I Can Has V8?
Oh, the pain of owning an exotic car (wink, wink) – the insurance, the maintenance, the parking worries, not to mention the astronomical sum to buy one. If none of this sounds appealing, then fret no more; Supercar Sensation, a purveyor of exotic car tours, track outings, and rentals can get you a few hours behind the wheel of some of the greatest cars ever to scorch pavement – and all for a reasonable price.
I recently took up owner David Salama’s offer to drive a few examples from his stable of exotics, and this turned out to be quite a good day indeed. As I arrive at the Supercar Sensation driving center, I am hit with the question, “which car would you like to drive first, the Aston Martin, the BMW M3, or the Ferrari?”
Aston Martin Vantage
Well, I haven’t been asked this lately… but I elect to ease my way in with the Aston Martin Vantage convertible. Don’t get me wrong, this thing is fast, but in a smooth, gentlemanly way – not riding on rails, but it definitely handles better than your Aunt Maude’s Impala. Upon sliding into the cockpit, I am enveloped in traditional British luxury. It includes hand-stitched Connolly leather upholstery, Wilton wool carpets, an analog clock, and even a silver pen that pops out of the center console… perfect for signing off on those obligatory speeding tickets. After inserting the key and pressing the start button, the Aston’s hand-built 4.3-liter V8 rumbles to life. I reach forward and flick the paddle shifter into gear and off we go, roaring around the twisties while soaking up some sun.
Next, I try out the BMW M3, an interesting combination of four doors, plenty of trunk space, and the ability to sprint 0 to 60 in 4.5 seconds. The past several iterations of the M3 were fitted with six-cylinder motors, but this go-round, BMW wedged a 4.0-liter V8 under the hood. The car simply flies; it redlines at an astonishing 8,400 rpm and has a great, throbbing exhaust note to go along with it. Yet the M3 is quite capable of hauling that keg of Stella Artois plus a few buddies back to the house or of carrying your golf clubs to the course. Best of all, it costs approximately $60,000, which is a relative bargain compared to most cars that travel at this velocity.
The Ferrari F430 is unforgettable. This thing has immense power, sculpted beauty, and plenty of soul. Oh yeah, and it fits like a glove, allowing for a driving experience like no other. The 4.3-liter V-8 is mounted amidships, giving a sense of perfect balance, and the steering is light and responsive. A huge part of the Ferrari driving experience is the sound – the shriek of the engine right behind my head as I punch the throttle is enthralling, bringing a smile to my tour guide’s face, as well as to my own. 0 to 60 hurtles past in 3.5 seconds, and maximum speed in this bright red projectile tops out at 196 mph.
Based out of Concord, NC (near Charlotte), Supercar Sensation has a few more autos in their collection: a Lamborghini Gallardo, a Porsche 911 Turbo, a Nissan GTR, and a Mercedes C63 AMG. The company offers two and four-hour tours around the scenic North Carolina countryside, a one-hour “test” where you can try out three of the cars, as well as autocross and slalom runs at zMAX Dragway (also in Concord). Rentals accompanied by a guide are also an option. Prices range from $40 to $299 per person, depending on the tour/track event. Embassy Suites Hotels offers special rates to Supercar Sensation customers, and transportation from hotel to driving center is available.
Cost: $40 – $299 @ Supercar Sensation