Carini: When Modern Cars Made Me Eat My Words

Carini’s goal for his 2024 Audi RS6 Avant is to load it up with four adults and their luggage, hit the track, and then see if he can hit its 200-mph top speed. Wayne Carini

This article first appeared in Hagerty Drivers Club magazine. Click here to subscribe and join the club.

When I started driving, I admired all kinds of cars, although I was most attracted to the ones that offered serious performance, like the Corvette, the Camaro Z/28, or the Shelby GT350, not to mention the Ferraris that were sent to my father’s shop for repair. In fact, the ’65 GT350 really opened my eyes to high-performance cars. I still think it is one of the best cars ever.

As a teen, I was lucky to have an inexpensive VW Beetle or Mini that ran most of the time. New cars were not an option, and if used cars were good enough for my dad, they were good enough for me.

Even when I could afford a new car in the late ’80s and into the ’90s, I didn’t think the cars being built were particularly good, and they certainly didn’t perform very well. After the early 2000s, that all changed as cars got better and better in what can only be called a renaissance for high-performance cars. We went from less than 200 horsepower in a Corvette to a mind-blowing 670 horsepower in a new Corvette Z06.

All of a sudden, there were quite a few powerful cars, many of which came from the Big Three automakers. There were Hemi-powered Dodge Challengers, base Corvettes with more than 400 horsepower, and Mustangs with all kinds of power. In fact, I went nuts for a 2020 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500, with its aggressive styling and 760 horsepower from a supercharged 5.2-liter V-8.

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R

I couldn’t stop there, grabbing up a GT350R in 2021. They were just a small part of my new-car buying spree. I was also attracted to the Hellcat and the Demon, cars with tremendous power on tap. They offered more performance than the hottest ZL1 Camaro or Hemi Cuda from back in the day. Unlike ’60s and ’70s muscle, they go around corners and stop quickly. The icing on the cake is that they come with a new-car warranty, and they usually start on the first turn of the key. Finally, there were new cars that I truly wanted to buy.

This may sound strange coming from a guy who has worked in the old-car world for 50 years, but I really like a lot of modern performance cars. Although the core of my collection consists of old cars, these days it always includes modern cars. I may like a marque enough to have a couple of examples: My tastes range from a Citroën 2CV to my one-off Moal Speedway hot rod, and on to a Bentley 3-Litre, and a Demon.

Chevrolet Corvette C8 front three quarter track action orange

Whether I’m buying a 100-year-old Stutz barn find or a new Corvette straight out of the showroom, I’m buying cars I like. With the old cars, the motivation could be looks, performance, or historical significance, although high performance is typically the motivator when I buy something new.

Thanks to my television show Chasing Classic Cars and my magazine columns, the New England Motor Press Association sends me press cars to sample. That means that I get weeklong test drives of the latest cars. I also get to decide which ones I can’t live with and those that I can’t live without.

Having sold the GT500 and the Demon, these days, I am totally content with my 2020 GT350R, 2024 Audi RS6 Avant, and 2024 Corvette Z06. The Corvette is a modern-day supercar. I could have three or four of them for the price of a new Ferrari. Then there is the RS6 Avant. I’ve long found fast station wagons—like my Cadillac CTS-V wagon—to be very cool. My goal with the new Audi is to load it up with four adults and their luggage and be timed at 200 mph on a racetrack. That will be one for the record books.

Audi RS6 Avant Performance Mythos Black rear three quarter

As for the GT350R, I chose to keep that one because it has a flat-plane crank, revs to a mind-bending 8250 rpm, and pumps out 526 horsepower. Ever since I saw the Sunoco commercials with Mark Donohue shifting a Z/28 at revs that would destroy most V-8s, I’ve always had a thing for high-revving American engines.

If anyone asks me why I own these new cars, the simple answer is that they’re fast and I like going fast. Just don’t ask me to choose between my ’65 GT350 and my 2020 GT350R. You might be surprised by my answer, but then again, I once found myself having to choose between a Dino 246 and a European honeymoon. After 40 years of marriage, I think we made the right decision.


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    The older cars are the kind you can have a lot of miles and still do a good job working on them at home and keeping them on the road.

    On the other hand cars like the Audi and BMW are the kind of cars you buy enjoy and then trade by 100K miles as the repairs begin and they can be very involved. I have a friend that buys up these BMW cars for pennies on the dollar from buyers refusing to spend the cash on repairs and he fixes them and flips them for a good profit.

    Like changing a thermostat on an A6 can involve the removal of the nose of the car and the front of the engine. It took 100K miles to fail but when it did when is it too much to keep putting into a car like this.

    I have worked on Corvettes up to the C7 and most are not bad but the C6 and C7 can get involved. The C5 is about the last of the easy ones to work on and somewhat affordable.

    It is not always the complicated things but the need for expensive tools that are needed to do some things.

    I have new cars and I enjoy them but I try not to keep them around past their expiration date. Where as my collector cars are pretty easy to keep up and maintain.

    The one thing with all this high HP. It is more about bragg numbers as you can never use the power all on the road unless you want to be on Youtube. Most cars that are around 400 HP can do all you will ever do unless you go to the track. Even if you go to the track cars like the Corvette Grand Sport is a better track car vs the Z06. It is just an easier car to drive on the limit. Unless your name is Senna less can be more at times.

    I agree that the crazy HP numbers modern cars are making now are just a bunch of sausage measuring. If manufacturers would increase MPG exponentially and HP marginally, we might not be forced into the quagmire of eventual EV necessitude (I know that’s not a real word 😉 I would gladly keep the low 200’s and mid 300’s my Porsches make in HP moving forward if the MPGs kept up. It doesn’t seem impossible, engineering-wise. But gas is still cheap, and people wanna brag more about their 1000HP Dodge than their 87MPG minivan or sedan…

    Modern cars can do amazing things. My biggest pet peeve is reinventing “the wheel” just because then you can say it’s new. New isn’t always better, change for the sake of change isn’t a good reason. Touch screen everything is going to put an earlier expiration date on something that might last longer if it had a few buttons instead of everything hidden in a menu on a screen.

    I totally agree with hyper V6 on the 400 hp for regular use. I ride snowmobiles. My 700 cc is plenty fast on the trail. The only time I open it up is on a frozen lake. Usually around 95 mph. No trees to splatter against. I see no need for a 1200 cc turbo sled unless I feel like carrying a lighter wallet around

    I agree, my daily driver is a 385 HP Porsche. More HP would be useless. I can scare myself enough at that point without causing a heart attack. But then again, my 74 HP 356 can be driven scary also with more added fun. Maybe I just scare easily. Then again I am beginning to realize, as I get older, that maybe I’m beginning to scare the other drivers. Well, the kids have not hinted yet about taking my keys. My wife hasn’t driven for close to three years, maybe she is the smart one.

    I have a MB diesel SUV for daily driving, and an old Yamaha XS1100 motorcycle for going fast. The newer cars ARE harder to work on, and that is one of the down sides. The up side is the comfort and handling to go with the HP.
    As for Wayne, I have a picture of him laying down in an old MB ambulance from the Monterey Concourse De Lemons about ten years ago! Yeah, I was wearing a suite and tie to that, but I was also a driver for VW that year.

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