As the line blurs between car nuts and boat aficionados, one thing stays clear: a shared desire for freedom and adventure.
It’s a funny thing, where you find your passion. My old man and brother are car nuts. They go to car shows, watch car shows and pride themselves on their ability to discern the make, model and year of a car as it glides past.
To my ears, it sounds like the scene in My Cousin Vinny where Marisa Tomei argues with the lawyer: “Cause Chevy didn’t make a 327 in ’55. The 327 didn’t come out ‘til ’62. And it wasn’t offered in the Bel Air with the 4-barrel carburetor ‘til ’64. However, in 1964 the correct ignition timing would be 4 degrees before top dead center.”
Years ago when my brother was still in high school, he and my dad restored a ’79 Chevy Camaro. I respect all the effort that went into their nights and weekends spent cleaning bolts and washers, but the car gene skipped me entirely. I was more than satisfied to share my mom’s old Honda. Hell, I still drive my grandma’s old Camry.
So when I had the opportunity to test our cover star, the Lexus LY650, I knew I was out of my element. What makes Lexus unique in the car world? What is their reputation among true car enthusiasts? And most importantly, what would the auto giant bring to the table when it came to entering the yacht market?
Thanks to a colleague, I was introduced to Pat Devereux. As the U.S. contributing editor to the BBC’s Top Gear and a certifiable car test expert, I was confident he could help shine some light on my questions and more. In one of my more memorable days on the job, Devereux showed me what he looks for in a car test as we ripped around Miami in a Lexus LC 500. I’ll never look at my ol’ Camry the same way again. Then I gave him a taste of salt on our sea trial of the 650. You’ll want to check out my full report (“Shifting Gears” on page 84), but I can safely say that sometimes colliding worlds can be a very fun thing.
I’m seeing it more and more, the auto and yacht worlds colliding. Maybe not so literally as the Lexus yacht, but in terms of styling and design, absolutely. Take today’s new boat nomenclature. Nearly every builder offers a coupe or sedan version. Palm Beach Yachts took things a step further last year with their new line of auto-inspired GTs. The driving experience aboard those boats is about as close as it comes to being behind the wheel of a car.
Of all the helms I saw at the recent Ft. Lauderdale show, I’ve noticed that the only gauges that remain are those designed to resemble the analog gauges of American muscle cars. I’m also seeing crossover in terms of power. From a San Juan center console with twin Honda BF250s on the transom to the gas 430-hp V8 MerCruisers in the new Fairline F//Line 33, the battle lines continue to blur. I think that trend will grow, bridging the gap between car and boat nuts alike.
I’ve long suspected that car and yacht enthusiasts have a lot in common. We spend an inordinate amount of time and resources to find and maintain the vehicle of our dreams. When we try to share our passion with outsiders, we’re often met by glazed eyes and the refrain: It’s just a boat. Or, it’s just a car.
I know I speak for our community when I shake my head and try to explain that it’s not just a boat. Perhaps Johnny Depp said it best in Pirates of the Caribbean: “It’s not just a keel and a hull … that’s what a ship needs. Not what a ship is. What [a ship] really is, is freedom.”
Whether it’s my brother bombing down to the beach in an old Camaro or my young family heading out to the cove for the weekend, what binds the two passions, whichever they may be, is our thirst for freedom.