My Night with an Exotic
Let me begin this article with one undeniable fact: The Internet makes the world a small place.
We’ve all heard stories and first person accounts from journalists and people from a variety of professions about their experiences in the latest wave of supercars. It may range from a Zonda, to a Ferrari, to a Lamborghini.
But what happens when a normal, average guy gets behind the wheel of one of these supercars?
What happens when a dream becomes a reality?
That was my experience only a few weeks ago. My friend allowed me the use of his Ferrari 360 Modena for one night and one night alone. I vowed to take proper care of the car, and if anything happened, I’d be responsible. It was a dream, and one that I’ll be eternally grateful for.
One night in June. My night with an exotic. Oh what a night.
It began with picking up the car; I looked at it in complete disbelief. It’s one where you see the car quite often, but when you know it is your turn to drive, all bets are off.
It takes quite a while to warm up, you have to wait for the coolant temperature to reach operating range, but that takes a few minutes. It’s the oil temperature that takes a while.
While that’s taking place, I take a moment to look at the steering wheel. The prancing horse is dead centre and the thought of the motoring heritage floods through my mind. It evokes memories of F1 past, the great races and a logo that everyone recognizes.
Regardless of what people say, most people will recognize a red Ferrari. An Aston will peak the interests of James Bond fans, or people who know their cars. A Lamborghini just looks bonkers and draws a lot of attention. But a Ferrari?
That’s something special.
And here I am, sitting behind the wheel of one of those special cars.
The oil temperature is ready and I can set off but I don’t. Why? Partially fear. Yes, I’m not afraid to admit that I was… afraid. I’m not really sure why that is, maybe it’s because it isn’t my car and I’m afraid of breaking it. But I blip the throttle and hear the engine scream.
Those thoughts of being afraid? Gone. Replaced with a pure excitement level, ready to begin that night on the town. But for good measure, I let out a few more screams generated by the glorious V8 engine sitting behind me.
I open up the window and wave goodbye to my friends. I started to drive but realized soon after that I hadn’t decided where to go. You have one night to live the life of a playboy. Where do you go at a time like this?
The gas station.
The tank can use a topping before I go much further. I pull into the gas station, Shell of course. The car needs premium fuel, minimum of 91 octane and trust me on this one: It’s a big tank.
$80 later (not even a full tank, there was gas still in it) and I’m good to go. Except for the fact that every person that pulls in either needs a picture, or the need to talk to me about the car.
I’m pretty well versed in all the specs so I can properly represent what the car is. The most often question? “How much did it cost?”
Given that I’m not the owner, the only response was “Over $250,000 when new.” The utter look of shock is presented immediately. But I continue on my business. I check the tire pressure, might as well since I’m here.
Now is gut check moment. The car is ready, I’m ready, there’s enough gas to last me the night. Where do I go now?
I figure I’ll head towards the highways and decide when I hit the on-ramps. Do I head East or West? Toronto, or Hamilton?
I pull out of the gas station and give the car a little extra bit of oomph. A giant smile comes to my face, but that’s gone shortly.
The police are behind me. With their lights on.
The police officer asks for my license, registration, insurance, etc. It isn’t my car though, what do I say?
“Is this car yours?”
“Nope, it’s a friends.”
I thought for sure I’d be arrested. That my one night would be cut short, the cell phones would go off and the keys handed back to the owner.
I’m literally shaking in my seat as the police officer leaves. It can’t end before the night even begins. Not tonight. Any night but tonight.
The police officer came up to the driver’s side window and asked me to rev the engine a few times for him. I obliged and he smiled.
A fan no doubt.
He explained that he simply pulled me over to ensure the paperwork was in proper order, made a few inquiries and went on his way. A very nice gentleman but getting pulled over always makes your heart pump a million times a minute and gets the adrenaline going. But that’s now over and I need to make a decision… where to go? East or West?
Why? The reason is pretty simple actually. My friend spends quite a bit of time in Guelph. Now, that particular question of why isn’t so simply answered. We’ve often wondered why, but on a personal note, we figured it out earlier this year. It’s the same answer as always. But at the time, I needed to see what the fuss was all about. I’ve heard stories, I need to see the car grace the tattered streets and be a sight that people marvel at.
The perfect spot for a few hours. With me behind the wheel.
Given my recent run-in with the police, I was originally thinking about avoiding the downtown area of Guelph. There’s always a police presence, always. I’ll deal with that though, this is something I need to do. After trying to avoid the potholes and extremely rough roads, I reach my first of many destinations.
