Elemental Versus Automatic

Last week, I drove a 1952 MG-TD. I’ve driven one before; quite a few times, actually. But I hadn’t driven one for over 30 years, and I had forgotten just how raw and visceral the driving experience is in a short-wheelbase, open-air sports car of that era. It is very much an elemental versus automatic experience, as compared to today’s cars.

I mean, you hear everything. You hear the tires rolling on the road surface, you hear the gear linkage, you hear the brake cables, you hear the (optional, of course) tube radio hum to life when you turn it on.

And you feel everything. Road imperfections, even small stones, are felt all through the chassis when a tire rolls over one. You feel the air hit you as you rush forward, you feel vibration through the steering wheel, you feel the notches in the gearbox as you row up and down through the four-speed, etc.

It’s a a lot of sensory input.

The car is dog-slow, 0-60 in about 22 seconds, I believe. And if memory serves, the top speed of this model was around 77 mph in 1952. But, because you are so exposed to the elements, and it’s noisy, going 50 mph feels like you’re going 150 miles an hour. Hahahahaha, it’s exciting!

It’s nothing but a coincidence, but I also drove a friend’s Tesla Model X in the same week. What a contrast! Elemental versus automatic, indeed.

Whisper-quiet, and it will do just about everything for you, including drive itself. It cannot make a grilled cheese sandwich for you yet, but I’m sure that’s only a software update away.

What a great piece of machinery. Very impressive.

And yet, and yet…..

There is something very seductive about that old MG-TC, and all that (very) analog mechanical activity from a standpoint of brain stimuli.

But, hey, I still use a typewriter once in a while. I like the noise and the tactile parts of it. So, maybe I’m predisposed that way.

I’m no Luddite; I love technology, but, as I mentioned before, there is certainly something alluring about the analog side of things.

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