I have a solution to James May’s problem

The other day, James May wrote about why he couldn’t own a Ferrari 488 Spider. You should go and read it on his Carbolics Tribe, but, to paraphrase dreadfully, he said ‘I like the idea of driving with the roof down but I’m concerned about the image I might project’. He also mentioned what Jeeves would probably have referred to as 'his gentleman’s very personal gentleman', but I don’t really want to touch on that.

Anyway, I’m a big fan of open-top driving and so I thought I’d wade in and offer my two penn’orth. The first problem is the car. James eludes to the 488 Spider being ‘a bit creaky’ and certainly if it’s anything like the 458 Spider (I haven’t driven the 488 Spider yet, and probably won’t now) then the scuttle shake is disappointingly bad. It won’t do at all. No matter how much you like to feel the wind in your hair you shouldn’t put up with the wheel shuddering in your hands at the same time.

No need to feel as though you're in the spotlight

The resolution to this first problem is a McLaren 650S (or 675LT) Spider. With its carbonfibre tub there are no issues when you lop the top off because, unlike the Ferrari, it doesn’t gain any torsional rigidity from the roof rails (as an aside, the LaFerrari has a carbonfibre cell that does include the roof, so it will be interesting to see if the LaFerrari Aperta has been adversely affected). Admittedly the McLaren arachnid carries a weight penalty of 40kg compared to the coupe, but without a race track and some data logging I really don’t think you’d notice the difference.

The second part of the solution is to drive at night. Or at this time of year, anywhere from about lunchtime onwards

Henry Catchpole

The second part of the solution is to drive at night. Or at this time of year, anywhere from about lunchtime onwards. One evening last week I drove a 675LT Spider from Wales to Woking (it was after a photo shoot with an MP4-12C, which you can read all about in Tribe Nation). It was dark and it was pretty chilly, but I popped the roof down, turned the heater up, eschewed the main roads and had one of my best drives of the year. You have to be careful if you go sideways because your eyes tend to follow the beam of the headlights rather than looking down the road as they should, but otherwise it was ace. Stars above, sounds somehow magnified by the darkness and cool air feeding the hungry turbochargers it was everything I love about open-top driving. Hearing the light ordinance BANG as the LT’s gearshifts go through in Sport mode is fantastically addictive and improved no end by not having the roof acting as a muffle. I’m sure I’ve said it before, but it’s like hearing the live version rather than the studio recording. It’s altogether a much more visceral experience with the roof down.

Combined with the Sport mode's ignition cut, these make a good noise

And of course because it was dark no one could see me. I could have been naked or James May. Problem solved.

N.B. James also mentions a reluctance to go to the supermarket naked. Despite 24hr shopping being available, this night-time solution does not work for naked grocery acquisition. Just thought I should be clear about that.

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Comments (11)
  • I think he is probably more concerned about getting stopped at the lights in the middle of the city. He has James May's head so he is going to be swarmed! I think if you don't have James May's head and want to drive a convertible then you don't have much to worry about, more about why he, specifically, can't have one.

    I seen a lady on the motorway with the top down on her new MX5 in temperatures so cold she had a hat and scarf on! At least she was getting the use of it, fair play to her!

    1 year ago
    1 Bump
  • Who cares what others think of you? I love convertibles and I've owned a number of them and I own a Boxster now. I couldn't care less what strangers think of me. I own cars for my own pleasure not for the pleasure of others, especially strangers.

    1 year ago
    1 Bump

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