Hooniverse Asks- How Slow is Too Slow?

IMG_1839 The picture above shows part of the May 1975 Road & Track cover, and teases an article within the issue that’s a grand-mal test of nine small cars available in the U.S. that year. Why was R&T, noted for their affinity for string-back driving gloves and European sports cars, lowering themselves to such depths? Well, at the time the U.S. was facing a crude oil supply constrained by certain members of OPEC for our country’s support of Israel. That ‘Gas Crisis’ as it was known made fuel economy a far more important attribute than acceleration, and while many of these cars get decent gas mileage, their zero to sixty times are jaw-droppingly slow when compared to even the most lethargic of modern rides. The quickest of the bunch, the VW Rabbit was timed by the magazine to make that dash in 12.7 seconds, which is snail-like by today’s standards. At the other end of the spectrum the Beetle, coming from the same company, took a glacial 18.1 seconds. Less than a second ahead of that at 17.3 and 17.7 were the Datsun B210 and Renault 12. Now you’ll have to keep in mind that even sports cars were slower back then. The 49-state Triumph TR7 tested in the same issue could only manage 11.3 seconds to reach sixty, and a contemporary Ferrari 308 GT4 could barely break 8 seconds. The point of all this is that the cars of today are hugely more competent than those of the past, but are they too much more competent? If a modern Fit or Spark can hit sixty in around 11 seconds, is that too slow? Alternatively, if most cars are able to knock off freeway speed in under 8 seconds, is that too fast and would they be more efficient with a few fewer ponies (hearsay, I know) at the gain of a few more MPG and a cheaper price tag? Would they then become more dangerous to drive in modern traffic, or would traffic benefit from the more languid pace? What do you think, how slow is too slow? Image source: May 1975 Road & Track Magazine

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