The concept of a sleeper is clear, and admirable in theory. The driver gets a car that can haul ass, but on the outside it looks no more special than your standard commuter car. No hood scoops, no special badges, black paint please, and a reasonable tint are the tools of the trade.

After two years of owning a relatively sleepy Mazdaspeed 3 I have come to love and hate what comes along with owning a sleeper. Let me lay out my pros and cons and I will leave it to you all to decide if I am crazy.


+ Absolute anonymity. With a car like this you blend in like a charm. With its tint and debadged rear, no one, and I mean NO ONE knows what is special about the car. This includes cops. This is a very good thing. Having this car in black buys you the benefit of doubt with police. In a pack of cars, they will not focus on the black wagon which may or may not be going a little faster than the rest.


+ People think you are an adult. Let's be honest, the big wings and hood scoops on an STI or Evo send a certain signal to the world. None of those signals are that of maturity. A good sleeper works just as well outside of a fancy restaurant as it does the local AutoX.



- No one thinks that the car is special. Unless you really know your stuff as a gearhead you cannot tell a 1st Gen MS3 from your typical Mazda 3. Unless you get a good glimpse of the wheels or happen to spot the rear spoiler it is tricky to identify one.


"But Nerd, I thought that was what you wanted?"

Well, sort of. Problem is, with a special car the vain part of me wants the world to know that the car is special. Having to explain why the car gets poor milage, or why it is so noisy, or why the ride is bumpy gets old. With a an Evo or STI the world looks at it and understands why it is noisy and brash. Even better with an Evo or STI is the onlooker probably thinks, "I bet that thing goes fast." The week before I got the MS3 I needed a rental, so I happened to pick up a Camaro in black. I have never driven a car cooler than that. The car got smiles, waves, questions and attention. It was fantastic and makes me understand why the pony car revival has been a success.


As I have grown older I have found that having to explain what you own is annoying and makes you feel like a snob or a prick. Why? To some people it smacks of arrogance. In their minds I am saying, "well of course you don't know that the car is fast, you don't know your stuff" when I try to explain the vehicle.

I know this is the greatest example of a 1st world problem, but I just wanted to share my observations from the past few years.


So am I crazy? Has anyone had a similar experience?