By on September 26, 2019

Just the other day, Bark told us why he loathes comparison tests — those splashy smorgasbords of contemporary metal, each one resulting in a ranking that probably won’t sway a single new car shopper.

Like many of you, this author’s youth was at least partly spent devouring such tests in the glossy pages of Car and Driver and Motor Trend, with a teenage Steph eagerly awaiting those publications’ findings. Would the Ford Contour beat out the Chevy Lumina? Can the Chrysler LHS really hold a candle to the Cadillac Seville? My God, the titillation.

Great entertainment, as Bark said, but most new car buyers only read a review to see if any glaring deficiency plagues their pre-existing first choice. Basically, they already know what they want, and they’re looking to see that decision reinforced. Performance minutiae or minor gripes need not sway the new car buyer.

All of that said, comparos of three, four, six, or twelve vehicles make for fun reading, even if you’re not remotely interested in buying a vehicle from the segment undergoing testing. It could be even more enjoyable to read a comparo of vehicles that time has passed by. How else to explain the ascending views on old MotorWeek test videos? It’s not just the bitchin’ early ’80s ensembles worn by John Davis that’s attracting hits to these YouTube archives.

The question today is: what crop of vehicles, new or old, do you want to see go head to head, on film and on video? It can be any segment from any era. Pick a year, pick a market — if comparison tests are generally no more than just entertainment, this is your chance to be entertained. Personally, I’d be tempted to see some land barge action from the early ’70s, but I’m always up for that.

Acceleration, handling, braking, and pylons galore. Now’s your chance to arrange a little viewing fun.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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33 Comments on “QOTD: Itching for a Comparo?...”


  • avatar
    macmcmacmac

    I remember my local university had a low power TV station back in the 1980s where you could call up and request a show from the library they kept on campus. Oddly enough, one of those shows was a series of crash tests from the early 1970’s, which showed a wide variety Detroit iron being mercilessly slammed into objects and into each other head-on, with the results repeated in live action and slow motion. It was mesmerizing in a way, watching all those parts flying. All I could think was what a waste, when I considered how my father had to make due with whatever second hand GM product he could afford. I still remember one scene where the tester says,”Note the OK’ written in grease pencil still clearly visible on the detached gas tank.”, whereupon he threw a lit road flare into a pool of gasoline and immolated everything in sight. The best episode involved some full bodied GM sedan slamming head on into a Pinto to show what happens when such a pair of mismatched cars agreed to disagree.

    I’d like to think that “comparo” managed to sway one or two buyers.

    • 0 avatar
      RangerM

      I’d like to see the following head-on collisions.

      Tahoe vs. Prius
      F150 vs Tesla

      Out in YouTube-ville, there’s an S-Class vs a Smart Car. The Smart launches like a shanked golf ball.

  • avatar
    statikboy

    Refridgerator Box comparo!

    First gen Scion xB, Honda Element, first gen Kia Soul, and let’s throw in a few JDM Kei cars of the same era, like the Daihatsu Move (Conte) or Honda That’s turbo.

    Comparison to keep emphasis on utility and driving enjoyment.

    Anyone want to add another car to it?

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      The Cube is a glaring omission.

      If you’re opening it up to JDM cars the list grows to about 4 pages long. Even now there have to be at least 20 models there that are designed with a ruler, space efficiency is king there

      I do remember a comparo of the Soul, 2nd gen Xb and Cube being done somewhere, I think the Soul won, unsurprisingly.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Supercars and/or muscle cars of the 1970’s and 1980’s to current ‘family sedans’. Quarter mile, slalom, and other tests.

    Luxury cars of the 1960’s to 1980’s to current economy cars. Comparing ‘luxury’ features, road noise, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      I’ve wanted for a while to see how a modern family sedan would fare vs old full-blown racing cars. How far back to you have to go before the transmission, tires, and suspension tech make up for the power:weight deficiency? Could an Accord Touring best a mid ’30s Mercedes F1 car at a given racetrack? Early ’30s? Mid ’20s?

      • 0 avatar
        ScarecrowRepair

        @PeriSoft something I’ve wondered too, many times. How good were the old exotics, compared to modern family cars? Not just race cars, but an XKE or 300SL?

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          Grassroots Motorsport track tested a Honda Odyssey against a Porsche 356 and a Jaguar E-Type. The Porsche was a tenth of a second quicker than the Honda while the Jaguar trailed behind. Then they put ‘grand touring’ tires on the van in place of the standard ‘touring’ tires and the Odyssey was three seconds faster than the Porsche.

          https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/articles/soccer-moms-revenge/

          • 0 avatar
            JMII

            This is brilliant. Every now and then a review of an old car pops up on my YouTube feed and its funny to see what once qualified as fast or luxurious. Cars that once grace my bedrooms walls, covered in wings and scoops, are easily bested by a Camry these days.

