Simanaitis Says

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E2F2 AND OTHER COMPUTERIZED FUN

A READER with an evidently good memory asks about E2F2, the Engineering Editor’s Fun Factor. This assessment of enthusiast car goodness originally appeared in Road & Track, August 1984. Its offspring recurred from time to time: “Son of E2F2 Attacks Newport Beach,” (R&T, January 1987); “Elvis’s Ghost Uses E2F2 to Rate UFOs,” (R&T, January 1988); “E2F2 Nuances,” (R&T, August 1991); and “Son of E2F2 Confronts the Petroleum Endgame,” a sidebar to “The Fast & The Frugal,” (R&T, August 2008).

How times change.

mj

The Petroleum Endgame version, as it appeared in R&T, August 2008.

SK is the car’s skidpad value, times 100. SL is its slalom speed, QS is quarter-mile speed, both in mph. FE is the arithmetic average of the car’s EPA City and Highway values (note: not the EPA’s weighted Combined), times 4. FR is the car’s test-route mpg, times 2. These values are all in the numerator because, in each case, bigger is better.

A is acceleration time to 60 mph in seconds, times 10. B is braking distance from 60 mph in ft. QT is quarter-mile time in seconds, times 10. And price is the as-tested price raised to the 0.4 power. These are all in the denominator because, with each, being smaller is a virtue.

Performance numbers are fudged so each lies more or less between 10 and 100, thus giving them somewhat comparable weighting. Originally P was the square root of price (with citation about the love of money being the root of all evil). What with car prices increasing (and hand calculators getting more versatile), P decreased from square root (the 0.5 power) to 0.4, thus flattening out the influence of price a tad.

Back before the commonality of Microsoft Excel, assessing a bunch of cars with E2F2 took a month of Sundays. In fact, even with Excel it’s still a tedious process of entering data. As used to be said in math texts, this is left as an exercise for the reader.  Yeah.

Another early attempt at computerized automotive assessment also arose, relatively speaking, in ancient times. As I wrote back in October 1986, Subjective Ratings in R&T Comparison Tests always combined “things like ashtray access, heel-and-toeability and whether that little trim strip on the dash keeps falling off during the car’s three weeks with us.” To some readers, some of these things were paramount; to other readers, they didn’t affect a car’s goodness by one whit.

M

A Reader-Friendly Guide to Basic Cars, October 1986. Illustration by Leo Bestgen.

I ginned up a computer program in BASIC (remember BASIC?) that let the reader weight each category to personal needs. It took about half a page of BASIC instructions, and I don’t recall anyone commending me for my effort.

By contrast, people still remember E2F2. Bless their hearts. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2015

8 comments on “E2F2 AND OTHER COMPUTERIZED FUN

  1. Alisa
    March 18, 2015

    I had to chime in on this one to say I commend you on your BASIC! I’ve been reading for ages now (I think Suz mentioned this obliquely on FB years ago) and it tickles me to see your stuff in my feed every day. Hope you are well and hello to Dorothy! -Alisa Theil

  2. Mark W
    March 18, 2015

    Anyone who puts this much effort into calculating the fun factor IS fun. The fact that it’s (probably intentionally) obtuse just makes it more fun. Times 3.1416. Hoo-rah !

  3. Ed Kopacz
    March 21, 2015

    Do you have any E2F2 “data” on cars of the day way back when, or of current vintage. Might be interesting to see the data vs reader opinion. BASIC- haven’t heard that term since Computational Anaysis I, circa 1965!

    • simanaitissays
      March 21, 2015

      The challenge is finding results for each of the tests. For instance, really early R&T didn’t do slalom or skidpad.
      From time to time, E2F2 has given really counter-intuitive results–that’s why it’s called Fun….
      At one point, I considered an alphabetical term so M (Morgans, Miatas) and D (Dellows) scored high. But then so did Metropolitans and Dacias….

  4. carmacarcounselor
    March 28, 2015

    I remember the E2F2 fondly. My dad’s Lincoln Cosmopolitan “Carrera Panamericana replica” had 205 horsepower and was the Hot Rod Lincoln of its day. But 400 is the new 200, with horsepower and torque climbing seemingly without limit. As a result, cars like the Miata, which are genuinely fun to drive with only modest horsepower, would seem to lose out unfairly in the Fun Factor. As someone else in the automotive journalism business said, with the limitations of driving on public roads, it’s more fun to drive a slow car fast than to drive a fast car slow.

    • simanaitissays
      March 28, 2015

      This is similar to my published view of a preference for vintage racing: I’d rather drive an immoderately interesting car at moderate pace than the other way about.

      • carmacarcounselor
        March 28, 2015

        It took me 40 years or so to learn the other lesson: There is no such thing as a new car, unless it’s in a showroom or on a dealer’s lot. If you buy “the latest thing” it’s only that for maybe three months these days. I retired my 2009 BMW and bought a 2004. The new ones are faster, safer, and more fuel; efficient, but my 330Ci has a real dipstick, and its limits are accessible within my modest skill level.

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This entry was posted on March 18, 2015 by in Classic Bits, Driving it Today and tagged , , .
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