Red Barchetta Glows Orange

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Rush – not Limbaugh, the rock band – had it almost right.

The song, Red Barchetta, was about a dystopian future time in which engines – not motors – had been outlawed.

My uncle has a country place, that no-one knows about . . .
He says it used to be a farm, before the Motor Law…

As it turned out, it is regulations that are systematically purging engines from the road, in favor of electric motors – which are now very much favored by the law. This method is far subtler and so more effective than a brute edict because it doesn’t seem as brutal. Just as “asking” people to “pay their fair share” is psychologically harder to object to for many than the more honest hand over your money, or else.

And so, the car companies are still able – legally – to build cars with engines. Just ever smaller ones, in order to comply with the latest regulations, until – finally – there are no engines left at all.

We are very close to finally, already.

My column the other day (here) noted the dreary fact that even $50,000 luxury cars are generally four cylinder-powered cars now. These engines make less power than the six cylinder engines that were as recently as ten years ago the minimum you’d get for $50,000 and they are also less prestigious – which matters when you are spending $50,000 on a car. It matters because people who spend $25,000 on cars are getting essentially the same as you got, but for half the price.

It makes you not want to spend $50,000 on the four cylinder-powered luxury car. Ah! But look across the way . . . there is an electric car that offers much more power (if not an engine) and for about the same $50,000!

And thus the nudge proceeds.

Try to imagine a $50,000 luxury car with a three cylinder engine. That is certainly coming. It is almost here. Engines, you see, can be designed such that running them generates almost no harmful pollution – the latter once-upon-a-time being synonymous with emissions. But it is impossible to reduce the “emissions” of the gas that is now styled an “emission,” even though it is an irrelevance as regards pollution.

Carbon dioxide cannot be “cleaned up” – because it’s not dirty. But it is generated by the process of combustion – and the only way to reduce the quantity generated is by reducing combustion.

This is why engines are waning in size.

It is not because “gas mileage.”

The new class of four cylinder engines that have replaced six cylinder engines use about the same gas. But they “emit” less gas (C02) and the regs demand less and less be “emitted” with each new slew of regs. That is why they have been replacing larger engines that inevitably “emit” more of it. It is also why, inevitably, there will inevitably be no engines at all – without need of any law.

Eventually, the regs will require “zero emissions” of the gas that is not a pollutant – and that cannot be complied with – without getting rid of engines altogether. (Never mind that C02 will still be “emitted” elsewhere. That will be dealt with once engines have been dealt with.)

The genius of the thing lies in having gotten people to accept that C02 is a pollution-equivalent, which it isn’t. That is absurd – a scientific falsehood. But – having accepted it – they have already implicitly agreed that it is necessary to nudge people out of cars with engines and into cars with motors. Just the same as convincing people that it was necessary to wear a “mask” was the necessary predicate, however scientifically absurd, for getting most of them to accept the necessity of taking a “vaccine.”

It is illogical to object to the latter, having not objected to the former. Just as it is hard to object to “electrification” – if one didn’t object to the basis for it. If one agrees that C02 is a “pollutant.”

I contemplate all of this as I sit in the garage, looking at my Orange Barchetta. When my 1976 Pontiac Trans-Am was new, it was nothing special. Because in 1976, cars with V8 engines – huge ones – were as commonplace as little fours are today. Family cars had V8s. And many families had such cars because they weren’t exotic. Almost anyone could afford to own one. And so almost everyone had one. Or someone in their family did.

Exotic cars had V12s – if you can imagine that. These were to be found in cars that are the analogs of today’s six figure, top-of-the-line luxury cars – models like the Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7 and Lexus LS – all of which no longer come standard with even a V8.

Soon, inevitably, they will not have even the little sixes they now come standard with.

And that will result in their going away entirely – to be replaced by something electric, without any engine at all.

No Motor Law required.

Down in his barn . . .
My uncle preserved for me an old machine –
For fifty-odd years . . .
To keep it as new has been his dearest dream . . .

