Mike wrote a great review of probably the
most expensive test drive in recent history. I can add a little from my nearly
45 years of driving experience in which - in a
period of 36 years - I purchased 36 cars in a
never-ending effort to seek the most fun from driving. I am what Neil Yates
calls a petrosexual.
When I decided to go to England with Mike I did not want
the trip to be ruined by high expectations so I was ready to accept anything.
That way I could laugh if building Murtayas in a barn was a joke.
After Neil took Mike out in the car he offered to take me for a ride.
Within a few hundred yards I was utterly convinced that this Murtaya was by
far the most fun car I could imagine...and I was not even driving it. I have
never ever been so intoxicated with "adrenalin" in my life as I was on that
drive with Neil Yates.
If I was willing to pay $1,000 dollars to take a Ferrari
on a test drive then I would eagerly pay $10,000 to be with Michael Schumacher
as he pushes that Ferrari to its limits. On this drive Neil Yates was Michael
Schumacher for the Murtaya...and without coming close to the limits - that the
car, Subaru-like, simply does not seem to have - he took me on the most
impressive drive I could ever imagine. I have not only never been that high
on adrenalin but I would not have believed that a drive could ever give anyone
such intoxicating doses of adrenalin.
To put this phenomenal dose of adrenalin into some
perspective I have to go back over my 45 years of driving experiences. This
adrenaline of Adrenaline Motorsport finally explained to me why a few cars in
my life - of relatively little monetary worth - have given me a FUN to drive that
no expensive cars could ...no matter how much exotic power they have. So much
so that it seems that the more power exotic cars have the more they drive like
dogs compared to the few fun-cars I have driven. And of all the fun cars I
have driven by far the most fun car is the Murtaya. And I did not even drive
Before the story of what makes the Murtaya the most fun-car imaginable,
a few things about the drive.
I keep reading in car magazines about how a new model car has been redesigned to
make it 30%+/-, or more, rigid. After the ride in the Murtaya I can say
that none of the writers for these magazines have any idea of "rigidity."
I say this because until the drive in the Murtaya the word "rigidity" for me
was always an imaginary figure or number in a car magazine. But in the
Murtaya the word "rigidity" is a feeling that is so overwhelming that it
leaves little for the imagination.
When I stepped into the Murtaya it felt
so secure...like a person would be in the center of a large suitcase surrounded
by a very thick layer of Styrofoam...the case weighs next to nothing and with
4WD and independent suspension nothing on the road seems to get through to flex
things. Nothing seems to get through from the road, not even the
noise...the feeling of security is so impressive that it is difficult to
explain, it can only be experienced...and the car follows the road like it was
on rails. In corners you need a speedometer to tell you that any other car
following would have left the road long ago.
The temperature was around 5C between
40-50 F...without a top the heater kept us comfortable even at over 100mph.
Compared to the convertibles I have owned and driven there was relatively no
turbulence in the Murtaya. At over 100mph I easily carried on a
conversation with Neil without having to shout...The room inside...I would have
no problems going on long trips in the car, even if it had the same seats that
had no padding.
After this phenomenal drive I kept trying to figure out
WHY...what was it about the Murtaya that made if far, far more enjoyable to
drive than anything I had ever driven before.
Piecing the FUN together. It all boils down to burden called
weight...a burden that no amount of power can negate. Add to that 4WD and
independent suspension and a LIGHT super-rigid composite-fiberglass body and
you have the most fun car imaginable. A car that will never have any
competition - at ANY price - as long as manufacturers keep increasing the weight
of their cars with more and more power that needs more and more mass for
safety and more and more mass to control and stop..., and even more mass to
dull their cars with luxuries.
When I was nineteen, 1966, my sister and I rented a Mini
850 (640kg/1400lb) to tour the South Island of New Zealand. To this day it
was the first and probably the most fun car I have ever driven. Compared to
the original Mini the new nearly twice as heavy BMW mini is an obvious dog. This
is not my opinion**. It was not until Neil Yates took me out in the
Murtaya did I realize what made the fun cars of my life FUN.
Since that Mini I have been seeking to find the magic and joy that came
with that Mini 850. In this seeking I took a Porsche Carrera for a test drive
around 1985. And as impressed as I was with the Mini 850 that is how utterly
disappointed I was with the Carrera. TO ME IT WAS a Volkswagen Beetle, at
best a Carmen Gia, on steroids. Somehow what made my old VW beetle fun to
drive (its light weight 1698lbs, 770kg/new Beetles: 2711lbs ) made the
relatively heavy (2300 lb) Porsche feel like a dog, even though it had at
least three times the power.
Then in 1978 my wife and I visited Europe and I ended up
renting a BMW. It was a very basic middle-of-the-road stripped down four
door...and even though it was very different from the Mini it was just as much
fun to drive - especially on the Autobahn. After I drove that BMW I knew what
made the BMW so popular. I would also learn that most people who own newer,
bigger, more powerful and fancy BMWs have absolutely no idea of the fun that
made those early BMWs popular.
When I got back to the States I would keep going back to
BMW dealers to find a car that was as much fun to drive. Since then I have
driven about 5-6 BMWs, M5's, M3's, and...And the only thing certain was that
since that first BMW each BMW I drive seems to be a bigger dog than the last.