I was told about this phenomenon known as Funk Night at the Albion Hotel. I park the car about a block away and make my way inside. It’s a quant club with multiple floors but it really didn’t hold my interest. Until word spreads a little bit that there’s a Ferrari outside. And I’m inside, with the keys.
The owner of the car is a rare guy. He just turned 28 but absolutely refuses to take full advantage of the piece of art on wheels that he owns. Take it to a swank nightclub? Nope. Proudly display the keys for people to see? Nope. How about wearing a Ferrari shirt while driving the car? Nope. In his words “…that would make me look like a douche.” Nice. All of his friends pound their heads against the wall. Why must he be so difficult? Life should be easy but it isn’t for him, and it’s by choice.
Morals, standards and ethics? What are those? Hell if I know, I won’t let that ruin my fun. Giddy up.
I stride on to the dance floor, with a level of confidence I’ve never had before in my life. It’s a little strange but makes complete sense. Having a car like that, if only for one night, is an ego booster.
A few girls make their way over to me, and I play along. A few pleasantries are exchanged, but they just don’t do it for me. Normally I’d be all over them, but I’m not wasting the rest of the night on them. I leave shortly after and walk towards the car. There’s a small crowd looking at the engine in the back. Whoever thought about putting a piece of glass over the engine bay was a genius. It’s so unique and different, that people can’t help but look.
I walk over and push down on the remote. The lights go off and the siren serenades two chimes. Their attention immediately shifts from the car to me. Who could be driving such a car?
That’s right. I’m about to sit in that Ferrari. I casually strut over and when I say strut, I mean strut. I’m feeling like a million bucks, someone straight out of GQ. I jump in the drivers seat and let the car warm up yet again. I hear a small knock on the passenger window and notice a pretty nice set of breasts pressed up against the glass. Amused, I open the window. The girl brings her head down and asks me if the car is mine. I confirm her hope and offer to take her for a drive. She ditches her friends; I can hear some of her girlfriends calling her a whore.
She jumps in the passenger seat and I take a small trip around the block. She begins to tell me a route I should take. I comply. A few minutes later, I end up at her place. Wait? What? Yep. I get taken back to her place…
I would normally say that I’d leave the rest of the details to an R-rated blog entry, but nothing happened. Not worth it. I end up leaving and return back downtown. Right now you’re probably thinking I’m pretty gay. But I’m not. Far from it. Like I said earlier, I would have been all over it but tonight is special and I’m holding out.
I can only do so much after all.
I get back downtown and look for a second place to go to. I drive right past the one bar I’ve been told that under no circumstance am I allowed to go to. When you get told that, there’s something inside you that says, “Go ahead, you know you want to”. But I need to respect the owner and pass it with only a few seconds of hesitation. In general, the streets of Guelph aren’t that busy and I decide to leave. I head back south. But that question of East vs. West rears its ugly head once more.
I reach the base of highway 6 and must make a choice… Hamilton is much closer, so Hamilton it is. Downtown Hamilton has a cool little area called Hess Village. It’s a series of a few bars on one street. You can bounce between them. In years past I’ve seen guys in Corvettes show up and think they are the coolest guys imaginable.
In Southern Ontario, the Corvette is the unofficial car of a midlife crisis. They are everywhere. And behind the wheel of each and every car, is a 40-something year old man wishing he were young again. But don’t we all? When you show up to a club, pushing the high 30s, or past 40, trying to pick up a 20-something girl, I lose respect for you.
When I get to Hess, there’s a blue Corvette with chrome rims sitting nearby. The guy had to be about 38, hitting on a group of three girls, likely 23 tops. I pull up pretty close, getting out of the car, looking better, being much younger (25) and quite a bit more attractive.
The girls ditch the old guy and come my way. He’s pissed. He tries to tell me that I’m driving a rental. Of course I deny it within a second of the statement. It isn’t a rental; it’s my friend’s. Big difference. I tell him it’s June and the weather does not necessitate a leather jacket. I’m a fan of leather but in the summer; leave it to the guys on the bikes. Not an overpriced car.
He gets pretty close, trying to verbally beat me down, but I trade each barb with my own. We’re getting pretty loud and guess what?
The girls are getting turned on. Sweet.
So here I am, in the middle of the biggest cockfight I’ve ever been involved in. What is it about? Honestly, not a whole lot. The old guy in the Corvette is upset that I disrupted his hard work by just pulling up.
