Ah, supercars! The Thoroughbreds of the automotive world — they can cost millions, they go very fast, and they attract plenty of attention in traffic and when pulling up to valet lines.
People dream about owning a Ferrari, a Lamborghini, and McLaren, a Pagani, a Bugatti all their lives, from a tender young age right up until they experience that third or fourth midlife crisis. And although these storied brands make more domesticated, “practical” machines, it’s the super-sexy supercars that capture the imagination.
But … are they really all that?
Well, they are. But they’re also, on may levels, beautiful, exotic, alluring, exciting total pains in the arse. Here’s why.
Ground clearance isn't a supercar forte. It can't be -- these high-performance machines are supposed to slip though the air, cheat the wind, and their aerodynamics are designed to keep them glued to the road.
This of course means that a modest blemish in the roadway can result in thousands of dollars in damage to the car. America's crumbling infrastructure is an ever-present, high-stress foe.
It kind of sucks the pleasure out of driving your Lamborghini if you have to keep a constantly watchful eye out for potholes, speed bumps, and can't even really navigate your own driveway.
What do you do with horsepower in excess of 600 ponies? Who knows, because under 99.99% of driving circumstances, you're not going use it.
You will however still incinerate gasoline at an alarming rate.
If you do try to tap into the power, you run a gamut of risks. You could ... completely lose control of the car and have a very costly accident. You could pay no attention to your actual speed and endure a very costly speeding ticket.
You could also just get depressed. Nothing is sadder than a supercar stuck in traffic, looking gorgeous but with no hope of unleashing its potential. You paid for that power! But you'll never get to experience it ...
The cheapest supercars are still quite expensive -- and you always face the question of whether your sub-$100,000 'supercar' is a true supercar. So you feel the pressure to man up for the pricier shiny metal.
And then you will invariably:
1. Bang into something and need to get your investment repaired.
2. Have to get something fixed that goes wrong with your ride.
In either case, you'll be parting with huge sums of money. Eye-watering, staggering sums, in fact, if you're used to dropping your Lexus off at the dealership for a brake job.
You may also have to wait months to get the car back.
Plush freeway cruising sedans are optimised for the comfort of driver and passengers.
Supercars are not. With few exceptions: the Acura NSX has a reputation for being compliant, and the McClaren 650S is easy to drive.
But the whole point of the supercar is to tuck you down in a low tub made of carbon fibre of magnesium, swaddle you in firm, bolstered, racing-derived seats, and scare the bejeezus out of you as soon as you put the pedal down.
And then just try tooling around town. I spent some time with a McClaren 675LT last year, and although I was grateful for the nominal cupholders (a supercar rarity), and I certainly enjoyed the spirited driving part, by the time I was heading back to Pasadena from Malibu and trying to get through Downtown Los Angeles, my lower back and I were no longer on speaking terms.
You may not be, but this is a risk you take when you go in for supercar ownership. The jerkiest photos ever taken of me have featured me behind the wheel of a supercar -- and I'm not going to even try to deny it.
They change your character. You become a swaggering rock god, when in real life you might be a meek bureaucrat. Nothing you can do about it. It's like slipping on a bright yellow suit. There will be judgments.
What I mean is that there is no art without struggle.
You will have rough patches with your supercar, you will agree that the two best days for a supercar owner are the day you buy and the day you sell.
But then the light will come down at just the right angle and catch the car just so, and your ride will take your breath away again, like it has so many times before.
Maybe I'll keep it!