The Worst Car I’ve Ever Driven Is One Devil Of A Machine

     Quite a few people ask me about cars that I’ve driven; some even base their purchases on explanations I’ve given from my experience driving any given car. Maybe I should start a business and charge for car advice; the Dr. Phil of cars…call it Dr. Gil. Anyway, enough bullshit. Let me tell you about the absolute WORST car I’ve ever driven: the Lamborghini Diablo.

     When I was 18, I was a lot-boy at a local exotic car dealership. My job was to organize cars on the lot and wash them. There was a wash bay on the side of the building that I would drive cars into and give them a good inside-out wash and detail. It was quite an enjoyable summer job. After washing and drying each car, I would drive them on this road, maybe a half-mile long, that went around the dealership’s property to “get all the left-over water out,” or at least that’s what I told my boss. Well, the day finally came where I got to drive a Lamborghini. Having driven a Ferrari - an F430 to be exact - prior to this, I was eager to finally have a chance to compare the the two and voice my opinion in one of the biggest rivalries in the automotive industry. First up was a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder E-Gear that we had for sale. I drove it to the bay, washed it and then drove it on the road that circled our dealership. Although the road is not long at all, it honestly takes no more than 2 minutes to truly tell how a car feels; I don’t care what anyone says. First impressions: it felt heavy and stiff; mostly due to the four-wheel drive system. I didn’t like it, but I didn’t hate it. It just wasn’t as exciting as the F430. Going through my list of cars to wash that day, I stumbled upon my next victim: a yellow Lamborghini Diablo VT Roadster. This was the quintessential Lamborghini of its day so, obviously, it was supposed to be amazing, right? Um….no. Not at all.

      Open up the scissor door and you feel like a rockstar before you even climb in; which, by the way, is no easy task. Although the scissor door concept LOOKS cool and adds more drama than Hans Zimmer’s music does to any movie, it’s very unpleasant. Getting in, I hit my head on the corner of the door, so now I’m upset and mad at this car before I even turn it on. After getting in and getting myself situated, I close the door and get my seat belt on. Traditionally, the seat belt for the driver in a normal car is over the left shoulder and the seat belt for the passenger is over the right shoulder. In the Lamborghini Diablo, this is reversed, and surprisingly unsettling. The seats are not comfortable at all. I’ve had more comfort on the cold metal bleachers of my high school football field. The seating position isn’t too prime either. The dash is very long from where the gauge cluster starts to where the dash meets the windshield; this is also unsettling. So far, nothing about this car is comfortable. Push in the clutch to start the engine and the clutch pedal is very soft. Turn the key and the car roars to life; finally,the first pleasant experience from this car. I drive the Diablo a few feet to the wash bay and give it a good scrub and detail. After drying it, it was time to take it for a quick spin around the complex. That’s where the fun began; or so I thought.

     Taking off was weird; the clutch, although very soft, had virtually no travel before engaging. The engine grunted and roared, but seemed very, very sluggish. Aren’t large V-12s supposed to have a lot of torque? This made me think otherwise. First turn is a 90-degree right-hander. The steering on the Diablo is stiffer than my father’s Ford F-250 Super Duty. It was bad; really bad. On the straight, I redlined first gear and attempted (that’s a key word) to shift into second gear. Is it normal to have to use two hands to shift a car into the next gear? I didn’t think so. I kept it in first and approached the next corner. “Maybe the car’s just cold,” I thought to myself. I completed my lap around our building and got the “okay” from a salesman to take it around again. I obliged and tried to get it to warm up. Still, the steering was atrociously heavy and the gear shift was nearly impossible to operate; although I did manage to get it into second gear with nearly all of my effort. I completed the short drive and parked the car in the showroom.

     Now, I’ve always been in favor of cars that are involving to drive and make the driver work to get its full performance, but this was on a whole different level of bad. Driver involvement is not supposed to mean “get your week’s workout in five minutes behind the wheel.” I got out of the Diablo (and hit my head yet again on that God-awful scissor door) and looked at it and thought, “People actually paid good money for this?” A pleasant experience this was not.