But grandpa just doesn’t understand what a Corvette stands for. Next time you’re at a parking lot and see someone pull up in one, watch him carefully.
Step 1 will be to exit the car.
Step 2 will be to lock it / arm the security system.
Step 3 will be while walking to the store, he will slightly turn and look at his own car while heading up. Yes, he needs to stare at it; just to be sure his car is still cool. But you’re a lemming. There, I said it. It’s like standing in front of a mirror for an extended period of time to just look at yourself and admire how you look.
(Personal note: ZR1s do not apply, those are great.)
I’m of the opinion that there exists around 40 years of motoring heritage to tap, a wide variety of makes and models that could be had. A used Ferrari 348 is comparable in price but has a distinct character. The same applies with a Dodge Viper, you don’t see as many on the road and for good reason: They scare people! And that’s good!
Now I’m sure there are a lot of cool Corvette owners and those rules don’t apply to all. So if you are a cool Corvette owner, I apologize. If you’re under the age of 35 and own a Corvette, then this obviously doesn’t apply. If you’re over the age of 35, own a Corvette and try to pick up girls at club, I personally think you’re a dick. Pretty simple and clear in my mind.
This guy is a dick.
I thought BMW owners were bad, but this is a whole new level. Speaking of which, next time you notice someone riding your bumper on the highway, changing lanes without signaling, or random acceleration/braking, chances are it’s a BMW.
But back to the action, we’re face to face; like Timberlake/Samberg in Mother Lover, except I’m the only cool guy there. Even though it isn’t my car, I have pride in it. I’m also extremely opinionated.
Our disagreement gets a little out of hand and the girls that were present break things up. Two of them return to the club but the other goes with me to get some food. There’s this Greek-ish place nearby. I learned a lesson that night. Most girls like seeing you not back down, but when you take it too far, they will leave.
We sit down outside and have a small conversation. I decide to leave shortly after. At this point, I’m getting a little frustrated. I find that I’m overly concerned about the safety of the car and it’s preventing me from having fun. And by fun, I mean alcohol. I had strict rules placed upon me that I couldn’t have any alcohol at all, same with no hanky panky inside the car. Buzz kill, I know. But how often do you get a chance like this?
Having the car front and centre is creating some uneasiness for me. I need to kick back a bit and have more fun. Off to Toronto I go. This time, I’m going to taxi it, leave the car at my place and rely on my skills.
Along the way I’m driving up the QEW. There’s a decent amount of traffic considering the time, but it’s pretty nice outside. I’m cruising along doing about 110-115 kph. I can’t really tell. The speedometer goes up to 325ish and the distance between 100 and 140 is like 60-65 in any other car. Crazy.
Suddenly, this black Escalade pulls up beside me. The windows are tinted and they are sporting quite the interesting chrome rims. I’m just thinking “Oh great, what now?” but that’s because I’m a jackass.
Yes a jackass, not a dick and not a douche. That is reserved for Corvette and BMW owners. Me? I own a Sunfire. Do you have a problem with that? Really? Do you? Because I do. I hate that car, right now more than ever. I’ve now experienced something that will likely never happen again.
So the Escalade passenger rolls down their window, mine are already down. It’s a little cold but it’s the only way I can hear the engine. I get asked to slow down. It’s picture time! I do a slight gang sign because I’m a geek. It’s not like the picture will even turn out.
Next up is a red Honda Civic doing about 140, drives right past me and slams on his brakes. Yeah, real smart. Picture time again! It’s getting a little tedious at this point. But I pretend to smile and be a nice guy. Odd. I think it was at this point I began to understand why most Ferrari owners act like they do. It’s the same dog and pony show, over and over again. It breaks you down.
I finally arrive in my parking garage and I have some fun making sure the car will not bottom out. It’s a tight fit in the spot as well. Almost an 18-point turn to get it in, but I manage it without incident.
I head upstairs and get changed. The car makes you sweat a little more than usual, it’s mentally taxing paying attention to every small nook and cranny on the road, to the cars beside you and keeping an eye on your speed, which is very hard.
So I head out to a local club and what happens next is nothing short of surprising.
After an extensive conversation with the taxi driver, I finally arrive at my destination. Where did I end up going? I’ll let you fill in the blanks. The taxi driver talks to me about the expensive cars that typically line the front of the club. I’m just thinking that I might have made a mistake by not bringing the 360 here. What’s done is done, I’m here and the car isn’t.
