We Can Make Classic Cars Outperform Today's "SuperCars": Why Not Vintage Audio?

If you spent $2M on a modern "Supercar", you’d arrive at the end of a quarter mile 2 football fields behind the quickest highly-modified "street legal" cars from the muscle car era. You could show up at an Autocross event in your late model "track ready" sports sedan, and be embarrassed by a lady pushing a 1986 Monte Carlo between the cones.

There’s a lot of resources and talent in the automotive aftermarket. Many of the brightest minds earned weekly paychecks in their "past lives" at major auto manufacturers. There are various disciplines involved including complete engine and drive train replacements, serious add-on/mods to existing components, bigger/better brakes, track-ready suspensions, etc. They can even slide a complete new high-performance rolling chassis underneath popular models.

So, why not vintage audio? Well, we do dip our toes into this a bit. There are popular speaker crossover replacements for the DYI crowd. But, these fall sonically short of their contemporary "high end" counterparts. The automotive equivalent of replacing a 2 BBL carb on a cast iron manifold with a 4 BBL carb on a cast iron manifold -- while keeping the original single exhaust system intact. We can do simple mods to improve the sonics -- like upgrading an original power cord that you wouldn’t want to use on a 2-splice toaster, much less a high-current amplifier. The really smart guys need to come to the rescue for true audiophile grade solutions.

Understandably there has to be a "high give a s--- factor" related to this. The speed parts industry is fueled by a wildly enthusiastic crowd while vintage audio owners are, like: "whatever". So, the chances of a superb $5k amp/preamp module that drops into a Marantz 1060 chassis and slays any modern gear near it’s price point may not be coming to a town near you anytime soon.

I think this can be incremental if we put our minds and wallets to it. You "car guys" know there are 3 basic types of collector cars. "Showroom stock" represents as close as possible the vehicle as it rolled off the assembly line. "Personalized" generally follows a stock appearance with performance and cosmetic improvements. Generally speaking, the car can be reverted to showroom stock at some point the future. All the original parts are carefully cataloged and placed in safe storage. "Modified" has the appearance of a race car, and performs like one. Often modifications to metal are performed, and in some cases there’s no going back. We can follow similar guidelines as well. We understand the motivation to keep things "stock". We can also understand the audiophiles that love their vintage gear would be open to the concept of a significantly better listening experience while maintaining a stock appearance and functionality. Chopping up an Auburn is a really bad idea. But, upgrading the input terminals on an integrated amplifier may be highly palatable for those cherished collectables.

I also get it that the ROI would be questionable. An amp that has a current market value of $2k with $5k worth of mods might still be worth $2k -- or less.

What say you?


@fredapplegate @secretguy 


The premise asserts that the automotive aftermarket is alive and well, producing great results, and the "audio performance aftermarket" is non-existent. I believe this is a true statement.

I'm going to jump right in and defend the modified classic car vs "supercar" statement.  When presented with a premise one can connect the dots in anyway they see fit.  That's what's fun about open forums.  That being said, my premise was not to suggest that "old cars" can outperform any supercar on all parameters, but merely gave a couple of examples of how they hold their own within a specific performance criteria when "newer thinking" and aftermarket goodies are installed.

To get right down to the nuts and (lug) bolts of it, here are some measurable outcomes:

A "street legal" '69 Camaro was clocked in the 1/4 mile approx 2 football fields ahead of a Bugatti.  This was challenged by a participant and I backed it up with the math.  600 feet might have been conservative.  By the time the Bugatti reaches the 1/8 mile (1/2 half way) mark, the Camaro is less than one second away from the 1/4 mark and going about 55 miles per hour faster at that point.

Another '69 Camaro hit a top speed of 266 MPH.  

Not long ago a vintage car (might have been the above Camaro?) just destroyed any production car in 0-100 and 100-0 times. So, that's a combination of acceleration AND braking.

I don't have good examples of small tracks and tight corners to compare to supercars, so I'll give today's supercars the advantage here.

As the lyrics of the song says: "Two out o three ain't bad".  And, if a scoring system were set up for best overall score, some would declare the old cars the winner.

Which takes us to the questions:

Can aftermarket technology make cars make more power and go faster?  Yes. Can aftermarket parts increase the dynamic range of an older audio system?  Yes.

Can aftermarket parts make cars stop faster? Yes.  Can aftermarket parts make our systems sound tighter and more controlled?  Yes.

Can aftermarket parts make cars more agile? Yes.  Can aftermarket parts make our audio systems more detailed and focused?  Yes.

Can aftermarket parts make "the ride" more comfortable, smoothing out bumps in the road and staying flatter in the corners?  Yes.  Can aftermarket parts reduce strain, harness, and listening fatigue?  Yes.

I'm glad to see this little topic is still getting "hits".

By the way, my Rivian R1T accelerates from 0-60 quicker than many exotics at 5x it's price.  But, I don't call it a supercar.  Or, supertruck for that matter.

Thanks for participating.


Currently on local drag tracks many videos on YouTube show the family sedan Tesla Plaid cleaning up with the fastest time down that 1/4 mile track .

With audio I think we live in an era of new advances unheard of just a decade ago though with a high degree of musicality .

A great example of what I’m talking about is a reasonably priced electrostatic headphone system from WarWick Acoustics the Bravura system consisting of a all in one electrostatic energizer , chip based dac and headphones and like the Tesla is known for its speed the Bravura system is for its high level musicality .

I thought it was common knowledge that electric cars are fast for drag racing, they have instant torque, try running them in a 500 mile race.

@invalid Good point. It’s just a matter of time.

We’re improving the power/weight component of batteries. But, as one keynote speaker said at a convention I attended: "If you keep making these things smaller and more powerful, what you’re going to end up with is called a bomb."

It’s going to be interesting to see how this develops. Hopefully, we’ll have it figured out before the law requires us to drain the "fossil fuels" from our existing hot rods and turn them into museum pieces.