So you want a supercar? Part 1 - The Basics

This isn't about how to get a supercar, it's about what to expect once you've got it. The things you may never have considered. Part 1 is going to cover the basic things you will experience on a day to day basis. Later parts will cover the less frequent and more obscure parts of ownership. Travis got a taste of what to expect so I thought I might go more in-depth.

Most of us grew up with posters of supercars on the wall. Our imaginations produce an idealized world where our garages are full of exotic cars we drive hard and fast. A perfect world. But the world isn't perfect, and most of us will never get the chance to own a supercar, let alone a garage full of them. However, it's not all doom and gloom. There is a chance through luck, circumstance, or hard work that anyone of us can achieve a fraction of that childhood dream and own a supercar. So what happens when you end up being one of the "lucky" ones. You find yourself with the means and opportunity to buy into the rarified air of supercar ownership. You also find that your dreams left out a lot of the details.

Update: Part 2 Available Here

1) Acquisition

Just getting the car can end up being an odyssey. Let's assume you're going to buy a new supercar. Spending upwards of $125k dollars means you're going to want it your way: a specific paint, specific interior, specific options, and the peace of mind of being the sole owner. Once you've chosen the model you want, you have to tangle with a sales associate, his manager, and the dealership as a whole. There are a few great ones out there if you look hard enough. But the vast majority act like they are doing you a favor by existing and would rather make a quick sale than earn a repeat customer. Some dealers, particularly Ferrari's, make it especially hard since they want to see a history of ownership of their older cars before they will even allow you to buy a new one. And if you are relatively young like me, (early 30s), many won't take you seriously at first. Expect them to ask for a sizable deposit to prove your intentions, which is understandable. A 30-40 something guy walks in, says he wants to order a supercar you only get a couple of a year. They don't want to get stuck with a hard to sell, custom ordered car they might have to end up trading to a high volume dealer for next to nothing. Then there's financing and insurance. With a high enough credit score, car purchase history, and a reasonable deposit most won't have trouble getting a loan these days (just don't get in over your head). Believe it or not, even with a spotless record, getting insurance is harder. Mainly because only a handful of companies will touch cars that are worth more than $125-150k. But, eventually the paperwork and personal finance inquiries will end and you'll have the car of your dreams in the driveway.

2) The first drive

I'm sure there are first-time supercar owners that will say "I was driving 10/10ths after a few minutes" or "pssssht, driving a supercar ain't no thing"...those people are crazy. I'm in a profession where 90% of my day is surgical procedures. Blood, pus, tissue and medically compromised patients. I've developed a calm, cool head in high stress situations and I still had a stomach full of butterflies driving off the lot. You have the mix of elation/reflief that you've finally reached your goal combined with a foreboding dread that someone is going to hit you. The closer you are to purchase day, the more it feels like everyone is out to get you. It's a feeling that subsides with time. You probably won't have that same feeling of butterflies again until you get around to your first track day...but that's for a future post.

3) Be prepared to form a mental FAQ

You WILL be asked these questions, be ready to answer them multiple times in a day:

  • How fast have you gone in it?
  • How long have you had it?
  • Can I take a picture of it?
  • Can you pop the hood?
  • What is it?
  • How much did it cost?
  • You know how many Mustang GTs that would buy?
  • What do you do for a living?
  • How much do you make?
  • Are you married?
  • Do you have kids?
  • Can I have a ride?
  • Did you look at a 458? (Unless what you've bought is a 458)
  • How many tickets have you gotten?

So you want a supercar? Part 1 - The Basics

And sometimes more intrusive and personal questions from someone you met 10 seconds ago.

4) Find more time in your schedule for "random encounters"

Most of us take for granted how uneventful a typical day with a car is. You need gas? You stop, fill up, and drive away. Want something to eat? You drive down to your favorite food place, eat in or take out, and go on your way. Need something from the store? Drive down to Home Depot, Best Buy, or wherever it is, buy it, and go home. If you need to do any of these activities in a supercar, expect to need an additional 20-30 minutes to get it done.

The most time consuming of these is getting gas. You're out of the car, you're surrounded by bored people pumping gas and looking around, it's not considered awkward or weird to strike up a conversation with someone at the pump across from you, people are coming and going out of the station. Prime conditions for a random conversation about a car they've never seen before. Be prepared to answer at least two or three of the questions above. And if your car has unconventional doors, close them as fast as possible if you are in a hurry since it will reduce the likelihood of being "detained" and if you're feeling a little social feel free to leave them open and get ready for discussion.

