So you want a supercar? Part 2 - The InfrequentS

Part 2 deals with the rarer issues you will encounter with a supercar. Stuff you might not encounter on a daily basis, but still happens frequent enough to note.

If you haven't already, check out Part 1 for the basics.

This disclaimer applies to Part 1 as well:

  • I am writing this from the perspective of someone who grew up with "normal" cars. I didn't win the lottery or inherit a large sum of money. I worked hard and bought my dream car.
  • Some of these aren't exclusive to supercar ownership, but you rarely get the combination of them all with any other car.
  • I couldn't resist breaking my #8 in Part 1 for the picture above.

11) You will unnecessarily downshift/rev when in proximity to a Prius.

So you want a supercar? Part 2 - The InfrequentS

You just will.

12) Certain types of people will "snap" at the sight of you.

I don't know if it's some kind of complex, esteem issues, or just plain old road rage but there are some people that will have severe negative behavioral shifts at the sight of your car. You have likely experienced someone speeding up as you attempt to pass on the interstate or multi-lane highway. Most of the time this is because your pace makes them feel more comfortable speeding up. Or they realize they missed a speed limit sign a few miles back and they are below the limit. These things happen. What isn't typical is WOT throttle acceleration from the car in the right lane once they notice what you're passing them in. Even in the middle of busy traffic, I've had cars that were driving normally for miles, suddenly flip out the second I begin to pass or merge in front of them. It was comical to begin with but after 18 months with the car, I just shrug and merge into the space the car was before it rocketed ahead. People sometimes need to feel better about themselves and I guess it helps to have a "kill story" about a car that was just merging to make an exit. It's most common with lifted diesel trucks with smoke stacks that are "rolling coal." It never fails. As soon as they have line of sight...black cloud. Every once in a while it's all worth it because you'll see them pulled over in a mile or two. I can count four separate occasions in the past year and a half where someone driving normally chose to speed up at the sight of me and ended up with a conversation with a trooper. Maybe they have something to prove to themselves or their passenger, who knows. The milder form are people that just match your speed and make you look like an ass for not passing in the passing lane.

12b) Even on the brightest, driest days, people that have just merged in front of you will suddenly need to use their windshield washers, especially if your car is clean and detailed...weird, right?

13) Traffic tends to "make a path" for you

The inverse of #12. Drivers that notice you will often get out of the way and make a path. This is especially true if you are approaching quickly from behind. On more than one occasion I have found myself in a center lane of traffic and not needing to change lanes for miles because every time I'm about to move into the passing lane, they merge out of the way. You will also find people yield their right of way and wave you on more than usual. It's convenient but catches you off guard sometimes.

14) People will expect you to be a complete ass when it comes to driving etiquette

I assume some of the antics in #6 arise from this expectation. People expect you to wildly merge in and out of traffic lanes, expect you to not obey the right of way, expect you to drive like you are running a hot lap of the "Ring" just because of what you're driving. Imagine their surprise when I attempt to merge as soon as there's "one-lane ahead" sign instead of speeding ahead and merging at the last possible moment. I wait my turn at a 4-way stop. I ALWAYS use a turn signal. Richard Porter, a contributor to EVO and a script editor for Top Gear UK, was given a loaner SLS and had a similar experience where he felt "forced into letting people out of junctions not only because the world is watching but also because you assume other motorists think you're a total dick and you feel obliged to prove otherwise." My reasons are more for an ingrained sense of honor/propriety but you get the idea.

15) People will WANT you to be a complete ass when it comes to driving etiquette.

You will have drivers try and goad you into drag racing at a stoplight. You will have pedestrians yell to give them a rev. You will see people making a spinning tire motion in their car trying to get you to do a burnout in the street. Streetbikes will want to race on the highway. Resist as much as you can. You don't want to give anymore of a reason for #16 to happen.

So you want a supercar? Part 2 - The InfrequentS

16) You will get pulled over.

Whether or not you're actually doing anything. Knock on wood, but I've never been pulled over for speeding. I have been pulled over four times in the past year for "no front plate." I've only actually been ticketed for it once, during the Virginia State Trooper "saturation weekend." The other times I just got a warning, was told "I wouldn't drill a hole in that bumper either", and one just wanted "a better look at the car."

So you want a supercar? Part 2 - The InfrequentS

17) You will meet interesting people: the good, the awkward, the ugly.

One aspect that legitimately caught me by surprise was the variety of people that you tend to end up meeting and associating with. If you make it a point to participate in things like Cars&Coffee and car shows you will find a weird secret club vibe among fellow supercar owners. You approach an interesting supercar and it's owner. After a little back and forth chatter about their car they will invariably ask what you've brought. In hindsight, it feels like "the challenge" from spy movies with you replying with "the password" by responding and pointing to your car. Many will then actively stick around, make small talk, chat about what they've had, what they have, and their future purchase plans. They'll talk about to you about subjects you don't prompt them about in a manner one does to a friend of many years. It opens doors to experiences you might never have had otherwise. For instance, getting an invite to a private track from a NFL wide receiver I randomly met and having him ride shotgun teaching me the course. I watch way more motorsports than football, so I was surprised to find out how famous he was after the fact. Looking back I think he may have found my lack of knowledge about him refreshing. He was just a nice guy with a track-prepped GT3RS to me.

