Bentley Arnage R, Maybach 57, and Rolls-Royce Phantom

George Saitas

We knew we had to drive these cars, the three most expensive sedans in the world, together. We knew we had to lounge in them, big-time. We could be pretty certain that two of them had rarely been seen on U.S. highways before and absolutely certain that they'd never been seen together. Until now. We wanted to drive them long and hard; the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival seemed as good a place to go as any.

Front Grill Views

An annual tradition for the city since 1984, the Jazz Festival is a more contained and slightly more sober companion event to Mardi Gras. Combining (for two long weekends in late April and early May) vast quantities of indigenous music, fried foods, and overpriced beer, it's designed to benefit the local economy by attracting cross-addicted partisans of all three. A culturally uplifting, officially sanctioned pleasure fest in a city where gluttony and pleasure are the only businesses still going? We were on our way.

Elwood Blues's retired Dodge Monaco cop car might have been a good vehicle to take on the 1500-mile drive from Nyack, New York, but there was a strong case to be made for the Maybach, the Bentley, and the Roller. You see, I spent the summer of 1976 in New Orleans, eventually using a padded rsum to land a job as a teenage waiter at the venerable Commander's Palace restaurant. This was before I was personally fired by soon-to-be celebrity Cajun chef Paul Prudhomme, the father of everything blackened. It seems I offended some guests one night, a bunch of inebriated Rotarian conventioneers. Among them were a couple from Buffalo deep in their cups, one of whom asked me jocularly, "What's a nice Jewish boy from New Jersey doing in a place like this?"

"I don't know! What's a bunch of drunk old farts from Buffalo like you doing in a place like this?" I replied, joining them as they guffawed roundly. Haw-haw-haw. The next morning, I was relieved of my position.

Fast-forward to 2003, and it dawns on me that returning to the site of my former shame in a $199,990 Bentley, a $325,000 Rolls, or a $309,000 Maybach would not hurt the old ego one bit.

Front Grill Views

The rest of my experience at the Jazz Festival was typical New Orleans. Three days in, I'd heard some fine music. I'd also gained 41 pounds, sent my cholesterol through the roof, and achieved a "perfect storm" blood-alcohol level of 0.4975. Fortunately, I was out of my gourd at the time, having received a contact high from the crowd, and so I failed to notice that I was legally dead, freeing me to redouble my efforts to ably represent Automobile Magazine and the great state of New York by continuing to consume mollusks, crustaceans, and pork byproducts on an around-the-clock, "I care, now please, won't you" basis. I needed to sit in the back of a Rolls-Royce at this point because it was all I could fit in. I love the way powerful electric motors pull the big rear-hinged rear doors closed at the touch of a discreet switch in the C-pillar. It's a surprise-and-delight feature that begins every tour of the Rolls we give. Happily, we knew most of what we had to know by the time we actually hit New Orleans, allowing us to cut straight to the chase. There are no losers in this comparison, only winners. Each car represents a different approach to luxury; each hints heavily at its particular line of German family values, with a slight British accent. We'd drive any one of them to our high school reunion. Hell, we like them so much, we'd even drive them to your high school reunion.

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