By on August 27, 2015


“Just passed this on Michigan Avenue outside of Dearborn. Manufacturer plate.”

The above picture of a GT350R in the wild and the accompanying text found their way across the LTE network to my phone last Thursday. My good friend — let’s call him Acd — and I have a habit of supporting each other’s addictions. In the therapy world, they call such people “enablers.”

In the car junkie world, we call them “kindred souls,” and I’m fortunate to have more than a few of them in my life.

Let’s be real with each other for a moment here, shall we? We might all be Car Guys, but to the rest of the world, we’re simply “idiots.”

I already have a perfectly good, much-fast-for-the-real-world Mustang, and yet every time I see a picture of a GT350R I start doing math in my head to see how I might possibly be able to swing one. Although I’m what some might call upper middle-class, I’m not so well off that the sticker price of a GT350, avec ou sans R, is an insignificant sum. The financially responsible thing would undoubtedly be to hold on to my Boss 302 and “let somebody else take the depreciation hit” on a 2016 GT350 — as if these things are going to appreciably depreciate any time soon.

In a culture that simultaneously encourages outlandish consumerism and then shames anybody who actually engages in it, one often finds himself wrapped in a paradox that I have previously called the “Nobody Needs That” societal ideal. On the rare occasions that I feel this pang of guilt, I thank the Lord above that I have stupid, reckless, and immature friends like WW to inspire me to do stupid, reckless, and immature things. Otherwise, I might occasionally do something intelligent with my money, like, oh, I don’t know, save some of it.

My friend Acd knows this. Therefore, he’ll do things like send me pictures of EFFING AMAZING LOOKING GT350Rs IN THE WILD. My other friend, David, does things like send me pictures of all the cars he can buy with his truckload of cash that his employer simply dumps in front of his apartment every other Thursday. We egg each other on. We encourage irrational buying behavior. We celebrate it when we do something completely stupid like lease a completely superfluous car. I’m just as excited to see the first shots of any of my friends’ new whips on Facebook as am to see all of those completely unique and original shots of their kids’ First Day of Fourth Grade (guilty, by the way).

And it’s not just new cars that my Car Guy friends and I encourage each other to over-consume. We geek out over new exhausts that serves no other purpose than turning a V8 up to Eleven. We high-five over 140 treadwear tires that might not last an entire summer. We celebrate the finding of a pristine NA Miata with a mere 200,000 miles on the engine for less than two grand. I think I received more comments about my 1996 Subaru Legacy Wagon (RIP) than I did about anything I’ve ever bought, because a certain segment of my Car Guy friends thought that it was awesome I found a running Subaru for less than the cost of a set of winter tires.

We nudge each other. We implore each other. We justify the insane for each other. We rationalize the need for new cars, new parts, new trips to new racetracks — anything that helps us feed the fire for each other. And thanks to the power of the Internet, we are normally thousands of miles away from each other when we do it. That doesn’t weaken the connection, though. If anything, it thrills me to be in Miami, sending pictures of exotic cars in Epic Hotel’s roundabout to my few friends that actually afford them in Atlanta.

It’s classic Relationship Builder behavior. A bunch of guys from different walks of life, from all over the country, encouraging each other to wring one last dollar out of our wallets to pursue our passions. Without our dearly departed editor, Derek (he’s not dead, you know, he just isn’t here), I probably would have never pulled the trigger on leasing my Fiesta ST. Without my brother on the phone, calming me down after I screamed at a New Car Manager, I wouldn’t have a School Bus Yellow monster in my garage.

And without my dear friend, Acd, I wouldn’t be looking at GT350 build sheets as I type this. Without all of these morons in my contact list, egging me on to pursue my passion with more vigor than any normal father of two has the right to do, I’d have a lot more money, no question.

But I’d also have a lot less Life.

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22 Comments on “Bark’s Bites: We All Need a Bad Influence or Two in Our Lives...”

  • avatar
    David Walton

    You’re crazy if you DON’T get a GT350 (R), Bark.

  • avatar

    I have a friend who’s currently trying to convince me to ride my 30-year old starter motorcycle across country in the next year (his other good idea is for me to find a 30 year old Goldwing for the trip). Of course, this friend also has a different car every six months or so.

    I’ve got another friend reminding me he can get a set of OEM lowering springs for my car for $50.

    Then again, I was in a discussion with another friend about what his fiancee should buy – we went from the rationalish (Toyota Matrix) to far progressively less sensible options (I believe an R63 AMG was bandied about at some point).

  • avatar

    Seeking happiness through material possessions is a fool’s game.

