New York Daily Photo Analytics

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Great Minds and Fools

If you have lived in this city long enough, your find your mind often contemplating the consequences of leaving things of value out in the open. It's not necessarily the product of a criminal mind, but rather one of seeing too much vandalism and too many break-ins. I lived here through a long period of time when "no radio" signs in car windows were an everyday sight.

The inflexible rule of thumb when parking a vehicle in New York City is to leave nothing in plain view in your vehicle at all. On July 29, 2009, I wrote of this in Urban Coral Atoll and that many owners of luxury vehicles may leave their doors unlocked and "convertibles, top down, parked unattended in the streets of New York City, a clear signal to potential miscreants that there is absolutely nothing of value in this vehicle." Recently, I saw what appeared to be this anti-vandalism effort mirrored.

Walking along Washington Square North, I saw a Mercedes 380SL convertible with its top down - a perfect photo opportunity to illustrate this proactive anti-vandalism parking approach in action. What was more surprising was that just a short distance away, I found another Mercedes 380SL convertible with its top down. Both bore New Jersey license plates. It seemed likely that the owners were friends who shared a passion for the same vehicle and came into the city together for a romp around town.

Counter measures notwithstanding, owning a luxury vehicle and street parking it in New York City requires intestinal fortitude and some degree of reckless abandon. I have seen owners of Rolls Royces, Ferraris, and Lamborghinis park on the street, even in front of fire hydrants and other no parking zones. If your vehicle is towed, there is the risk of damage in the towing process. Not to mention, of course, the cost of a parking ticket and towing fee, now $185 plus tax.

However, no matter how you plan or prepare, vandalism is always a possibility, and to leave a luxury vehicle on the streets of New York City is unfathomable to me. At times, I feel badly and assume that the owner may just be a visitor, naive regarding the realities of the streets of New York. At other times, I imagine the owner may be a conspicuous consumer, flaunting the sign value of his car, as if to say:  "Don't worry. I have enough money that if I am towed, a few hundred dollars means nothing. If the car is damaged, I'll just have it repaired. And if is stolen, I will just buy another one."

Is parking two Mercedes convertibles with tops down on the streets of Manhattan a case of Great Minds Think Alike or Fools Seldom Differ? :)


Birdman said...

Another reason for enjoying life in a small city or town.

Anonymous said...

Hey, just in defense of these Merc owners...

1. As a former convertible driver, I can tell you that many people choose to leave the top down when parking because it actually reduces the chances of significant damage. Sure, somebody can steal something right out of your car, but they won't be slashing your $2000 roof to get in.

2. These are both nice cars, but they are actually pretty old. I don't think that this model has been made since the late 1980's. The average new Honda Accord probably has a higher retail value, so I don't know if you could properly characterize them as "luxury" cars at this point.

3. As a kid, I had a friend whose parents bought some really nice living room furniture, but actually refused to sit on it for fear of "ruining" it somehow. I say any possession that you are afraid to use for its intended purpose is one that you shouldn't own to begin with. What's the good of owning a cool convertible if you can't drive it into the city on a nice day?

4. Love your blog.

Brian Dubé said...

Anon - I agree on all points - I always suspected slashing of a top was the primary motive to keeping a convertible open. So we vote Great Minds, not Fools. You are also correct about pricing and vintage, these vehicle were made from 1980-1985 and currently being sold from about $10K to $15K. But I have seen true luxury cars (like those mentioned in the article) left on the streets in the same manner. I had a similar conversation with an antiques dealer - she felt antique furniture should be USED. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Must be fun to retrieve the car after a thunderstorm.

new york city florist shop said...

It may seem reckless to someone hardened to the not so pleasant things that occur often in New York (the break-ins and so on), but these people may have reached a point of simply not caring all that much anymore. The argument about the cost of roof-top slashing is also pretty solid; I would do the same thing.

Great Minds indeed!

Brian Dubé said...

bew york daily florist shop - It's true, as previously commented on the use of furniture and antiques. Too much worry about your possessions and they never are fully enjoyed.