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The Car Sighting Sickness

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On: Thu, Dec 10, 2015 at 11:21AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

The Car Sighting Sickness

If you're anything like me, when you're out and about doing just about anything in life, your eyes are always open and scanning the roads and parking lots for that one rare automobile. It never has to be anything particular, just something a little more rare and unique than your average Honda Civic. Some cars garner more of a reaction than others:  Corvettes are nice, Porsche Turbos get a glance and a nod, a Nissan GT-R will probably get a peek in the window (no touching the windows, and not long enough to be confused with a potential carjacker, of course). A Viper will usually elicit a "Whoa!" from passers-by, and a Lotus Elise will have most novices wondering, "Is that a dune buggy?"

However, there is another level of car sighting that rises above even the most exhilarating everyday-car-manufacturer. Sure a ZR1 is gorgeous, a Shelby GT500 is fun to hear rumble down the highway, but there is a rarified air even these Highway Hellions can't match. That set of cars belongs to the exotic car family. Limited-edition superstars that usually have the horsepower count of every Kia model combined. They are the cars that make even soccer moms take a second glance, kids to ask their dads what kind of car just passed by, and car guys to break out their camera phones and call their friends to brag about what they just saw.

Well, as one of several car guys in a family of car fanatics, I can promise you the phone calls I made one day last week brought on more jealousy than Kate Moss eating deep dish pizza on the set of the Biggest Loser. I noticed the bright red shimmering in the afternoon light of an average Wednesday afternoon first, like a lion spotting an injured wildebeest calf. It was hiding behind another car in a parking lot off to the right of the street. Slowly, as I noticed a little more of the car I knew was more than your ordinary Aston Martin. The very distinctive wedge shape of the car became apparent, and my excitement diminished when I realized that I was looking at... only... a Ferrari 458. Although certainly a nice sighting, it wasn't quite what my heart hoped for.

But, then, as I cruised slowly by, I noticed that this F1-styled car looked a lot more F1 than car. Then I saw the tail lights and my mind couldn't fathom what my eyes swore they were seeing. But it was: The mighty Ferrari Enzo, just sitting in a parking lot of some strip mall, blending in about as well as the president of the United States sitting at a Starbucks sipping a latte. Quickly I decided wherever I was going could wait, and ducked into the parking lot of this unfathomable machine. I parked next to this demon of the production car world and starting reciting the facts about it that I knew off the top of my head to truly understand what kind of power I was in the presence of. There, right next to me, was a car that was one of only four hundred ever built between 2002-2004. The odds of seeing this beast were just staggering. A naturally aspirated 6.0-liter V12 producing 650 horsepower at an Indycar-like 7800 rpm (200 rpm short of redline, mind you) and 485 lb-ft of torque at 5500 rpm. A six-speed F1-style semi-automatic transmission that can click off shifts in 150 milliseconds. I saw first hand the $24,000 ceramic brake rotors replete with $6,000 brake pads. Here was a car that could pull 1.05g on the skidpad and runs to 60 mph in a mind-bending 3.3 seconds, not to mention get through the quarter at a just stupid time of 11.2 seconds at 136 mph if this particular owner ever dared to drive this beast anywhere near its limits.

That got me thinking about who this owner was. To even be considered for Enzo ownership, you had to own quite a few Ferraris, specifically an F40 or F50. Then I saw his license plate frame: "My other car is a Ferrari 599 GTO." Another unfathomably rare car that they made only 599 copies of. This person was living the dream I've had since I was about five years old. After taking several cell phone pictures of this living legend, I thought about waiting around for this incredibly wealthy kindred spirit. But then I realized if he didn't show up during the few minutes I had been taking pictures, waiting around too long might be considered stalking on some level. Beyond that, I was afraid that this owner, whomever he (more than likely) was, could have been a stuck-up snob full of himself and living out his egomaniacal ways via automobile. So instead, I chose to leave thinking that he was a very friendly and happy fellow who was used to people swarming around his car asking dozens of questions, and I was doing him a favor just leaving without any commotion.

But whoever he was, I really wanted to thank him for daring to bring out the crown jewel of his collection on a random Wednesday afternoon, because simply by stopping to shop for who-knows-what, he created a memory in my mind that will no doubt last a lifetime, and a new number one on my car sighting list that will no doubt keep that crown for some time to come. Thank you, Ferrari owner. You made my car sighting life.

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