Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

October 23, 2017
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Driving in the lap of luxury

Forget the Tercel and Escort.
Renting a car just isn't what it used to be

Automobiles have become far more than simple transportation. For one, they're the most widely recognized status symbols in this pluralist society. Not so long ago, a proper doctor could drive any car he or she wished as long as it was a Buick and it was black. These days, environmentalists target gas-guzzling SUV behemoths as a serious threat to the planet's health and demand that such cars be banned. Serious thinkers -- Harper's editor Lewis Lapham among them -- suggest the West's insatiable appetite for cheap oil is one of the root causes of Middle East-backed terrorism.

Quite a burden for an invention that was supposed to liberate humankind and make it easier to take the kids to Grandma's house. But there is one other thing: cars are a whole lot of fun. And some cars are a whole lot more fun than others. Not surprisingly, those that are the most fun of all are extravagantly expensive and burn an indecent quantity of gasoline. If you're among the many physicians who fantasize about Corvettes, Ferraris, Prowlers and simultaneously fret about the harm even your mid-sized sedan is causing to the air quality, here's an idea: trade down to the most basic economy car for day-to-day use and trade up to the ultimate vehicle of your dreams for those few days every year when you're on holiday.

It's easier than you might think. Exotic cars are available for rent locally in larger cities and around the world in popular tourist centres. The major car rental companies can make arrangements and there are scores of smaller companies which offer everything from the sleek Jaguar XK-8 convertible to an adrenalin-pumping Porsche Boxster or the hugely overpowered Viper GTS.

The charge that comes from tooling around in one of these beauties appears to rival sex. One couple who recently hired a Ferrari 355 in Las Vegas from Dream Car Rentals said "it was one of the best things we've ever done together. There's not a day goes by that we don't talk about it or think about it."

Ferrari not quite the bucket seat for you? Then try a BMW Z3, Lexus GS300, Audi TT, Range Rover, top-of-the-line Mercedes or even a corrugated Hummer. There's not a car on earth that someone won't rent to you.

Fantasy cars at fantasy prices
That's all well and good. The question that goes begging, however, is what does it cost? It's not cheap, but then you didn't think it would be. Prices range from $200 a day to as much as $375, with most vehicles coming in around $300, including 165 free kilometres. Weekend rates are higher. You can save a few hundred dollars if you take the car for a whole week but at that level, who's counting? If that's too rich for your blood, start slowly with a less exotic car like a Chrysler Sebring convertible ($120 a day) or a PT Cruiser ($80). These models, and others -- certain Volvo models, for example -- are available through the major national rental companies.

Is it worth it? Unlike a yacht, this is not a question of whether you can afford it or not. You can, even if it's just for a day or two. The real question is: do you dare? If your pulse races and your palms sweat at the thought of sliding a Ferrari or a 'Vette into first and easing up on the clutch, then, courage, my friend, your heart has already made up its mind.

 

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.

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