Welcome to Must Read, where we single out the best stories from around the automotive universe and beyond. Today we have reports from Road & Track, Cars.com, and Collectors Weekly.
Jason Cammisa has a great piece on where the manual is actually doing really well, and why we shouldn’t be complaining about its death. Yet.
The sky’s been falling for 50 years now, it seems. In September 1965, Playboy published an article by automotive-journalism legend Ken Purdy. It opened with a two-page shot of a Corvette shifter covered in cobwebs and the headline “Bye-Bye Stick Shift.”
Half a century later, Purdy’s theory has been proven somewhat correct—most mainstream cars, like the Camry, don’t offer a stick at all, and those that do sell in minuscule numbers. But perhaps “purist” was too strong a word. What about the cars that regular enthusiasts buy?
Cargo capacity should be an easy thing to measure and therefore give you a solid number to compare against other cars if what you want in a car is the ability to put things/people in. That’s not the case, unfortunately.
The methodology in question, called SAE J1100 Motor Vehicle Dimensions, is rooted in SAE drafting standards from 1963. A formal version was approved in 1973 with comprehensive revision in 1975. Eight subsequent versions came between 1984 and 2009, explained Neil Mitchell, a senior design engineer at GM. But there’s little consistency as to which version automakers use. Toyota said it employs the 1975 version, which it says the EPA mandates for cargo volumes that classify a car as subcompact, compact and so on. Hyundai said it uses the 2002 version; Honda said it uses the 2005 version. Chrysler, GM and Ford said they use the 2009 version.
The headline for this is a touch dramatic, but there’s an important point to be made, as the U.S. has sort of dropped the ball lately on the safety of its roads.
Although organizations like the CDC have applied this public-health approach to the issue for decades now, automobiles remain a huge danger. While the annual fatality rate has dropped significantly from its 1930s high at around 30 deaths for every 100,000 persons to 11 per 100,000 in recent years, car crashes are still a top killer of all Americans. For young people, motor-vehicle collisions remain the most common cause of death. In contrast, traffic fatalities in countries like the United Kingdom, where drivers are uniformly viewed as the greatest danger on streets, are about a third of U.S. rates.
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