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The Test Drive

The Test Drive

There are two things you don’t want to let me do—dance with your wife … or test drive your car. Neither of them will come back to you the same way they left you. I am looking for a Porsche … a Boxster S to be specific (I want the extra horsepower and the six-speed). I also want good sound. (Can you blame me?) So I bring three things to a test drive: cash (a spread in hundreds is very hard to resist), comfortable shoes, and a CD … Chick Corea’s “My Spanish Heart.”

Ding-Dong … “Hey.” (Hand out.) “I called about the car.” (Hand shake). “So do you have the service records?” “Any accidents?” (I crawl under the car at four points, inspect the brakes through the spokes, measure the tire depth, pull the dip stick, and check the color and smell of the oil.) “ Have the keys? ... Here are mine. I’ll be right back.” Out to Route 18 …  New Jersey Turnpike exit 9 and head south to 8a. I know these roads well. The CD is in and the drive begins—“Armando’s Rumba” on repeat. Oh! ... the empty tight right hand curve on a Saturday afternoon accelerating on the ramp … mid-engine balance … I am in heaven. I am not here for the straight road, I am here for the ramps … running fast…. Exit 8a is a sweeping S and is a good test, as will be the sharp (but illegal) U-turn before the toll booths. Now the Boxster has the tachometer between your hands, and the speedometer is covered by your left arm, so you really don’t know how fast you are going … and that is as it should be. A true driver’s car. Sweetly and deftly, she moved through the alternating turns. I cannot push this car hard enough … she just slips her little dance … the Rumba … through the turn… and she didn’t even chirp in the 180 degrees of the U-turn. Not a roll … not a complaint—only Armando, the road and me … and I was the limiting factor, not her. Back to exit 9 with a quick run through the ramps of the rest area. The wind made a wreck of my hair as I remembered my old 914…. My neck and shoulders were uncharacteristically relaxed as I handed Sushill back his keys. “I will call you.” We shake. I’m gone. Lovely. Too bad it’s silver …

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