Journal: What's Been Your Most Outrageous Test Drive?

What’s Been Your Most Outrageous Test Drive?

By Yoav Gilad
May 21, 2014
11 comments

Photography by David Marvier for Petrolicious

I have a daily driver that I love to hate. It’s a Korean SUV and while it’s survived all the abuse I’ve thrown at it (both on- and off-road), it has too many seats and driveshafts and not enough lightness. So I’ve been looking to replace it. There were many options and a few test drives but the car I ultimately chose was over two-thousand miles away. So there was no test drive.

But one of the better test drives I had involved a Porsche 911 Turbo and the Pacific Coast Highway. I went down to Newport Beach, California (a Los Angeles suburb) to check the car out and as soon as I let the clutch out and pulled out of the driveway, the dealer began regaling me with a story of how his last customer was arrested for topping 150mph while testing a Ferrari (that, after posting bail, he returned to buy). In striking contrast to most dealers, he practically begged me to flog the car.

Who was I to deny him? Traffic was light and I ran through the gears, wringing every last horsepower from the flat-six. I learned first-hand how quickly sixty mph comes up on the way to a very high, arrest-provoking terminal speed. The dealer just sat there with a grin. I wonder if he was in collusion with the local cops? I didn’t get arrested or even caught, but I ultimately passed on the Porsche.

Still it doesn’t compare to test-driving a blown, 400ci (6.6L) 1955 Chevy Sedan Delivery in the middle-of-nowhere Nevada desert. The car was frighteningly fast. Until it broke. The driveshaft sheared a u-joint and I wound up having to push it back to the seller’s house (over a couple miles). As I walked up, the seller and his buddies came down the driveway and asked why I was pushing. Very matter-of-factly, I told him the driveshaft had sheared. The seller, who had seemed irritated that I wanted to drive it before paying, was beside himself. In a spittle-fogged, expletive-laden invective he strongly suggested that I leave before harm come to me. I decided not to suggest he upgrade his drivetrain next time he builds a car with over seven hundred horsepower.

Most test drives are non-events, but what’s been your most outrageous test drive?

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Tom Ziemer
Tom Ziemer
8 years ago

Probably 10 years ago, my buddy Eric wanted to upgrade to a nice used luxury car. On the table were a Cadillac STS and an Oldsmobile Aurora. He found the STS in Lombard, and an Aurora in, of all places, Aurora. The plan we hatched was that I’d BS with the salesman a while, and then abscond with the Aurora, ostensibly to have a mechanic friend check it out. Meanwhile, Eric would secure the STS. We’d meet up, give them a few hard passes and generally beat on them a little to determine if they were up to Eric’s “spirited” driving style. It took forever to pry myself away from the salesman, and with time to make up, I put myself on the expressway. See, the problem was that Eric and I were probably separated by a good 15 – 20 miles. So I gave her the beans, and cranked her up to a safe-n-sane 100 per, and got to Eric in no time. We drove around like morons for about 20 minutes, drag racing the cars, switching back and forth, and generally giving them hell. Eventually, both cars sprang coolant leaks and we took them back to their respective dealers. I walked back in, tossed the keys to the guy, and said, “My guy smelled coolant. Gonna pass on the car.”

Nitish
8 years ago

Beautiful pic…so much atmosphere in there! Shared it here – http://www.bikerscafe.com/blog/2014/05/25/photo-of-the-day-classic-mini/ 🙂

Mike Himber
Mike Himber
8 years ago

Three of us who didn’t know how to drive a manual transmission talked a salesman into letting us take a ’69 Cougar with a 351W and a 3 speed on the floor for a test drive. We never got the drivetrain-motor synchronization quite right, but we tried our best to drive it aggressively the way we knew it should be driven and chirped the tires every time we shifted up or down. One guy bought the car and the other two got the shifting bug and never lost it.

dean ross-smith
dean ross-smith
8 years ago

When dodge stopped making the srt4 I meandered down the to the local dealer in Las Vegas to test drive one. Being the dad to 3 daughters meant that I almost always had one of the girls with me and this time it was my youngest . So the young sales dude let me drive it off the lot with himself in the passenger seat and my daughter in the rear. I gingerly drove the little beast to the 95 onramp and hoped to open up the car a little. Hitting the onramp I got to about 1/4 throttle in first and got tire spin, eased up and tried again in second and again got barely past quarter throttle and had tire spin. That’s when i noticed the giggles from the back seat. I hit third and got the gas pedal halfway to the floor before the tires were spinning again but now i was going over the speed limit, hearing more giggles from the back seat, had a silly grin on my face and had forgotten about the sales kid sitting next to me.
The rest of the ride was pretty tame but youngest daughter is now 15 1/2, learning to drive and unlike her sisters, wants to learn to drive a stick.

Patrick Meyer
Patrick Meyer
8 years ago

Went to check out a 2001 bmw 540i/6 at a local dealer. Salesman was a fellow Jalop (about 5 years ago when the site was still cool) and he let me go out and drive it on my own. I beat the everloving snot out of that car and it was glorius! But when I arrived back at the dealer the car smelled badly of coolant. Sale was a no go, but I made myself a promise, that would not be the last time I drive an uber sedan from BMW.

