Journal: What’s Your Best Experience as a Passenger?

What’s Your Best Experience as a Passenger?

By Michael Banovsky
March 13, 2015
19 Comments

As a passenger, memorable experiences often depend on the vehicle, the road, the driver, and any other passengers. If one of those things is off, the drive may be unbearable. Get all four in sync, however, and it may not matter that you’re just a passenger.

To prove it, I’d like to tell you about my experience as a passenger in a very special Porsche: 356/1, commonly known as Porsche No. 1. This mid-engined machine was the first to bear Ferdinand Porsche’s name, and as an indication of its focus, Porsche designed it to be as compact, light, and nimble as possible.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity during a drive of the then-new second generation Porsche Boxster to get rides in some of the company’s best-ever mid-engined machines: the IMSA-winning Porsche 914/6, a 550 Spyder, and No. 1 at Willow Springs Raceway in California. Although factory drivers Jörg Bergmeister and Derek Bell were turning more exciting laps in the 914/6 and 550 Spyder, respectively, it’s the slow laps in No. 1 that were most memorable to me.

A privileged experience, undoubtedly, but one that proved it’s sometimes just as magical to sit in the passenger seat.

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PaulGeudon
PaulGeudon
9 years ago

I’m a Porsche-guy, but my most memorable passenger journey was not in one of Stuttgart’s finest. It was in a McLaren F1. Whilst quietly sitting at my desk working one day, an unrecognisable sound filled the studio. a beautiful silver McLaren F1 came in to view with a good friend and fellow Club Mulholland member driving. On his way back from Ville d’Este he thought it’d be cool to pop by… Very cool.

The drive that followed is forever in my memory – what an experience. They say you should never meet your heroes, but this delivered. It was only a 15 minute drive, but oh my.

Brian Driggs
9 years ago

Believe it or not, backseat of a Honda Fit en route to the LA auto show back in 2010. Rally driver friend grew tired of the lumbering semi on one of those super tight, 360° SoCal freeway on ramps.

Winding out third, with I’m sure no more than three wheels in contact with the pavement – all of which screaming in agony – we passed the big rig on the outside just add the lane ended, slipping effortlessly into traffic at a leisurely 79mph.

Sisu could also mean LA County driver.

Francois Bozonnet
Francois Bozonnet
9 years ago
Reply to  Brian Driggs

Brian “vatanen” Driggs, you talk about one thing that only the real petrolisti could understand…..”SISU” for ever
but what is a honda FIT?

Jack Mehl
Jack Mehl
9 years ago

When I was 10, while on vacation in Carlsbad my grandpa’s friend had taken me out one night in his yellow Ferrari Daytona Spider. We hit about 110 on the freeway with the top down. It was thrilling. A couple of years later I heard he had to sell his beach house and the car, after his business had went bankrupt.

Willam Giltzow
Willam Giltzow
9 years ago

The one I will always remember best, I was age 8,an early spring evening in 1961. In my father’s lap, with Walt Hansgen at the wheel, in the first left hand drive XKE convertible. Roxiticus Rd. from Gladstone north to Rt. 24 in Chester NJ. I rode back south in Walt’s lap too, but my father was far to timid by compare! It was Walt’s road too, and my dad was a stranger there as well. Any time I have an old Jag for a long road test, guess where I go? Five times (at least) the traffic there now, but the road is little changed.

Dennis White
Dennis White
9 years ago

At age 11 riding with my Belgian Uncle (a regular Liege-Rome-Liege combatant) in his Alfa 2600 Sprint on the highway across the country from the Belgian Beach to the Ardennes Forrest at speeds over 100 MPH. Hair raising!!

Riccardo
Riccardo
9 years ago

For me it was a few passenger laps in a Porsche 993 GT2 on track at Goodwood. In particular the sensation of unstoppable acceleration and nimbleness, although it must have been something else too as the Turbos and GT3s that I went into afterwards just didn’t compare.

The full story was that I had met the owner because his wife and I had been involved in a road accident. As we waited for the police etc I noted some Porsche Club stickers on her Audi and, being a member myself, asked if she was a member too. Turned out that her husband was a big Porsche fan with 2x 993 RSs and 1x 993 GT2 so, as an apology they invited me to attend the above mentioned track day.

Francois Bozonnet
Francois Bozonnet
9 years ago
Reply to  Riccardo

sometimes road accident are good…

Francois Bozonnet
Francois Bozonnet
9 years ago

two big memories for me, all in ferrari. the first one was a day during a familial event. One of my family member came with a brand new Testarossa, the 3rd in France, red with tan leather, rudge wheell and single mirror. an unbeliveable moment for me…
the second happened in Dijon-Prenois, on the race track during an old event called ‘100 gt’. a french meeting with Ferrari, Porsche, Aston-martin and a few others cars. The man who sold my toy car (remember the Fujimi 1/24 die cast models…) gave me the opportunity to came to the track and saw all the cars. during that day, we saw 5 288 gto, and particularly one with a special driver, Albert Uderzo, the Asterix father’s. my friend ask him if it’s possible to get in the car for a short ride in the paddock area, and mister Uderzo said yes but find a helmet!!! i can’t forget the 3 laps of Dijon-Prenois, a real dream.
all this moment gave me the love for cars and for Asterix…..it was in 1985 or 1986, i was 12/13 years old…

Francois Bozonnet
Francois Bozonnet
9 years ago

actually i have the original key-ring of the testarossa…in front of a 1/43 model!!!

