GQ columnist (and one of this authors favorite authors) Jamie Kitman recently wrote a piece on what he has termed the ‘slow-car movement’. It’s an idea that takes some of the principles of the slow food movement and translates them into what many of us have been doing for years; driving our asses off in well worn (barely) vintage cars. It’s a simple concept and one I can articulate very well within my own garage.
Compare my ’88 535is to the new 535i for instance. Even with a manual and sports package the modern 5er doesn’t stand a chance in getting my attention if I want to actually drive. But if I simply want to be transported in effortless style with technology catering to my every whim I’d choose the 2011 5 Series. The difference comes down to involvement in the car and in the process of driving. There is little question that the new 5 Series is faster in every way imaginable. It’s safer, it stops better (way better) and will carry four in a level of comfort not even imagined in 1988. It is a better car in all the modern ways of measuring success.
The ’88 has one huge thing going for it. Feel. It’s the thing that Dr. Kay Segler talked about at the introduction of the 1M and it’s the attribute that so many modern cars have lost in the name of comfort, isolation and efficiency.
Yes, but doesn’t the E90 M3 have feel? It has some along with amazing control and precision. But it also has performance levels that are so high you have to be in triple digits just to make things really interesting. It’s a great car. Some would argue too good to have fun within the limits of everyday life (not to mention the law). An E30 on the other hand can get interesting pretty quickly at nothing more than 20 mph. Add in a touch of moisture on the tarmac and some modest tires and things can get downright hoon-like.
Yes the slow car movement is growing. It’s a natural outgrowth of the further refinement of the automobile, regulations and increased social responsibility foist upon us all.
Many of us want something raw. Something that feels as exciting as it looks and at speeds that we can live with. For me the answer comes in the form of my (new to me) E28. For you it may be an E36 M3, E30 or even a 2002tii. Regardless, I can assure you the reward is far greater than the sum of the old parts.