Musings of a Car Guy: So Many Keys So Little Time, Part 2


Happy Friday. Last day of the week and you’re jacked for the weekend. It’s sunny out, you brought flowers in for your assistant because she fixed what she bumbled yesterday and her daughter is feeling better. Your boss actually apologized to you, which you wrote down on your calendar because you never know when that’s going to happen again, and people all over the office think you’re up to something questionable because you’re wearing a smile so big. They’re wrong though. You know why? You’re grinning like an idiot because you just romped down the back roads to work in your new McLaren MP4-12C and burnt through half a tank of fuel in 20 minutes.

McLaren MP4-12C

The McLaren’s name sounds like a call sign for an X-Wing from Star Wars. It should. It was born from the minds of the developers of the cult classic McLaren F1, widely regarded as the greatest supercar ever made, and comes loaded with power and tech. Kids around the world are ripping down their posters of the F1 and putting up the new MP4.

“Oh, the engine only has 3.8 liters,” says your monster-muscle Viper friend. Yep. It does. It also gets from 0-62 mph in 3.1 seconds, continuing on to 124.5 miles an hour in 8.9 seconds, and then finishes the quarter mile at 10.9. You’ve gone a quarter of a mile before your niece in her Prius has even gotten to 60 mph. Where was your Viper designed? In a barn? The MP4 was designed in a wind tunnel and on the race track with a little help from Louis Hamilton and Jenson Button. Maybe Dale Jr. can just stay home because your Viper isn’t getting any faster. Let me put the counter arguments to rest: The MP4-12C isn’t even the race version. It’s the street version for going to get a coffee at 200 mph. You want to see a real race car that’s going to have a road version in the near future? Google the MP4-12C GT3 car; go hold onto your willy and sit in the corner.

MP4-12C GT3

Wow. That was aggressive. Want something more aggressive?

Saturday. The weekend starts with a little shot of espresso and some toast with local raspberry jam, perhaps a bit of fresh grapefruit. Reason for the espresso is to wake you up and get those synapses firing. Why not regular coffee? You’re never going to want to get out of your Saturday track car so no bathroom breaks. Light breakfast while the rest of your family is mowing through their pancakes and sausage? You don’t want to be throwing up on the dash while pulling 1.5g’s. Kiss your wife, hug your daughter, and rustle your son’s mop of hair. Grab the key fob, open the garage doors, and slide into the seat of your Ferrari 599 GTO.

Welcome to the road going version of the Ferrari 599XX, the only road car from Ferrari to go sub-seven seconds on the infamous Nurburgring racetrack; 6:58.16 to be exact. A random number is nothing without comparison, so here are a few reference points: Around Fiorano (Ferrari’s testing grounds), the mighty Ferrari Enzo lapped the track in 1:24.9. The famous F50 from the ‘90’s did it in 1:26.5, and the every-rich-guys F430 did it in 1:27. The GTO spanked them all with a time of 1:24. You know what else? The GTO even has air conditioning and a radio. This is the fastest road car to ever grace the tarmac of Fiorano, ever.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and do a little bit of maths, so stay with me. Fiorano is 1.9 miles long and the GTO was 0.9 seconds faster than the Enzo. The Enzo’s Nurburgring lap record is 7:25.7. At 0.9 seconds per 1.9 miles faster, all things being equal, the GTO would have put up a 7:18.36 ring time. That is four seconds faster than the Viper ACR, six seconds faster than the Nissan GTR Spec V, Pagani Zonda F and Maseratti MC12. Disgusting. The best thing out of all this? Between yesterday and today, you’ve driven some of the finest machinery in the world, and the weekend isn’t even over yet. Today you drove a little red GTO sized electron through the Hadron Collider, approached what felt .99 light speed, and then drove home and played catch with your boy. It’s good to be you.

599 GTO
Ferrari 599 GTO

Sunday. Day of the cruise. Day of nostalgia. This is the day where you come down from the testosterone and adrenaline from yesterday and you drive what you drive because you’re a car guy. Sunday is the day you drive the car the manufacturer asked you to buy. When you’re in this rarified car buying status where dollar figures have multiple commas between the zeroes, there are some cars that transcend their price tag and their status. There are cars out there that are produced at a loss to the company producing them. All business sense goes out the window because this object is produced from something deeper than a desire to sell a car, something like morality and love. That’s where your Sunday car comes from. With this car, you didn’t bribe the company into letting you have the keys by showing them your stock portfolio, you had to earn it. I should stop calling it a car; it’s more a piece of living art. It breathes and screams and moans, and sometimes is just gracefully silent. Some of them have been put into private collector’s warehouses. One is probably sitting under Buckingham Palace.

The car must have a price however. The Veyron was once the world’s most expensive car at $1,400,000.00. No longer. This rolling sculpture ticks in at glorious $2,300,000.00. This is the crown jewel of your garage.

That difference of $900,000 could almost buy you the world’s oldest Corvette (one of the rarest cars in the world). Corvettes #001 and 002 have been lost to history but the 1953 Corvette #003 is still out there and just sold at auction for a cool $1 million. You were there, you thought about it, but didn’t raise your paddle. It’s because out of respect, you couldn’t drive that car. It’s far too precious.

Your crown jewel and Sunday car is the Aston Martin One-77.

Aston Martin One-77

You don’t have the radio on because you love the sounds the car makes on its own. It is supercar in its own right but also a sculpture worthy of the contemporary exhibition space in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City or the Tate Modern in London. This car is literally hand built one at a time. The aluminum body is hand shaped on an English wheel. The engine block isn’t cast, it’s machined out of a single block of metal. The frame and body of the car are designed specifically to channel the engine’s sounds into the cabin. Each car’s steering wheel, seat, paddle shifters, everything is designed to fit the individual owner’s driving style and body type. The CEO of Aston Martin Ulrich Bez, wanted each car to fit its owner like a tailored suit and to be purposefully built to be an extension of you. It is an honor to drive the One-77. You feel privileged. Anyone can spend money and buy a fast car, but not everyone can be a part of historic art.

In the One-77 you are James Bond. You have swagger. Not out of arrogance, but out of confidence. You are a gentleman driver and a badass pavement slayer. You know that Dos Equis man? He comes to you with his car questions. When Chuck Norris needs an oil change, he calls your phone number. He might dent his oil pan with a round house kick. When Prince Abdullah asks you to sell your Aston, you politely decline but offer to play squash next weekend. When EVO magazine wants to do a cover shoot of the One-77 you reply, “Sure! Don’t worry about the money, just take it for a spin.”

Glorious…

Great cars aren’t about self promotion and indulgence but about community, history, and pushing the limits of technology. You could have fifty cars, but you don’t. Your approach isn’t so flamboyant so you stick with a meager but pronounced seven. Even though you’re a gentleman, you’re still a car guy at heart. Now go drink a great beer and barbeque a steak.

Until next time, keep musing and driving.

– The Car Guy (Please welcome The Car Guy to the esteemed group of TDC contributors. The Car Guy will be contributing to the ongoing series, Musings of a Car Guy. Look for another piece from this talented writer soon!)

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