I finally get inside; turns out that bouncers recognize different sets of keys. With a wave of the key and Ferrari logo, I’m able to bypass the line with an enormous swiftness that annoys the bystanders.
The keys go back in my pocket and I proceed to the bar. I have a theory about bartenders, something I learned from a close friend: Tip. I’ve been told that the best way to attract females is to dress outlandish and make your presence known. I’m not able to do that. I dress as I want and it hasn’t failed me. Just like tipping a few extra bucks each drink will make a bartender remember you. How does that benefit you though?
If your drinks come up to $13, give a $20 and say keep the change. Next time you go up, do the same. What about the time after that? You’ll instantly be the next person that gets tended to, and chances are the drink will have a little more alcohol than before. You’ll come across as a very important person, and that my friends will be a bigger icebreaker than dressing outlandish ever will be.
I run through my routine and spot a few girls that peak my interest. I walk over and talk to them. One is completely out of my league and I try to name drop, telling her that I own a Ferrari. She looks at me like I’m on crack and walks away. No belief at all.
The others are equally uninterested. Either they don’t believe me, or think that it’s my dad’s car, or a rental worst case. It just doesn’t work. I revert back to my typical form and prove a bit more successful when it isn’t brought up.
I return back to the bar and order a few more drinks. And yes, my program of tipping is in full swing and working. I have a couple of girls ask if I can order them their drinks. They can’t believe that after waiting 15 minutes, I get mine within 3. I oblige and pass them along. Introductions are passed back and forth and I gain a few dancing partners.
After this process lasts a couple of hours, I reach into my pocket and notice that the keys to the Ferrari are gone. I begin to freak out. Did someone steal them thinking the car is outside? Did I drop it out on the dance floor? No idea.
I check around the club, looking frantically and asking all the bouncers, bartenders, everyone. No one has seen them. Due to the importance, I managed to get a few people to help.
My panic level reaches new heights when I realize that it’s the only spare black fob and key. The master set (red one) is with the owner thankfully. If I lost that one, it would cost me an absolute fortune (upwards of $5,000 if I recall correctly). Since he still has the red fob, I’d just have to buy a new set and key, about $800.
After half an hour and a lot of shots, I manage to find them in the possession of a drop dead gorgeous woman. We begin to talk about where she found them, how her night is going and we instantly hit it off. In one of the unlikeliest situations I managed to finally find someone.
We spend the rest of the night outside talking, in complete privacy and intimately. Hours pass before we realize what we had done… it’s now morning. We wave down a taxi to go back to my place before going for breakfast.
I ask her to give me a minute before leaving again; the taxi sits and idles while I run upstairs. On my way, I jump into the 360 and pop the trunk. I grab some clothes I left in there the night before.
Once I return to the taxi, the question comes up: “Is that your Ferrari? “. To which I finally give the honest response: “No, it’s my friends.”
She doesn’t bat an eye or get upset. We go for breakfast and have a great time. I got her phone number and we’re supposed to meet up sometime soon. All in all, I had a great time.
My night overall
The night didn’t go exactly as expected. That’s life, when you think you have things figured out, it throws you a curveball.
I figured when the night began that I’d have the time of my life, that the car would be unbelievable and I’d use it to boost my confidence. But it was here and now that I learned a few things.
In order to do that, I’d need to talk about the owner of the car. I’ve mentioned in previously that he’s not your atypical Ferrari owner. I couldn’t imagine someone else lending his car out to a friend for a night out and I’m not just saying that out of thanks. Sure, he’ll read this article and be slightly embarrassed. But he is one of the greatest guys I’ve ever met. Down to earth, has never once made any of us (his friends) feel out of place, or diminish anything we’ve ever accomplished. He’s always been there at the drop of a hat if I ever needed anything, no matter what else was going on. To him, it’s always been about the car. Not the social aspect, not showing up and making himself seem bigger than he is.
And it was on my cab ride back home that I realized in order to enjoy a car like this, it must be about the car. The owner belongs with the car, and the car belongs to him. It isn’t about anything but the passion. If you use it for other purposes than you’re diminishing the heritage and the original intent of a supercar. He’s a true enthusiast and my respect level increased that night.
I’m the same person, the same skill set and yeah, I don’t own a Ferrari but that’s okay. I’m me and I happen to know a guy that does and for that, I’m lucky. I had a great night; I experienced the extraordinary and was brought back down but will be forever grateful.