So you want a supercar? Part 2 - The InfrequentS

More about that in a future post

There are awkward ones as well. The most recent instance was a guy that brought a Gallardo Super Trofeo. I went by to look at the car and got sort of an aloof attitude about the car when I asked about it. I could tell he didn't want to talk a lot to every random person that came by, so I finished making a sweep of the show and headed back to my car where I found him checking it out. Once he found out it was mine, he was chummy all of a sudden. Talking about how hard he had been looking for one. How he found it in California, had it shipped, and only had a chance to drive it once around his block before coming to the show. It was a little awkward because I don't think he remembered talking to me earlier but he turned out to be a decent guy.

So you want a supercar? Part 2 - The InfrequentS

And finally, the ugly. You will also meet the stereotypical supercar owner. The one where you wonder why they even bothered to come out if all they're going to do act superior and talk down about anyone with something "inferior" to their car. One such encounter happened at a Cars & Coffee in Raleigh, NC. I met a fellow AMG owner that had brought a Mars Red SL65 Black Series. I started talking to him and found out he also brought a 458 and a FF (he had his son and a friend help bring them). He asked what I had brought and I said the SLS. He immediately says, "I had a SLS, but then one of my neighbors bought one, so I sold it as soon as I could. WAAAY too common for my tastes. The SL65 Black is better anyway." He then began to talk about how Ferraris were better than anything else. So I just nodded and politely excused myself, deciding he was not the type of "car enthusiast" I was going to waste another minute talking to.

So you want a supercar? Part 2 - The InfrequentS

18) You will meet haters/trolls.

People that have no qualms telling you how wasteful and unnecessary your choice of car is. Tactfully ignore them. They want you to feed their indignation and they'll rarely follow when you "take the high road".

19) You will meet enthusiasts and they will be enthusiastic.

If you think non-car people get excited and do odd things at the sight of a supercar, just wait until you run into a fellow enthusiast. They tend to ask fewer objective questions like "how many horsepower?" and "what's the top speed?" The ask more subjective like "what's it feel like?" and "is it hard to drive?" And the objective questions they do ask are more in the realm of "how many pistons are those front brakes?" and "is that port or direct injection?" They will do borderline stalker things like wait next to your car for 30+ minutes while you're in a movie or eating dinner or leave a note with their email/cell# telling you to get in touch. The bolder ones will come into a Starbucks and ask "who's car is that?" As long as I'm not in a hurry or have an appointment somewhere, I'll usually accommodate their enthusiasm and talk, let them take pictures with it, etc. You never know when you'll have a positive impact.

20) Shopping for other cars can get weird.

I mentioned in the comments for part 1 that I took the SLS to a Subaru dealership right when the BRZ began to show up. I was promptly met by a salesman and soon the entire dealership was outside surrounding the car, asking me about it. Eventually I was able to make it known my reason for visiting was to check out the BRZ they had just rolled off the truck. I asked if it would be a problem to test drive it. The salesman asked why I would want a BRZ with what I'm driving. I made it clear my interest in a car and it's price are mutually exclusive. I would happily drive a $1000 car if it was fun. He seemed confused but went to get the keys anyway.

A few months later I stopped at a BMW dealership in Durham, NC while visiting a friend. The new M5 was just released for sale and their website listed two in new car inventory. When I got there it was a similar situation with the staff coming out, but this time the cars had already been sold. The sales manager dropped everything they were doing and brought me into the main office. She said that if I wanted she could try and get one of the buyers to bring the car by for me to see (which I thought would be a weird request to get two days after buying a M5). I declined saying that wouldn't be necessary but I might be interested in one if I had a chance to drive it. I left with 3 business cards from various managers and a group goodbye. Ironically, I met one of the buyers the next day at Cars & Coffee. Small world.

The most recent surreal dealership visit was to a Jaguar/Porsche/Audi dealership early this summer. They had just gotten a new Cayman and F-Type. The Cayman was just coming off the truck when I arrived and the F-type was in prep. They asked if I wanted to drive both. I asked how that was possible. He said they would get the F-type ready enough to drive and while I was gone they would get the Cayman ready. This is the same dealership that two years prior would barely talk to me about ordering a R8 (which I cross-shopped with the SLS). What a difference two years made.

The third and final part deals with the obscure aspects of ownership. Issues that the average supercar buyer won't see but average Jalop that might.

Bonus video related to Part 3 below. I treat the last outing on the track like the last run on a ski trip. You take it easy because that's the one you're most likely to injured on. Some might have seen this in the comments for part 1. But for those that didn't, enjoy.