I recently let twenty of my close, personal friends drive my Ferrari. This may surprise you. You're probably sitting there in astonishment and disbelief. You're probably staring at the screen in utter shock. You're probably stunned. You're probably thinking: You HAVE twenty friends?
And the answer is, no, I personally do not. And that's why I also had to rely on a few close, personal strangers to help me complete the video you see below, or above, or wherever Kinja chooses to place it. Possibly in one of Raphael's posts, I don't know.
Now, at this point, your thoughts are probably more along the lines of: You let strangers drive your Ferrari? ARE YOU A COMPLETE IDIOT? And the answer here is: HELL YES! (My insurance company would especially agree about the "idiot" part.) But I had a noble purpose for my actions: I did it to help combat the single most annoying attitude that exists in the automotive community.
The attitude I'm referring to here is what I call the "grumpy asshole viewpoint," which involves certain car enthusiasts refusing to let other people – even other car enthusiasts – drive their cars. You see this all the time at automotive gatherings. Some of these people – and I'm not going to name names, but it's the guys in the bagged Jettas with "illest" stickers – won't let anyone touch their cars, let alone drive them. You get the feeling that a few of the really crazy ones would also like to ban photography around their cars, in case the shutter noise somehow interferes with Volkswagen's magical electronics and the windshield wipers never work again.
The funny thing about this attitude is that nearly every person afflicted with it owns a car they bought used. Now, I understand not letting others drive your car if you own, say, a Maserati MC12, which is worth seven figures and shares its overall size with a high school football stadium. But when you're driving a 2007 Jetta you picked up last year from Jim's Used Cars, you have to assume the previous owner was Avis, and it's already been driven by half the business travelers at the Dallas airport.
In my case, I wanted to share my car because driving a Ferrari is a highly unique event; a once-in-a-lifetime experience that nearly every one of my friends reacted to in the exact same way: pure terror.
That's right. You'd think this would be a joyous moment for these people, punctuated by laughter and excitement, but what really happened was that I got the feeling every single person was thinking approximately the same thing as they drove: Am I insured for this?
Interestingly, this is actually an argument for letting other people drive your car. What I noticed, from the passenger seat, is that the miles driven by other people were actually far more cautious than the miles I personally put on, which typically involve a) eating Oreos, and b) playing air guitar. Occasionally I also look up at the road.
You see, it turns out that people are tremendously afraid of damaging someone else's car, which means they'll devote a monumental amount of attention to driving it. A few of the people who drove the Ferrari couldn't even carry on a conversation because they were concentrating so hard. Really, the entire experience felt like you were sitting next to Bruce Willis in one of those 1990s bomb defusion movies, where he's focusing really intently on the wires because he can go see his daughter again if he pulls the right one, whereas it will wipe out all of humanity if he pulls the wrong one, although you know that won't happen because they're already filming the sequel.
But in the end, all that concentration it paid off: no one scratched it, or scraped it, or even stalled it.
So the hard part wasn't the fear of someone damaging the car. Instead, the hard part was trying to find twenty human beings who could drive a stick shift.
To illustrate my point, go into your phone and have a look at the last twenty people you've exchanged text messages with. If you're like me, maybe eight of them can drive a stick shift. Now – and this is the kicker – try to get these eight people to show up at the same time, in the same place. This is not possible: no eight people have ever had schedules that allowed such flexibility, even if you can bribe them with a Ferrari drive. It turns out that people have a life beyond appearing in low-budget YouTube videos.
So what happened is I had to bring the car to every one of my stick-driving friends, and acquaintances, and complete strangers. You'd know this if you followed me on Twitter, because I was spotted on the road several times last weekend by a few Jalopnik readers. Of course, you can't really tell it's me, because I'm not exactly posing for the camera. I should've smiled. I should've waved.
I should've asked if they could drive a stick shift.
And now, for those of you want to see what it's like when twenty people drive a Ferrari for the first time, here's the video:
@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars. He owned an E63 AMG wagon and once tried to evade police at the Tail of the Dragon using a pontoon boat. (It didn't work.) He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer, largely because it meant he no longer had to wear pants. Also, he wrote this entire bio himself in the third person.