I live in Buffalo. This time of year it's cold, and miserable, and driver's side door of my car freezes and forces me to enter on the wrong side. It sucks. Therefore, in order to avoid said suckiness, my family and I decided to head out on vacation for a week. Problem was, we had a bit of a budget for this vacation, and airplane tickets are expensive. This meant that all the cool vacation resorts where they have dolphins and see-through water slides running through shark tanks were out of the question. Also out of the question was anything farther west than Texas, because, hey, teleportation isn't a thing yet. Therefore, in our bid to find a nice, warm vacation spot on the East Coast, we were limited to just one option. Florida
Now, I know that the very mention of that state is usually accompanied by a GIF of Bugs Bunny cutting the state off the Union. After all, it's that state where all the weird stuff happens. It's that crazy uncle that everybody laughs at but secretly feels uncomfortable around. It's..well… it's the type of place where people do inappropriate things along interstate highways and wonder "How hard is it to combine a Pontiac Grand Prix with a Ford Ranger?"
That being said, Florida is a fantastic place to own a car. Buffalo, on the other hand, is not. Before my vacation, the only C7 Corvettes that I'd seen were either being gawked at in an auto show or on a dealer lot under a foot of snow. I'd never even seen a Jag F type in the wild, and assumed that people must think they have the reliability of an XJS V12. On the other hand, I'm absolutely, 100% sure that the Ford F150 and Chevy Equinox are selling well.
However, in southern Florida, where sports cars are daily driven, there's enough of both the Jag and the 'vette that I got bored seeing them after a couple days. I literally took a walk around the block with a camera, and this is what greeted me:
And, quite honestly, I'm not lying when I say these cars get boring quickly. Fort Lauderdale's beach runs along a busy road, and everybody who thinks they're anybody cruises up and down this one strip in a vast array of supposedly ostentatious vehicles. However, when everyone in town and their parents all own F types , Bentley Continentals, Corvettes, and Ferrari F430s, only the really expensive cars get noticed. For example, here's a list of the exotic cars that I really, distinctly remember
-The first 458 I've ever seen
-The first Lamborghini Aventador I've ever seen
-The SLS AMG that was valet parked next to our rented Impala.
That's about it. Sure, I noticed the odd Lamborghini Gallardo or two, but my reaction was more along the lines of "Oh, cool, another Lamborghini," rather than "HOLY CRAP THAT'S A LAMBO OMG OMG OMG I'M NOT WORTHY TO TOUCH THE PAVEMENT THIS DROVE ON!!!" That's just what happens when the extraordinary becomes normal. When I first arrived in Florida, I only wanted to look at all the exotics I'd only seen on the internet. However, by my second day they were already as notable as the scores of Miatas and Hertz mustangs that roam the local roads.
However, the beautiful thing about Florida is that the weather is perfect, not only for exotics, but for all types of cars. This means that the entire population hasn't traded in some poor rust eaten 90s Honda for a Chevy Equinox, as is the case in American Canada. On the side streets and back lots of this beach town sit a plethora of faded, sunburnt icons, representing decades of motoring history. Take this old 5 series for example. It's not pretty up close- it's missing moldings, the paint probably hasn't been shiny since the Clinton Administration, and one of the doors is an off color black. Despite this, I found myself attracted to this car. Obscured by the ruined paint are the classic, understated BMW styling cues of the 80s, which look as gorgeous today as they did decades ago. Although infected with Arthritis, the characteristic driving experience of an 80's BMW is still probably retained to an extent as well. The faults of this car would likely deter me from making a Craigslist purchase, but sitting here, in the parking lot of some art deco high rise in Florida, the car couldn't be more perfect.
The thing is, all the local sports cars and exotics are exactly the same, because they live careful lives of regular maintenance, waxing, carwashes, and gentle sunshine. Whilst I applaud their owners, and agree with their choice to maintain a car worth more than my life, I simply can't draw any emotion from looking at yet another sterile Lamborghini Gallardo. The BMW, on the other hand, has fought its way through every bit of the twenty plus year's it's been on the road, and has a story tell from every discolored door panel and missing bit of trim. What those stories exactly are, I don't know. It is a car, after all, and I already tried asking it. My point is this car, this darling of the internet community, after a life of hard living, is now unique. There are many BMW 5 series out there, but there is only one that's exactly like this one. Only one of these modern classics has lived this exact life, and now roams the 50's-esque back alleys of this Florida town. For that reason, I found myself enamored by this old clunker of a car, and many others on the back end of the Florida Coast.
Obviously, those that live in Florida will not understand my logic, because they see cars like this daily. I don't. In Buffalo, these cars were all consumed by salt and a vicious climate not even a decade after hitting the streets. Or, so it goes in the upper middle class suburbs of the North. Even in some of the neighborhoods where these things still live on, they're so consumed by rust that they no longer age romantically, but rather, die a slow, painful death of terminal cancer.
So, in short, would I rather own a Lamborghini that that 5 series? Absolutely, 100% yes yes. Actually, truth be told I'd be much more excited to see the Lamborghini on the street back home too. However, at this moment, and in this setting, I'm absolutely in love with the BMW.
- I took a walk around town (really just about a couple block radius), and snapped anything that I really liked, then played with some filters. Below are the results.