I've owned my fair share of cars over the years. Some scarcely had enough power to merge onto a freeway without the slowest senior citizens bulldozing me out of the way. But I've also had the good fortune of driving some of the world's finest performance vehicles, both on the street and on race tracks. What I'm about to say may seem counterintuitive, but hear me out: I have come to the conclusion that, as a general rule, slow cars are more fun than fast cars. Here's why.
You can't truly appreciate a fast car without putting yourself in danger
If a car's coolest attribute is its fast acceleration, you basically have no time to enjoy it before concerns for public safety, legality, and self-preservation intervene. If you floor a Viper on a highway onramp, you’re going to be hitting the brakes long before you merge. Do the same in a slightly slower car, like a Miata or a MINI Cooper, and you’ll have time to savor the visceral experience as the engine climbs through its RPM range, all within the safe confines of the law.
Accelerating at high speeds is actually pretty boring
In an ideal world, taking a car with high horsepower to its limits should feel like dating someone with a gold medal in the sex olympics. But in reality, even if a car has a top speed of over 200 mph and a nuclear power plant under the hood, it still must contend with basic physics. Sparing the technical jargon, as speed increases, a car requires exponentially more power to slice through the air, and since more power isn’t available, the rate of acceleration drops dramatically.
You might have 500 hp or even 600 hp, but once you get above 120 or 150 mph, that feeling of acceleration is roughly on par with an old school bus pulling away from its last stop. Not great. And at those speeds, there's so much noise from the wind, you can't even enjoy the sound of the engine.
And eventually, you just kinda get used to it
Let’s say you’re going 150 mph. Now what? You're driving at more than double a normal highway’s speed limit, and your flight or fight response rewards your body with a sudden rush of chemicals to help you cope with the excitement.
Then you adapt.
Once you’ve done it enough, the act of driving at over 100 mph isn’t fundamentally different from driving at 70 mph. As you realize this, you calm down and return to normalcy, and you have less of a reward for the increased risk associated with higher speed. Doesn’t sound so great at this point, does it?
There's nothing better than making a slow car go fast
The old maxim that “the best things in life are free” most definitely applies to the joys of driving. And there's nothing more gratifying than holding your own next to someone in a sublime performance vehicle, even if the car you’re in has all the speed credentials of a snail. Barely keeping up with a Miata while sitting in a brand new Porsche? Not so much.
You can learn so much more about a slow car's personality
Different cars have different personalities, and that's especially apparent when you push them to their performance limits. At high speeds, some cars will punish every mistake you make so that it's exceedingly difficult to maintain control. Others are sublime and forgiving machines.
Very few on people on Earth will ever experience the farthest limits of a state of the art supercar. But a slow car? It gives you the opportunity to savor it, to get to know what it's like and what it's capable of. Best part, you can do it without terrorizing everyone else on the road.
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