Ahead of the Curve

Ahead of the Curve: Speed Matters

If the swiftest possible ride is your goal, check out these boats, cars, golf carts and more.

BY January 9, 2017


I am not sure if I’ve mentioned this to you in the past, but I’m originally from Saratoga Springs, New York—a place similar to Naples, except that it has more horse manure. The reason I tell you this is not so you can organize a fundraiser to send air fresheners to the needy people of upstate New York, but rather to alert you to the fact that I have just returned from a leisurely visit to our nation’s Northeast.

A normal person would book a return flight. But instead, I decided to rent a car and enjoy the scenic drive back to Southwest Florida.

Unfortunately, I semi-on-purpose rented a Mitsubishi Mirage for the 1,400-mile trip. Now, I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess you have no idea what a Mitsubishi Mirage is, what it looks like or what the handling characteristics are for said vehicle, but if I were to tell you it was manufactured in the same facility that produces cans of tuna fish, you’d know all you need to know.

It looks like or what the handling characteristics are for said vehicle, but if I were to tell you it was manufactured in the same facility that produces cans of tuna fish, you’d know all you need to know.

In fact, when the woman at the car rental company handed me the keys, she genuinely seemed as surprised as I was that they even made these cars anymore. Pulling out of the parking lot and into traffic was a harrowing experience that never got old. At every onramp I literally took my life into my hands. It got so bad I actually Googled information about the car. That’s when everything made sense—the car, a brand-new 2017 four-door sedan, had a three-cylinder, 78-horsepower engine under the hood.

It’s still a mystery to me as to whether the National Highway Safety Administration is aware that this car even exists, but as I continually noted 0 to 60 mph times in the sub-eight-minute range, I got to thinking about how much I appreciate speed. In fact, someone in The Secret once told me that the universe likes speed. Speed is good. So now that I’m back, I’m on a quest for speed—and Southwest Florida has amazed me once again. Because aside from the Mirage I just dropped off at the rental car place, we have some shockingly fast stuff down here.

For example, you probably enjoy boating. Who doesn’t? (OK, maybe John Jacob Astor IV.) But most of us are willing to accept idle wake speed. In fact, because of manatees near my house during season, I’m only allowed to travel at the speed of wet tissue paper gliding along the surface of the Caloosahatchee. Nevertheless, according to Terry Sobo of Nor-Tech Hi-Performance Powerboats in North Fort Myers, their 4000 Supercat Roadster featuring twin 1350 horsepower Mercury Mercruiser racing engines can hit 170 mph. That means in about 23 minutes they could turn the entire Gulf of Mexico into chum. They’ve built 12 of them so far and several of them reside locally. And while they’re constructed to spec and take a year to build, they cost only approximately $900,000. That’s pretty good. Best of all, they have a bathroom—which at 170 mph would be an experience you would never forget. nor-techboats.com

If you prefer to do your speeding on solid ground, the fastest car in Southwest Florida is actually available for sale (at press time) at Naples Motorsports. According to Road & Track magazine, the 2015 Ferrari LaFerrari does 0 to 60 in 2.4 seconds. It can do the quarter-mile in 9.7 seconds (at 149.2 mph). In 15 seconds you reach 186 mph. And it has a top speed of 217 mph. This particular limited-production hypercar (only 500 were built—with just 120 of those making it to the U.S.) is Ferrari red and features red leather seats that are molded into the carbon fiber chassis (don’t worry, the steering and pedals can be adjusted specifically to your body). This car has just 55 miles on the odometer and can be yours for a mere $4.35 million. You better hurry over to the dealership, they go quick. Ha! naplesmotorsports.com

OK, all kidding aside, fast cars and boats are fine, but what about your time on the fairway? The real problem with golf is that it’s too slow of a game. Well, not if you slip a few bucks to the kids at Gator Golf Cars. Though normal carts top out at 12 to 15 mph, they’ve sold several electric golf carts that do 35. Better yet, they can tune them to hit 55 mph. (Above that speed your insurance company places a big red flag on your file and you’re screwed.) Just imagine, somewhere around here there are a few people capable of playing a round of 18 holes in 31 minutes. True, there’s the added time of giving insurance info to the multiple foursomes you’ve run over, but it still beats walking. gatorgolfcars.com

And speaking of standing still for long periods of time, one of the most annoying things around here is visiting friends in high-rise condominiums and having to listen to Muzak’s version of Muskrat Love for an extended period of time in the elevator. (Personally, I’m a big fan of Toni Tennille, but the Captain always seemed a little pious to me.) It turns out that most high-rise condos in the area have elevators that average 350 feet per minute. But our elevator sources tell us that there is a 12-story condo on Fort Myers Beach with elevators that do 450 feet per minute, meaning you won’t ever get to hear about Sam and Suzie as they whirl and they twirl and they tango/singing and jinging a jango. (Songwriting credits to Willis Alan Ramsey, who, on the topic of speed, could not cash those checks fast enough.) We won’t tell you the name of the building in order to keep the gawkers from storming the place and disrupting residents, but we can tell you that it pales in comparison to the world’s fastest elevator in the Shanghai Tower in Shanghai, China. Those elevators travel at a whopping 67 feet per second.

Of course, elevators only get you so far up, so we thought it might be a good idea to track down the fastest private jets in Southwest Florida, which turn out to be superior to a Mitsubishi Mirage in every way. Scott Phillips of Jet 1, an aircraft charter, sales and management company in Naples says we have several Cessna Citation Xs in the area. Currently the world’s fastest private jets, the newest model has a top speed of Mach 0.935 (or 717 mph, give or take) according to industry journals. That’s faster than most commercial jets. Of course, by the time you get up to top speed, you’ll be out of Southwest Florida, making this entire column moot.


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