My personal dream world is a utopia where the owners of enthusiast cars all know how to drive properly and fully understand the mechanical aspects of their automobiles. A recent family trip to Chicago reminded me of just how far away my dream world is from the real one.
The reminder came during a visit to Gold Coast Auto Gallery on N. Rust Street in downtown Chicago, a tightly packed dealership that reminded me of the parking garage scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I kept thinking about one particular line from that scene as I walked amongst the glitzy cars and high-end watches peddled by sales people wearing shiny suits, pointy shoes, and slicked-back hair — “You fellas have nothing to worry about, I’m a professional.”
The company’s website continues the theme, further reinforcing that owning an exotic in the city is all about one thing — image. “Gold Coast is home to some of the most valuable vehicles in the world,” notes the site. Further down, the page reads, “Lifestyle is something we take very seriously.” I’m sure they do.
Image aside, there isn’t much point to fielding exotics inside a city like Chicago. Not only is there no room for them to properly stretch their legs, America’s crater-filled urban roads are potentially hazardous to their health. Especially in Midwestern cities like Chicago that suffer from harsh winters. Some of the tarmac trenches we saw in the Windy City were large enough to swallow a Smart car, and the large, lightweight wheels that get fitted on cars like the Ferrari 488 and Lambroghini Aventador are neither durable nor cheap.
Another issue involves parking. Where do you leave low-slung sports cars? Curbs on many streets are extremely tall, making it impossible to open conventional doors. Maneuvering around a confined parking ramp is in a wide exotic isn’t exactly easy, either. Sure, you can valet the top-spec metal and get preferred parking, but many places don’t offer much room — if any — to leave a car.
My suggestion to urban-dwelling exotic owners is this: either sell them or spot them at a nearby country club-style race track like the Autobahn Country Club. Located about an hour outside of downtown Chicago, the facility offers many exotic storage options and will even store proper race cars. Owners can then enjoy their cars on the track as well as nearby roads that aren’t full of traffic or cursed with mortar-holed pavement. Then get an appropriate SUV — say a Bentley Bentayga — for the daily commute.
Maybe Aston Martin was onto something after all when it created the Toyota (Scion) iQ-based Cygnet. The leather-lined Aston Smartin makes a hell of a lot more sense in the city than a One-77.