The $300,000 Question: A real-world test of the Everyday Driver Philosophy
As a car fanatic since childhood, I’ve been able to get behind the wheel of just about everything.
And as the years tick by and more cars pass through my hands, whether for test drives or ownership, it’s interesting how many cars start to feel the same. Many of the current five and seven-seat crossovers are the worst offenders. Blindfold me, and I can tell the difference, but homogenization is a real thing in many segments of the industry. Occasionally there are stand-outs like the Mazda CX-5 or the Kia Telluride and you can't help but always recommend them because they really are just that good.
And then there are the exceptional cars. The special cars — or so the internet calls them. Not long ago, I had the great pleasure of taking out a brand-new, $300,000 Lamborghini Huracan, and it was as thrilling as you would expect a Lamborghini Huracan to be. Everything about it is an event. From the press of the red engine start button to the high-pitched wail of the V10 directly behind your back, the Huracan was just so cool. And, of course, people loved it. They stare, snap photos, gather, and think you’re cooler — or more full of yourself — than you are.
Utah’s supercar scene is, somewhat surprisingly, extremely robust. Recently, I helped host the largest supercar show of the year in Utah, and with over 150 supercars in attendance, we ran out of room at our venue. Of the 50 - 60 million dollars of cars in attendance, there were several exceptionally rare exotics, including a one of two McLaren HDK P1, a Porsche Gunther Werks 400r, a new Ford GT, Lamborghini Aventador SVJs, and many more. There would have been two Bugatti Chirons, but they had been recently sold.
It was nuts.
Thousands attended that night, and it was undeniably a special experience for all who came — especially the young kids. No doubt many of those kids left inspired to work hard and achieve their dreams.
However, the question that stays with me after events like this is, “Is this $300,000 Huracan, or Ferrari, or whatever, really $270,000 more fun than something like a BRZ or a $10,000 Miata?
The honest answer from someone who’s driven them is, no. They’re not.
Cool? Absolutely. Sexy? So much so. But, here’s the thing: you’ll never be able to fully stretch their legs -- at least not safely or legally. They're fun for short bursts on the freeway onramp and then … you’re trapped within the confines of the law and social responsibility. Add in a healthy dose of fear of something breaking or a $60,000 replacment for those awesome carbon-ceramic brakes, and suddenly the mental image of being the coolest guy in the neighborhood starts to have a very real financial and emotional weight to it. So you don’t drive it. You park it, only taking it out on rare canyon drives when the rest of your supercar buddies are taking theirs out, so you can look cool together.
This is why Everyday Driver’s approach to car debates and reviews is so brilliant, especially with pieces featuring cheap sports cars, their freshly acquired GR86, and other “high-value” cars. While it’s fun to fantasize about rolling up to your friend's house in a Lamborghini, the truth is it just may not be worth the $300,000 if what you’re after is the fun of driving. A possible exception is the Porsche lineup right now. While prices have crept up — a lot — recently, they’re still just so impressive, without a lot of the exotic baggage.
It’s for this reason that after owning more than 20 cars and driving dozens more, my old BRZ is still one of my favorite cars. It’s so fun to wring out — and it’s cheap! Bonus! It’s the same reason that cars like the Kia Telluride and Mazda CX-5 are so good — they do so many things very well, and in many instances better than much more expensive competitors.
It’s not that I’m opposed to spending good money on cars, either. If I had $130,000 I would without hesitation buy a 2022 Mercedes-Benz S580. I got to spend several hundred miles with one recently and it was like being on a vacation every time I started it and basked in its acres of ambient lighting. It was an exceptional experience — and one I would happily pay for if my expensive teaching hobby paid more.
Money no object, sure, wear out that Enzo. I know a guy who’s put over 90,000 miles on his Enzo and loved every second of it.
But, do you need that exotic to have fun? Does a supercar equate to THE MOST FUN you can have on the road? Probably not. Just because a car is more expensive, more powerful, the fastest, etc., does not necessarily mean it’s that much more fun, enjoyable, etc. than something you can rip around in on the cheap -- and without the financial and mental baggage that comes with it.
About the author: Having owned everything from a DeLorean to an E46 BMW M3 and a Toyota Land Cruiser, Jason Bell is a lifelong car enthusiast who loves sharing his passions as a teacher, writer, speaker, and social media manager. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org for comments/questions, or just to say "hi."
The views and opinions expressed here are my own and may not align with the founders of Everyday Driver.