There are 6 cars parked on the grass outside the Fallsview Hotel in Ellenville, NY at noon on a Saturday, but no one’s saying “Get off my lawn!”. That’s understandable, though, when the cars have names like Ferrari and Lamborghini. In a few minutes, a gang of auto nuts who’ve paid $1450 each will pile in and blast down the highway in a caravan costing, collectively, about $2.5 million.
I’ll be joining ‘em courtesy of World Class Driving, a company offering the experience of driving some of the most exclusive cars in the world on scenic highways all over America and Europe.
We shan’t blast down the highway, however. Owner Jean Paul Libert explains we are to drive skillfully, gently and professionally. These are roads, not a track. (Lest you think Mr. Libert is a nervous panty-waist, rest assured he is as down to earth as his cars are hi-falutin’; before the end of the day, he will turn his back and urinate on a tree in full view of the assemblage, who have no official place to pee…)
We gather in front of the cars for photos, then Libert calls out which participants are to take a turn in which car.
“Max, Lamborghini!” he calls. (That’s a statement you don’t hear every day.) I squeeze into the Gallardo, everyone buckles up, and off we go, gently down the highway. It’s rather like asking King Kong to thread a needle.
Here are some of my impressions of a day at the races, during which we changed cars every 30 minutes or so.
Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera 640 HP V12 Top speed: 202 MPH
A snarling jewel of a sports car, my orange tester is low and heavy, obviously more a track that a street car. It’s got a felt dash with stylish orange stitching, and the ceramic brakes grab like a bear trap.
Ferrari 599 GTB 620 HP V-12 Top speed: 205 MPH
The poster child for exotics, it’s the loudest of the bunch and handles as a Ferrari should, carving up corners and blasting off at the slightest provocation. It’s also comfortable inside, unlike some exotics.
Callaway C16 580 HP V8 Supercharged Top speed: 200 MPH
I’m a little prejudiced in this ride; it is a modified Vette, after all, and like a Vette, it’s all over the road. The interior’s massively upped in quality, though, and acceleration is dynamite.
Maserati Gran Turismo 400 HP V8 Top speed 177 MPH
This one has the best-looking interior, bathed in red leather, and it’s easily the plushest Mas I’ve ever driven. Outside, it’s somewhat less of a screamer than the other cars, but it was one of the best handlers of the day.
Mercedes SLR McLaren 626 HP V8 Top Speed: 205 MPH
Far and away the best-looking, rawest, most explosive and dangerously thrilling ride of the day. Step on it and a seeming nuclear blast sends you from zero to a zillion.
Bottom line? If you’ve got exotic dreams but a domestic champagne budget, World Class Driving can make you king of the road for a day.