Thoughts on Cars

For various reasons, it was cheaper to rent a car for trips this weekend than it was to use uber/taxi or zipcar/getaround. The rental agency said they were out of cars for the class I reserved, but they had a 2022 Dodge Challenger R/T available. Sounds good.

2022 Dodge Challenger R/T in Indigo Blue
The weekend rental car.

The last time I had a Dodge Challenger R/T it was mushy, slow, and just felt like a big heavy car with an underpowered engine. I'm guessing this was some "rental special" and/or an SXT. This car felt like a car branded as "R/T" aka Road and Track should feel. It was stiff, almost too rough on the roads, strong acceleration, great brakes, and an exhaust note that just screams, "punch it". 

Given the highway miles and hours driving, I noticed the engine is the "MDS" version that cuts the cylinder count in half while cruising. This let me get around 11.6 L/100km, or roughly 27 mpg, on average. And yes, it was driven like a sports car. That high fuel mileage in a V8 HEMI is impressive. 

One of the trips this weekend was to the Hillsborough Concours d'Elegance. My photos are available in this album

picture of a blue Packard hood ornament
Packard Hood Ornament

Of course, there were plenty of Ferrari's at the show. It is the 75th Anniversary of the builder. Red, yellow, blue, and black Ferrari's were all represented. I would love to own one. Preferably, a model with a V-12 engine. The 550 Maranello comes to mind. It's the last of its kind. 

"You want to own a Ferrari in the city!?", exclaimed our friend while walking among the cars.

They have a valid point. It's a point I've pondered, and investigated potential solutions, a few times. Put a cover on it and park it in a public garage? Find a private space? Insurance? How often to drive it? Where would we go? Do you take it to run errands?

Let's go back to the last decade, or two. My 1995 Jaguar XJR was a great car. It is the definition of luxury sports car. Not quite a hyper sports car like a Ferrari and friends. However, it was fun to drive and had more power than you could need whenever you wanted it. It could stop on a dime. To the point where the seatbelts would "rachet-lock" to keep you in place if you braked hard enough.

black 1995 jaguar xjr in my driveway
1995 Jaguar XJR

I purposely kept the leaping cat hood ornament to keep it "period correct". It was only stolen once. After that, I upgraded the mount to a real strong, braided steel cable so it couldn't be simple "ripped off" the hood without taking the hood with it. I also debated hooking the cable to the battery, with a transformer, so anyone who grabbed it got a good shock. However, I didn't need that kind of lawsuit at the time.

The challenge with this car wasn't the car itself. It was anywhere I went, people would ask me about it. I generally felt obliged to talk about it. True Jaguar enthusiasts would know of the car and want to see the engine; or otherwise ask about it. It didn't matter where I was: the drug store, Home Depot, pumping gas, or getting food. It was a conversation starter. It had a higher profile than say my Volvo V70R or my Dodge 2500 Cummins diesel. Both were used for hauling around race cars and such. And both attracted true enthusiasts who knew what was in front of them.

picture of the back of a Volvo V70R station wagon
Volvo V70R "Grocery Getter Toy Hauler"

I imagine owning a Ferrari is like that, except 100 times more. Everyone knows a Ferrari. Plus, they're expensive to own and maintain. I can probably do most of the work myself, but I lack a garage and tools these days. The skills learned working on engines, suspensions, and the like don't go away. "In the city!?", still rings true.

This brings me back to sports cars. If I were to buy a car, what would it be? Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack? Camaro ZL1? Mid-engine Corvette Stingray? Something Italian, like a used Ferrari? All fine questions (and cars) for weekend track fun and daily driving. If you wanted to spend $50-75k on a car, your options are vast (and high performance).

Aren't you supposed to want an electric car?  We're bombarded with marketing about electric cars. The SF Bay Area is full of Teslas. The roar of a V-8, or preferably a V-12, is what I like about sports cars. I don't get the same feeling from an electric car. At least not yet. As more "GT-class" electric cars are released, this may change. They have the acceleration and speed at least. I know people do track days in their Tesla. I look forward to Dodge's eMuscle cars in a few years. I look forward to not having range anxiety over them, as well.

As much as it's not cool these days, I want a performance station wagon. The British phrase of "shooting brake" sounds much cooler. The V70R was great. All the performance of an inline 5 bi-turbo, with the practicality of a station wagon. A Cadillac CT5-V wagon, Ferrari FF, or even a Volvo Polestar would be great. There are no EV station wagons, because everyone pushes crossovers or SUVs. 


In the end, the same questions tied to "in the city!?" arise regardless of the car. Sure, a Dodge or Chevy might not get the same attention as a Ferrari, but they still get attention. And looking at my own data, the last year I really rented cars, before the pandemic, I spent less than $10k in total on cars. That's still vastly cheaper than owning anything, including an EV. In addition, cars make me lazy. For now, I'll just keep looking at Bring A Trailer.

Riding the bike, walking, or taking public transit covers 90% of my travel needs. If there was a sane, fast train/bus to Yosemite and across country, I wouldn't need a car at all. Well, except when you just need to hear and feel the roar of a V8 on the open road.