    • 0 avatar
      A Scientist

      Yes to these!

    • 0 avatar
      MeJ

      That’s a great comparison idea.
      Love to see an old Countach go up against a turbo Honda Civic or VW Gti R.

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      The legendary auto journalist Tom McCahill at Mechanix Illustrated would occasionally do these types of comparisons.
      In 1972 he compared the Chrysler Imperial and the Mercedes Benz 300 SEL 6.3. Not just because they were the luxury halo for each brand but because they had hi tech features unavailable on other marques, the self-leveling air suspension on the Benz and electronic four wheel ABS on Imperial.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @Arthur Dailey – I’d like to see 60’s and 70’s muscle versus current cars or pickups of that era versus new. The only advantage vehicles from that era had over new stuff was visceral feel and charisma.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    This would be difficult with press cars being what they are, but what would actually be useful to many people is comparing used and new cars. Set a budget, and see whether the tradeoffs of buying used are worth it. That’s closer to how people shop in the real world, vs. a comparison test between a $50k car and a $67k car just because they are close on a spec sheet.

    If nothing else, the mags run the 40,000 mile tests. Compare the car at the end of that test with a new car of close to the same value and see what happens.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Ace of Base compact sedans: Sentra, Civic, etc, plus their Korean and US comps. Must be manual trans.

  • avatar
    Firestorm 500

    Which would appeal to about 0.2% of the market. At best.

  • avatar
    Fliggin_De_Fluge

    I mean, I guess we could get another Dodge Durango Ace of Base…

  • avatar
    Snooder

    While it’s true that a comparison may not sway a guy who has already decided to buy a car, I think it helps inform his decision making before he’s even in the market.

    Here’s what I mean. You have a guy who has decided he wants a Dodge Challenger. Why though? Maybe because his buddy at work has one. But another buddy probably has a mustang, so why follow one and not the other? That’s where the comparison comes in. Years ago, he probably heard fourth hand that the Challenger is better in some way. And that single article now shapes his buying decisions 5 or 10 years later.

  • avatar
    someoldfool

    How about Duesenberg vs. Bugatti vs. Benz? or from the 50s, Delahaye vs. Rolls Royce vs. Cadillac?

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      Duesenberg v. Bugatti v. Mercedes-Benz might be interesting, but the problem is the guy who has one has three and also three of the other two. They don’t want to read a word about their money-laundering or counting coup instruments that could be construed as critical. If you look, I’m pretty sure you can find comparison tests of luxury cars or the ’50s, both period and as classics. Try Trigger’s Retro Road Tests! on Flickr.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        Just string together the right episodes of “Jay Leno’s Garage” and you will get the effect. You can throw in his Type 35 replica (he says he can’t tell the difference).

        I think he’d pick the Duesenberg.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    Lada Niva vs Suzuki Samurai vs orignal Willys.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    “Personally, I’d be tempted to see some land barge action from the early ’70s, but I’m always up for that.

    Acceleration, handling, braking, and pylons galore.”

    Steph, if you’re not Netflixing The Rockford Files, you should be.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    Not sure why the glorious 1970 Thunderbird with its “Bunkie Beak” was chosen to illustrate the post, but I’m loving it. Underrated and a great road car for its size.

  • avatar
    snakebit

    I’ll just mention the best and fairest comparo I’ve read. In the August 1964 issue of Car Life Magazine(the American car companion to Road&Track Magazine), they do individual road test for both a fully-equipped ’64 Sting Ray Coupe with fuel injection, 4SPD, metallic sintered drum brakes, factory alloy wheels, and a bare-bones AC Cobra Mark II 289. Then, they compare each car against each other from an autoscribes viewpoint. Aside from the as-tested price difference($6,100 Sting Ray versus the $6,343 Cobra), they perform pretty similarly, it’s only a matter of how quiet you want your ultimate performance ride to be, and no middle school lunch table argument about who can blow the doors off of the other.

  • avatar
    Mackey

    Agreed- 1970s big barge comparos. Ford LTDs, Caprice convertibles, Buick Riviera boat tails, and all of the glorious body – rolling whales of the era!

    Oh, and I’d take a Rockford Files ‘Esprit’ ( or pseudo-Esprit, as it were) ANY DAY!

  • avatar
    Mackey

    Agreed- 1970s big barge comparos. Ford LTDs, Caprice convertibles, Buick Riviera boat tails, and all of the glorious body – rolling whales of the era!

    Oh, and I’d take a Rockford Files ‘Esprit’ ( or pseudo-Esprit, as it were) ANY DAY!

  • avatar
    Acd

    1930 American front drive challenge: Cord vs Ruxton, which is best? Let’s settle this once and for all.


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