Hello, ladies and gentlemen of Jalopnik, and welcome to the latest round of Letters to Doug, your favorite weekly column wherein you send me letters and, in response, I send you Doug.
Interested in participating? Well, you certainly can! Just send me an e-mail at Letters2Doug@gmail.com, which is my receptacle for a) Letters to Doug e-mails, and — thanks to one of you kind readers — b) Rick Santorum campaign messages.
This week’s letter comes to us from a reader I’ve named Stanley, who is inquiring about the selection process for my new car, a 2007 Aston Martin V8 Vantage . Stanley writes:
It must have been very hard to go through all the responses you got when you asked what car to buy, especially since you knew no matter what you chose you’d be disappointing someone. It seems like there were many people who wanted to see a Model T, then many other who wanted to see the polar opposite, like a Viper or a Tesla. How did you arrive on your final decision knowing it could’ve made thousands of people angry or at least disappointed
I’ll tell you the answer, Stanley: I have nerves of steel. Literally. When I was a young boy, I went in to the hospital for some minor surgery, and the surgeon doing this examination discovered it. He approached my parents and he said to them: “I don’t know how to tell you this, Mr. and Mrs. DeMuro… but your son’s nerves are made out of some sort of metallic substance. Possibly steel.” Then, at that very moment, I got up off the operating table, I kicked everyone’s ass, and I started performing medicine without a license, right there in the hospital.
Nah, I’m just kidding. The truth is that I was scared out of my mind to reveal this year’s car.
Let me tell you what the decision making process was like. As I started tallying up the responses, I could already tell there were a few clear winners: the Viper. The Supra. The DeLorean. Inexplicably, the BMW M3. Here on Jalopnik, the Ford Model T. In all, there were about 40 good cars to choose from, all of which would’ve made a compelling story for a year of columns and videos.
Then I started getting into the particulars of each one. Although the Model T was a good suggestion, I had to dismiss it for practical concerns. For example: someone said it would be fun to see me take a Model T to a race track. Well, the closest race track is 50 miles away, and the Model T’s lucky to do 25 miles per hour, which means that an afternoon at the track turns into an all-day experience primarily focused on getting there. And then there’s the fact that driving to and from the track means traveling half the speed limit on a highway in a vehicle that offers no more protection from a collision than a beach umbrella. Suddenly, the Model T suggestion isn’t just a Model T, it’s now a Model T plus a pickup and a trailer, which is a pretty big investment.
And that says nothing of its size: a Model T with a roof is actually three inches taller than my Hummer, which means it wouldn’t fit into my garage. And let’s not forget all the other usual concerns, like parts, and repairs, and driving dynamics, and simply trying to figure out how to start the car (with a crank) or drive it (with some bizarre array of foot and hand controls).
In other words: maybe next year.
I also seriously considered the Viper. Or at least, I did, until I started getting e-mails from Viper owners telling me to avoid it. It isn’t interesting enough, they said. It doesn’t break, it isn’t especially expensive when it does, and it doesn’t have the “about to kill you” feel that many people think it does. I received one e-mail from a reader who said the Viper was his childhood dream car, so he bought one when he grew up – and now he can’t wait to get rid of it. Admittedly, a very early first-generation Viper may have solved some of these issues, so I’m not counting it out in the future.
It wasn’t long into my research process that I discovered Aston Martin’s “Assured” warranty program. As I looked over all the details, two thoughts entered my mind. Number one: This is too good to be true. And number two: They’re going to love this. After all, it’s a hand-built exotic British car, it was in the top 20 among suggestions, and it’s completely covered under warranty.
But I still wasn’t sure. With literally thousands of suggestions, it can be tremendously difficult to find something that appeals to even half of all the Jalopnik readers, YouTube viewers, Twitter followers, Facebook likers. The week before I announced the car, several people approached me on the street to ask me what I had chosen. By then. I had already made my decision, but I was afraid to reveal it. What if they hate it? What if they think it’s too boring, or too new, or too obvious, or too similar to something else? What if I’m stuck with an old Aston Martin that nobody wants to read about?
Fortunately, it seems like most of you did love it. And as I sit here with my second check engine light in two weeks, I’m happy to say that I love it, too.
@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars , which his mother says is “fairly decent.” He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer.