Supercars are sleek, sexy and as fun as they are fast.
At least that's the theory.
The reality isn't always in step, as I discovered recently after a week in a Porsche 911 Targa.
Everything started fine. My metallic blue Targa 4S with the slick PDK auto gearbox was waiting looking like it had just rolled off the production line.
The clever folding roof quickly got its first 20-second run from up to down and it was off into the sunshine, boxer six-cylinder thrumming in the background with the occasional whistle from the two turbos that have transformed Porsche's iconic sports car.
Freeway to stress
But it was that freeway that almost made the Targa a major target.
Cruising at 110km/h I notice brake lights appearing ahead.
I start slowing but it's not mimicked by the Hyundai behind; it comes rushing up on my tail, prompting me to ease off the brakes and get as close to the car in front to give him more space.
Not helping the situation is heavier braking ahead.
To my left is another car and to my right is a drop-off to grass and trees, so my only option is to hit the brakes harder.
The 911 has phenomenal brakes, so I'm not for a second worried about not stopping.
But I am worried about said Hyundai not matching the braking power of the six-piston, cross-drilled discs bolted underneath the 911.
Somehow he manages to pull it up, but chaos is brewing further back.
Next, there's an enormous crunchy-thumpy noise accompanied by bits of car spewing left and right.
I'm all but filling out the insurance forms in my mind, all the while conscious of the inconvenience a bent car will be to Porsche.
Four or five cars directly behind pull over, but the Targa somehow manages to avoid the carnage.
Close call number one.
Less than an hour later the 911 Targa was safely tucked away in my carport, where it remained for a few days, save for the occasional suburban blat to reacquaint myself with what is one of the world's best driving cars.
A garage is all but essential with a car like this.
Not because it needs to stay out of the elements, but because you worry what others could do to it.
Safe from the world
Some people seem to think the mere fact you're driving something nice means you may want some homemade stripes etched into the paintwork.
Or there's parking damage, much of which people aren't prepared to own up to once they see the word "Porsche" slashed across the tail.
Drive a supercar into a carpark and you find yourself analysing who you're parking next to. Cars with lots of child seats and dings in the doors are instantly wiped off the list. Rusty 1980s Corollas also tend to initiate another lap or two of the lot.
On-street parking isn't much better. A few years ago I remember parking a Ferrari in a trendy beachside suburb for a quick early dinner. It turned out to be one of the fastest dinners I'd ever eaten – only because I got sick of checking that: (a) nobody was parking too close to it; (b) nobody was running a key down it, or (c) someone wasn't trying to back a tow truck up to it.
Threats from above
But the next attack came from above, where there was little protection.
A classic Sydney afternoon thunderstorm rolled in, bringing with it the usual light show as bolts cracked around us.
Within minutes there were pea-sized chunks of ice pinging off the car.
I grabbed anything that looked soft – towels and blankets mainly – and started throwing them over the Targa.
Even a small amount of padding would take some pace off the hail stones before they made it to metal.
It was a tense 10 minutes accompanied by the ferocious noise of hail stripping trees, blasting roof tops and covering the road. Occasionally one pinged off my head as I repositioned the homemade 911 armour to ensure it covered as much of the car as possible.
Once the storm had passed I gave the car a quick check and it appeared it had survived without a mark.
But once dry we spotted one small mark on the driver's side rear wheel arch – the only part of the car that hadn't been covered with something soft (we'd thrown a tent over it because the towels had run out!).
But compared with some of the other cars in the area it had escaped beautifully.
With thunder and clouds swirling I took the opportunity of a break in the weather to drop the 911 back to the carport – for my sanity, if nothing else.
The relief of saying farewell
They say bad things come in threes. Which is why I was content to hand the Targa back before that third thing – whatever it was – could bite.
The next morning the car was back at its dealership home base.
It was a bittersweet farewell. 911s are phenomenal cars and this one was no different.
But the close shaves were a reminder of how the excitement can be briefly overshadowed if things don't go to plan.
Experienced similar stress over a supercar? Share your experience in the comments section below.
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