Appliance of Science - AlanGowdy
It's wonderful how scientific and production advances continue to make things both better and cheaper. A cheap watch from Casio will tell the time just as accurately as a £1000 example from an upmarket jeweller. A colour TV can be bought for two or three day's wages rather than the month's pay that was needed when they first appeared. A Focus ST, Golf GTi, Astra VXR or Civic Type R can perform within a few percentage points of exotica costing three or four times as much.

I was ruminating on this whilst driving behind a new Porsche this morning. Yes it may be superior in terms of performance and handling to the four I mentioned, but not by the yawning chasm that would have been the case a few years ago. To truly justify the price differential it should accelerate 0-60 in less than 2 seconds, have a top speed in excess of 300 mph and corner at 5g.

Aint life grand?
Appliance of Science - L'escargot
You're assuming that everyone wants the cheapest product they can find which meets their required performance criteria.
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L\'escargot.
Appliance of Science - Collos25
But anybody who buys a new Zuffenhausen taxi in this country(UK) displays many things about themselves.
Appliance of Science - Vin {P}
Alan,

What car were you driving? Was it the utterly utilitarian vehicle capable of carrying out the minimal specifications of your journey requirements? If not - if there was anything in it that you paid for but that was not absolutely necessary to your use of the car, you're in the same situation as the Porsche driver.

V

P.S. One of the things you get for the price of a Porsche is other people noticing what car you drive, even to the extent of maybe writing up the experience on an internet forum. :)
Appliance of Science - daveyjp
"A cheap watch from Casio will tell the time just as accurately as a £1000 example from an upmarket jeweller"

I'm afraid it It won't - expect a cheap Casio to be incorrect by up to a 30 seconds within a month. Tolerence for a £1000+ watch is 15 seconds within a year. IIRC Breitling work to 5 secs within a year. But like cars the majority of people don't buy expensive watches because they are so accurate they buy them as a symbol of wealth.

On the Porsche theme. Despite having a year old GTi a colleague has just bought a second hand Porsche Boxster. Asked why he said it was something he just needed to get out of his system and despite the Porsche not being a lot quicker than the GTi he has far more fun in it!
Appliance of Science - Armitage Shanks {p}
Daveyjp - I think you are being a little unfait to cheap Casios - I have found them to a bit better than that! For almost the same money you can buy a raio linked Casio which will be more accurate than any other mechanical or quartz device that one can buy, apart from another radio one of course!
Appliance of Science - Mad Maxy
Best watch I ever had was a £6.50 Casio bought from H Samuel. Kept brilliant time, lasted ages, only changed the battery once and only got rid of it because the part of the plastic case to which the strap is attached cracked and broke. I replaced it with the same. Any half-way decent watch I'e had costing £200 or so hasn't lasted the course or kept such good time.

One cannot deny that modern gear in any sphere is better and cheaper (relatively) than it used to be - although this is partly a reflection of increasing wealth. When I was an impressionable teenager a MkII Cortina Lotus had 105 horses and did 0-60 in 9.9 sec (or thereabouts). Nowadays most family hacks have such perormance. Back in the old days of whooping cough etc a top benchmark was the E-type Jag: 0-60 in 7.4 sec. Now a lot of hot hatches etc are nudging or exceeding that.

There's a lot of quality driving available for not much money nowadays. But my current Cooper S (enough perfomance for me) replaced a Porsche 993 (272 bhp, 0-60 in 5.4 sec). I hardly ever used all the performance of that, but it was a brilliant car to drive. Not just the accelaration and the mid-range wallop of a 3.6 litre engine but all the subtle qualities of an exceptionally well engineered car. It was such a dream to drive briskly and safely. So I can understand why people are still inclined to spend out on up-market motors. But currently I have better things to do with my dosh.
Appliance of Science - cheddar
"A cheap watch from Casio will tell the time just as
accurately as a £1000 example from an upmarket jeweller"
I'm afraid it It won't - expect a cheap Casio to
be incorrect by up to a 30 seconds within a month.
Tolerence for a £1000+ watch is 15 seconds within a
year. IIRC Breitling work to 5 secs within a year.


