If you are like most car enthusiasts, your true dream car falls into one of two types: muscle cars or high-end exotic cars. Since the dawn of the auto industry, men and women have challenged each other on the open road, eager to build it bigger, faster and more powerful than ever before. Of course, power and luxury come at a price, and in today’s economy many of us simply cannot justify the expense of buying our dream cars. Fortunately, there are several ways to experience your dream ride without making the investment in an exotic car of your own.
If you are planning a trip to Las Vegas, Miami, New York City or another luxury destination, why not splurge on a high-end ride for the weekend? The travel industry is hurting badly in today’s economy, resulting in some truly amazing flight and hotel deals. With all that money saved on travel and lodging, it is easy to justify a rental car that will make you feel like a true high roller. Gotham Dream Cars and Dream Car Rentals are just two of the many rental agencies that specialize in exotic rides like the Ferrari F430 Spider and the ever-popular Porsche 911.
Make sure you read the fine print before committing to a rental contract. Most exotic rental car agencies require all drivers to be at least 25 years old, although some will allow younger drivers for an additional fee. Exotic car contracts usually limit the mileage per day or per week, with a very hefty charge for each additional mile. You also need to be certain that you select full insurance coverage, as many regular insurers will not cover specialty cars.
Be especially cautious when renting an exotic car overseas. Driving laws are often quite different than those with which you are familiar. Pick up an international driving permit before you leave home, and check into traffic laws in your destination. Depending on the country, you may be required to drive with your low beams on at all times, carry emergency flares or maintain a particular level of insurance on the car. Also keep in mind that in some countries you are expected to pay traffic fines on the spot, while in other places this will get you arrested for bribery.
If you would rather have your choice of luxury car available where and when you want it, why not consider joining a fractional ownership club? The equivalent of time share for cars, fractional ownership clubs are popping up all over the country.
For maximum flexibility, look for a club that has numerous locations around the country and operates on a point-based system. This will allow you to reserve any car in your point bracket at any location, rather than being tied to a specific model or a specific “home” area.
Prices and structure vary widely between clubs, but some general guidelines apply. You will need to pay a one-time initiation fee along with an annual membership fee. Your annual fee will provide you with a certain number of points that can be redeemed for car rental days. Each car is assigned a point value per rental day. There is usually a system in place for purchasing additional points, which can get you a higher-value car or more rental days during the year.
Take In a Driving Experience
Driving experiences are becoming highly popular around the world. Sponsored by the major exotic car manufacturers such as Ferrari and Porsche, as well as by independent auto clubs, these events provide a wonderful chance to learn to drive an exotic car under the guidance of experts.
Depending on the experience that you choose, you might find yourself tackling an icy winter course in Canada, zipping around hairpin turns in the German mountains or attempting to break speed records on a Formula One track in the parking lot of Disney’s Magic Kingdom.
Driving experiences are available for virtually every exotic car and race car you could imagine. Your available time and budget will determine the length of your experience, from an afternoon to several days. Available experiences run the gamut from speed to winter driving to advanced technical maneuvers. If you prefer to leave the driving to someone else, many courses offer ride-along experiences in which you will ride with a professional driver.
Consider a Lease Buy-Back
If you will be traveling in Europe for an extended period of time, you may be able to enjoy the car of your dreams at a price much lower than a standard rental. The lease buy-back program was started as a means of avoiding the astronomical VAT (value added tax) on new cars in Europe. Here’s how it works.
A brand new car is leased to a tourist from outside Europe. The length of the lease can be anywhere from 17 days to six months. The deal is carried by the leasing agency, so all you have to pay is the lease fee, which is usually a lot lower than a comparable rental. At the end of the lease period, you return the car which is now “used.” It is then sold to a European buyer as a used car, bypassing the heavy VAT.
If you are a luxury or exotic car enthusiast who simply can’t justify paying for a high-end car of your own, why not try out one or more of the above options? Whether you rent a car for the weekend or join a fractional ownership club, there is no reason not to enjoy the car of your dreams.