LOL. A simple acronym for “laugh out loud” that has suffered such overuse in instant messaging that it was even added to the Oxford Dictionary in 2011.
It’s easy to type LOL, but not so easy to truly experience it. Think about it…when last did you actually laugh out loud?
In the world of performance cars, there are different leagues of performance. If we ignore the marketing gimmicks manufacturers love, like putting stickers on a boring 1.6 and calling it a GT Edition, then we can safely say that the fun typically starts at around 110kw.
Of course, power is only one part of the equation. The full and critical calculation is power-to-weight ratio.
The easiest way to understand the difference would be to drive a Mazda MX-5 and a Nissan 350Z roadster one after the other. We are talking about a difference in weight of half a ton! Suddenly, the 100kw of extra power in the Nissan (depending on which MX-5 we are talking about) doesn’t make quite the difference one would expect. Both are cool cars, but for totally different reasons.
The Giggle Factor (as I call it) is something entirely different. It’s a genuine LOL moment. It’s a feeling that bridges the gap between petrolheads and motoring muggles. I don’t care who you are and to what extent you’ve never cared about cars, the experience of a GT3 on the limit will make you feel something. The sensation of the earth seemingly being ripped up beneath you as a Backdraft Cobra struggles for grip will soften even the most hardened fan of 1.2 diesels.
For proper petrolheads, that feeling is expressed as a real, uncontrollable LOL. It’s an involuntary laugh, usually mid-sentence, resulting in an unfortunate squeaking sound as the feeling of motoring nirvana grips your soul while you were trying to ask questions about what the car is like to own.
To borrow another internet phrase – this is living your best life.
But, at what cost?
A GT3 is miles out of reach for the vast majority of people. Even the likes of a Backdraft Cobra would simply be a stretch too far for most petrolheads who have resigned themselves to a life of mildly hot hatches (great in their own right, but not fast enough to achieve Official Giggle Contributor Status).
As I discovered this week, there is a car out there for less than the price of a new Polo that dishes out Giggle Factor in spades. The Honda S2000 is an absolute icon of the past two decades, combining an intoxicating mix of a RWD roadster-only platform with one of the most beautifully designed engines of the modern age.
This car held the record for power per litre, achieving a whopping 88kw per 1 litre of displacement. This record was only broken by Ferrari several years later with the 458 Italia. As impressive as this is, the 176kw power output is certainly not LOL material in and of itself.
The Giggle Juice is when that power happens. Somewhat sedate at lower revs, the S2000 roars into life at 6,000rpm with a vigour that has to be experienced to be believed. It goes on to an incredible 9,000rpm, dishing out a thrill ride that demands absolute attention from the driver. You literally have no choice but to pay attention, because this car has a reputation for being twitchy.
Giggle Factor? You bet.
Affordable to own? Values have climbed considerably in recent years and the Honda is incredibly cost-effective to service, so you are practically driving the thing for free.
No brainer? If you can live with the strict two-seater format and you don’t mind owning a car with somewhat of a widow-maker reputation, then yes. But I’m biased…because I’ve just bought this one.