Aug 8, 2010

How Much Attention Do You Really Want?

How much attention should your car get you? As much as Elvis, or as little as your friendly neighborhood postal worker? No offense to postal workers but we rarely wave to them when they drive past.

Most of us want a car that people notice, it’s the level of attention we want that varies. You may think you want the same attention as a Viper engulfed in flames at a stop light, but think hard. You can expect people to tell you the same stories and ask the same questions over and over again and that can get old. Also, the car you choose will determine the types of people and the nature of the conversations you're going to have. Remember, this could be your last car, so be prepared for what you'll get.

When I took my wife on her first ride in the Cobra, I remember telling her "Now, I will concentrate on the driving while you wave at all the people." She kind of rolled her eyes (this was our second date) and I later learned that she thought I was pretty full of myself. But, when we left the parking lot that day, with the usual side-pipe roar, 3 men came running out of the NAPA auto parts store from across the street, pointing wildly. Catherine took to the smile-and-wave concept quickly, like a seasoned beauty queen in a parade float. Similar experiences occured throughout the course of our drive that day and by the end of her first Cobra ride, she got it.

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to the right on this page is a video clip from that date night


The Shelby Cobra, real or replica, may very well be the most magnetic car on the road. Dramatic and loud, flashy and All-American, you can expect all sorts of comers. I’ve been condemned for owning a replica (sorry, I’m a ¼ million shy in funds for the real deal). I’ve been flashed (thank you). I’ve received the finger and some very sexy winks. I know now to expect  the question "is it a kit?" everytime I drive it and to elaborate on the motor at nauseum. Once, I stepped out of my local Starbucks to find a 250lb man crawling around under my car to observe the suspension. People follow me for miles just to chat, often ugly people that smell badly. I even had a man hug me outside of a Wendy’s.   Many of my Cobra's admirers have no front teeth, and a very long story to tell me.

A good contrast to the Cobra experience was my 2006 E46 M3 ZCP. An M3 ZCP is a fairly esoteric machine. Most people see it as a 3 series BMW. Car people see it as a really fast 3 series. BMW people see it as a ZCP-packaged car that's modeled after the CSL lightweight. It sports exclusive improvements including: improved suspension, faster steering ratio, huge upgraded brakes, lighter wheels and a limited run in production. Anyone who gives you a nod in this car is clearly a member of the exclusive automotive secret society.

I’m not passing judgement on those of you who want attention and a lot of it, nor am I trying to tell you what level of attention is best. That’s up to you. If a car is special to you it will probably be special to others too. Just be sure your car choice attracts the amount and type of people you really want to talk to. Be careful not to turn into that guy others think is a big swinging d*** with a really cool car. We all know how that ends... with key marks through your expensive paint.

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Remember, this could be your last car, so there is no turning back.

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