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Following a pack of old cars and waiting for one to break doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun. But when that pack of cars is full of vintage Ferraris, Maseratis, Alfas, and Benzes, the trip becomes much more amusing—and high-speed. Recently I had the opportunity to play chauffer to fellow photographer Robert Guio as we followed the mechanical support crew for the California Mille road rally, which takes place each year in central California. We were embedded with a small group of highly capable mechanics following the pack to ensure everyone makes it through the journey.
Keeping up with these vintage—and in some cases priceless—machines proved to be an excellent ride and handling test for the Murano. So what did I learn from going flat-out through the deserted central California canyons? The Murano, like most SUVs, is not meant to tackle the twisties, but I also never lost the pack. The supple suspension, higher sidewall tires, and decent brakes meant that the rough, pothole-filled ranch roads didn’t slow me down. I also ended each day as comfortable as I started it, a testament to how nice the Murano is for long distances.
One of the cars we followed, a particularly cool barn-find Frua-bodied 1956 Maserati A6G 2000 Gran Sport Berlinetta, maintained an impressive average speed through the rough, twisty valleys. The owner stopped at one point for a photo and yelled out, “How did you keep up?” Sixty years of technology will do that even with a photographer comfortably snapping away from the passenger seat. This experience just reaffirms what I have known for a long time: The Murano is an excellent photo support vehicle.
‘How did you keep up?’ the man in the 1956 Maserati asked. Because Murano!
When it comes down to it, whatever vehicle I am assigned as a long-term test car ends up not only being my daily ride but also an integral part of my work. The same supple ride quality that soaks up the bumps during normal driving is hugely beneficial when you are trying to get sharp action photos. The panoramic sunroof that is so nice on warm California nights is equally enjoyed as a place to stick a camera as I chase a sports car up a mountain road. Now if only I didn’t have to Photoshop out reflections of Pacific Sunset orange paint out of each shot.
One issue that has recently presented itself is that the car occasionally will not recognize the smartkey. The fob itself works perfectly, unlocking, locking, and raising the rear hatch. The problem arises when I actually try to start the car; it displays a message saying that it can’t recognize the key. Repositioning the key closer to the dash doesn’t always relieve the problem, either, and you have to keep trying the start button until it works. On one such infuriating instance, I resorted to locking the doors and using remote start to get it running. The problem has been intermittent, and I have yet to bring it in for service, but I will let you know the prognosis.