It's not often one gets to press the pedal to the metal. So when I got the opportunity to drive a professional test course at the StubHub Center in Carson, I buckled in.
The event included three courses: the technology course, the dynamic course and the performance course. Professional drivers, like Formula 1 star Davy Jones, were on hand to provide a little guidance. Jaguar hosted the event and provided a few cars from its 2014 line, including some of the new F-types.
"Everyone loves the speed, but it's all about the handling," Jones said.
On the performance course, I meandered left, then careened right, then into a U-turn, the firesand orange F-type seemed to anticipate my every move, fluidly adjusting like water seeking equilibrium.
The 550 horses under the hood are nice on the straightaway stretch of the dynamic course -- as I discovered when I felt like I was about to lift off like an airplane on a runway -- but given the choice of speeding up the 5 Freeway or hugging the turns on Highway 1, give me the twists and turns.
Pro drivers offer guidance through the performance course. (Photo by Scott Bridges)
Jones says he is a big fan of driving Pacific Coast Highway, but another one of his favorite local routes is Mulholland Highway, especially where it ventures into the state park area of Malibu.
On the technology course, wet and slippery conditions were recreated and I was urged to spin out and slide to experience the feeling of being out of control. On the next lap through the course, however, with the touch of a button, I slipped into a traction-control mode that had the tires gripping the road like it was made of flypaper.
Drivers experienced Jaguar cars at the StubHub Center. (Photo by Scott Bridges)
So, being in a gearhead state of mind, I next headed to the Petersen Auto Museum in Mid-city L.A. to experience the World's Greatest Sport Coupes. A dozen celebrity curators were chosen to select their favorite coupes to show off.
"Sports coupes are the reason most of us fell in love with the automobile in the first place," said the Petersen's executive director, Terry Karges.
"These vehicles represent the pinnacle of art, design, engineering and performance and have been built all over the world," Karges said. "Choosing a dozen sports coupes to represent the finest of the breed was no easy task, which is why we invited the world's most prominent car collectors to guest curate this exhibit."
The World's Greatest Sport Coupes at the Petersen. (Courtesy Photo)
So what were the vehicles selected? Try these beauties on for size:
• 1948 Jaguar Custom "Black Pearl" chosen by Metallica's James Hetfield
• 1954 Plymouth Explorer Concept chosen by director/producer Francis Ford Coppola
• 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing chosen by renowned car collector Bruce Meyer
• 1961 Aston Martin DB4 Zagato chosen by Jaguar's director of design Ian Callum
• 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO chosen by Pink Floyd's Nick Mason
• 1963 Ferrari Berlinetta Lusso chosen by comedian/TV host Adam Carolla
• 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray chosen by Top Gear USA hosts Tanner Foust, Adam Ferrara and Rutledge Wood
• 1964 Porsche 356SC chosen by actor and race car driver Patrick Dempsey
• 1967 Jaguar E-Type chosen by American racer and team owner Bobby Rahal
• 1968 Ford GT40 Mark III chosen by Chief Creative Officer of Pixar and Disney John Lasseter
• 1974 Iso Grifo chosen by AC/DC's Brian Johnson
• 1991 Acura NSX chosen by Motor Trend Magazine's Angus MacKenzie
Bobby Rahal's selection: 1967 Jaguar E-Type. (Courtesy photo)
Car culture is central to Southern Californians, and with summer-like conditions right now, it feels like time to take the top down and leave town on a road trip.