And I am become that uncle.

. . .

Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in! Or email me at [email protected] if the @!** “ask Eric” button doesn’t work!

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22 COMMENTS

  1. you wrote: “Try to imagine a $50,000 luxury car with a three cylinder engine”
    Well, that’s already in the past, Königsegg launched their 1700hp family hypercar called the Gemera with a 600hp three-cylinder engine plus an electric motor.

    • Hi Mich,

      Isn’t it grand? I’d much rather have my 455 cubic inch V8. It only makes around 330 horsepower – but it sounds a lot better and it makes me a lot happier. Plus, I can afford it. Almost no one can afford the Gemera (which sounds an awful lot like an STD or a new detergent).

      • Eric, Isnt that the whole point ! Your family wont have a car!! Interestingly based on the rules our politicians have made, its more “green” (being a plug in and all) and therefore has a lower tax than even my 15 year old X3 with a 2.0d engine which will easily get 700 miles in a tank on the motorway (with a lot more space for cargo than the STD car)!!

  2. Whenever I her that song – it shocks me at how, 40 years ago they spoke about the time we are heading into. In the 80s, despite the talk of pollution, smog, acid rain, peak oil nobody could have imagined such a drastic change forced on people as banning cars. It was just too much a part of life for most of the western world. But over the past few years, I’ve come to realize that most of these things are not coincidences… And im just wondering when the 2 lane wide alloy air car comes out to enforce mandates…..

  3. Nice article Eric.

    I think we are all becoming an iteration of that white haired Uncle.

    Those who push the green agenda have a serious problem. Their Achilles heal is the fake Co2 argument about the ‘harmful’ effects of greenhouse gas. It cant be emphasized enough. As people wake up to the real science, maybe some will follow the money back to the WEF. The truth should set them free. The truth, that from a place of selfish ness and insecurity, these rulers, [who shouldn’t be] have literally broken the ‘Motor of the World’ as Galt called it.

    I’ve noticed that recently the hype and propaganda surrounding Eveees has gone off the charts, parabolic. Very little of my infotainment time is spent watching or listening to anything other than the occasional movie on amazon, internet in the office, or radio while driving. The majority of time is spent listening to music on Pandora, through our tv, while doing other things.

    Not wanting to pay for the commercial free Pandora, every 4 or 5 songs you get a short commercial. Used to be 90% Touro, cars.com, car-vana, VRBO, air B & B type commercials. In the last couple months, every single commercial I’ve heard, except one was for an Eveee.

    Some cool music, killer video, as the car speeds around. The reveal always comes at the end. “Introducing, the all new, All Electric Blah blah blah.” One new ad this week had some Chevy truck, tearing it up, racing to the top of the mountain, in what looks like Alaska. At the very end it said, ‘Now with a 400 mile range.’ Ha Ha, Ha. In their fevered dreams. Going up hill in the freezing cold its probably more like 190-220 miles, which you wont find out until after you buy one of the rolling fire bombs.

    It tells me they don’t have enough uptake for their bad ideas, having to push so hard, shows desperation. who knows, maybe the plebes are catching on to the scam. One can hope.

    I’ve long theorized that they target these streaming commercials to individual households, In my demographic I could certainly afford to buy one of the loathsome things if I wanted. The puzzling part is why are they wasting their effort on my type. By this point they have to know the only way I would ever buy one is if I had terminal cancer, actionable info about HVT WEF types inside the nearest green zone, and a high probability of slipping the thing inside and shoving it up their asses.

  4. One hiccup to the plan is the sorry state of the electrical grid and all the other limitations of electric cars. With the green energy con limiting real power plants where is all the electricity supposed to come from and how is it going to get delivered? Really want to see California go all EV in 10 years when they have already have yearly electricity crises. Got my popcorn.

