[NTLK] Newton-like cars [WAS "Re: My vote is for the electric VW"]

Lord Groundhog lordgroundhog at gmail.com
Tue Jan 21 08:55:18 EST 2014

~~~ On 2014/01/17 13:02, Noah Leon at moosefuel at gmail.com wrote ~~~

> I love hearing about electric conversions. Someone mentioned a VW electric
> something or other.

Glad someone has offered an alternative to Volvo.  Not that I have anything
against them, but if we wrench this back into Newtonlandia by comparing
computing devices to cars, the Volvo is more like the old IBM metal-bodied
"dreadnoughts" of the late '80s, which were pitched to me by an eager IBM
rep as "so sturdy and solid you could drop-kick it across the office and
it'd still work".  Ummm, yes.  Wonder how many bonuses he picked up by
saying that to prospective customers?

My vote for a very Newton-like car is a VW Variant 1600 Squareback.  Mine
was a 1966, and shared a lot of characteristics of the Newton.  Look at this
-- astonishing use of all available space to compress components into the
smallest possible package;
-- readily serviceable and repairable by the owner;
-- simple in design yet with its 1600cc engine, powerful enough to do
awesome things (I once carried 3/4 of a ton of books and booklets in the
back, over 700 miles including crossing the Appalachians with mine, the only
concession being to install extra-strong shock absorbers first);
-- the ability to keep on going year after year after year;
-- the absence of luxury bells and whistles and yet with the ability to do
important jobs really, really well and easily;
-- handsome in a sightly awkward but uniquely rugged way (looks like this,
but this one isn't mine <http://www.thesamba.com/vw/gallery/pix/53933.jpg>);
-- and of course, no longer available except 2nd-hand (or by assembling
scrap parts if you're really keen).

-- just to mention a few things.  An awful lot like a Newton, eh?  ;-)

Seriously, self service and repair was easy, and if you had a copy of the
book _How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive; A Manual of Step-By-Step Procedures
for the Compleat Idiot_ (compare Frank's website and the wealth of knowledge
here at NewtonTalk) you could do anything that didn't need fabricating new
parts.  A friend and I once swapped out the engine to do some work on it,
using just a floor jack and a little ingenuity.  It was *easy*.  The number
of tools needed for working on it was relatively small and easy to carry,
but surprisingly, once the car was in good shape it tended to stay that way
with minimal fuss.  Surprisingly good miles per gallon for the size of
engine because it was so light, and when I sold it on (with almost 300,000
miles on it) it became the transport car for a drummer in a band and he
racked up a load more miles before it finally died of terminal body rust.

Oh yes, and it was a great car for cruising fast food places.  If only I'd
known about poutine in the '70s ...

One last comparison with the Newton:  "if only THEY had kept upgrading this
on the same principles as they designed it, so it was an up-to-date version
of itself, it would be better than anything else on the market".  That
sentence works for both.



~~~ ~~~ ~~~

*The Destruction Of Life As We Know It*
    might not be as relevant to Newtons
        as poutine.
               -- Lord Groundhog

(With thanks to Chod Lang)

~~~ ~~~ ~~~
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