May 12, 2014

One of the unfortunate realities of the exotic car rental business (actually, any car-related business) is that from time to time, the vehicles get banged-up. Until the laws of physics change or we’re all in Google-powered self-driving cars, pictures like the above will continue to be a shocking reminder that although you can feel like you’ve got superpowers when you’re behind the wheel of a Ferrari or Lamborghini, your powers are still grounded here on earth.

(We’re glad to say that nobody was injured in the unplanned making of the above.)

It’s actually a testament to the quality of engineering of the current crop of modern-day vehicles that even in some of the worst-possible crashes, the occupants are able to walk away unscathed. But let’s keep those tests to a minimum, shall we?

In the spirit of healthy reminders about the limits of driving, we’ve put together the following list of safety tips to keep in mind when getting behind the wheel of your dream car:

* Know the limits - both yours and the car’s - You wouldn’t feel comfortable taking a tight corner at 60mph in a Honda Accord, right? Just because a Ferrari 458 Italia could handle it doesn’t mean you should try. There are factors at play other than the car’s capabilities - things related to your perception, your familiarity with the road, etc., and when you’re driving beyond the limit, it’s easier to lose control. So stay within your comfort zone.

* Be sure you understand shifting dynamics - The balance of a car can change dramatically when gears change, especially if the shift is jerky or out-of-place. Manual-transmission (“stick shift”) cars are most prone to this (the dreaded “missed shift” - when a driver thinks he’s upshifting but actually downshifts). A wrong shift at the wrong point of a turn can easily take a car out of control. So be sure you’re familiar with how to properly and safely shift gears.

* Buckle Up - It should go without saying that seat belts save lives and are there for your protection. We’re actually still shocked at how many folks resist buckling up when getting behind the wheel - either because they think it’s uncool or uncomfortable. But the data is there - wearing a seatbelt reduces the risk of injury by 50% (or more)

* Watch out for other drivers - When you’re driving an exotic car, other drivers will often treat you like a celebrity. That can be fun, but that can also be dangerous - drivers will sometimes cut across traffic and ignore other cars on the road to get a photo of your car. So be aware that your car isn’t the only risk factor, and keep your eyes peeling for aggressive driving elsewhere on the road.

Here are some other members of our “greatest hits” collection (with backstory) to help serve as a healthy reminder to both Drive Famous and Safely.

This was the first car in GDC history to see the junkyard - our beloved 2004 Lamborghini Gallardo took a hit on Christmas Day 2004. The driver (who was not hurt) reported driving along a - gulp - snowy road when another car pulled in front of him. Lesson learned: A Lamborghini has great brakes, but no car can defeat a wet, slushy, traffic-filled holiday road.

This is our beloved Ford GT - a wonderful car that we still miss today - after a renter somehow managed to lose control on a sunny stretch of I-95 in Florida. We're still not sure how it happened, but when we asked the customer whether the car was drivable, his response was "Well, I'd try, but the battery is on the other side of the highway." Even in perfect conditions, the car can get the best of you.

And last but not least - a lesson in stick-shift driving: Our first Porsche 911 GT3 saw its untimely demise when a customer shifted from 5th to 2nd (he was aiming for 6th). Porsches are notoriously tail-heavy and the missed shift put ours into a wall. The driver - whose ego was the only thing bruised - said he'd stick to automatics from then on.

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