I moved this discussion over to a new thread since posting it in the other thread would have been getting REALLY off topic, (as if it wasn't already).downest said:It really gets to me when people jump all over parts that are functional but may be a little weird looking or out of the ordinary. Matt's front end is a good example of this. Yeah, it might look weird, but there IS a performance gain, however small, and that's what it's about.
Regarding form and function: Tom's quote above is where I disagree (and I'm speaking in general here, not about a particular product or Tom himself, just a larger attitude in the import community). Parts, at least the type that we're discussing, *should* be functional. That's their job. If they don't function, they are a failure. But, a part's functionality doesn't, to me, automatically give it some sort of carte blanche with regards to appearance. In some cases, sure. If I'm in the market for a camshaft or some connecting rods, with all things being equal, I'll buy the ones that function the best, appearance isn't important because I don't have to look at them.
Likewise, if I was running a car in a racing series and was looking for every advantage, every hundredth of a second REALLY mattered...I would be more likely to choose the most functional product without regards to appearance.
Now, I like my car to perform well. I've driven plenty of cars with engine swaps and turbos and spent tons of money on upgrades of all kinds. But, in a street car, especially a daily driver, appearance most definitely comes into the picture. A "performance gain, however small" isn't, to me, what it's *all* about. It's a great thing, but there are always trade-offs to consider. If a supercharger gave my car 350HP but, as a result, it only got 8 miles per gallon, I wouldn't buy one. Likewise, if it required a 8 inch cowl-induction hood to fit, or if it made the car much less reliable or required me to spend much more money on maintenance and repairs, it might not be worth it.
A performance gain isn't always what it's all about. A small performance gain at a large aesthetic (or other) penalty isn't a good trade-off to me. A small performance gain with a small aesthetic penalty, maybe. A large performance gain with a small aesthetic penalty, sure. It's just a very strange argument to respond to "well, that's certainly ugly" with "but it WORKS". Yeah, I *expect* it to work...does it work well enough to overcome it's appearance?
I think part of the issue is the fact that a lot of people (not on this site, but in general) act like various 20-year-old 105-HP 4-cylinder sporty Japanese economy cars are the epitome of a form-follows-function car build philosophy -- honestly, that's a large part of why Hondas have a bad name in a lot of the automotive world. I very rarely see daily driven Mustangs, Corvettes, or Camaros with the interior fully stripped down to bare metal. Why? Because the performance gain is *very* minimal, and for a street car, it's simply not worth the trade off -- the car is noisier, louder, it doesn't look as nice or complete...why trade off 20lbs of weight when they are that important? But Honda guys do it all the time, because this philosophy of performance gain, however small, being the determining factor in a decision. There are guys out there running only a driver's seat in automatic-transmission-equipped Honda Accords because a performance gain, however small, is what it's all about to them.
Please remember, I'm speaking very generally here -- this is very much NOT about the shifter from the other thread, or Tom's exact stance on things -- he's got a very nice looking car!
"Rice" is generally accepted as being the practice of modifying a car while being more concerned with the look of going fast than actually going fast...a philosophy of form over function. But, sometimes, it's this: the attitude that performance is paramount, worth any trade-off, in a car that's obviously NOT the pinnacle of performance.
Now, every decision, every trade-off, takes thought. Even if you tend to go by a certain philosophy, you weigh the various aspects in making a decision. And that's why I'm writing this. Someone CAN jump all over a part even though it's functional, because function is NOT some kind of magical trump card. All pistons, brakes, shifters, intakes, etc. should function...but that doesn't mean people can't dislike another aspect of them.
Someone running fiberglass doors and Lexan windows in a 15-second daily-driver will probably get jumped all over by some, because while it's certainly a performance benefit, it's absurd on a car that's driven every day and has a stock engine. If a 10-second purpose-built drag car had the same parts, nobody would say a thing, because it makes sense. The tradeoffs are different in that car since it's not taken to work or through the Wendy's drive-thru, dropping a tenth can be a HUGE difference, and the car's engine, for instance, might be as close to the maximum level of performance for it's class. It's about a performance gain in both cars, but the tradeoffs aren't equal.
OK, enough rambling. Thoughts?
EDIT: This isn't to say there's no gray area between a daily driver and a full-on race car. Obviously, there are a lot of cars that see part-time auto-x duty, etc., and that is taken into consideration when that person weights the pros and cons of something for their car.