JsT Fartin
JsT Fartin
9 years ago

A couple of memories that pop up for me are simply drives you can’t get away with anymore (or would be foolish to consider). Who now let’s kids sit on their laps and steer and how many Ferrari owners pick up hitchhikers and then floor it for their amusement?
1) My two younger brothers and I were maybe belted in with my older sister, sitting in my father’s lap, steering his ’63 TR4 with the top down. My sister turned right unexpectedly (at least my father at the other controls wasn’t expecting it) so we went around the corner on two wheels. We kids were ecstatic but only decades later can I imagine the relief my dad must have felt as we safely continued on.
2) Hitchhiking to college I was once picked up in a sliver Dino 246. The driver, not so much older than I, explained that he had recently finished med school and, on top of all his student loan debt, it didn’t seem such a stretch to reward himself with the car. Forty years ago Torrey Pines Rd leading to UCSD was an uninhabited canyon road and the driver did his best to impress me. My one and only ride in a Ferrari and, despite not driving, it was pretty much all out.

Christopher Gay
Christopher Gay
9 years ago
Reply to  JsT Fartin

Nice! Twenty five years ago I used to banzai down Torrey Pines Road on my mountain bike. Not so smart, really, but we were heading to Roberto’s for burritos. No helmets, of course. Unfortunately, the ride back up to UCSD took a wee bit longer than the shot down. :p

Ariff Roose
Ariff Roose
9 years ago

When I was 10, my family went on a roadtrip to the beach. We borrowed my aunt’s ’95 BMW 525i E34 along with our family car. I sat in the passenger’s seat of the BMW and throughout the journey, there and back, I remember being amazed at how comfortable the car felt at high speeds.
The journey itself made me fall in love with cars, driving, road trips, and BMW’s. We drove 700km to the East Coast of Malaysia, going through the crests of the hills with the sun rising above it. I remember being awaken from a short nap by the sound of the revving M50 engine as my dad overtook a lorry. I was so fond of the car that I remember almost every aspect of it!

Unfortunately the car got damaged in a flash flood and got sold for spares. I’m 20 now, and now my goal is to buy and own an E34, and drive the car that got me into cars. 🙂 😀

Marwin Jansen
Marwin Jansen
9 years ago

Like you say: “As a passenger, memorable experiences often depend on the vehicle, the road, the driver, and any other passengers.”

Well, there where no other passengers, so that was ideal. The vehicle was a lovely and rare first gen Mitsubishi Eclipse Targa, can’t go wrong there either. The driver (a good friend of me) was someone who knew the car and that particular road well enough to give it a good go. And the road? Well the road was one of the most beautiful roads there is worldwide: the Nürburgring Nordschleife.

Until that moment I didn’t think being a passenger could ever be such an incredible experience.

I don’t own the attached pics, therefore I attached the ones with a watermark of their rightful owner.

Matthew Lange
9 years ago

It has to be being a passenger in a Ferrari 250SWB during the Ferrari 50th Anniversary back in 1997. We did a run from Rome to the factory in Maranello following the Mille Miglia route. The car had just come back from a full restoration which was rushed to be done in time for the even and there were still a number of snags to sort out. One of the issues was a missing heat shield off the exhaust so on an all day drive in warm Italian sunshine the floor of the passenger footwell was getting rather warm.
The cars (200 early cars invited by Ferrari) were given a police escort throughout the route but at one point we were in a group of four cars (a 250 Lusso, a 250pf and a 275GTb/4 were the others IIRC) that lost the escort. Four V12 Ferraris travelling through the Tuscan countryside and it was inevitable that throttle pedals were heading towards the firewalls. The SWB proved, surprisingly, to be more than a match for the newer 4 cam although maybe driver commitment may have played a part in that.

The whole journey took some 10 hours and when we parked up in the Fiorano circuit were were very tired but elated from a great journey.

Afshin Behnia
9 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Lange

Wow, I got goosebumps imagining that experience. What a treat for the senses that must have been. Who was driving?

Matthew Lange
9 years ago
Reply to  Afshin Behnia

Our mechanic Vince was driving for that part of the trip. Dad had driven down from the UK, Vince had brought the Grand Cherokee Dad was using as a daily as a support vehicle. I met them in Rome. IIRC Dad had some business calls to make that day so I was lucky enough to get the passenger seat for that leg. Unfortunately I was to young to be insured to drive the SWB then.

Emanuel Costa
Emanuel Costa
9 years ago

Well, nothing to do with cars, races or roads. My best experiences as a passenger have to be the first time I could seat on the front seat with my father. Getting the first advices and seeing better when he turned the wheel, pressed the clutch, accelerator or brake, and when he changed gears.

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