Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
8/20/15 3:34 p.m.

“It handled like it was on rails,” the proverbial old-timer at the bar always insists, tipsy with nostalgia. It doesn’t matter if he’s referring to a Mercedes or a TR6: His classic sports car handled better than whatever appliance he’s stuck driving today.

Unfortunately for fond memories, they’re often dead wrong. A new Hyundai Accent can run circles around most little British cars, never mind all the half-restored examples on the road today.

Sometimes, though, that man at the bar has it right. A handful of little British cars were ahead of their time, and their engineering sacrifices make them solid performers–and collectibles– to this day.

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TR8owner
TR8owner HalfDork
8/20/15 6:39 p.m.

You could modify old cars with period correct parts as with Konis, better springs, fatter sway bars, wider wheels/tires, etc. but they're still no match against new technology at the limit. But so what - its way more fun to drive an older slower car fast than to drive a newer faster car slow. Most owners don't push their new high performance cars to the limit and I'll bet my brother's modified Lotus Europa can pull higher g's than most of them.

Gary
Gary Dork
8/20/15 7:36 p.m.

I can't speak for a Seven or an Elan, but I do have a '68 Spitfire Mk 3. I have a two-car garage. One side is my '96 NA Miata. The other side is my Spitfire. The Spitfire has been an ongoing project since 2002 (yes, 2002). People say to me "I bet you can't wait until it's done so you can drive it." But in reality, I think I'm enjoying the journey more than I will the end result. The Miata has spoiled me, and the sports cars I grew up with will never compare. So, the Spitfire is what it is. It's a fun project that I work on at my own pace. And in the end, it's simply a hobby that I enjoy using my skills to work on. But I'll drive the Miata forever.

Leo  Basile
Leo Basile HalfDork
8/20/15 8:57 p.m.

Sooo...

I have a 1966 Morgan, and a 2009 Lotus Elise. Let me tell ya, the Lotus does feel like its on rails, even more than my Cooper Formula car!

The Morgan is an elbows out assualt on the all the senses. I really would not want to "update" the Morgan at all. It really has charm. I drive both cars like the way they are supposed to be.

Now, allow me to paint the picture with a colorful true story: I was following my wife home one afternoon from a sportscar club meeting on a very fun, twisty road. She was hustling the Lotus up the road, and I was following. Not really paying attention...just following, like I said...Well, let me tell ya, I almost stuck the Morgan into a guard rail. What felt like a sprited drive in the Lotus was maybe an 8/10s experience in the Morgan.

I would have to choose one over the other. Both are a treat to drive and own.

Leo

Tom1200
Tom1200 Reader
8/22/15 2:47 p.m.

Leo a few stories for you:

The first 20 yrs ago following friends who were driving MGB and Spitfires around twisty lake road we were glued to their rear bumpers, in my wife's Geo Prism (Corolla). At our lunch stop we were laughing about it.

An SCCA friend scratchs his head about my love of my vintage motocross bike; we both agree it bottoms out constantly, the forks are weedy, in a 15 minute session the brakes only work well on the first and last lap because you stop using them on lap two and they cool down enough to work on the last three corners and that you exceed the bikes limits constantly............which is why I love it.

Finally telling a friend who makes his living building race cars and coaching about how well the Datsun is going and the poor modern Vette drivers I was lapping at the last track day. To he which he replied "you do drive it really well but even if you are the best Pro driver in the world you shouldn't be passing modern cars, they are so much better"

Modern cars, especially sports cars are now so amazing, this why we fall into the trap of thinking the lack sole, the real problem is we are driving them at 50%

Tom

Kenny_McCormic
Kenny_McCormic UltimaDork
8/22/15 4:39 p.m.
Tom1200 wrote: Modern cars, especially sports cars are now so amazing, this why we fall into the trap of thinking the lack sole, the real problem is we are driving them at 50%

Bingo, you can actually drive a stock old MG or what have you on cheap all season tires at 9/10ths on public roads and not attract much attention. Whereas you'd be going twice the speed limit in a modern sports car for it to start threatening to kill you in the same ways.

Even my 99 Prizm with OE grade shocks has too much grip to be as entertaining as it could be. Its a shockingly neutral car (by FWD Toyota standards) but you rarely get a chance to feel it. I sometimes regret putting 195/60/14 Altimax HPs on it, it was more fun, and still capable of going around a corner fast enough to scare some backseat passengers, with the dried out stock size generic all seasons it came with.

PeteLoBianco
PeteLoBianco
9/5/15 5:30 p.m.

Raced a Super 7 in SCCA back in the day, plus owned a street S7, several Elans, and a 26R. The Elan is a car. The Super 7 is a toy. You can take the Elan home to meet Mom. The Super 7 is the fun, kinky mistress that you keep hidden.

gfastr
gfastr New Reader
9/6/15 10:09 a.m.

In reply to PeteLoBianco :Wasn't it the LoBianco Trucking Lotus 7? Remember it from Lime Rock Park back in the '70s.

PeteLoBianco
PeteLoBianco New Reader
8/28/18 9:03 p.m.

In reply to gfastr :

You are correct!  Fun times.  Fun track.

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