By Jack Baruth
Friday, Aug 10th, 2012 @ 11:45 am
 
In many parts of North America, accelerating to 78 mph on a state or federal highway is completely legal. In others, it will get you a raised eye, but nothing more, from the trooper who is clocking you from the roadside. In Vancouver, British Columbia, however, a group of four Porsche owners out for a drive on the Sea-To-Sky Highway were fined nearly $400 each for their "reckless operation."

To add insult to injury, their cars were impounded for a week.

CBC News reports that four Porsche owners were caught driving at approximately 125 km/h (78 mph) in an 80 km/h (50 mph) zone. The accompanying photograph shows the Porsches (two GT3 models, a 997 Turbo, and a 993 Turbo) stopped by the side of a road that would be a 6 5mph freeway virtually anywhere south of the US-Canada border. Canada, however, generally posts limits which would be considered to be speedtrap bait in the post-Carter era United States.

According to a police spokesperson, this was the second time a group of Porsches was seen speeding in the area over the past week. The first time, the group was given a warning. The second time, a decision was made to cite the drivers and seize the cars - but there's no evidence (and the police do not claim) that the groups were in any way affiliated or even similar.

This is far from the first time Canadian peace officers have seized private vehicles for offenses which might not even be ticket-worthy in the United States. A "street racing" law in the province of Ontario allows vehicles to be permanently impounded for speeding 50 km/h over the limit. Somebody in the Canadian legislature must have watched the slow-motion, plenty-of-time-for-danger-to-manifold races in the "Fast and Furious" movies, confused it with reality, and based the definition of "street racing" on 16 quarter-miles. Consider this: In under 14 seconds from a dead stop, a V6-powered Toyota Camry can be entering the Impound Zone.

In this case, however, it wasn't a Camry being impounded. It was a group of cars worth anywhere from sixty to a hundred and twenty thousand dollars. As a result, the comments on the CBC article have a rather unsettling populist tint to them:

- a week without their porche? i bet every one of them has another vehicle, and some will be more expensive and faster than the porches.
- send their cars to the crusher and then drop the crushed Porshes in each of the owner's yard/driveway as a reminder. Yes, the speed limit applies to rich people also.
- Keep the cars! Their daddies will just buy them new ones anyway!
- This type of ticket or any ticket should be floated against your income . High wage earner higher ticket .
- Well they will just get a new car from their daddies anyway, so put them in the crusher!
- Question. Why aren't fines a percentage of income?
- Crush these cars right in front of the owners eyes..
- The cars should be seized and sold at a public auction from which the current owners are excluded. The drivers should receive substantial fines. i.e. $10,000+, and their driving privileges should be suspended for 1-3 years.


Comments like this, when they occur as frequently as they did in the over 350 responses to the original article, should worry anybody who likes sporting cars or even luxury cars. As soon as we accept the idea that people should be punished in any way - selective enforcement, higher traffic fines, arbitrary crushing of vehicles - for having the nerve to earn a couple of bucks and buy a nice car with the money, we are well on the way to an "us and them" mindset. The "us" will be the majority of citizens who either can't afford a Porsche/Corvette/Miata/whatever or don't care to buy one, and the "them" will be... well, it will be us, and we will be in the distinct minority.

The fact of the matter is that Porsche ownership, or ownership of any other fast and fun car, isn't restricted to the super-wealthy or the spoiled brats of the world. The average Porsche Club meeting is filled with middle-class people who put a very high percentage of their effort and income into living their own dreams of sports-car ownership. The same is true for any other enthusiast club. Even the Ferrari Club of America has plenty of guys in it who are working on $25,000 308 GT4s in their one-car garages. These are real, regular, decent folks and they don't deserve to be singled out or punished because they want to drive a particular kind of automobile.

The world would be a sadder, greyer place if people were afraid to spend their money on a bright red 911 GT3 for fear of being the target of "special attention" from police, fellow road users, or disgruntled econobox owners. What's a cop to do when he sees four drivers going a little bit faster than everyone else in a bunch of "exotic" cars? Pull 'em over, fine them, write 'em up - but seizing cars for doing less than 80 mph on a highway is misguided populism and it sends the wrong message to everyone. Take their money and let them go.