For someone like me who is a lifelong professed car lover, this may seem like an odd topic to explore. But there is actually a couple of reasons for this—one sad, one happy—but both founded in reality.
Now that I am retired, or at least semi-retired, I have accepted the inevitability that in my lifetime, my income will never reach a level that I could afford an exotic or exclusive car—which certainly will not change even now unless I begin to buy lottery tickets and get very lucky. I have written in a previous car post that I just could not justify purchasing a car that cost more than my first two home purchases combined.
My precious wife has graciously, at least for the most part, indulged me throughout our marriage in my car buying pursuits. But I would never have wanted to make us car rich and house poor, a state I know she would have never been happy with and one I would never have selfishly asked her to accept.
But when I was still working fulltime, did I ever dream of owning one of these cars? You bet!
Oddly, growing up in love with cars, I was not even aware of European exotic cars. My main automotive focus was on US or Japanese brands. Ones that I could see and sit in at car dealerships or local car shows. Interestingly it was my oldest son who actually made me aware of exotic cars as we saw some of them for the first time together at the Detroit auto show.
And while after this exposure, I began to dream of owning any number of different ones, my penultimate desirable exotic car became a Ferrari 360 Modena.
A number of years ago, our local Sonic would have a Sonic Cruise Night where people with classic or exotic cars would drive in and allow onlookers to admire their cars. On one special night, a doctor drove up in his bright yellow Ferrari just like the model above. I can still remember leaning over the rear of the car and with child-like glee, gazing at the marvelous and powerful 8-cylinder engine tucked beneath the glass window panel like a priceless museum treasure.
Naturally for me, the conversation with the owner turned to the practicality of owning such a vehicle to which I learned that even for an oil change, it had to be trucked to Atlanta, the closest dealership for a vaulted three figure service call.
In spite of this rude awakening, I must have enthusiastically mentioned the encounter to my wife because one day several years later she surprised me with a chance to drive an exotic car when a fleet of them came to town for joy seekers.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature ruined my chance when a rain soaked race track forced the cancellation of the event after a driver earlier that morning totaled one of their Lamborghinis. The make-up session was in another town, subject to availability which for me never was. But I came so close to driving one; though at least thankfully that was not me driving the totaled car.
A domestic exotic that I once considered would be fun to own was a Dodge Viper. The fact that it cost about half as much as the Ferrari made it even more reasonable in terms of realistically thinking I could own one. And considering that buying used, I might could find one for approximately half the list price made it potentially even more palatable.
But then it occurred to me where would I have a place to drive either one of these cars, designed to easily cruise at 150+ miles per hour. No doubt going from zero to 60 in less than four seconds would be an exhilarating thrill, but I know I wouldn’t want to stop there. I’d need my own race track or deserted island to zoom around on to really thoroughly enjoy the exciting capabilities of these street-legal race cars without constantly getting pulled over for speeding.
A much more practical and in most respects’ realistic car, would be purchasing an iconic Chevrolet Corvette. Iconic in the sense that it is globally recognized as an American legend having been produced consistently for over 50 years right here in the US. And when my interest was piqued, I even travelled to the museum and plant in Bowling Green, KY.
A friend of mine at work even owned one and he would occasionally let me drive it when we went out to lunch. He foolishly asked me one time where I wanted to go for lunch to which I replied as far as possible. It was a blast!
While owning one of these cars never materialized for me, my desire continued to be fueled by watching Jay Leno’s Garage, an online show that featured many of the exotic and exclusive cars that he had accumulated over the years. I would love to go visit his collection one day but sadly it is not open to the public. I wouldn’t say that I was jealous of Jay—he obviously had a career and earned a living that allowed him to afford to collect so many desirable cars. But then still, it would have been nice.
But then last year, I had one of those life-time “aha” moments (the happy part of this story) when after three years of ownership, I realized that I never would really want to own any other sports car than my Subaru WRX.
It was a very freeing realization. No longer did I desire one of these impractical exotics or even a more realistic Corvette. And being able to give one or two of my grandchildren a thrill ride in my WRX supplanted all those old desires.
Having a four-door sports car that was both practical and exhilarating to drive satisfactorily married my lifelong desire to have fun driving and getting to share my car excitement and enthusiasm with my grandchildren.
So, while as I said, this story had both a sad and happy aspect to it, the happy far outweighs the sad and for as long as I am able to drive, will continue to provide delightful and enjoyable moments as I zoom down the road!