     The head hanchos over at Lamborghini really got the name, “Diablo,” right for this car. The car, visually, is very tempting and evokes certain emotions of power and aggression that very few other cars can. But once you get in and experience it, it truly is the automotive equivalent of Hell.

 


McLaren P1 Invades Death Valley

     I do quite a few photoshoots each year; but it seems that every year, there’s one “destination” style photoshoot in which I travel to some iconic location to photograph a legendary car. In 2012, it was the Ferrari F40 at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. In 2013, it was the Ferrari 458 Spider in San Francisco, California. In 2014 it was the Porsche 959 in the forest just outside Santa Cruz, California. For 2015, not even a month into the new year, I photographed a McLaren P1 in Death Valley. This was a car I had been wanting to photograph for a very, very long time; and to do so in one of the most mesmerizing and photogenic locations in the United States was an opportunity that will never be forgotten. The combination of car and location looked like something straight out of a science fiction movie. 

     We drove to Death Valley on a Saturday in our support vehicle; arriving at around 3pm. Several hours passed as we scouted for locations, marking potential photo locations on our GPS. Soon after, the sun had set. We grabbed dinner and finally received a text from a transporter that the P1 was finally here. It was just passed 8pm when the car was unloaded. The sky was clear and shined brightly as an array of stars and a full moon lit up the stark desert floor. Certain angles and curves were accented as the metallic finish of the Volcano Orange paint glistened in the moon shine of the night; the McLaren P1 looked like a UFO as its low-slung stance crept through the valley to our first photo location - Devil’s Cornfield. The full moon and dazzling display of stars made for great conditions for night shots of the P1. Every angle of this car under the light of the moon made me weak in the knees. We wrapped up our night shoot just after 10pm and headed back to our hotel. We needed rest as the day that followed would be a long and exhausting one with a full day of shooting starting at sunrise. 

     Five hours of sleep was all that we managed before we had to pack up and head out to catch the sunrise in Death Valley. We took the P1 to Badwater Basin, about 17 miles outside of Furnace Creek, to conduct our sunrise shoot. We positioned the car on the road, mile-marker 16 to be exact, and set up as the sky turned from black to magenta as the sun began to rise. Not a sound could be heard except for the flash of my strobe and the release of my shutter. It was eerie how quiet it was that morning. I guess that’s all part of the mystique that Death Valley has to offer. About an hour later, the sun had risen and we headed back to get some breakfast and plan out the rest of our day. We stopped at Devil’s Cornfield again to grab some day-time shots. Miscellaneous photo locations presented themselves to us as we drove the P1 through the desert. Everywhere we went people looked, waved and stopped to get a glance of this foreign creature of a car. 

     One of the main goals of this photo trip was to get shots of the P1 on Artist’s Drive during the late afternoon and sunset. Artist’s Drive is a one-way road that twists and winds its way through Artist’s Canyon. It truly looks like you’re on a different planet when you navigate through the mountainous landscape. With our support truck behind us to keep traffic at bay, we headed into the canyon at around 3pm. For the next 90 minutes, we scrambled to get as many photos as possible; the location and car were so photogenic, it was damn near impossible not to get a good photo. We hit the highway again at around 6pm to get some last-minute sunset photos before loading the P1 back into the transporter and saying goodbye. We were exhausted, filthy and worn out; but overjoyed with our results. 

     The day after was spent driving back home and talking about our photo trip and our time with P1. It’s an incredible car. One that truly redefines the supercar; just like Ferrari did with the F40 back in 1987. The P1 will be an icon for as long as the automobile lives - a new footprint in the evolution of the automotive industry. The P1 has made me think twice about this hybrid technology in a supercar. It’s like nothing else out there. I cannot wait for many more photoshoots with the P1 in the future. Until then, enjoy the photos from our time in Death Valley.

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