5) Always assume someone is taking your picture or filming you at any given time.

If you frequent Jalopnik enough you will know there is a steady stream of people in supercars doing stupid things. Drag racing, having accidents, you name it. You may have thought to yourself, "That had to be set up, because why would someone be videoing at that given moment." I had that exact thought many times before ownership, but after owning one for a year, I understand why so much stuff ends up on camera...because everyone's taping and photographing you wherever you go. I've come across my car in "sighted" threads on random forums. It's one of the creepier parts of ownership.

Imagine this, but there's an iPhone pointed at you instead:

6) Always have a camera with you

You will be surrounded by ridiculous and odd occurrences. You will bear witness to some of the weirdest on-road behavior the world has known. Cars stopping in the middle of a busy road to stare at you, over-enthusiastic gas station attendants jumping over counters, pedestrians losing their shit in a crosswalk. You'll want to capture it all on camera.

7) You will know the meaning of defensive driving.

When you're driving something that costs more than the average home, surrounded by people that drive like an having accident is their sole goal in life, you discover the true meaning of situational awareness. Also keep in mind that your car can stop MUCH better than the majority of cars on the road so knowing what's behind you is just as important as what's ahead.

A side effect of #5 is that getting your picture taken is a novel thing that quickly turns annoying and dangerous in many situations. It's funny the first time someone stops in the middle of an intersection while making a left turn, but when they almost cause a pileup, it wears off. Then there's the people that will glue themselves to your blindspots and hold position while they rummage for their cameraphone to take a picture. You will get tailgated while their passenger takes pictures. They will pull in front of you then slow down to get closer while someone in the backseat takes a selfie with you in the background. There are people that will make a U-turn in the middle of a busy street and pull up beside you, only to roll down their window and say "nice car." Not worth almost causing an accident. There are some that don't have a passenger to take a picture so they will pull up beside in the left lane, pull out their phone, take their eyes off the road and begin to drift into my lane while trying to take a picture one (and sometimes) two handed. Then there's the people high on SUV mountain that don't bother looking for a 40-50 inch tall car in their blind spot.

And woe to your nerves if you get stuck in a thunderstorm driving a "house": (Head mounted GoPro)

Riding a motorcycle prepared me more than anything else for supercar ownership. Assume everyone's out to get you killed.

8) You will become "that guy" when it comes to parking

Spend enough on a car and even you will start looking at handicap spaces in a different light. Some owners act on this misplaced sense of entitlement and double park, park in a handicap spot, or just park wherever they feel like it. The rest of us just park near the back of the lot or next to a "tree island" in the lot. I am the latter. I don't mind an extra 30 seconds to get to the store if it keeps me from getting hit. Stay Classy out there.

So you want a supercar? Part 1 - The Basics

9) Practicality - Buy a soft sided suitcase/duffel bag

It should be obvious that supercars aren't built to be practical, quite the opposite. Modern supercar designers have at least acknowledged that contortionists aren't the only demographic they should cater to. But their shapes and sizes often mean you at least have a compromised view of the road. Moving from a "normal" car to a supercar is like swapping a open face helmet for a full coverage race helmet. Everything is suddenly tighter and your vision is compromised. Continuing the clothing metaphors, imagine going from a backpack to just what you can carry in your pockets. Storage space is at a premium. And the space you do get is typically an odd shape. So plan to invest in a nice duffel bag if you plan on taking more than a day trip anywhere.

10) Be ready to live without it for months at a time

So you want a supercar? Part 1 - The Basics

If you live in areas that get snow and use salt, you'll probably want to put it up. Not only for corrosion but for the sand-blast effect it can have on the leading edge of the car. You have to consider things like leaving hydrophilic ethanol in your tank for 3 months. It wreaks havok on fuel lines, fuel pumps, and creates concentrations of water and ethanol that separate over long periods of time. Then there's battery maintenance (despite my name, I use one during the winter). Not to mention the "agony" of waiting for the first good rain of spring to wash away the salt.

But man it's sweet once that long winter is over

I've spent a good deal of time thinking about this over the past 18 months and there's much more to come on the subject. I hope I've brought to light some things you might not have considered or emphasized some things you might have heard and were skeptical about.

Twitter: @Batterytenderun

Email: ImolaSLS@gmail.com