The lineup of cars in the tour included the following:
Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder (520 HP mid-mounted V10. 0-60 mph in 4.2 sec)
Audi R8 4.2 (420 HP mid-mounted V8. 0-60 mph in 4.1 sec)
Ferrari F430 Coupe (490 HP mid-mounted V8. 0-60 mph in 3.7 sec)
Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet (385 HP rear-mounted Flat 6. 0-60 mph in 4.5 sec)
Lotus Elise S (195 HP mid-mounted I4. 0-60 mph in 4.7 sec)
Nissan GTR Black Edition (530 HP twin-turbo V6. 0-60 mph in 2.9 sec)
Before we were allowed to drive the exotic cars, each of the drivers were put into the Ford Mustang Shelby GT for a driving test around the block with Travis, the tour guide for the day. Even though I haven't driven a stick shift for over 10 years, I passed the test and received my license to drive.
The first key I received was the key for the bright yellow Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder. As I tried to open the door gently, the door handle cover fell off. The lady next to me shouted, "he didn't break it!" Travis snapped it back into place to fix it and said, this sometimes happens.
Everyone hopped into their cars for the moment and the parade of 6 exotic cars started to travel across the town with a lot of engine roar. The Lamborghini and the Ferrari attracted a lot of attention along the way.
The Lamborghini is such a sharp looking car. The interior (dashboard, center console, etc) has nice yellow stitching that matched the exterior color. The seats have diamond-shaped stitching that's great looking. It has a 6 speed manual gear box. In order to shift to reverse, one has to push down the shifter. I released the clutch very carefully and tried not to burn the $2000 set of tires. The shifter's travel's so short (in order to reduce the time it takes to shift through the gears) and precise. It was the loudest and most masculine of the 6. It shouts "Watch me in the yellow Lamborghini convertible. " and it emits a bad exhaust fume. People alone the street stopped to admire the car. Drivers on the highway honked to get my attention. It's a real eye catcher. I felt like I was a celebrity while driving it.
We drove across town then on to highway 17 toward Los Gatos, then through twisty Saratoga mountain roads, passed by Saratoga Springs, and arrived at our first stop of the day. It's a parking lot around Saratoga Gap Open Space Preserve.
We took a short break and switched cars. Next up for me was the Audi R8 without the Audi emblem on the hood. It's hard to tell that it's closely related to the Lamborghini Gallardo Sypder. The engine is silky smooth and the roar is so much quieter. The engine whirl is jet-like.
I drove the Audi R8 through the mountain roads and arrived at Alice's Restaurant in Woodside. We parked all the cars across the street from the restaurant. Backing up each of the cars for a photo pose.
We spotted another yellow Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder and a Porsche GT3 at the parking lot.
After lunch, we gathered on the parking lot to switch keys. I received the red Ferrari F430. The car that matched properly my red Ferrari jacket. People started to notice the cars and came taking pictures and chatted with us and commented how nice these cars were.
This Ferrari F430 has a traditional 6-speed manual gearbox with gated shifter instead of slower-shifting and more complicated puddle shifter. I inserted the key into the ignition, depressed the clutch, rotated it to the ignition position, then pressed the red "Start" button on the steering wheel to start the engine. The engine sitting behind the seats is loud and powerful, but not as loud as the Lamborghini Gallardo. There is a Manettino dial on the steering wheel that can adjust the various performance characteristic such as suspension settings, stability and traction control thresholds. I set the dial to "Sport" mode. I practiced shifting it through all gears to get a feel of the gear positions before hitting the road.
The engine is smooth and powerful and makes a nice screaming tone as the gas peddle was pushed hard. From the driver's seat, I can see the engine as I looked back. This was my favorite car for the day.
We drove through more twisty roads to highway 1 around Pescadro and parked near the beach. The next car for me was Porsche 911 Carrera S.
I got tired of shifting, so I let the tiptronic auto transmission take care of the shifting business. Hmmm... Not so exciting... Maybe I didn't push it hard enough.
The next car for me was the Lotus Elise S. This car was built like a race car (or a go-cart). The interior looks very spartan with bare metal on the floor and it's an extremely light and low car. It took me a while to crawl into the car. Also took me a while to try to use the racing harness belt. This car is all about pure driving. Every little imperfection on the road was felt on the small steering wheel. The firm suspension made the car felt like it was riding on rails.
Travis warned me that this car did not have any sort of traction control, so I should be careful accelerating, braking, or shifting when going into a corner. Anyway, I was driving very carefully on this car. We stopped back at Saratoga again to switch cars. While trying to crawl out of the Lotus Elise S, I had a cramp on my right leg! Ouch! I gracefully paused for a few seconds and nobody noticed I had a cramp.
The final car for me was the Nissan GTR Black Edition. This is Nissan's supercar. It's twin-turbo V6 and 4-wheel-drive setup runs from 0-60mph in 2.9 seconds. This is the final car for the day and we started to head back to San Jose. Due to the heavy traffic, I did not get to push the car hard. I was only able to do some occasional linear acceleration tests. I lost the cars in front of me when merging into highway 17. So, I pulled over to the side and programmed the MapQuest app on the iphone and got me back to San Jose club house.
There was another party being hosted at Club Autosport on that afternoon/evening. But I was ready to call it a day after hours of intense driving with full concentration.
This was really an exhilarating experience everyone should try it at least once during their lifetime! Before you try it, make sure you can drive a stick shift.