Before I moved to Orange County four years ago, I really had no idea that there was so much money floating around here, except perhaps in my neighborhood. I mean our little hacienda is sweet and comfortable, but it hardly suggests that we’re part of the one percent.

On the other hand, when I take my daily drive up to the gym where I religiously endeavor to keep the pounds and the advancing years at bay, I’m constantly — and I do mean every day — amazed at the bucks on four wheels. Back in the San Fernando Valley you’d see the occasional Mercedes or BMW, but down here the majority of cars is way up on the pricing scale. Case in point: this morning I parked Kermit beside a McLaren sports car (as if there are any other kind). Double wow. Making sure the owner was not then advancing to his steed, I did the quick once around, being careful not to drool. When I got home I checked out the price on-line…$239,000! Or roughly the cost for a fleet of Honda Accords. Ten of America’s favorite car. One for every garage on our side of the street.

So, just as you’d ask the driver of this one — or any of the Ferraris or Accura NSXs or Jags or Maseratis that frequent the gym parking lot — where in a city of this size are you going to find a road where you can stretch the beauty out? Just how many traffic citations can you bear? And, of course, what you’d also like to ask the owner: How on earth can you afford to buy something like this, to say nothing of keeping it alive and happy? A car that shares a price setting with a lot of houses? And speaking of that, does it sleep in a pristine garage with a carpeted floor?

Well, who knows? Does it matter, apart from the person who carries the pink slip? The story goes that people who can afford and have such a beast don’t sweat the practicalities. It’s more of being able to handle such a price tag and easily winning the envy games among your friends. I like to think the value of a car that hits nearly a quarter-million dollars is akin to being in the possession of a rolling work of art that only has to sit in silence in the garage. You come out just before going to bed and give it a kiss on the hood and smile, maybe just a little smugly.

A bit jealous? Well sure. Any gear-head would be. The stuff of dreams. But still, there’s that business of care and feeding, which, for the thoroughbreds of the automotive world, can be significant. Among other things, if you’re not very handy with a wrench, there’s the constant problem of finding someone who is and has a friendly disposition toward the exotic under your responsibility. Just getting your car washed can be pricey: I talked to the owner of a Ferrari in said parking lot recently and he said he has a guy come by his house to do the job. Never a trip to the local car wash. Scratches? Don’t even think about it, especially if the perp remains anonymous. And fillling up the tank? Well at least “regular” is not an issue.

Cool cars. And I’d never refuse an opportunity to take the McLaren for a spin — figuratively speaking. But selling the house to get one in the garage? Very doubtful. Still, wouldn’t it be fun to just once say, with obvious pride, “Oh, you mean that one? The one that looks like it could fly? Oh sure. That’s mine.”

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