Most car guys are a little curious about the exotic car ownership experience. How does it drive on a race track? What does it sound like at full throttle in a long, glorious tunnel? How fast can you get it going on an empty highway? Well, those are all excellent questions, and today I’ve decided to ignore each of them. Instead, I’m going to tell you what it’s like to get gas.
Getting gas in an exotic car is a lot like getting gas in your daily driver. What I mean by this is, having an exotic car won’t stop you from accidentally pressing the “car wash” button at the pump. And then you cancel the transaction, so you have to go inside and pay. And as you’re walking in, you trip over the fuel hose, and you fall on the ground, and gasoline sprays all over your shoes, and you walk around for the rest of the day smelling like a baby seal that spent its formative years in the Exxon-Valdez oil slick.
But there is one especially unusual thing about getting gas in an exotic car: other people.
Before I get started here, I want to say that I love when car enthusiasts approach me at the gas pump. When I had my E63 AMG wagon, this is all that ever happened: I’d be sitting there, filling the car with gas, and a guy would walk up and start talking about his V70R, and we’d share this blissful moment where we both realized that we were spending approximately one-quarter of our annual income on maintenance. Eventually, we’d part ways with a manly fist bump. Normal people would never approach me when I had my AMG wagon, because they thought I had just borrowed my mom’s car, and also they wondered why there was some guy filling up his car without any pants on.
But that’s not what happens with the Ferrari. What happens with the Ferrari is, everyone walks up to you at the gas pump, and they immediately start asking questions. What does it cost? What kind of mileage does it get? How fast is it? What year is it? Then they start poking around the thing, as if they’re trying to verify these facts for themselves. After a while, you start to feel like you’re not driving a Ferrari, but rather hosting a yard sale where you’re trying to unload a used lawnmower.
As I’ve thought about this issue, I’ve specifically identified three main types of Ferrari approachers, at least one of whom I will almost surely encounter at every single gas stop. They are:
1. Guy with other cool car, but he doesn’t have it with him. For some reason, there’s one of these people at every single gas station I visit. Basically, what happens is, they’re filling up some normal car, like a Mazda3, or a Honda Accord, or a plumbing van, and they see you roll in. And it’s at that moment they decide: you are not leaving until they can tell you about how their cousin’s milkman has a 1991 Buick Reatta.
So they open with a question about your car (“Cool car man! How many tickets have you gotten in that thing?!”) before launching into a long explanation about the Reatta (“Seriously, do you know how COOL fifteen inch wheels were in 1991?”), and after a while you wish you were an oil-covered baby seal, because at least then you’d never have to sit through an four-minute speech about the virtues of the General Motors 3800 V6.
2. Guy who knows his car is better car than mine. Although this guy is rare, he exists, living a life of insecurity you typically only find in psychologist’s offices and YouTube comments. This is the guy who walks up to me, driving his M3, and insists that a) his car is faster than mine, and b) he’s a better driver than me. Now, I openly admit these things are probably true, but they don’t need to be stated. I don’t walk up to people at gas stations and brag that my Range Rover is taller than their cars.
So I’m always very nice to these people, and I always try to compliment their car until they realize they won’t bait me into having some sort of bizarre gas station argument that eventually turns into an impromptu drag race through the streets. So they walk away, deflated, and they go back to cleaning off their angel eyes with a gas station squeegee.
3. Guy who gets way too excited. Like many people, I get excited about exotic cars I’d see on the road. Very excited, even. But some people get so excited that you wonder if, maybe, they come from a secret alien race where everyone is an exotic car, and they think mine is their mother.
Seriously: photos are normal. Videos are fine. But I’ve had people open the doors, totally unprompted, and look around the interior, as if they’re a prospective buyer about to write a five-figure check, when really they just pulled up in a 1994 Infiniti J30 with more temporary tires than working brake lights. Sometimes, they even ask questions so quickly that they can’t possibly be hearing the answers: Is this a 458 Italia? What did it cost? What kind of mileage do you get? How fast is it? Have you gotten any tickets? Hey wait! Come back here! You’re driving away in my mother!!!!
Normally, I avoid these odd gas station encounters by pulling out my phone and going on Twitter, which serves two purposes. Number one: I get to send out some tremendously clever Tweet about the car’s fuel economy (“LOL! Getting gas again! LOL! It’s like a truck!”). And number two: I look busy, like you’d expect from a Ferrari owner; probably checking his stock portfolio or laying off a few hundred workers at his Brazilian pillowcase factory.
But today, I’ve decided to make a video, giving you a glimpse into what it’s really like to fill up an exotic car. Except the part where I trip over the gas pump. I edited that out.
@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.