Saturday, July 7, 2007

You can tell my insurance agent, just don't tell my wife

For decades, men especially, have stood and drooled over that almost unattainable sports car. Whether it was the "muscle car" in the high school parking lot or the Corvette or Ferrari that effortlessly slid by them on the highway, they have seemed to turn heads and spark dreams. In these days of too much loose change, many more of these dreamers are now driving their dream.

Those limited production, horsepower packed dream cars are not ending up in the garage though. The days of lovingly caring for them, taking them for a few cruises in the countryside or the wide-open roar down a lonely highway are gone. Anyone with the dollars and it seems, very little ability and sense can own one.

Almost half of America's rock stars and actors own one of the new 500-horsepower "supercars", many with little sense to handle what they are sitting in. Case in point: Paris Hilton, "stealth driver" of a 617 horsepower Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, a car which Forbes reports is designed "to put Formula One technology in an accessable, comfortable vehicle." It may be an accessable car but do we really need Paris having access to that much car?

It isn't just the stars who are driving these mega-ponies, anyone with the money can drive their dream now, including doctors, lawyers, businessmen... the guy next door even. They are also crashing them in increased numbers. Yes, crashed , as in destroyed a rolling work of mechanical art. More drivers are creating expensive lawn ornaments from them than ever before.

In just the past 18 months, six rare $1 million Ferrari Enzos, of which only 400 were built, have been crashed worldwide. A 39 year-old British driver took an extremely rare, $1.5 million Bugatti Veyron, top speed 253 mph, turbocharged road missile for an off-road experience when he crashed it. It seems that traveling 100 mph on a country lane doesn't leave much room for error when overtaking another vehicle.

"Generally speaking, the cars are well over the heads of the drivers," states Glenn Roberts, owner of a Fountain Hills AZ exotic repair shop.

Those drivers would include, Nasar Aboubakare, a 40 year-old private equity firm president who lost control of the "wild animal" he was driving. That animal was his new 550-horsepower Ford GT, that took off on him and ended up over a lane divider and allowed passing motorists to record the "proof" of his driving skills with their cameras.

Driving too fast for the conditons or failing to warm up the tires properly have been common mistakes that lead to crashes. Biochemist Anthony Almada, 46, admits he was going too fast for the wet road when he lost control of his $440,000 Porsche Carrera, broadsided a brick wall, spun six times and then had it go up in flames.

Even the experts can get in trouble with the urge to shut off the car's traction control system to feel a more "authentic" racecar experience. Aaron Robinson, 37, technical editor for Car and Driver Magazine did just that with a new 611-horsepower Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano in an attempt to make the car flare out on a curve for photos. At least he had the technical expertise to know that he gave it too much throttle and not enough core steering when he parked it against a wall on the corner. He wasn't happy to know the photographer had gotten what he needed on the run before the crash, less happy to be handcuffed by the local police and definately not a happy man when he drove it back to the plant damaged.

Don't fret though that you are being left behind in a growing trend. If you don't have the pocket change to buy one of these "supercars" to trash, you can rent one. New York's Gotham Dream Cars allows people to rent their dream-drive for the day and reports that one in 50 is returned damaged.

In these days of a personal "Gumball Rally, The Fast and the Furious or even The Dukes of Hazzard," I believe there will be more drivers such as Mr Almada. Men lovely holding onto what is left of their dream car... one rear-wheel assembly, a headlight and the carbon-fiber wing.

"It's like a memento of a family member who passed away," he said.

For a peek at the aftermath of such driving experiences, go here.

1 comment:

Karen said...

Okay,'s sad- stupid people driving to fast and crashing cars: but come on! You have to admit that it's poetic justice that it's the muscle cars!