Really, he told me this the day after I brought it home. But he spoke so quietly, I wasn't sure of what I heard. So I urged him to speak louder, and at 65 MPH, somewhere between the 35 and the 30 turn on highway 41, he complied.
My car and I needed to have a talk. We've only known each other for a week, and I wanted to get to know him better. I decided to take the long way home -- highway 1 to Morro Bay, then 41 up to Atascadero.
Highway 41 is a special road. In the scant 15 miles between Morro Bay and Atascadero, there is something for everyone. There are long straightaways, passing lanes, wide, sweeping turns, and tight, narrow curves. It is almost impossible to drive that stretch of road without getting at least a slight taste of just how fun driving can be.
I chose this road for precisely that reason. At night, it is sparsely populated, providing a relatively safe environment in which to test the limits of oneself, and one's car.
It's not without its share of hazards, however. Portions of the road itself are carved into the sides of hills. One miscalculation may send an overconfident driver into (and perhaps over) the guardrail. The unwary driver may also happen across deer, which occasionally meander across the road. Needless to say, I left myself room for error.
We spoke at length during the drive... mostly about how to shift well. He chided me for being imprecise with the clutch. I sighed, reminded him about speed limits and how they apply to us, too. The conversation was not off to a good start.
As we approached 41, he taught me a bit more about downshifting ("Don't back off the gas so much, dummy.") and reminded me his brakes are there for a reason. He purred approvingly as we were coming down the offramp, and as we started up the highway, he reminded me how much I've learned since that first test-drive a week ago.
We chatted amiably about cruise control and the weather as we headed up to the first set of turns. As we cruised at a leisurely 60, I checked around us -- nobody in front, and no one behind. Perfect.
I dropped him down a gear. His growl rose; he was more than ready. I barely had time to push myself back in the seat, and we began.
First, the 40mph turn. His tires bit, hard, and he begged for more. On the second turn, I gave it to him. I pushed him toward the center, trying to see just how far he wanted to go. We whipped through several more successive turns, each progressively tighter and more hair-raising than the last.
As we approached the 35 turn he purred; this was his element, he was happy. We crossed the apex of the 35, and his purr rose to a delighted whine as we blended into the 30 and dug in, pushing back against the bank of the turn.
I glanced down. 65 MPH.
In that moment, as we were carving out the 30, engine growling, wheels brushing against the center reflectors on the road, he spoke his name.