Why 0-60 times don't really tell you how fast a car is


Let me set up a little scenario to illustrate how silly 0-60 times are
particularly when comparing two cars with different shift points.

Two cars.. CarA and CarB have identical acceleration in 1st, 2nd and 3rd
gears, but they're geared slightly differently.  
CarA has to shift to 3rd gear at 59mph.
CarB has to shift to 3rd gear at 61mph. 
Ok, they race..   
Both bolt off the line and run door to door and 5.5 seconds later they're
both going 59mph.   
CarA is now forced to shift, which takes .5 seconds
CarB continues to accelerate and reaches 60mph .1 seconds later.
CarA now continues to accelerate and also reaches 60mph .1 seconds later.
Total 0-60 times for each car.
CarA  5.5 + .5 + .1 = 6.1 seconds.
CarB  5.5 + .1 = 5.6 seconds.  
Wow..  .5 seconds difference in 0-60 times..  CarA got totally trounced.. right?
Wrong.   We've all raced door to door.   What does a shift really cost in 
distance?   About a half a car length, sometimes less.  
CarB got to 60mph a half second quicker, but it only gained 5 or 6 feet 
of distances while CarA was shifting.

Ok.. let's continue the race.   
.1 seconds after CarB reaches 60mph, it gets to 61mph, and 
has to shift.. taking .5 seconds. 
CarA continues to accelerate taking .1 seconds to get to 61mph itself.
Both cars are now going 61mph.   What's the total time so far.
CarA 5.5 + .5 + .1 + .1 = 6.2 seconds
CarB 5.5 + .1 + .1 + .5 = 6.2 seconds.  
Oh.. and while CarB was shifting, CarA made up the half a car length
it lost before.   They're now running door to door again.  

This is why 0-60 times are silly.    It's a totally arbitrary time to speed
contest and each shift hurts the time badly, but means virtually nothing
in the real world.    If the race is to 50mph they're even.  If it's to 70mph
they're even.   

Auto manufacturers have been building cars with overly *long* 1st and
2nd gears for many years simply for the purpose of pumping up
their 0-60 times, while actually sacrificing some real world 
pull, they could have had if they'd chosen gear ratios 
more suited to the powerband of the engine (so that you
don't fall out of the power after every shift).