  5. first they banned the diesels…now they are reporting diesel shortages…so you can’t run the existing diesels (except on alternate fuels), then the gas ice vehicle is banned……..then there won’t be gas available, so you can’t drive gas ice cars….(harder to run on alternate fuels without conversion)…….this leaves only EV’s available……….but they are already talking about frequent blackouts, the power grid failing…..no power for the EV, then you go back to the bicycle or walking……no geographical escape then……

    stopping the mobility of the useless eaters…corralling them….so they can deal with them

    the elites will fly in their private jets and still drive ice Ferraris…..

  6. Right on, Eric! The four cylinders are more efficient on test cycles, and often less efficient in real world usage due to simple physics. A small four cylinder has to compress a lot of air with the turbo to generate boost, this generates heat that goes out the intercooler or radiator, and this heat originally came from the gasoline. Boosted engines can be more efficient despite the extra work due to improved Carnot efficiency, but only in their sweet spot, which is narrow. A bigger engine simply doesn’t have to do that work of compressing the air. It may be less efficient due to more rotational and reciprocating mass, but the lack of the extra work needed to compress the air offsets that.

    I’m buying some big-engined “keeper” cars right now, which I intend to maintain and keep a long time. I’ve never owned a V8 until now, and I’m loving it, well, mostly, because 11mpg at $7/gallon in CA hurts.

    • Opposite,
      So actually the four cylinder boosted engines do exactly what VW diesels did. Perform to meet the test, but fail in real life driving.

  7. Taking my grandson to the next Mecum auction in my neck of the woods. He has a real interest in cars, mostly fast ones. Mecum has the Hellcat ride around a closed course, he will definitely enjoy that. Hope he can see the difference between the jellybeans and the Saturday night cruisers.

  8. “Sony president Izumi Kawanishi said both Sony and Honda want to create an EV that’s built from the ground up to be a digital content machine.”
    “Kawanishi said that to enjoy a space in a car, it needs to be a space where ‘you don’t need to drive.'”

    • That’s sad Roland,
      Redefining a car as a “space you don’t need to drive” is pure techno-garbage, makes my teeth ache. If you don’t want to drive there are lots of alternatives – cab, uber, bus, etc. leave the cars for the few of us that actually like to drive.

      • Yes, Mike. This is like having a feeding tube inserted so you won’t have the chore of tasting, chewing, and swallowing. One less thing to distract me from TikTok!

  9. “to be replaced by something electric”
    But they won’t BE replaced. EVs can’t do it because there’s no grid to feed them. And the Psychopaths In Charge are doing their level best to eliminate the ICV’s hydrocarbon “power grid” too. It is not Constitutionally provided for, and so illegal for Congress to delegate its authority to pass law. Which of course is exactly what “regulations” are by a different name. If we could eliminate “regulation”, the US economy would take off like a rocket, and all our lives would be a LOT better. While I’m ranting, neither did they have authority to delegate their authority to “coin money”. Especially to a private bank cartel.

  10. Eric wrote: “And I am become that uncle.”

    We are all becoming that uncle. In every account of dead and dying dystopian societies, real or fictional, there are “the crazy uncles”. The ones who desperately and in the face of harsh punishment, hold on to and protect the “good”, the beauty of “what once was” or the wisdom of the ages, be it machinery or tools or firearms or art or literature or the great truths of philosophies and religions.

    Because the common thread of all tyrannies, whether it is today’s gender confused Marxists or invading Mongol hordes or a vicious European king: they want power for power for power’s sake alone.

    To gain and hold that much power, it is absolutely necessary for the one seeking it to convince the people that the “age of shoddy” that is all around them, is how it always was and how it will always be.

    After we are dead and gone, some young man shaking the dusty tarp off your blazing orange Trans Am in 2095 will know, with one look, that yes, the refuseniks were right:

    Things WERE better then.

    And perhaps that will harden that young man, born of hard times, to aspire to create and build good times again.

  11. I feel that way about my ’92 Mustang 5.0 stick Eric, but I don’t know that I have a nephew that would ever appreciate it. Hand in hand with getting rid of good cars they’ve also managed to eliminate interest in them. Pity

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