Measuring a Car's Worth - Bumpin' In

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What is the first attribute that you take into consideration when determining a car's value? Horsepower, style, price, or its performance numbers? Let's face it: A lot of us are numbers obsessed. When most of us determine whether or not a car is worthy of our hard earned dollars, we want the best value for money.

So being gearheads, it makes sense that the first attribute we look at is the power output. After all, we want a car that will get us across the finish line first, and the less money we have to spend in order for us to accomplish our performance goals, the better. Proof of this becomes very apparent when you speak to someone who is obsessed with the '13-'14 Shelby GT500. While its power output is impressive at 662 hp, many enthusiasts quickly conclude that the GT500 is the be all, end all, of late-model pony cars. Turns out, it's not quite that simple.

While that magic 662 number will dominate over the 580hp Camaro ZL1 on paper, and at the dragstrip, it doesn't really tell the whole story of either car. Simply take both cars for a drive around a curvy mountain road for any measurable length of time, and it quickly becomes apparent which car is better suited for the real world—and it isn't the Shelby.

Ask any non-biased road tester who has driven both cars, and they will tell you that the suspension and brakes in the ZL1 are not only better suited to deal with the chores of everyday driving, but are better suited for the road course over the Shelby-tuned Mustang. The brakes don't fade like the Mustang's, and the active handling suspension-equipped Camaro helps not only deal with the jolts of a bumpy road, but also provides the driver with much more confidence in the corners. The Z' also rides better, and even though the Shelby is louder and sounds mean as a bear on a cocaine trip, after an hour of driving, that exhaust can turn your brain to jelly. The has already been proven to be a better track car too, posting faster and more consistent times that the Mustang—that's seemingly anxious to put you into a tire wall, with more power on tap than what the chassis and suspension can actually handle.

There are tons of other characteristics that, in my opinion, make the Camaro a better overall car, but I'm not here to write a road test review as an editorial. However, providing the comparison is sort of the point of this article. Why base your opinion on a vehicle, or anything else for that matter, on simply one attribute? Why shortchange yourself? That's like marrying a woman because she's punctual. Sure, it's a good thing, but it's certainly not everything, obviously. I used to be the same way when I was younger, simply looking at horsepower. Being in this business, you're forced to do the research on everything related to this industry and look at the bigger picture.

It's the same story with the new Chevy SS. Enthusiasts tend to spew hate towards this recently released, world-class four-door muscle car, simply because the lack of a manual transmission option. Yet, you ask them what their favorite modern muscle car is, and 90 percent of them will tell you it's a Buick Grand National—a car that was only offered with an automatic transmission. That didn't stop it from being the fastest production car in 1986 and 1987, though, did it?

The Buick was filled with faults, namely, that very aforementioned gearbox. But we can look passed it though, thanks to its accomplishments, its rarity and collectability, its menacing cosmetics, and thanks to a factory-installed turbocharger, it' ease of modification. Again, there's a bigger picture to the GN to behold, rather than its lack of a manual transmission option or eight firing cylinders.

So my message to you, my reader, is to take a step back and look at the big picture when judging something from now on. It might just change your outlook on cars, and maybe, even life in general.

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