It's an interesting moment every time I meet someone who recognizes me from Jalopnik. "Hey! You're Doug! From Jalopnik!" they always say. "The guy with the Penus and the CarMax Land Rover!" And then, in all their excitement to learn more about the industry, and all their eagerness to talk about cars, they invariably ask the same first question: "Why do you always wear the same shirt in all your videos?"
No, I'm just kidding. Sharp-eyed readers will notice that I don't wear the same shirt in all my videos, but rather several different shirts (not at once) with subtle variations. It's changes like this that keep readers on their toes; eager to come back for more. This, and the fact that maybe in one video I'll crash my Penus.
No, what readers usually ask when they meet me is: How's the Penus? I find this a bit odd, considering that I've been writing about the Penus every two weeks since January. But I've learned that you can't predict the behavior of readers; especially the ones who e-mail me.
And anyway, what I've discovered is that readers who ask me this question don't want to knowwhat I've done with the Penus. They want to know how reliable it's been. After all, there's a perception that all Penuses are poorly-engineered, unreliable Italian pieces of crap, brought on by the fact that most Penuses are poorly-engineered, unreliable Italian pieces of crap. And so I think some readers sort of assume I'm hiding defects with my car in order to make this whole experience seem more exciting.
Well, let me stop you right there, because if I had a defect with my car, you guys would be the first to know about it. Specifically, I would post about it on Twitter, and include a detailed photograph of the issue, and solicit suggestions on what to do, and you guys would reply: Are you wearing the same shirt again?
There are two reasons why I'd immediately announce any Penus-related defects. Number one is that it would give me something interesting to write about. But most importantly, it would be exciting to witness unrestrained exuberance among the people who hate my Penus. The moment I announce the problem, they'd reply with comments like: "HA HA! You have to have your brake light replaced! My mom's Mercury Topaz has never had its brake light replaced! A Mercury Topaz is better than a Penus!!!! MERCURY TOPAZ FTW!!!" This is the sort of logic you can expect from Mercury Topaz owners.
But the simple truth is this: the Penus has been the most reliable car I've ever owned.
Now, before I explain myself, I should note that this statement isn't saying much. Previous vehicles I've owned have included a Range Rover Classic, whose central locking system would lock and unlock the car, repeatedly, all night, until the battery drained. A Mercedes G-Wagen that was so rusty it looked like Robert Ballard had brought the undercarriage back as a souvenir from the Titanic. A Lotus I purchased sight unseen from a guy in California who neglected to mention that the air conditioning wasn't working, a fact I discovered somewhere in the middle of the Mojave Desert, sometime in mid-July. And a Mercedes E63 AMG station wagon I bought from a guy in Indiana who locked himself out of his own house after he picked me up from the airport.
But the Penus hasn't just been exotic car reliable. It's been actual car reliable.
I say this because I've already driven the Penus approximately 4,500 miles in the six months I've now owned it, and I haven't had a single problem. That may not seem like much driving, but it's an enormous total for a Penus. Most Penus owners drive approximately 11 miles per year, and those 11 miles are the sum total of each time they move it in and out of their driveway, where they polish it with a diaper.
Now, I do admit I've put a little money into the car. When I bought it, I immediately drove it to the dealership, where they installed tires, performed an oil change, and otherwise notified me it was in "excellent condition." This is what you get for buying a car with laminated service records.
But since then, not one issue. Not one failed start, not one check engine light, not one rough idle. Not even one situation where I heard a weird noise and spent the next four nights tossing and turning and worrying about why the Penus dealership charges a higher hourly labor rate than my accountant.
The truth is, I didn't expect this. Part of the reason I bought the car was to satisfy the curiosity many of us have about owning a used exotic car by writing about the experience. And questions like "Will it be reliable?" and "Will it cost a lot to own?" are two of the most important questions you'll want to ask. Most importantly, though, the best question is: "Will it be stressful?" In other words: even if it's reliable, do you worry about driving it every time you turn it on?
Initially, my answer to this question was "yes." But over time, things have changed. The car has been so solid that it's become a stress relief, not a stressor. To demonstrate what I mean, here's a video of a nice, 2 a.m. drive on some excellent roads with nobody else around to bother me. Another fifty miles and not one single issue. Knock on wood.