NHTSA / EPA Regs Build Better Car for Most 2012

By Otto Mittelstaedt

It appears that you cannot completely shut off the stability electronics on newer Porsches. I can tell you why. If you could, every time you did, a waiver form would have to pop out of the dash, and you would need to sign it. Come to think of it, that might work – something like the Fedex electronic signature box ! It also now appears that the NHTSA is re-opening the issue of unintended acceleration by considering regulations to interlock brake and throttle. This would prevent advanced driving techniques like heel and toe downshifting,  trail braking, etc.  I’m sure that if it came to such regs, Porsche would apply fixes, like blipping the throttle when downshifting,  PDK. style and other software solutions.
Lets face it – how many people drive their cars on the track – it’s a tiny percentage.  And they have other options, like a track only car based on an older Porsche. For myself, I mostly don’t care about air bags, and the like. My second favourite Porsche is a ’69 911S – under 2 litres, MFI, long wheelbase, 2200 lbs. The only thing electronic is the ignition. My favourite would be a ’63 T6 Carrera 2 Cab, but lets get serious here.  I’m pretty happy that when my wife and kids hop in their cars, they are protected with the latest safety gear. On second thought, even for myself, when I’m toodling around in my Volvo, running errands, I’m happy that the car is there, willing to give its life keeping me safe.
Regulators are building a safer car. The stats bear this out. Every year, there are fewer deaths.  And the EPA is doing its part, too. I remember when  coming back to Toronto in the 60’s the dome of haze that would constantly hang over the city.  Manufacturers don’t do anything unless they are pressed. Just look at motorcycle manufacturers. Most still are not putting in ABS ! until a couple of years ago, the fastest bikes could not use full power in first gear without flipping over backwards, or full braking without flipping over forwards. Follow a Harley around – and note the stench coming out of the tailpipe. In the mid 90’s when pollution controls were being mandated in the EU, the European manufacturers kicked and screamed, even though they had been selling compliant cars in the US since 1975.
There will come a time when the regs are too much. That will be when cars are all on auto-pilot, following a line of sensors on the highway, with the driver reading a book. Even then, we will still have track days.
In the meantime, you can still buy a ’69 911S. Unfortunately, it’s called a Lotus Elise.  Fantastic, compliant cars can be made, they just have to toss out the garbage – sound proofing, electric seats and the like. This to me is the biggest gap in the Porsche lineup. Bring back the 914 !

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