symphony with the curvy roads, continuously accompanied by a whine of a supercharger/turbo charger. Maybe an occasional tire squeal to offset the otherwise harmonious exhaust notes.
The Drive: Having set the backdrop of my dream, here is the drive part. A complete driver’s car. As I go through the gears, braking and accelerating, the car provides total feedback from the road. Every crease, bump and pebble is felt. The car accelerates when asked to, turns like on rails and stops on a dime. The car appears to have been built by one person only, not by a bunch of engineers that use statistical numbers and never leave the drawing board from concept to production. It is everything that one person wanted that car to be. If that person were to be a fast car, this is what he would have become. The transmission is manual, short throw, sequential or regular. I would like paddle shifters, only if made by a certain Enzo Ferrari or maybe by Mr. Aston Martin.
The answer is clear. I want a track car for the road. You see, Department of Transportation (DOT) requirements for a road car are different from those of a track car. When you build a track car, you can do away with stickier wheels, airbags and etc. A track car is designed to excel at a race track. It is supposed to take corners at triple digit speeds, brake hard and accelerate fast. These cars are built for racing purposes only and are built around their star race-driver. If someone like me wants to take that car out to the roads, stuff needs to be added to the car to make it barely road legal. Of all that I mentioned above about a track car, the most important is that it is built for one person.
Carol Shelby shoe-horned a big V8 into what was a chick-car then. The AC Cobra. Out came the Shelby Cobra 427 from a humble barn door and shook all track records.I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on the new 2007 Shelby GT 500 but I want to own my dream sometime soon, so let’s keep it real people.
Lotus Seven Replicas:
Lotus Seven was an icon. There couldn’t have been a more basic design to a car. Caterham makes the Caterham Seven today. The iconic fan following of the Lotus Seven led to many independent car manufacturers putting their own spin on the Lotus Seven's engine bay. One of special note is the Tiger Z100 MK1. With two Kawasaki Ninja 900 cc engines in it, this bad boy has two starters, two gear boxes two gear shifters and thankfully one steering wheel. No rear suspension, hard plastic bucket seats keep the driving experience very very real.
The Lotus Exige S
Tipping the scales at a mere 2000 lbs, this is the Ally McBeal of sports cars. It packs a supercharged tiny Toyota engine that would go unnoticed on any other car. This car makes 218 hp and 185 Ft. Lbs of torque. I can only imagine the driving experience of the Exige. The cockpit is very basic. Interior amenities sport a tiny CD player and a gear shifter very close to the steering wheel for quick shifts. What more do I want? $56,000 would be nice.
This is the option where I go El-Cheapo and make my own car. Yes, you heard me. As soon as I own a home with a garage, I am buying a rear wheel drive (RWD) old roadster, maybe a Miata. Something light with an engine compartment sufficient enough to cram in a small V8 with a supercharger. Then, I will have lived the legacy of Carol Shelby and made my own mean machine.
I could also start with a body kit of a Lotus Seven replica and build my way up.