Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hero Car

The BRZ turns out to be a great way to make friends. 

A couple of years ago I had the privilege of performing the break-in on a Nissan GT-R we were planning to work on at my shop.  The owner had it delivered to us directly from the dealership.  He didn't want us to run the car hard on the dyno with zero miles, so for a few weeks I drove the car back and forth to work, dropped the kid off at school, and ran errands in it, all the while varying my RPM as instructed in the owner's manual.

The most interesting thing about driving the GT-R during that time was the response from my fellow drivers.  People would pull along-side, wave, give "thumbs up" gestures.  Sometimes I would see people repeatedly looking in their rear-view mirrors.  One guy almost ran a stop sign while craning his neck to look at the car.  A mom at the grade-school morning kid drop-off said, "Is that the new Nissan GT-R?  I used to drive that car in Forza!"

Driving the BRZ around is like that experience all over again.  Every day I get stopped by people wanting to talk about the car.  There is a LOT of awareness of this car.  Driving out to Summit Point for HyperFest a couple of weeks ago, a couple in a Golf GTI (or Golf R, maybe?) both flashed the thumbs-up on their way past.  The other night I was taking some photos of the car and a jogger turned around and stopped to talk to me about it, still dripping sweat.  Today no fewer than three different people approached me, including one guy who pulled over in traffic to the side of the road to look at the parked BRZ.

Almost everyone who comes to ask about the car knows the basics -- that it's got a boxer engine, that's it's a joint venture with Toyota, that it's rear-wheel-drive.  They often ask if it's turbocharged, if there's going to be a higher-performance version, and if there is, if they should wait for that one.  (There probably will be a higher-performance version, but I suggest they not wait.) Sometimes they are surprised there are actually back seats, and then they laugh when they see how the front seats slide back to touch the rears.  They always comment on how good the car looks, and often they bring up the BRZ's spiritual ancestors, the Honda S2000 and the Mazda Miata.  One gentleman I spoke to today is in the process of selling his Miata, and is looking to buy a BRZ or FR-S.

I've learned that there are real car enthusiasts everywhere you go.  Sometimes it just takes a little something special to bring them out of the woodwork.

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