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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cars with air conditioning should not have carbon fiber bits!


These carbon vents are pretty gaudy, aren't they? Why would we ever need vents made out of carbon fiber? If you really want to make your car lighter, might you consider completely removing air conditioning instead?

Okay no, maybe not. I’m sure I wouldn’t want my sweaty butt B.O. smell to bake inside my hypothetical $225k Italian sports car either.

It may not seem like it to you, but I do appreciate carbon fiber. The weaves are seriously cool. And especially from a technological standpoint, it’s almost magic. If I could travel back in time and show alchemists this miracle material, I wouldn’t be surprised if they forget all about turning lead into gold.

Unfortunately, the trend with carbon fiber is men believe they have to have it in order for their cars to be any better. The marketing folk understands that especially. That's why they show no shame when they vomit out unnecessary applications and accessories. There are plenty of people who take the bait.

Take this: Carbon fiber cup holder trim? Seriously?? Just how many grams will you take off of your car’s curb weight? Did you actually gain a lower center of gravity?

We have got a better idea for you. Don’t even bother with cup holders at all. Go on your own little diet. Lose some weight. Empty the change from you pockets, wear a thinner shirt, buzz your hair, shave your beard. Hell, manscape.

There are cars where carbon fiber should be the least of its concern-- the Bentley Continental Supersports, for example. The “base” Continental GT, if a hand built car can ever have a “base” model, costs around $180k.

A bump in horsepower and a two hundred pound weight saving raises the price by approximately another hundred grand, slotting itself into DB9/ 599 GTB territory.

Is it suddenly a weapon for the track? No. The spec numbers still mark it at 4939 lb., comparable to the weight of a million elephants. It tells me that no amount of carbon fiber will hide what it was always meant to be— a torque monster long distance GT car, a coachwork orgy of rich leathers, burled wood, aluminum switches, and the trademark Breitling analog clock on the center console.

I’ve always liked that about Bentleys, anyway.

Look, the fact of the matter is that we have to admit what's right and leave carbon fiber for the real hypercars and sports cars-- Pagani Zonda, Lamborghini Superleggera, Ferrari Challenge, etc.

Even then, few of us will ever drive these vehicles to limits where we truly cannot do without the car's carbon fiber weight and rigidity characteristics. I know I never will.

For the record, though, why yes, I would take the Aston over the Supersports and the GTB, thank you very much.

As a matter of fact, the DB9 is the prime example of why a car really does not have to throw carbon fiber around to shout about itself. Its cabin is just a gem to sit in and the true sense of occasion comes from… well, from the fact that it’s an Aston Martin.

It's possible I can be mistaken. Perhaps the DB9 does have some mechanical bits or panels that are carbon fiber. I can’t be positive and I haven’t a clue where the bits could be. Honestly, I don’t care and I can't be bothered to research it on Google. The point here is Aston Martin made sure not to make carbon fiber a hallmark in presenting the DB9. Such a suggestion actually distracts you from the real reason why the car is so desirable. The car is more than the sum of its parts.

Hm, “more than the sum of its parts.”

Think about that the next time you think your sports car needs to have that carbon fiber trim that includes carbon vanity mirror covers.

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