Ian’s new birthday tradition (featuring a Jaguar F-type convertible)
I’m a sentimental guy who things traditions are fun. The most recent tradition I’ve created is to treat myself to a nice steak dinners on my birthday. There was something I’ve always wanted to do & now I’ve done it in the name of creating a new tradition: drive an exotic sports car for a day.
After I sold my trusty GTI, I’ve been itching to drive a manual transmission again. I was playing around with the idea of renting a car with stick for a weekend. I did some research & traditional rental car companies rent only automatic transmission cars. I came across Turo.com, the Airbnb for cars. Did a filtered search for a manual transmission car & found this beauty, a Jaguar F-type. Perfect.
The owner gave me a tutorial on the car. He showed me how to put the top down if there’s a break in the weather, which seemed unlikely. The plan was to take it on a joy ride up & down highway 1 & let this thing fly.
Here’s the Jaguar cockpit. Look at all the shiny knobs! There’s a button next to the shifter that controls the volume of the exhaust. You turn the suppressor on if you want to be considerate of your neighbors. I treated myself with an obnoxious exhaust.
Here’s what it’s like powering up the Jaguar. The engine & exhaust is LOUD. What a fun toy.
From San Francisco, I drove straight to Half Moon Bay & headed south. Pulled over to check out the beach. The weather was miserable, but needed to stretch my legs (& to test maneuverability in the empty parking lot).
With no afternoon agenda, I’m drove down the coast & stopping at places that look interesting. Hey, look! A lighthouse! I had to motivate myself to get out of the cozy car, run outside in the wind & pouring rain to snap this shot.
Speed limit is 55 MPH on highway 1. It takes no time to reach that, & the car sings you a beautiful song when you let loose, too! With the really bad weather, hardly any cars were out on the road.
Eventually found myself in Santa Cruz. Highway 9 is the usual route home, so I tried out a new path through the mountains. It got foggy real fast, the the trees are breathtaking. Rain prevents me from going fast, which is a shame. But hey, safety first!
First person view of going from 0 to 55 MPH. It took some practicing, but managed to smoothly get up to speed without excessive wheel spinning, which is very easy to do in the rain in a rear-wheel drive car.
Once it got dark outside, more details about the car revealed itself to me. Door handles illuminate this blue color (which is a little random because everything else in the car is either black or red).
Date night can’t be complete without a hot date! Thanks to the wifey for setting up an awesome meal at The Sea by Alexander’s Steakhouse.
The culinary highlight of the day & the reason I skipped breakfast and lunch, my steak dinner! From bottom right to top left: Nebraska steak, Australian steak, Wagyu all the way from Japan. Was so excited to finally eat Wagyu. It’s so soft, perfectly fatty, and bursting with steaky flavors in each bite! I’m also a sucker for French fries, so of course we ordered that, too.
The restaurant gave us three dessert courses. Some will say that’s overkill, but on special days like this, it’s adequate.
Cindy digging into the celebratory cotton candy dessert. There’s always room for cotton candy!
One cool thing about having a cool car & having the valet take it away is that the car is fancy enough that they’ll park it right out in front of the restaurant. I’ve always wanted to drive a car worthy enough for that classification, even if just for a day.
After dinner, I had to return the car. Since I made the trip all the way up to San Francisco, I figured why not do one more victory lap over the iconic Golden Gate Bridge?
It was dumping rain all day, & surprisingly of all the places to expect no rain was in San Francisco! I considered this a sign to pull down the convertible top for some Golden Gate cruisin’. Was it freezing? Yes! Was it worth it? Ask me again after I regain feeling in my fingertips, but the fact that I finally got to drive with the top down & the music loud made it worthwhile.
One more shot of the top-down Jaguar overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. My birthday is done & the car is back to its owner. Some lasting thoughts:
I’m really happy I got to drive a stick-shift car again. Maybe it’s because I haven’t done it for two years or that the Jaguar’s clutch pedal was really stiff, but my left foot is aching like crazy from stomping down on the clutch.
Would I own a car like that? I’m totally happy blasting around in super cool car like the Jaguar, but can’t imagine myself owning one for the long term. I’ll see myself getting bored of it quickly. Besides, the Jaguar is too large for my tastes. I love small hatchbacks.
Would I do this again? Absolutely. This is one tradition I’m keeping, though hopefully next year it won’t be pouring rain all day as I expect next year to rent a convertible if I can help it. This car was fun to thrash around & it was funny getting sideways glances from people in other cars while waiting at the stoplight.
Thank you to everyone who sent me a birthday greeting! It’s always a good feeling being surrounded by loving friends & family. It was also fun live-posting my experience throughout the day.
A common question I’ve received: Is it okay if I steal your idea & do this on my birthday?
My answer? Yes, please do!
If you decide to follow suit, here are a few tips & a little insight in the Turo.com car rental experience:
- For a manual transmission lover, Turo.com seems to be the only local option to rent a stick shift car.
- The daily price of the car includes insurance. I got the basic coverage but you can book your rental with a little more coverage.
- My package was 150 miles a day. Going over is a $0.75/mile surcharge. In the end, I drove 175 miles that day so I had to pay a few extra bucks.
- Other charges to consider is toll bridges fees & the option to have the car delivered to any location you specify, a $50 fee.
- Level of cleanliness is at the discretion of the owner since these cars are independently owned.
- Don’t have a birthday in December in California if you want to rent a convertible so you can drive with the top down. Especially if your birthday historically falls on a usually rainy day.
If you’ve been curious about a car, renting a car is a good way to give it a proper test drive to get it out of your system.
Can’t wait until my next birthday! I’ve been shopping around & have a few ideas on what I want to rent next. The end goal is to rent up to a Ferrari, but I’ll give myself a few birthdays before I take that leap.
If you want to give Turo.com a shot, you can get $25 off your first trip if you use this URL: