Driving with Dan

Crashing waves on a beautiful coastline. Sandy beaches. Snorkeling and scuba diving. Scenic winding roads. I’m describing Cape Cod in the summer, right?
Yes. But I’m also describing the opening credits to “Magnum P.I.”

Text and photography by Dan Cutrona

I was too young to really watch the show, but I remember begging to stay up on Thursday nights to catch a glimpse of that joyous 60 seconds that showed Tom Selleck and his mustache cavorting across Hawaii in his Ferrari 308. My obsession with Ferraris started at a young age, and I’m certain that at least part of it is due to my dream of zooming around in a Ferrari like Magnum.

Enter Peter Zawadzki of Classics & Exotics. Peter is a Sandwich resident who, this spring, launched a national startup where people can list their exotic cars for rental—much like an Airbnb, but for cool cars. When he said that he had a 1984 Ferrari 308 available, the exact model from the hit show, I jumped at the opportunity to get behind the wheel and investigate the situation.

After picking up the car and getting a quick tutorial from the owner, I’m anxious to get on my way. But not before changing into my Hawaiian shirt, and affixing a fake mustache.

You heard me.

This is my dream, and everything has to be just right.

Obviously the top comes off, and in no time I am cruising down Route 6A. I’m timid at first. Driving a vintage Ferrari is a full-body experience. No power steering, a clutch that feels like I’m doing leg presses at Willy’s gym, and a classic gated shifter that forces you to contemplate your gear changes for an extra millisecond—like the hesitation before a first kiss. But once tuned in, I can’t think of a more engaging driving experience. It’s not an extremely fast car, according to today’s standards. But as the saying goes, it’s better to drive a slow car fast, than a fast car slow (although I wouldn’t call this car slow). It was a perfect fit for gently swooping Cape Cod roads, where high speed isn’t really an option. However, with your rear being a foot away from the pavement of Pimlico Pond Road, it gives you a thrill nonetheless.

The low-tech charm of it all brings a certain satisfaction that you’ve really accomplished something at the end of the day. That sense of accomplishment is so palpable, and real, that it turns mundane events into lifetime memories. Picking up my daughter from school turns into “that time I picked my daughter up from school in a Ferrari.” The emotional reaction a red Ferrari has on people cannot be underestimated. Revving an Italian V8 to 6,000 rpm and letting off the gas causes a burble and pop that could only come from a company whose name ends in a vowel. (Toyota, Honda, Kia, Hyundai, Subaru, excluded). My wife could not stop giggling, and when I asked her what she thought, all she could muster through her laughing was, “I’m just so…happy!”

And that’s the beauty of what cars have the ability to do. The right car can completely change an experience. A trip to the Sandwich boardwalk? How nice! Going to the Sandwich boardwalk dressed like Magnum P.I. driving a Ferrari? A small crowd gathers. We change our homes all the time in order to alter our experience. It’s called going on vacation. This sandbar we call home swells with tourists looking for a break in their routine, so why not take a vacation from your car? As Selleck would say at the beginning of every episode, “I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right.”

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