Riding in cars with my boys.
I’ve been writing about luxury cars for about a decade now and it has only driven my family apart. I’ve fucked off for over-the-top junkets, driving Porsches through the lava fields of Kauai and Bentleys through the passes outside Crested Butte, while my wife and children stayed home. Was this irresponsible behavior? Yes and no. I was doing a job, albeit an indulgent one, but also doing something that I wanted to do because I love cars. And it was definitely and undeniably about my love of cars until relatively recently, when my sons went through automotive puberty and started to notice the four-wheeled beauties parked in our neighborhood.
My 6-year-old eldest’s greatest pleasure is naming the cars we passed on our bike (we do not have a car of our own). He fills up notebook after notebook with rudimentary drawings of Toyotas, Hyundais and Honda logos like some sort of automotive naturalist. Only the Corvette‘s interlocking flags have proved impossible for him to render. But this does not bum him out because ultimately he only has eyes for Maserati.
We don’t live in a particularly fancy neighborhood, but there is one Maserati, a mid-aught Quattroporte we bike by almost every day on the way to school. My six-year-old Tony loves it and every time we pass it he says, “It’s going to be a Maserati Day,” by which he means it’s going to be a good day. Recently, he let on that his most ardent dream would be to drive around in a Maserati. Finally, all those years of auto writing had provided me with the opportunity to be a good dad. After a few emails to a publicist describing the article you are currently reading, I secured a new 2018 Maserati Ghibli.
A note on the Ghibli. Like all Maseratis, it is a powerful, muscular, and beautiful car. It’s the least douche-y of luxury Italian vehicles, balancing style with speed in a way that doesn’t scream overcompensation. The Ghibli, introduced in 1966, is the heir to A6 1500 Gran Turismo. A big beauty of a car at 195 inches long and 4,000 pounds, the Ghibli boasts a 424 HP engine capable of reaching 60MPH in 4.9 seconds. Also, importantly, there are car seat anchors in the back.
When my sons saw the car parked in front of our house, they couldn’t believe they were about to go inside. It may have been the best moment in my parental career: With a press of a button, I had provided the unattainable. I did something cool. I was unreasonably joyous. So were they.Once inside, my oldest assessed the vehicle with his typical acuity. “Daddy. Daddy. Daddy. Daddy. Daddy. DADDY!” he said. “This car is so so fancy! Look at all these secret compartments.” He pointed to glove compartment, which glides open with latch of pleasing smoothness, and to the three compartments in the well between the seats: one for sunglasses, one for cups and one, leather-bound, that opens out from the center.
The second most impressive thing, he informed me, was the magazine that comes with the 2018 Maserati Ghibli, which is called Il Tridente, after the symbol for the Maserati, and was tucked into the rear seat pocket. The paper stock was thick and the binding was weak so it rapidly became a series of loose-leaf Maserati-themed pages scattered across the back seat. Less impressive, but still impressive.
But the point was to drive so I wanted to get the car going. The team at Maserati HQ outside Modena in Italy are notoriously obsessed with the sounds of the engine. A Maserati engine has this deep growl with scattered sharp backfire hacks, like late-period Townes Van Zandt. It’s sweet, inspires fear and awe. They have recordings from years past to which they rectify new models. I knew this was gonna slay my boys. I pressed the start button (“This car is so fancy it has a button!”) and put the car into gear. It purred and they giggled delightedly.
Though the powerful V6 engine complains at anything less than 60MPH, the speed limit in my neighborhood is 25MPH. So I didn’t exactly open it up. Also, I knew that having a really nice car is cop-bait and didn’t know where the registration was. Whatever. The boys didn’t care. They wanted to listen to the radio. I tuned to 80s on 8 and Michael Jackson sang “Billie Jean.”
Serendipity. My oldest is also obsessed with Michael Jackson. “Turn it up, Daddy!” he begged and it turned out to be a mini-block. We got “Thriller,” “Bad,” “Wanna Be Startin’ Something,” and “Rock With You.” Tony wa so thrilled he squirmedin his booster seat like an eel. When I asked him his favorite part of the 2018 Maserati Ghibli, he told me that it has “the best Michael Jackson songs.” This was correct.
After a few loops around the block, we headed back inside. Tony immediately wrote a letter to his friend Benjamin.
I had finer motor skills, I am certain my son would have noted what he saw as the 2018 Maserati Ghibli’s strengths: the best the King of Pop has to offer, a magazine about the very car the magazine is in, dark leather-bound chambers of secrets. But, by and large, his note is perfect, an editor-ready first draft. He had a Mosrote and the only thing I would add is that his Dad got it for him — at least for a little while.
As for me, I don’t write notes for friends. I write words for money. And about the Ghibli I think I can safely write, without inflating my wordcount, that it slays. Muscular around the haunches, gripping the earth, a sporty suspension when wanted, forgiving when needed, the Ghibli does the tradition of grand touring proud. The engine is so powerful and yet patient too, a pleasure even within the speed limit. But though a thing of ravishing beauty, this time the best things about the 2018 Maserati Ghibli were the two guys in the backseat.