Question Of The Day: Who Gets To Drive Your Car?

Doug DeMuro
by Doug DeMuro

About a year ago, I posted this video online that showed a wide range of people – friends, acquaintances, strangers, toddlers – driving my Ferrari. And the video caused kind of a sensation, and everyone got kind of excited, but mostly people just thought I was insane.

“You let all these people drive your FERRARI?” people would say, incredulously, as if my used Ferrari had never been driven by anyone before. “What if they crashed it?!”

The people who thought I was especially crazy were the guys on the Ferrari forums. “Never buy Doug DeMuro’s used car,” I would read, from guys who bought their 1983 308 GTSi in 2012. “OTHER PEOPLE have driven it.”

I didn’t think there was very much risk. In fact, I sat in the passenger seat as these people drove my car, and the thing I came away understanding is that everyone is incredibly cautious when they drive someone else’s Ferrari. So while I’m sitting behind the wheel, texting and eating sandwiches, they’re one step away from getting out of the car at a stop light to make sure they stopped the perfect distance behind the crosswalk.

I had a similar experience recently when I purchased a right-hand drive Nissan Skyline GT-R, imported straight from Japan, which makes me JDM Tyte, yo. I’ve already let several people climb behind the wheel, and each were very surprised that a) I allowed them to drive my new car, and b) pushing the turn signal activated the wipers.

But once again, I didn’t really mind. What’s the point of having a fun car if you aren’t going to share it? I know, I know, some people like to look at their cars, and keep them pristine, and polish them, and keep miles off the odometer. But in both cases, these were used cars; cars that have undoubtedly been driven by dozens of people over the years, and not anywhere near as carefully as my friends drive while I keep a watchful eye from the passenger seat.

In fact, I have generally maintained a very liberal policy about driving most of my cars over the years. Once I know you well enough, you’re more than welcome to climb behind the wheel, fire it up, and see just how much fun it is to pretend – for just a moment – that whatever used vehicle I owned that month was your own giant money pit.

Many car enthusiasts, however, do not feel the same way. On the contrary, I’ve noticed that a wide range of car enthusiasts take a No one drives my cars attitude to automobile ownership. So much, in fact, that a lot of enthusiasts refuse to let even their own spouse – a person with access to passwords, and banking information, and the knife drawer – climb behind the wheel of their vehicle, for fear of damage.

The main reason, of course, is that we are all worried someone might drive too hard, or too fast, or too inattentively, and then our pride and joy will be smashed up, and we’ll be left with a tricky insurance situation. What happened? Who was driving? Why was he driving? Why weren’t you driving? And then the claim will be denied, and the car will never be repaired, and life as we know it will cease to exist because you will instead have to drive around in a Toyota product.

And I admit, this is a reasonable point of view, which is why there remains a fairly large divide between car enthusiasts on this issue. And so now I ask you: do you let other people drive your car? If so, who? And under what circumstances? Alone? With you in the passenger seat? Many times? Just once?

It’ll also be helpful here to point out the type of vehicle you drive. I say this because someone who responds that they have a 1964 Lamborghini 350GT and they occasionally let their friends drive it gets a lot more credit than someone who replies that they have a 1994 Corolla and they let anyone drive it, including friends, family, their mailman, the tree trimmer guy, etc.

So, ladies and gentlemen, what are you driving? And what’s your view on letting other people drive it?

Join the conversation
2 of 85 comments
  • Madanthony Madanthony on Apr 12, 2015

    Doug can drive my LaForza, but I'm keeping an eye on the 3 remaining center caps. I can't remember anyone ever wanting to drive my vehicles, but they aren't very exciting. Given the fact that my Pathfinder's bumper still has a giant crack in it from hitting a fire hydrant, I doubt anyone is donging to damage it more than I already have.

  • Luke42 Luke42 on Apr 12, 2015

    Oir cars (Sienna & Prius, at the moment) are tools for family life. That means that anyone who is helping us out in that regard (usually grandparents) is welcome to use them. Any scuffs or damage that occurs on the mission of supporting the family are par for the course. When I was a teenager, having a car was a big deal and part of my identity. Now that I'm a real grownup, they're tools. Fascinating tools, backed by a fascinating industry. And they're some of the more powerful tools I own. But I treat my car and my table saw the same: I maintain them studiously, because I need them to get stuff done. P.S. I don't have any jobs around the house which require a Ferrari, so I don't own one. I've had my fill of custom engineered $100k+ equipment at work, so I think owning one would feel like work to me. I'll take a modestly priced low-stress ownership experience over a Ferrari any day. My stuff works for me, not the other way around.

  • Make_light I drive a 2015 A4 and had one of these as a loaner once. It was a huge disappointment (and I would have considered purchasing one as my next car--I'm something of a small crossover apologist). The engine sounded insanely coarse and unrefined (to the point that I wasn't sure if it was poor insulation or there was something wrong with my loaner). The seats, interior materials, and NVH were a huge downgrade compared to my dated A4. I get that they are a completely different class of car, but the contrast struck me. The Q3 just didn't feel like a luxury vehicle at all. Friends of mine drive a Tiguan and I can't think of one way in which the Q3 feels worth the extra cost. My mom's CX-5 is better than either in every conceivable way.
  • Arthur Dailey Personally I prefer a 1970s velour interior to the leather interior. And also prefer the instrument panel and steering wheel introduced later in the Mark series to the ones in the photograph. I have never seen a Mark III or IV with a 'centre console'. Was that even an option for the Mark IV? Rather than bucket seats they had the exceptional and sorely missed 60/40 front seating. The most comfortable seats of all for a man of a 'certain size'. In retrospect this may mark the point when Cadillac lost it mojo. Through the early to mid/late 70's Lincoln surpassed Cadillac in 'prestige/pride of place'. Then the 'imports' took over in the 1980s with the rise of the 'yuppies'.
  • Arthur Dailey Really enjoying this series and the author's writing style. My love of PLC's is well known. And my dream stated many times would be to 'resto mod' a Pucci edition Mark IV. I did have a '78 T-Bird, acquired brand new. Preferred the looks of the T-Bird of this generation to the Cougar. Hideaway headlights, the T-Birds roof treatment and grille. Mine had the 400 cid engine. Please what is with the engine displacements listed in the article? I am Canada and still prefer using cubic inches when referencing any domestic vehicles manufactured in the 20th century. As for my T-Bird the engine and transmission were reliable. Not so much some of the other mechanical components. Alternator, starter, carburetor. The vehicle refused to start multiple times, usually during the coldest nights/days or in the most out of the way spots. My friends were sure that it was trying to kill me. Otherwise a really nice, quiet, 'floaty' ride, with easy 'one finger' steering and excellent 60/40 split front seat. One of these with modern mechanicals/components would be a most excellent highway cruiser.
  • FreedMike Maybe they should buy Twitter now.
  • FreedMike A lot of what people are calling "turbo lag" may actually be the transmission. In this case, Audi used a standard automatic in this application versus the DSG, and that makes a big difference. The pre-2022 VW Arteon had the same issue - plenty of HP, but the transmission held it back. If Audi had used the DSG, this would be a substantially quicker, more engaging car. In any case, I don't get these "entry lux" compact CUVs (think: Cadillac XT4, Lexus NX, BMW X1, etc). If you must have a compact CUV, I can think of far better options for a lot less money. And, no, the Tiguan isn't one of them - it has the Miller-cycle 2.0T, so it's a dog. But a Mazda CX-30 with the 2.5T would fit the bill.