Breitlings superbly crafted watched to die for though are mostly sprung mechanical and would be doing well to acheive an accuracy of 5 secs a month yet alone a year. The best quartz mechanical watch will only be accurate to a few seconds a month. It is true that a digital Casio is probably just about as accurate as any normal watch because it relies purely on the occelation of the quartz crystal and no mechanical intervention.

The exception being Junghans etc radio controlled watches that are timed by signals from various atomic clocks around the world and are thus always spot on.
Appliance of Science - Statistical outlier
"IIRC Breitling work to 5 secs within a year."

Not true, unless you re talking about their quartz chronographs, when yes, they are ridiculously accurate. Their automatic chronometers are specified to be between +6 and -4 seconds per day. Mine runs about 2 seconds a day slow.

For the (clockwork) chronometers, accuracy is not the point. It is a work of art, a lovely thing that is owned purely to be an object of beauty and precision (and in my case, to remind me of the grandmother who's minor bequest to me allowed me to buy something to remember her by).

Sorry, sort of off thread, but in the same way as I could have bought a beaten up Transit van rather than an Accord Tourer, most people are looking for more than just utility. Happily what people want is as varied as the choice offered. There's room for all tastes and budgets, in both cars and watches.
Appliance of Science - andymc {P}
"You're assuming that everyone wants the cheapest product they can find which meets their required performance criteria. "
"What car were you driving? Was it the utterly utilitarian vehicle capable of carrying out the minimal specifications of your journey requirements? If not - if there was anything in it that you paid for but that was not absolutely necessary to your use of the car, you're in the same situation as the Porsche driver."
"... most people are looking for more than just utility."


Guys, I don't think the OP was making that point. I read it as being more along the lines of "Because of technology filtering down and becoming more affordable, those of us who can't afford Porsches can nowadays get access to a lot of that kind of performance and fun factor for a quarter of the cost - hurray!"
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andymc
Vroom, vroom - mmm, doughnuts ...
Appliance of Science - mike hannon
I think you're right, andymc, but although the performance and fun factors may be available, what is still missing is the satisfaction of owning a piece of quality engineering. That's why people pay more for a Porsche or a Breitling Navitimer (I've coveted one of those since Bill Boddy used to plug them in Motor Sport but I guess I'd only scratch it...)
I remember learning that lesson when I thought it would be practical to change my (spotless) Lancia Beta HPE for a Cavalier SRI and was quickly horrified at my mistake when I realised what a compromised piece of 'engineering' it was.
Of course, the whole thing is less important now, as far as car choice is concerned, when new motors with all the performance and toys are only kept three years by the majority of business owners.
Appreciation of engineering quality needs a long-term relationship.
Appliance of Science - Number_Cruncher
I think that we have never been able to buy as much performance and real engineering quality in motor cars as we can now. That such quality, performance and reliability are available for such little money is IMO a true testament to the engineering and manufacturing process behind these cars.

I was taught engineering design by an ex Leyland/Rolls-Royce/Ford chief engineer, and he often said "An engineer is someone who makes for a shilling what any fool could make for a pound"

In this regard, for everyday use, I think the Casio a better piece of engineering than the Breitling, the Yaris better engineering than the Porsche, the biro better engineering than the Waterman.

As an engineering challenge, I think it far harder to build a small car to meet all the safety and homologation requirements, perform decently and sell in large numbers than it is to design a piece of automotive porn with a near limitless budget to be sold to those in the happy position of having more money than sense.

Quality is also a difficult concept. For me, I regard it simply as getting what I expect to get. So, again you can argue that a Big Mac is better quality than a meal in a restaurant, because in whichever town you are, you know exactly what to expect from a Big Mac, where an unknown restaurant in a strange town could surprise you (in many ways!). So my view of quality in cars is probably a bit out of step with most members of the forum - I would argue that a Yaris has much better quality than an Aston Martin despite the higher specification of the Aston.

Number_Cruncher
Appliance of Science - madf
My views are biaied by practicality.

