Diary: July 2006

Is the Elise exotic or not? What happens when you show up at a gathering of Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and other exotics?

Southern California has such a gathering at a mall. Hundreds of cars show up and many rare antiques, exotics, and race cars appear. Northern California wanted to do something similar and so there was a move to meet at Santa Row, a new mall in San Jose. I decided to see what was happening.

The expected Ferraris appeared, including an Enzo and a Stradale. The Lamborghinis showed, including the new topless wonders. There were some nice older cars like an Aston Martin DB5 and a Lotus Elan (Kiyoshi). And we were there with several Elises.

There was a group of Minis parked to the side and there were some nice BMW M3, M6, and an 850 parked in the next lot over. A Crossfire and some unusual motorcycles were also in the next lot over. I got to wondering what it takes to park in the main lot? Is it money? The Elise does not qualify. Is it a culture, like the Mini has acquired? The Elise may qualifiy here. Or did the cognicenti look at the Elise as an interloper?

I remember thinking about what constitutes an exotic car when I owned an NSX. I saw editorials at the timem that wondered the same thing. The Ferrari has its unique shift gate and requires the driver to overcome that difficulty. The Lamborghini steers like a truck, and requires the driver to overcome that difficulty. Each exotic has some challenge that requires the driver to overcome, as part of a rite of passage, and because the manufacturer refuses to make any consessions in exchange for less performance. The NSX was known for not making any consessions and yet not setting any challenges for the driver, putting its exotic-ness into question.

The Elise certainly puts some challenges into their cars, including rough ride, loud noises, and no cup holders. But it hardly costs anything, at least relative to the rest of the exotics. I do not know the answer, but I know I feel embarassed to park in the main lot. I park to the side of the main lot.