    Don’t get me wrong, the GT350R is an awesome car and anyone would be lucky to have one.

    But in photography there is a term called “gear acquiring syndrome”. It’s an illness in which someone becomes more concerned about their gear and the next gear purchase, rather than the whole point of the gear (taking pictures). It’s kind of like people who go into romantic relationships with one foot in and one foot out. “I will date her for now but I can do better”.

    You get the GT350R, then what? There will always be something better on the way, eventually. Then you stop enjoying it and agonizing over how to get the next thing. What’s the point? When does it ever end?

    I love trinkets and gadgets and things that go VRRRROOOOOOOOOOOM. But this post seems to be a cry for help, more than a celebration of automotive indulgence.

    • 0 avatar
      Chris Tonn

      In my on-again, off-again affair with the game of golf, there is a similar affliction–that of the equipment ho.

      Buying EVERY new driver or putter as soon as they hit the shelves, trading and selling to fund the habit. The market for 2nd hand golf clubs is astonishing..and wonderful for an aspiring yet poor club ho like myself who will pick up the year old stuff for 30% of retail or less.

      Fortunately, our friend Bark isn’t crippling his family’s future by indulging in his automotive passion. There are those who will buy up all the cars (or golf clubs, or lenses) their hearts desire, and mortgage their houses doing so.

      The ones who are doing it right have a list of cars they want to own, and buy one at a time, enjoy it for a while, and move on to the next one on the list.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      I think you missed the entire point of Bark’s article. Things automotive by definition are material things. But, I don’t classify them in the same arena as the moms in my neighborhood who have to have the latest Louis Vuitton bag, shoes, fill in the blank. In my mind these are wasteful, trivial items bought to only impress their friends. Along with what I refer to as ‘mom jeans’ the obligatory Lexus LX 470 they ALL seem to have. Great, you got your hubs to drop 80k on a rig you have zero idea how to use. But I digress.

      the car nerd ussually looks at his/her fleet as toys. It is ok to trade up, down, sideways. One day a Boss 302, perhaps down the road it is a 4 door rubicon with lift and winch. Fun; can be expensive and is an ever evolving sport. I say, if you can swing it, gt350 it should be. If not, wait awhile something else fun and exciting will pop up.

      • 0 avatar

        You don’t classify them the same, but you should. Bark’s fascination with cars is fueled at least in part by his need to impress his peers. How is that any different than your mom and her bobblehead shopping mall friends?

        Plus one could argue that a GT350R is even more frivolous and wasteful than something like an LX450. LX450’s consumables for normal use will definitely be cheaper. LX450 is way more practical… it can be the only car in a family household if need be. GT350R, by contrast, doesn’t even have a back seat.

        Look, don’t get me wrong. I think the GT350R is great, I’m glad it’s being made and I hope people buy it. I just think the game of buying things either to impress other people or to have the latest and greatest is a big mistake. GT350R, LX470, “I luv H8Rs” windshield banner for a plastidipped POS, whatever. It’s just a never ending game of catch up. For what?

    • 0 avatar

      Totally agree with sportyaccordy. There nothing wrong with enjoying a material possession. But what Bark is describing isn’t enjoying an amazing car; its enjoying novelty.

      Its Bark’s money, but I’d keep the Boss. Its a badass car that makes you happy. The GT350 will make you happier… for a week or two. Then the novelty wears off.

  • avatar

    You’re not alone Bark, I’m guilty of frequently figuring out how the latest car/truck and/or motorcycle can be acquired.

    On the flip side, I’ve become quite adept at calculating monthly car payments on the fly….which is nice.

  • avatar

    No car in the past 4-5 years has even come close to sparking such an intense “gotta have it” feeling that the GT350R has.

    I think it may be the one mustang that ages well and will become an instant classic a la the Ford GT, but to a much lesser extent.

    The thing that may put me over the top is the race car sound it emits.

  • avatar

    This is why forums are so damn dangerous.

    I went out and bought a car. So far, so good. But now the forums are teaching me about all the little things I can do to make it better. I find myself looking at a set of beautiful plus-one OEM wheels from a rare package from a later model year (even though I just bought new tires to fit my existing wheels) … a classy wood/chrome shift knob from the next model up… a device that allows the factory navigation system to control my iPhone… the list just goes on, and I want all of them even though I wouldn’t get a single damn dollar back from any of them.

    • 0 avatar

      How big are the wheels on your LS460? My first thought is if they are the big wheel/thin tire is to dump the wheels for smaller aftermarket ones.

