Preparing to shoot a few segments of Big Jon in 5 for BEER2WHISKEY in our upstairs studio at Barley's Taproom in downtown Greenville. That's owner Josh Beebe preparing for his closeup.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

My Week With the Nissan GT-R in Spite of LeBron James

Stone Brewing Co's Nissan NV traveling taproom.

I was in San Diego in mid June with Nissan. Nissan flew members of the motoring press -- I love that term; sounds impressive, yes? -- there to introduce us to the 2014 Versa Note. It's the updated hatchback version of Versa.

I tell you this because the Note is a fine little entry-level hatchback that gets 36 mpg on the highway out of its little 109-horsepower 1.6-liter four; and also because attending the event thrust me among Nissan PR types.

The Nissan's vendor that brings me its cars in South Carolina had notified me the previous week that I would be getting the $100,000 2014 GT-R when I returned from San Diego. Never having driven one before, I was a might excited. 

For the uninitiated, the GT-R is Nissan's super car. A 545-horsepower twin-turbocharged V6 turns all four wheels by way of a six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission. It can blast its way to 60 miles per hour from a standing stop in about 3 -- yes, that's 3 -- seconds. 

Not simply a straight-line speed merchant, GT-R corners like a roller coaster. The dual exhausts rumble like the Orient Express. At low speeds the transmission sometimes sounds like a coffee can full of ball bearings, but all of this is perfectly normal. Stomping on the accelerator is met with a burst of forward thrust that provides some idea of what reentering the earth's atmosphere in a Mercury capsule must have felt like.

Sidewalk gawkers snapped photos of it when I was stopped at red lights; fanboys approached me to ask about it in parking lots. It was a great week of showing off, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Back to the Nissan event: As I was sipping a glass of wine in Nissan's hospitality area in the Andaz Hotel in San Diego's Gaslight District waiting on the shuttle to dinner, a couple of the Nissan PR types plopped down in chairs around me. One of them has, among other duties, the job of chief wrangler for Nissan's national fleet of press cars.

Somehow our conversation turned to the GT-R. I casually mentioned that I would have a GT-R waiting for me at the Greenville-Spartanburg Airport when I returned home. In fact, the key was being overnighted to me at the hotel.

The wrangler, who will remain nameless, responded that he knew I was getting the GT-R. He added that he has three of them in the media fleet and knows where each one is every minute of every day. He added that I should thank my regional PR guy, who made the case for me getting it. (I have, of course, done that.)

Then Dan went on to say that I also needed to thank LeBron James. What? LeBron James?

I couldn't care less about the Miami Heat. Sure, I lived in South Florida for over 20 years, but I have no use for the NBA. I just don't follow it. I really don't look forward to the spring and what seems like six weeks of playoffs. I can't figure out how a sport with a regular season of more than 80 games, somehow needs another 50 -- or whatever it is -- playoff games to find the top team.

So, when someone -- even someone who knows what he's talking about -- tells me I have to thank some NBA gangsta for anything, I have questions. 

It turns out that old Lebron is on the market for a GT-R. His people had worked out a deal with Nissan to drive one of the press cars for a few days. The GT-R in question was the one promised to me. At some point LeBron decided he wanted to wait until after the championship series for his GT-R wheel time. Here's where the thank-you comes in: Had the Heat not won game 6 against the Spurs, the GT-R would have been pulled from the press rotation and handed over to LeBron. That would have pulled it out from under me. Because the series went to game 7, the GT-R came to me for my week and then was bound for LeBron.

So, I had a stake in game 6 of the championship and didn't even know it. Thank, God, had I known, I might have forced myself to watch.

That was a close call.


  1. With what was on the line, you would have had a heart attack watching Game 6.

    1. I nearly stroke out 8 to 10 times a year with the Steelers that I love; suffering a heart attack over the Heat would have killed me.