Saturday, July 24, 2010
So this morning was another edition of cars and coffee, and it did not disappoint. While the car in the spot light was a Lexus LFA (Who's owner seemed more than happy revving for the crowd.) my highlight was a late arriving Tesla Roadster who's vintage CA black plate yelled 'CYA OPEK'. This of course peaked my interest as black California plates were issued from 1963-1969, and how he got one for a Tesla, let alone with such politically charged wording, baffled me. I went to investigate.
To be frank I initially liked the Tesla from a theoretical/design perspective. While studying auto design one of our first projects was to design an electric car. My initial research revealed that before the Tesla the options for an electric vehicle were very slim at best, and all of them very ugly. Nobody in their right mind would buy a $300,000 jelly bean whether or not it was electric. When the Tesla appeared on the scene it hit a key cord, they made 'electric' not just appealing but SEXY. Still skeptics abounded, including myself (the vintage-visceral auto enthusiast.). So when I approached this particular Tesla it was with a grudging admiration.
To my question about the license plate the car's owner replied that he had found a company via Google to make it (fitting, I thought). We talked for a while about the car but then I was the inevitable recipient of the dreaded 'political/ go green' speech every owner of an 'eco' car feels obligated to lather upon the questioner. I get really annoyed at those kind of speeches, they just throw a monkey wrench into everything a driver's car should be! Replying politely I said I have high hopes for electric cars in general, but what I am interested in is how viable it is as a sports car (sure on paper it has the right stuff, but was it just an ipad on wheels?) He then turned to me and asked if I wanted to take it for a spin........... wait........what?!
After a blurred couple of minutes I was silently pulling out of Cars and Coffee behind the wheel of the Roadster. One of his first comments came while he was fiddling with some digital screen was, " Be prepared, it has manual steering. ".......my mind struggled to digest it.....this so called 'techy car' had manual steering? Sure enough, there was a satisfyingly weighty feel as I muscled the car onto Gateway. He nonchalantly said "Don't be afraid to step on it," and no sooner left his lips than I mashed the accelerator. The torque was instant, like turning on blender set at 'high'. I felt like the seat was trying to eat me as the car gobbled up the pavement......all almost silently. The road, car, and myself shared a symbiotic relationship, and any prior memory of 'green' toting evaporated in the wind. This vehicle was not part of some political grandstanding, this was a real driver's car with a HOV sticker slapped on it's tush. It handled like a fat Lotus Elise which is still ten times better than your run of the mill economy box. Pulling back into the parking lot and parking it I had a hard time leaving this toy box on wheels.