      • 0 avatar

        This is my car. It has 18s, which were the smallest choice for LSes, and the only factory choice on the early SWB cars.

        I’m not a huge fan of the chrome or the wheel design, and a forum member is about to sell a set of these factory 19s from the 2010-12 Sport package, which are forged, lightweight, and in my opinion a lot better looking:

        I doubt that factory 19s will have too much of a negative impact on the ride, especially since I don’t live in a place like Detroit or Baltimore. But it would be an utterly stupid financial decision to buy them.

    • 0 avatar

      ‘a device that allows the factory navigation system to control my iPhone’

      need details, please!

  • avatar

    This is not directed at Bark/Mark but having been through some sports cars and dream cars I’ve learned a few things about splurging on this expensive and high-visibility hobby.

    The thing with indulging in childhood dreams is, they live in the context of an adult life with things like work, family and other pleasures and responsibilities.

    Without a well-balanced adult life–a warm and loving family, a rewarding career, a healthy circle of friends, etc. that exotic/sports/muscle/whatever dream car in your garage provides zero pleasure. It sits there, ever beautiful, taunting you for your insecurities and shortcomings. It reflects your own mood back at you, because it is just an object. Only when you are proud, confident, happy and even a little thick-skinned does the car let YOU own it, drive it, parade it in public. Sort of like an attractive woman…

    That is why people who say things like “If I had a Lambo/hot GF/bling pad/yaddayadda, my life would be complete” generally don’t have their ish together. They overestimate how much people care.

    Healthy indulgence in a hobby is all about balance and what you can budget into the rest of your REAL life.

    So, I’m waiting for Bark to pick up a GT350…

    • 0 avatar

      I think this is well said. I buy cars for ME, not for anyone else.

      Nobody needs a car much beyond a Mitsubishi Mirage. That car will get you and yours just about anywhere you need to go in reasonable comfort at the legal speed limits in the US. But something more fun is a definitely a want, and if you can afford it without negatively impacting the rest of your life why the heck not?

      And especially for this sort of very limited edition car – you often have to get while the getting is good. Ask the folks who decided to let someone else take the depreciation hit on a BMW 1M how well that worked out for them… I bet the GT350R will be much the same.

      • 0 avatar

        When buying a rare car, the amount of homework to be done is manifold (I wanted to use that word).

        Read up on forums about what the price trend has been over the past few years. Learn about the sentiment of current owners as well as past/future owners.

        Know the history and significance of the model.

        Know the production numbers. Something below five digits means you probably shouldn’t wait for someone to “take the depreciation hit,” especially in the Information Age where it’s easy for anyone anywhere in the country to compete with you for a rare car. The 1M Coupe is a perfect modern example with less than 800 units in the US.

        I spent half a year learning and hunting before acquiring my current garage queen, a 355 F1 Berlinetta. I got lucky; an experienced buyer could have easily snapped up that car ahead of me, sight-unseen.

    • 0 avatar

      “Without a well-balanced adult life–a warm and loving family, a rewarding career, a healthy circle of friends, etc. thatexotic/sports/muscle/whatever dream car in your garage provides zero pleasure.”

      Now you tell me!

  • avatar

    Bark seems to have his shit together and a nice balanced life. So if he wants a new GT350R and can swing it then he should go for it (hate that expression). I have more modest means and add that material spice to my balanced life with buying and selling bicycles, it can be a lot of fun and much cheaper. Also as my SUV and truck age and I start to get bored I do periodic upgrades, like wheels, exhaust, minor engine mods, entertainment systems. That is a lot cheaper than selling a new one after 2 years and taking the big dep. hit.

  • avatar

    As one who also has a School Bus Yellow monster in his garage and who also is obsessively calculating every possible financial path-to-GT350R nirvana, Bark’s barking right up my tree.

  • avatar

    I went through a spell when I was single where I had a new bike every year either dirt or street. It wasn’t driven by my friends nor It was it driven by the need to have the best or the latest and greatest. I was in a position where my income allowed me to play around. Overall I never lost a lot of money since a some of the stuff I was buying was used and in several cases actually broke even or made a bit of cash.

    Now that I have a family they are first and foremost. I miss bikes but I couldn’t enjoy something if I couldn’t share it with the family or if there was a risk that it would take away from my family.

    If Bark can indulge his pleasures without affecting his family then whom are we to judge?

  • avatar

    Bark – I think this is one of your better pieces.

    My current car is in good shape, despite needing new dampers. That said, I have an itch for another V8 and a bit more trunk space. Maybe the trunk space is just how I sell it to myself? Either way, you might have hurt my wallet.

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