I recently had the opportunity to drive my Ferrari in Manhattan.
What I thought would happen: I'm driving down the West Side Highway, or FDR Drive, with the wind in my hair, playing chicken with the cabbies and zooming through tunnels on a crisp late summer afternoon with the engine blaring behind me.
What actually happened: I averaged approximately 0.4 miles per hour and spent the rest of my time dodging potholes the size of rural Midwestern school districts.
You'd already know about my Ferrari to Manhattan excursion if you followed me on Twitter. That's because I posted several excellent photos from the trip, including this highly exciting late-night shot that shows off many of my professional photography skills, such as the skill of holding a camera and clicking the shutter. What's less clear to you, I suspect, is why I would want to drive an exotic sports car in a city primarily known for subways, and buses, and taxi cabs, and ferries, and car services, and homeless guys who yell at you when you're jogging.
Well, there's a simple explanation for this: I've always loved driving in Manhattan. In fact, one of my very first columns on Jalopnik, back before you knew me as "Doug DeMuro: Isn't He That Carmax Guy?", was a piece on the many virtues of driving in Manhattan. As I recall, the primary virtues were: absolutely no visible enforcement of any laws, unless your parking meter expired, at which point you would be castrated. In fact, I'm quite certain that the only person issued a Manhattan traffic citation in the last five years is Afroduck.
And back then, many commenters agreed with me. Manhattan, we decided, is an enjoyable place to drive a car. You can go FAST! You can have FUN! You don't really have to slow down for PEDESTRIANS! But on my most recent trip with the Ferrari, I discovered something unfortunate: the nicer your car, the worse your Manhattan driving experience. Allow me to explain what I mean.
Let's start with our old friend, the road conditions. When you're driving a Ferrari, you're always thinking about the road conditions, because sometimes, when you go too fast, you scrape this huge piece of plastic under the car that's designed to be scraped. This might sound normal to, say, you, or to me, but it's a huge turnoff to potential Ferrari owners. "You… SCRAPED… the SCRAPE SHIELD?!?!?!?" they say, aghast, using they same tone they might use if they were PETA, and you were walking around wearing pants made of aardvark. So you have to be careful.
Unfortunately, when you're driving a Ferrari in Manhattan, being careful is a full-time job. I think that part of the reason why I liked driving in Manhattan so much in the past is that I was driving cars I didn't really care about, like an old Audi A4 and a used Volkswagen GTI. But when you're in a low car like the Ferrari, every single street is like a dangerous minefield, full of differing road surfaces, and strangely shaped potholes, and manhole covers that are set so far down from the pavement that you could take a bubble bath in the road depression.
The result is that you're driving around constantly staring at the road, and you have no time to look up and enjoy New York, where you might find, for instance, someone who's actually wearing pants made of aardvark. ("Everyone knows capybara is so 2013,"these people say.)
Speaking of weird New York people, this brings us to another problem I had when I took the Ferrari to Manhattan: other drivers. In the past, other drivers have been one of the most enjoyable parts of cruising around New York City, because they have absolutely no fear, and you have absolutely no fear, and the result is that you're both constantly going for the same opening in traffic, and you're dodging one another, and you're coming within inches of colliding, and it feels like you're playing Grand Theft Auto in real life, except that the cops won't forget they're chasing you after they haven't seen you for 90 seconds.
But not in a Ferrari. What happens in a Ferrari is: you're tremendously scared of the other drivers, because they're usually driving a 1980s Ford Econoline with so many dents it looks like it was originally sold in a place where it sometimes rains cordless drills. And here's something I didn't expect: other drivers are surprisingly afraid of you! I've driven in Manhattan many times over the years, and I've never seen cabbies give me such a wide berth, presumably because they were fearful of explaining to their boss why they crashed into an exotic sports car. ("Of course I hit him!" they would say. "He was parked in a pothole, taking a bubble bath!")
Speaking of parking, this is probably the worst part about taking a Ferrari to Manhattan. You can't really street-park, because people in Manhattan use a very special tactic for getting out of parking spaces, namely they back up and hit the car behind them, and then they go forward and hit the car in front of them, and they do this, repeatedly, every single time they parallel park, even if there are several empty spaces in each direction. So this won't really work.
But you also can't use a garage, because there aren't any self-park garages in Manhattan. Instead, you hand over your car to an attendant, a scruffy-looking guy whose entire training consisted of learning how to say "THAT SCRATCH WAS ALREADY ON THERE!" in five different languages. He will helpfully park the car for you, just like that valet helpfully parked my other car earlier this year.
So the result is that, once you arrive in Manhattan, you can't really stop, because there's nowhere to park. But you also can't really go, because you're constantly dodging potholes and sitting in traffic and worrying about other drivers. So driving a Ferrari in New York is a truly miserable experience, and I think we can all agree there is only one solution to this problem: Leave the car at home? Take the train? The bus? A taxi? Drive a more reasonable car? No, it's none of those things: the city needs to be more accommodating to exotic car owners. I look forward to your cooperation on this issue, Mayor de Blasio.
@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.