In 1968 my dad graduated from MIT with a PhD in Nuclear Engineering. My dad, mom, two sisters and I packed up what little we had and took an ocean liner across the Atlantic to settle in Ispra, a small town in Northern Italy on the shores of Lago Maggiore. My dad had taken a two-year assignment for a post-doctoral fellowship at Euratom. We lived in a four-room house and drove a red 1968 VW bus. It was so aerodynamically impure I really don’t think it would have done a 100 MPH in free fall.
We cruised as far as we could go every weekend in the ‘magic bus’, and spent many miles on the Italian Autostrada. The Autostrada is a cousin to the German Autobahn, with at least two notable differences in 1968-1970 – the German road was in much better shape than its Italian counterpart, and (sorry Porsche and BMW) there was always the opportunity to catch a 200+ KPH dogfight between a Ferrari Dino and Lamborghini Miura on the Autostrada.
The other set of vivid memories that are pertinent here are attending the 1969 Grand Prix of Monaco and 1969 Grand Prix of Italy while there – Jackie Stewart, Jochen Rindt, Bruce McLaren, Jackie Ickx. So there was a visceral relationship with autos at a young age.
Growing up, I was never a motorhead. I had a lot of friends that were. None of us were super well off, nor were our parents, so we dreamed more than drove. My history of cars is modest, with a general trajectory of ascending in type and quality – VW Scirocco, VW Jetta, VW Golf, 1967 Mercedes 230 SL, and BMW 525 – that’s it. The Mercedes co-existsed with the Golf and BMW for awhile because of reliability. But boy was that a sweet car – it had this extreme simplicity of material and proportion about it that was exceptionally beautiful. And a shortwave radio that would pick up south American soccer matches on the right night – who needs the internet!
Fast forward to present. I have followed Tesla for a couple years, reserved 2/1/2012, and had the car delivered January 9, 2013, VIN 3143. Importantly, we have a 2012 model year which some did not want expecting resale to be higher on 2013s. The heck with the resale, I want to be part of history! it’s history!
So, what do I think about the car…
The dynamic performance is exceptional. It’s response so instantaneous, so limitless in feel. You sense the absence of waste with the Model S – nothing feels gratuitous. It really reminds me of an exceptional athlete – when you see one you understand fluidity and economy of motion – everything channeled for powerful performance. Think Bo Jackson at his peak, Lebron James – they were/are simply athletically superior. Then think Wayne Gretzky or Edwin Moses in their primes, athletes that were staggeringly better than the next best competitors – my friends, that is the Tesla Model S.
I have given about a dozen people rides this weekend, and 3 or 4 of them have said, “This is the future of cars, isn’t it?” (Tesla Grin). I have literally laughed every time I drive by a gas station. Once my son and I looked at a guy with a BMW filling up looking at us and after we passed we said to each other, “Sucka!”
I do need to be careful, I feel a sense of smugness creeping in, a feeling of having beaten just about every one except a few thousand of you to the punch. That’s not good, we need to be ambassadors, and we won’t sway some potential customers with an uppity attitude – OK, I’m trying.
My wife drove the car for a couple days before I got home from a trip. When she called the first night I asked her if she wanted to reserve a Model X now. Previously, she was non-commital to the whole thing. Her emphatic reply was, “YES!” My daughter, who thinks I’m obsessed, texted me that same night and wrote, “I love the Tesla.” My son has vaulted to rock star status with his 5th grade friends – they were all sending photos around all weekend. He asked if would let him drive it in 6 years when he turns 16!
It’s really the Spock of cars – it knows what I want to do before I do it.
Maybe the batteries will fry, perhaps the Pano roof will leak, or maybe the touchscreen will freeze every day. I doubt it.
We’ve turned the corner, we are NEVER going back.