This dog-factor is not subtle. And the more power they have the
bigger the dog seems to be. Again: not until Neil took me for a drive in the
Murtaya did the fun-factor / dog-factor all fall into place. What helped to
make it fall into PLACE WAS a Car and Driver March 2007 magazine that
test drove three high performance production cars -- Corvette Z06, 3180 lbs,
505 hp -- Lotus Exige S 2060 lbs, 220 hp -- Porsche 911 GT3, 3240 lbs, 415 hp
and compared them to three "Track Cars": Noble M400, 2500 lbs, 425 hp --
Ariel Atom 2, 1431 lbs, 245 hp -- Superformance Brock Coupe 2940 lbs, 485
On the track the Ariel Atom 2 at 1431 lbs with a very
modest 245 hp left all the others - mostly with more than twice the power - in its
dust. It was not subtle. The 1500 lb car made the 3180lb 500 hp Z06 Vette
look like it was a SUV. The 2500lb Noble M400 had nearly twice the hp of the
Atom 2...all that extra HP did not negate the extra 1000 lb burden of weight.
When weight gets up to 3000 lb or more, the extra weight turns the car into a
bigger and bigger dog in which more power can only make an even bigger dog.
Then in 1985 I had to buy the first production car with
a multi-valve engine the MR2, 2380lb/1050kg. It was a joy beyond words. At
the time I worked with a surgeon who drove a very exotic 928 V8 Porsche and I
remember telling him that he has no idea of what fun is until he drives a MR2.
To him penis-size and Porsche-size meant so much that to this day I don't
think he knows how much fun driving can be, but not when penis-size and
Porsche-size determines the fun.
On more than one occasion I left the MR2 with my father
when I went traveling. My father was never a "petrosexual," he was never much
into cars. For him they were transportation. And yet when I told him that I
was going to sell the MR2 to buy a 4Runner (that I needed for hauling) he
looked at me as if I was crazy because for him it was obvious that the MR2 was
by far the most fun car he had driven. Again...not until Neil took me
for a drive in the Murtaya would it all fall together. Now I laugh at the joy
of the MR2. Today if money was no object I would eagerly pay $100,000 to get
a Mini 850, an old 1978 middle-of-the-road BMW or a MR2 to get that fun...and
then drive a Ferrari, Lamborghini or Porsche or Vette or Viper just to remind
myself what a DOG is...because compared to these FUN cars any car that is much
more than 2500 lbs has to be a dog, and giving the dog more power can only
make it into a bigger dog.
The way weight works in cars is the same as the
weight/mass works with birds. If a Formula one car is a humming bird then the
Murtaya is a Swallow or Swift. The heavier cars get the more they turn into
pigeons, hawks, eagles....The size/mass/weight of these birds prevents them
from flying around like a swift or swallow. Size is an absolute obstacle; you
can give an eagle all the steroids he can take...and no matter how much power it
has it will never be able to fly around like a swift or swallow. So too with
It is this absolute obstacle that makes the Murtaya by
far the most fun car I have ever been in.
It has four wheel drive...it has all the power four
wheels need to move it around like a humming bird and yet it is light
Again, weight is an absolute handicap that no amount of
power can overcome...extra power only increases the handicap. That is the
reason that all the BMWs I drove since 1978 always feel like bigger
dogs...because their weight keeps going up with luxuries and accessories that no
amount of increase in power can negate.
What makes the Murtaya even more phenomenal: with a Subaru
engine-drive it can be driven around like an ordinary car with no more
maintenance than any other reliable Subaru. Exotic cars that cost 100,000++
that can never be as much fun to drive, nor as nimble or quick...and lose
30-50% of their value in the first year...and cost tens of thousands of
dollars to maintain ...will never be competition for the Murtaya...and they
will never be competition as long as luxuries and the need for more power,
bigger tires, bigger brakes, keeps increasing their weight far beyond the
1000kg of the Murtaya.
But most of all what the trip to Cornwall has done for me
is... I now enjoy my 2002 280hp Subaru WRX far more than I can imagine because
with over 100,000 miles it has cost next to nothing to be more tight and more
solid...and far more fun to drive than it was when it was new.
The extra 1000lbs might not allow my WRX to be as much fun
as a Murtaya but it is the next best thing...(the same Subaru) that makes the
Murtaya the best thing.
** New Mini:
Alex Moulton, designer of the suspension system for the original classic Mini,
is reported to have said of the new MINI, in an interview with MiniWorld
magazine, "It's enormous - the original Mini was the best packaged car of all
time - this is an example of how not to do it...it's huge on the outside and
weighs the same as an Austin Maxi. The crash protection has been taken too
far. I mean, what do you want, an armoured car? It is an irrelevance in so
far as it has no part in the Mini story."
Many classic Mini enthusiasts are sharply critical of the new MINI, citing
the fact that it is two feet longer, a foot wider and almost twice the weight
of the classic car - yet it has less rear leg room and less
A comment from Neil Yates, Managing Director of Adrenaline Motorsport and
driver for Geza's ride in the Murtaya:
with your Dad by the looks of his article, I am pleased that he was impressed as
well. Also if they were his impressions from a gentle drive I would love
to show him the limits of the car!!"