So, the reason that I was playing hooky Friday is because my dad got an invitation from Maserati of San Francisco, CA to drive their full line of cars!  I guess they made a mistake!  Apparently, we have $240,000 to throw at a Gran Turismo MC. . .One can only hope. . .Anyway, we went to the beautiful property of Raymond Winery in St. Helena, and started out in a smokin’ Royal Blue Maserati Gran Turismo.  Our driving route consisted of going pretty far up Sage Canyon from the Silverado Trail to Lake Hennessey, a local lake on the way up to Lake Berryessa.  On the first (of many) blind curves on the canyon, we almost hit some random guy in a Nissan Altima rental car dropping his girlfriend off (on a busy 2 lane road, on a blind curve).  I was in the front seat while my little sister, and the driving instructor were in the back (with next to no room).  My dad hit the brakes, downshifted with the paddle shifter and swerved.  All while hitting the horn.  Nice multi-tasking, dad!  As soon as we saw a good stretch of straight road, Jeff, our personal race driving instructor had my dad put the Gran Turismo in “Sport” mode.  Immediately, the car got much, much louder as a result of the exhaust opening up.  Then, we felt a tremendous power rush of both horsepower and torque.  We shot up to about 70 mph in about three seconds.  Then, there was a curve.  Even though the suspension of the Gran Turismo is mildly hard, the Gran Turismo MC is harder, yet rides as smooth, just with more road feel.

When we got back, we decided to take the Gran Turismo MC for a spin.  The MC is the fastest, most expensive, most powerful, and coolest stock Maserati to have ever been built.  The body is the same body used for the GT3 Racing Series.  This means that it has a LOT of carbon fiber.  The hood is hand-formed by a little old Italian guy singing an old opera (it’s true!).  The MC has a smooth, controlled ride, yet it has a track-tuned suspension.  Of course, if you own an MC, you can change the suspension setting with a screwdriver.  The MC makes 433 horsepower when it’s not in sport mode.  When it is in sport mode, it makes 444 horsepower, 357 lb-ft of torque, and gets loud enough to shatter an eardrum.  That’s the type of car the neighbors hate. . .When you get up to about 4500 RPMs, you feel a quite noticeable horsepower surge.  Once you get to that level of horsepower, it goes all the way up to 6,500 RPMs, before it downshifts.  When in manual mode, any gear will bring you up to redline and the fuel cutoff before the rev limiter brings the revs down, and upshifts.  On this drive, there were no crazy Nissan drivers, and we were able to go way, way past the speed limit.  We got to 90 mph before we slowed down for a turn.  Also, one cool feature that all the Maserati’s have is when you open or close a door, the window opens about an inch, so there is no vacuum as you open the door.  It’s automatically closes when you close the door.  Pretty cool, huh?

When we got back from our drive in the MC, we decided to take a ride in the Quattroporte GTS.  This has the 433 horsepower, 4.7 liter V8.  I was the one who convinced my dad to drive it, as my little sister’s and the driving instructor’s legs were most likely wanting some room for themselves.  So, I got in the front seat and got myself comfortable.  Then, my butt started hurting a bit.  I thought “I’ll just recline the seat back about an inch or so.”  The moment I put my hand on the little hand joystick thing, my seat started moving up and down, forward and backward, and reclining and other wacky things.  I, of course, freaked out.  I started hearing wild laughter from the back.  I looked back, and there were the driving instructor and my sister playing around with their own controls for MY seat!  The reason that there are controls for the shotgun seat is, when you’re being chauffeured, you can move the shotgun seat forward so your legs have more room.  Anyway, we had a lot of fun on the drive in the Quattroporte GTS and the other Maserati’s.

Here’s some pictures of the cars we drove.  The black sedan is the Quattroporte GTS, the Royal Blue coupe is the Gran Turismo, and the white car that looks like it’s ready to race is the Gran Turismo MC.  The Burgundy Red convertible is the Gran Turismo convertible.  My personal favorite, the Gran Turismo MC.  Why? It’s lovely lines that wouldn’t be out of place in a Rembrandt, it’s 187 mph top speed, and room for four adults.  Who couldn’t love it?