Rob
Rob
8 years ago

Many years ago, I was shopping for an RX-7. One in particular stood out. It had been fitted with a 20 psi turbo and it had recently recorded a quarter mile time of 12 seconds flat, with the time slip to prove it.

When it came time to do the test drive, the owner insisted on driving it first to warm it up. It turns out that warming it up means “driving through residential 30 mph zones at 60+ mph”. We screeched around that surburb like the cops were after us. He pulled over. “Your turn to drive”.

I take the wheel, drive around a little, checking for all the usual stuff. I pulled up at a set of lights, and the owner says “Come, on see what it can do”. Who am I to argue? The car was indeed thoroughly warmed up, and there was no traffic.

The light turned green. The RX-7 squatted down at the rear, smoke billowing from the rear fenders. Instantly the tacho hit 8000 RPM, and I grab second gear. A giant hand shoves me back in the seat, the car starts to go sideways, I correct, grabbing third gear as it redlines again, wheels still spinning. At this point we had barely crossed the intersection and were doing almost 70 MPH. At that point I backed off. This was still a public street after all and besides, there’s only so much I can bring myself to do to another person’s car.

The sound and sheer rawness of that car has to be experienced to be believed. I needed something a little more daily-driver friendly so ultimately that one did not get a spot in my garage.

Future Doc
Future Doc
8 years ago

When shopping for an MR2, one saleman was absolutely trashing around the parking lot… but not really going anywhere quickly. Could not understand why I (or anyone) would want to drive an underpowered “Jap” car. Despite bouncing it off the rev limiter, the car just would not really accelerate.

When I drove it, I released the parking brake.

OK, not really the point of the article, but when a saleman is trying to convince you not to take a car because they did not release the parking brake, that was my most outrageous drive.

Marc
Marc
8 years ago
Reply to  Future Doc

Driving the MR2 in the french alpes is incredible
Some pitctures: http://www.pass-hunters.co.uk/2014/05/cormet-de-roselend-reopening.html

Sid Widmer
Sid Widmer
8 years ago

I went in to test drive the 2012 Challenger SRT8 392. I just love the looks of the Challenger despite it’s size and weight so I had to satisfy my curiosity. There was a young salesman there who was very exited to go out on a test run in the beast. He told me on the way off the lot that they don’t let the salesmen drive the performance cars at that dealership so he was exited any time he got to take one out. Through conversation I shared I was an avid auto-crosser and spent my share of time on the track so I really wanted to get the car to some corners to get a feel for what the new chassis improvements felt like. He got really exited and told me to really get on it then and show him what the car could do. I turned it up a bit but he wasn’t satisfied and said “no, really get on it.” Ask and you shall receive. I dropped the hammer and thrashed the brute through a section of high speed chicanes and tight curves that made up the country road we were on at about 8/10ths of the cars grip. The kid slid down in his seat, explicatives being dropped left and right as he nervously laughed. We turned around to go through the section again and he looked at me with a real serious face and said “hey, you want to lay a patch of rubber?” Traction control off…. I can say this about the Challenger 392, the thing was meant to lay the longest black stripes with more ease than any car I have ever driven. After the smoke cleared the young salesman laughed like a kid on Christmas. We cruised around in the car for another 20 minutes driving it like a muscle car should be driven. When I got back to the dealer the manager said that they were getting worried that we wrecked the car since we were gone so long. I didn’t see that kid there the next time I went in.
I didn’t buy the car because the euro-snob light makes right side of my brain overruled my decision but I can’t see one now without wishing I was behind the wheel gleefully chucking it sideways with the back tires lit up.

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange
8 years ago

Most memorable test drive I have been involved in was that of an uber rare Ferrari 365GTS that my Dad was interested in at Bonhams Monaco auction a few years ago. We had arranged to see the car before the official preview so our mechanic could have a proper inspection of it. We went straight from the airport to Monaco and on arrival the Bonhams rep took us down into the dingiest underground car park you’ve ever seen. There was this black 365GTS gleaming next to a load of battered Renaults and Peugeots. After going over the car the Bonhams rep and our mechanic took the car out for a test run leaving us in this horrible (and very hot) car park.
As it turned out our mechanic reckoned the car had a severe gearbox issue and that reduced the amount my Dad was prepared to bid to less than it went for.

Erik Tomlinson
Erik Tomlinson
8 years ago

Around two years ago my Volvo S60R was written off by running over Bambi in the mountains, so I decided to replace it with something with similar aptitudes – all-wheel-drive, high power, and a manual transmission. The natural successors (while down on luxury) were the Subaru STi and the Mitsubishi Evo.

The salesperson at the Mitsubishi dealership was a greasy looking “kid” (likely younger than me even though I was only 27 at the time) who absolutely insisted that he drive the car off the lot to a quiet area for me to “get to know it”. As we are driving along, me in the passenger seat, my wife in the back, he is explaining why having a manual transmission is such a GREAT IDEA (I already know, I wanted one) and he’s telling me how you can just “DOWNSHIFT WHENEVER YOU WANT FOR FAST ACCELERATION!!”… and buddy, while doing 75 km/h in a 50 km/h limit area, downshifts from 4th to 1st (instead of 3rd) and lets the clutch out fast. God, the lurching…