Riptide Takes Half a Million Dollars in Cars for a Spin
|Add 150,000 miles, a few accidents, and some bird poop and you have my real-life car.|
I drive a '98 Toyota Corolla. I call it "champagne" but it's beige. It has dents all over it from various fender benders in parking lots.
I once was driving down the street when two women on the sidewalk started yelling, "Yo, look at that dude in his little, broke-ass vehicle!" I stared straight ahead and pretended not to hear them.
It's the only car I've ever owned, and I got it when I was 24. Raised in New York City, I didn't get a driver's license until I was 18. I've never even changed a tire.
But due to my job--and the glorious nature of Miami--a couple of years back I was able to take some supercars out on the highway. I was working on a story on Miami's huge exotic car rental industry, and I was invited to partake in the Gotham Dream Car Tour--a bunch of rich people pushing six supercars to three-figure speeds while weaving down I-95.
I hit 110 MPH in a Lamborghini Gallardo, and then sat in the passenger seat as another guy took a Ferrari F430 to 160 MPH. I did not, I maintain to this day, soil my pants.
But since that adrenaline-pumping afternoon, I've been confined to my Japanese coupe. I've been like a recovering addict: I know the thrill because I've driven a supercar, but I realized I would never experience it again. Because I don't have $100,000-plus to spare.
So thank the Lord for Drive Miami, "South Florida's first luxury car share club", for letting me get one last hit from that pipe.
They offered me my choice from their six vehicles--a Ferrari 430, Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder, Audi R8 V10, Porsche GT-3, Porsche Cayenne GTS Turbo, Bentley GTC and a Range Rover HSE Sport--and I requested the Lamborghini, Audi, Bentley and Range Rover. I went for the last two, relatively staid, vehicles because I didn't want to just power through highways at obscene speeds; I wanted to see how the other half lived.
I wanted to buy fruit leather from Whole Foods in the Bentley and drop my dog off at the groomer's in the Range Rover. I had a lot of such plans.
When I showed up at the Conrad Hotel to test drive the cars with my photographer Jenny, who is actually my girlfriend, things didn't really work out that way. But I did get some wealthy-looking businessmen to point like little children at my car, and not because it was on fire.
Audi R8 V10
Yeah yeah, your uncle has an Audi, it's a nice car but not that nice, it's not a supercar or anything-- SHUT UP. This is an R8 V10, abbreviations that mean something. Namely, that when you push the gas, the thing revs forward so hard that the seatbelts slice into your chest.
|When you back up in the Audi, this screen pops up. Which is a nice touch. FYI: Rich people say "nice touch" alot.|
Jenny wrote "It's like becoming Christian Bale" in my notebook, and she's partly right: The thing does feel like the Batmobile, but more like the Michael Keaton version, in that scene where he scoops up a passed-out Kim Basinger and whizzes through some woods back to the Batcave. Even though I was too afraid to take it beyond 85 MPH, and even then only for a few moments. This thing costs like 100 Corollas.
When you drive a really nice car down the street, people stare. They give you weird nods. People make little "O"s with their mouths. You're like the hot chick of the roads. It can be pretty embarrassing.
Also, those old "Do you have any Grey Poupon?" ads were right on. There's a shared camradrie between you and other people in six-figure cars. It's like, "I'm rich, you're rich, maybe we'll meet on the links later and find out we both know Jeb Bush!" Me and a guy driving a Bentley had a moment of deep, soulful eye contact and sped pretty fast near each other for a while. Then I saw his brake lights go on, and I knew there was a cop ahead, so I put my brakes on too. There was no thank you necessary.
|Doesn't this look like something that might come with a Sega Dreamcast?|
At one point on a side street, I had to go around a car that was in the middle of parallel parking, and a Porsche came speeding around the corner. Its driver was forced to put on his brakes to accommodate me. If I was in my beige-mobile, he definitely would have scowled and maybe honked. But in the Ferrari, he just averted his eyes and waited for me to move on, shamed by my clearly superior net worth.
I never did get to live my yuppie dream in the Bentley and Range Rover. They didn't bring the cars I asked for. That probably had something to do with the
|The interior of the Porsche was covered in this nice fake suede, like the inside of a London Fog jacket.|
But I can't drive stick. So I sat shotgun while the company's representative, Mauricio, took the Porsche around a few Brickell blocks. Which was actually a good experience, because he wasn't scared shitless to actually hit the gas. He didn't go fast, but he drove it like a guy who's used to maneuvering a vehicular Faberge egg.
Actually, when I got back to my Corolla, I felt a bit relieved. It was nice that my girlfriend could stop pretending to be a photographer, and I could stop pretending to be a rich guy, and I could once again blend crappily in with the riff-raff of the road, with pedestrians and other motorists cursing and mocking me freely.