New York Boldfacers Get Behind the Wheel
by neal santelmann
illustrations by daniel o’leary
Family driving in the city doesn’t have to be so vanilla, of course. With a baby on the way, Rachelle Hruska, the socially connected founder of Guest of a Guest, spent six months figuring out how to keep her city dignity with a family-style ride. “We knew we wanted an SUV, but it had to be environmentally sound because we didn’t want to be ‘those assholes’ driving an SUV.” Eventually Hruska and her husband, hotelier Sean MacPherson, settled on a hybrid Toyota Highlander. Then they had it murdered out.
“The real way to murder out a car is to paint it black and not add the primer. We didn’t want to ruin our brand-new car, so we didn’t strip the paint, just wrapped it in the sticker condom,” explains Hruska, who has seen plenty of murder out how-to videos on YouTube. “It’s really funny, because people usually only do it to really screwed-up cars. Lindsay Lohan did it to hers.” Hruska and MacPherson keep the SUV in their private garage on Jane Street—“that garage is why we’re never moving”—and also have a specially murdered out Bugaboo for their now two-month-old, Maxwell. Now that’s style.
So how does a Nebraska transplant with a new baby handle herself in city traffic? “Driving here is definitely a gnarly adventure,” she says. “I get the whole congestion thing and the aggression thing. When I’m a passenger, I’m a lot less polite—‘Can you believe that guy cut you off?!’—but when I’m driving, my style is pretty Zen.”
Whatever else goes into fashioning a New York driving style, the car itself cannot be discounted. Her fear aside, Amy Fine Collins delights in the warm reception she gets motoring around in fabulous loaners lined up by friends in the auto industry for review. “I was test-driving Bentleys for a while, which you’d expect would incite status envy. But bus drivers would be hanging out the window giving the thumbs-up, and construction workers would want high-fives,” she recalls. “It’s a lovely experience seeing how people react to a nice car.”
Veronique Gabai-Pinsky and Joel Pinsky—she’s the global brand president of Estée Lauder’s Aramis and designer fragrances; he founded Violight, a company that produces a toothbrush sanitizer— notice similar enthusiasm every time they head out in their vintage Rolls-Royce Silver Spur. Other motorists tend to slow down and give the cream-colored car a wide berth. “People give us thumbs-up even when they see us putting groceries in the trunk,” says Joel. But Veronique points out that she drives her own Audi convertible out of fear she’ll scratch her husband’s “mistress.” Both agree that the anonymous “road love” for their Rolls has gone a long way toward softening their city driving styles. “The experience becomes one of those moments of pure pleasure, whatever the traffic,” says Veronique.
Now, isn’t that what city driving should be?