2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: My Other Corvette Is a Harley-Davidson
October 07, 2010
When you're out traveling around in the middle of nowhere, the preferred machinery for touring the countryside is either the Corvette or the Harley-Davidson. Not Porsche or Ferrari, not Aprilia or Suzuki.
Makes sense, since the Corvette and the Harley are pretty much the same thing in a lot of ways, starting with the way that they're disdained by people who think they know better. Too low-tech and even crude, we're told. Throwbacks to an era best forgotten.
So it makes you wonder how these two brands can survive if their products are so antiquated, doesn't it?
Usable power, that's the answer. These engines might seem lazy and low tech, but they develop the kind of power that's perfect for sustained blasts across a landscape of vast distances. Power under the curve, not peak power. Real-world traction, not abstract dyno-cell output. A lazy lope over such a broad range of rpm that a gearbox seems superfluous.
The smart guys once dismissed the Chevy V8, but after the Corvette has prevailed so many times at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, even the Europeans have taken to talking about torque as if they had just discovered it. Meanwhile the Harley-Davidson V-twin broke new ground in racing once the smart guys figured out that the distinctive interval between the engine's power pulses enable the motorcycle's rear tire to recover and find traction, something that brought Harley-Davidson victories on dirt tracks and which is now being exploited in a new generation of engines for MotoGP road racing.
Technology has its stereotypes just like anything else, so the Corvette and Harley-Davidson were once dismissed because they are American. But the more you look around, the more you realize that the Corvette and the Harley-Davidson have prevailed because they suit the unique way that Americans go down the road.
Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com