Were I to own a 911 (yes please) could I drive as I do in the Yaris, parking in ridiculously short spaces (no computer or warning sensors), in grotty car parks with little fear of theft , and easy to get in and out (a key issue as you get older!?:-((( ? Would I like speedhunps ?


Nope.


Of course If I wanted to afford a 911 I would have two /three cars - but I only want one....

No contest.


I agree with Number Cruncher. without reservation.



madf
Appliance of Science - cheddar
NC, I agree totally that quality can be defined by expectations, I have made this point on numerous occasions in the context of brand expectations skewing customer satisfaction surveys, i.e. Skoda always do better than VW because the buyer/driver has a lesser expectation regarding Skoda.

To extrapolate the burger analogy you can eat at The Ivy and have high expectations or eat at McDonalds and have modest expectations, in either case your expecations may or may not be met and it is on this basis that you would judge the relative quality. However in absolute quality terms a disapointing meal at The Ivy is very likely to be "better" than any meal at McD's.

In car terms, a DB9 might not meet your expectations having forked out £100k where as a Yaris might exceed your expectations at £10k however in ultimate quality terms the DB9 would still generally considered to be "better".

That being said suitability is a large factor when it comes to cars so just as a vegitarian would not appriciate an entrecote' at The Ivy and would surely prefer a McD's bean burger a dog owner might find a DB9 imprctical and "prefer" the hatchback Yaris.
Appliance of Science - wobblyboot
Robert Pirsig covers quality in 'Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance'...IIRC, there's no such thing as quality
Appliance of Science - Number_Cruncher
Robert Pirsig covers quality in 'Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance'...IIRC, there's no such thing as quality


Sounds like an interesting read!

If I had to condense my previous post to a one liner;

I think that many people confuse quality with specification

So, for example, the "nice" surface feel and finish of the trim on the dashboard of Wolfsburg's latest offering is not quality - it is specification. That the said dashboard works properly without creaking and rattling is, however, more of a quality issue.

Number_Cruncher
Appliance of Science - wobblyboot
From what I recall, Pirsig challenges the reader to define good quality, and then sets out to prove that the notion is abstract beyond meaning.
I only read it because I thought it was about repairing motorbikes...which it is, in a sense.
Appliance of Science - BazzaBear {P}
a dog owner might find a DB9 imprctical and "prefer"
the hatchback Yaris.


Nuts to the dog, I'll have the DB9 thanks! ;)
Appliance of Science - Mad Maxy
IMO a good measure of quality is how often something goes wrong. And there the great majority of modern tin boxes win hands down over seriously up-market motors. And tin boxes don't need pampering. (On a Porsche if you don't brake hard enough and often enough the discs go rusty. And there's a limit to how much skimming they can take...)
Appliance of Science - Number_Cruncher
>>how often something goes wrong

I'd call that reliability.

Number_Cruncher
Appliance of Science - cheddar
Nuts to the dog, I'll have the DB9 thanks! ;)

>>

And if I were a hound I would rather have the cow hide back seat of a DB9 too!
Appliance of Science - mike hannon
I still think it must be possible to buy into quality engineering, if you can find it.
Just to extend what I said above, there was a world of difference in the way the two cars I mentioned did the same thing even though they both accomplished it. The Lancia felt better the faster you cornered with it because it was designed and engineered to do just that, while the Vauxhall SRI felt like a camel on roller skates (no matter what I did to upgrade it) because its suspension was production engineered to try and do what was beyond it for the price.
In short, it was a botched-up repmobile trying to perform out of its league.
I wonder how many Breitling Navitimers still give satisfaction as timekeepers and treasured possessions, while the super-accurate digital Casios are clogging up landfill sites?
Appliance of Science - barchettaman
.....Skoda always do better than VW because the buyer/driver has a lesser expectation regarding Skoda....

And they´re more reliable, better VFM and bigger. But I take your point.
Appliance of Science - madf
"And if I were a hound I would rather have the cow hide back seat of a DB9 too!"

By any objective count, leather is worse than manmade fibres:
hot in summer, cold in winter, when discoloured, requires expensive cleaning, exepensive repairs, slippery...


