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Andy Prest: Owning a fast, loud car provides a one-way ticket to frustration

Driving a supercar sounds cool, but the actual experience of trying to tame all that horsepower on the street can be more frustrating than fun, writes columnist Andy Prest
A young North Shore News columnist takes the wheel of a Ferrari F430 Spider as part of the Scenic Rush experience a few years back. Driving a supercar is fun in small doses, but owning one seems like more friustration than fun, argues columnist Andy Prest. | Paul McGrath, North Shore News

Spring has arrived in West Vancouver, you can hear it in the air.

The soft, high-pitched piping of a bald eagle. “Pip-pip-pip-piii-piiii.”

The steady roll of a swollen stream sending spring runoff on its path to the ocean. “Waa-waaa-waaaa-waaaaa.”

The bowel-rumbling growl of the Lamborghini Huracan Evo Spyder. “BREEEEEEE-BOP-BOP-BOP-BREEEEEEE!!”

That’s right, the big, loud, dumb machines are out in full force, and they’re driving their cars around. The supercars are speeding around Marine Drive so much that the owners of a nearby restaurant pumped the brakes on their own racing patrons, telling them to slow down in town before they smash into something or someone.

“Enough is enough. You will kill someone,” they wrote in an Instagram post.

And yeah, they’re right – very fast and expensive cars are always ripping down that very narrow and twisty portion of Marine Drive. I’ve coached baseball at a diamond right across the street (it’s next to an elementary school, no less), and it’s rare for us to go more than a couple of  innings without someone screaming by in a $500K car. The 12-year-old ballplayers are always very impressed.

And it’s not just West Van, of course. Seemingly every week the cops in North Van release details of a driver going 170 kilometres per hour on the 80 km/h highway. One of my favourites was the guy who bought a new truck and wanted to “test it out.” A few minutes later he was testing out Uber prices after the truck was impounded.

So here’s the question: is it even worth it to buy a really fast vehicle? What’s the point? I’d have to say … no?  

Now don’t get me wrong. I am no anti-speed warrior who totes my soccer balls to practice on the back of a cargo bike (not that there’s anything wrong with that – I just don’t have the time to bike there and back and then spend the rest of my day telling people about it on the internet).

I am a red-blooded Canadian – I do love the feeling of getting into a powerful car and making it roar. And I love going fast.

A couple of weeks ago I needed to rent a car. There were lots of sensible Kias and Chevys on the lot, but for about 40 bucks more I could get the Mustang convertible. You better believe the sun was shining down on me that weekend.

I’ve gone even horsier than a Mustang as well. One memorable newspaper assignment a while back gave me the opportunity to drive an Audi R8, Nissan GTR, Lamborghini Gallardo and a Ferrari F430 Spider all in the same afternoon. The roar of that red convertible Ferrari coming through a narrow canyon on the Sea to Sky Highway is one of the loveliest sounds I’ve heard in my life. 

Who needs testosterone when you’ve got a Testarossa?!

But here’s the thing. Every time I’ve driven one of these powerful machines, I progress through two distinct phases. The first phase is “wheeeeee!” The second phase is frustration.

Because I found it very frustrating to be driving a car that can go 240 km/h with the flick of a toe, but you can’t really do that because there are police officers and other cars and potholes and little children and cyclists and did I mention police officers. Having that kind of power but not being able to legally, ethically, or geographically wield it is such a tease. It’s like being handed an ice cream cone in a strictly enforced “no lick zone.” Instead of enjoying that delicious ice cream to its fullest, you’re forced to choose whether to sneak a lick and risk the wrath of the lick police ( I promise I won’t say lick anymore), or stand there like a law-abiding goomba with melting ice cream dripping down your arm. 

Sure there are fun and mostly legal things you can do in a fast car (“Hey let’s slow down a bit, then speed up quickly! OK slow down again! Now faster! Wow this is fun.”), but soon enough you’ll end up stuck in bridge traffic again, using your 610 horsepower to travel 12 kilometres in three hours. Vroom vroom. The joy-to-frustration ratio just seems off.

Of course, if someone gave me a Porsche convertible right now, I’d love it and keep it and call it my own. But I’d honestly be most excited about the convertible part – that is fun stuff, and there’s no photo radar tickets for too much wind in your hair. 

Until that Porsche arrives though – and seriously Stuttgart, send one my way whenever you want – I’ll be happy driving whatever gets me there safely, saving the aggravation and temptation of too much machinery.

I’ll just have to find some other way to impress the 12-year-old ball players. Who wants ice cream?!

Andy Prest is the editor of the North Shore News. His humour/lifestyle column runs biweekly.