Here’s some words of wisdom from Dad:

“The first thing I realized when driving these awesome cars is that my son would be telling the world of my exploits – but, oh well!  Let’s just hope no Highway Patrol officers are reading this post.

After walking around the vehicle and admiring it’s beautiful craftsmanship, I settled into it’s luxurious seat and familiarized myself with the cockpit layout (very nicely designed, with everything easily readable).  After adjusting my seat,  steering wheel and mirrors, I fired up the sweet sounding engine.  After making sure everyone was buckled (and had said their prayers) I took off for the scenic rolling hills of Napa Valley.  Just to be sure I had a feel for the car’s performance (yeah, that must be the reason) I gunned it out of the driveway, accelerating to 70 mph in a few seconds.  Once everyone was breathing again, I crossed a narrow bridge with an oncoming truck (Jeff wasn’t too sure about that maneuver).  When we hit the Silverado Trail I opened it up a bit and then turned onto Sage Canyon (a road I’ve driven many times before).  Deciding to let the car open up may have been premature, as we immediately came upon the Nissan half off the road – no problem with the magnificent stopping power of 4 wheel Brembo brakes.  I used my time in the GT to get a feel for the road, knowing the best was yet to come.

The next ride was definitely the best.  Driving the Gran Turismo MC was incredible.  This car is perfectly balanced and transmits every piece of the road into your body without any sense of harshness.  After opening it up in sport mode, with it’s perfectly tuned exhaust, I reached Lake Hennessey in what felt like no time at all.  After turning around, I began shooting down the canyon.  Coming upon a steep downhill left-hand curve which immediately switches to a right-hand sharp curve, I noticed a series of long skid marks! Not to be deterred, I simply downshifted and used the engine to steer through in a smooth continuation of power – this car’s amazing!  What my son didn’t know was that Jeff later pulled me aside and admitted he was concerned when I entered that maneuver at 80 mph.  Definitely an amazing vehicle – I’ll take 2!

The Quattroporte GT S was all luxury.  My daughter enjoyed the limo like ride in the back (and messing with her brother’s seat).  For a sedan, there’s nice power, though you definitely feel the weight difference having just driven the GT MC.  Coming back down Sage Canyon, I noticed a glimmer from behind a tree in the distance ahead.  Fearing the worst (read CHP), I downshifted and slowed, only to discover a frightened gentleman checking his mailbox on the side of the road.  The glimmer was sunlight reflecting off his new catalog.  We all had a great laugh at his expense.”

Thanks, Dad! You’re a great guest blogger.

I’d like to give a special thank you to the amazing Raymond Winery staff and property.  Also, Maserati/Ferrari of San Francisco, CA deserves a HUGE thank you for letting my dad drive.  Plus, they do deserve an extremely large thank you from me and my sister for letting us come along.  I’d also like to give a personal thank you to Jeff for his patience and kindness to us.  Thank You!

10 thoughts on “I Caught Three Whoppers (NOT the candy…)

  1. Candler, sorry for the prior cryptic message. I was having some WordPress login issues and was having trouble leaving a message. Seems to be fine now.
    Anyway, what a dream come true! It must be nice to have friends in high places and in “fast” places too! And to think that on Friday all I was doing was getting my picture taken with Jacque Pepin. 🙂

  2. Sounds like a dream come true! You and Dad getting driving fast lessons, and Coco learning all about being chauffered!
    Cynthia

  3. I AM JEALOUS !

    Candler, I know that you were being careful in your blog, but really – did your Dad let you drive those cars? Did you practice your “drifting skills” – Seriously – you can tell me !

    What a great adventure.

  4. You must have had the time of your life! Now you just have to convince your parents that a Gran Turismo is safer than a 1982 Chevy S-10.

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