It's amazing how many people prefer the interior of a car fitted in such a way (wood/leather) as to be totally impractical and a throwback to the horse and cart....

madf
Appliance of Science - DP
It's amazing how many people prefer the interior of a car
fitted in such a way (wood/leather) as to be totally impractical
and a throwback to the horse and cart....



I agree with everything you say, and your comment above illustrates perfectly the gap between emotion and logic in terms of what we (in general) find appealing.

Leather is everything you mention. Hot in summer, cold in winter, slippery etc. Horrible in a lot of ways. Then you sit in an Alfa or a Maserati (the Italians do leather trim better than anyone), and just smell that wonderful smell. Feel the texture of the material. It somehow acts on your emotions, and logic goes out the window. I recall from a friend's Alfa 156 that I wouldn't care if the leather gave me an electric shock every 2 minutes. The rest was worth it.

No logic, no sense, but perfectly true IMHO.

Cheers
DP
Appliance of Science - madf
I drive cars for driving not for smell. I still recall the pain of driving a lether seated car in short in the Tropics after it being in the sun for hours. Open doors, switch on aircon and still hot after 5 minutes.

I like my creature comforts .

Besides I live in the country. I see and smell cows every day in the field adjoining our garden. Eat them? Yes. Smell them? No thanks.

Apart from meat and milk , cows produce excrement which helps make ideal compost and manure.

Sitting on a dead cow is not something I relish.


madf
Appliance of Science - DP
Have to agree to disagree with you on that one.

I'm not fussed in general about leather trim because it often looks and feels like plastic anyway in most mainstream, German and Japanese cars. For me though, there's something about the way the Italians (and traditionally the British when a British car industry existed) finish their leather that makes it desirable.

It's a tactile thing as well as a smell thing, and touch is all part of the driving experience.

I'm obviously alone on this, so I'll get me coat. :-)

Cheers
DP
Appliance of Science - Statistical outlier
No, I'd agree actually.

I've got leather, not because I wanted it, but because I wanted all the other bits and pieces that came with the Ex spec. I expected to hate it, for all the reasons that turned out to be perfectly accurate: hot in summer, cold in winter etc.

Yet it's nice. Odd really.
Appliance of Science - Mad Maxy
This thread has gone well off-topic, and it happened quite quickly via Breitling watches. Are we all agreed with the original sentiment about the 'appliance of science'?
Appliance of Science - Statistical outlier
I think the problem was that the OP had rather too good an argument.

It's pretty indisputable that you can get staggering levels of performance for (relative) peanuts nowadays, and I think the pace is still accelerating. My Accord (launched in '04) is a large diesel estate. It goes better and handles just as well as my previous hot hatch ('99 Xsara coupe), which in my mind is at least unlikely!

Exotica will always be attractive, in the same way as watches are bought by many for far more than their ability to tell the time. Boundaries can be tested on an 'unlimited' budget before those technologies are brought down to us mere mortals. No matter how good the affordable stuff, there will always be a market for expensive, exclusive products.

There will also always be people who can't see the point. A friend of mine is the most financially careful person I've ever met. Not tight, but happy to spend 10 hours a week looking at financial deals to save a few hundred pounds a year. She spent ages looking for a base spec Focus - 1.6, no aircon, no metallic paint, no nice stereo etc. She thinks it's hilarious that 'idiots' would pay £20k for the ST, when 'it's just the same car as mine'. Takes all outlooks.

Saying that, she's got three years (quite good) wages in the bank and I don't. Hmm.
Appliance of Science - Mad Maxy
Nuff said!
Appliance of Science - cheddar
I've got leather, not because I wanted it, but because I
wanted all the other bits and pieces that came with the
Ex spec. I expected to hate it, for all the reasons
that turned out to be perfectly accurate: hot in summer, cold
in winter etc.
Yet it's nice. Odd really.


Totally 100% exactly my experience, just sub Ghia X for Ex.
Appliance of Science - AlanGowdy
Guys, I don't think the OP was making that point.


Correct Andy.
 

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