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The nut behind the wheel
Chris Judd was right on target when he came up with:
> To wit: If you want your car to go
> faster, learn how to drive it better. I'm not saying that I'm any Stirling
> Moss (far from it!), but my old X1/9 can be driven plenty fast. It's just
> more a matter of planning, timing, and execution in a slow car than in a
> fast one. That's half the fun, at least for me. Also, I've found that
> higher quality tires, better brakes, and high quality suspension parts
> alone contribute enormously to the speed factor - while making your car
> safer and ultimately more durable.
X1/9s in particular are tremendous cars to learn driving skills in.
Maintaining speed in an underpowered car is kind of an art, and you can
learn a great deal about braking and power application by trying
different techniques through corners. My 850 was a great teacher for
this, and also gave you the illusion of going blindingly fast when you
The easiest upgrade to improved handling (and thus, improved exit
speeds) is tires. Can't count the number of "modified" cars I've seen
with truly inferior tires on them. Wider by itself isn't enough. I've
purchased name brand and generic performance tires in the same size for
the same car and the difference is remarkable. I also am currently
"between" good tires on the Audi due to an impending wheel change and am
driving on very old, hard Yokohamas that I can tell you are downright
dangerous. As a lot of our cars don't get driven much, the age of the
rubber is an important consideration as well.
I fondly remember losing a BMW 325 one day in my Fiesta, due to it's
improved tires/suspension and my ever increasing knowledge of FWD
cornering. The BMW owner wrongfully believed his 'superior' German car
was all he needed, and rock hard Michelins + no driving skills left him
far behind my 90hp econobox.
A good driving school, especially one in which you can use your own car,
is a far better investment than cams or carbs.
As for the stoplight grand prix, even my wife enjoys the occasional
thrill of putting someone in their place. Foolish, yes, but it's part of
being human. My life does not revolve around such things like it seems
to with the youth/Honda Civic crowd, however.
1970 124 Spider
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