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What Happened When I Took a Stranger for a Ride in a Mercedes-AMG GT

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Christopher Graeme Sidebottom, who sometimes goes by Popsicles Sanchez, is a 100 percent real person who has given up defending his name, which is 100 percent not made up.

He is 31 years old with a big ginger beard, friendly face, and unassuming posture. He builds TV and movie sets in Toronto and admittedly knows nothing about cars — he only has his learner’s permit and the last car that ever got any attention from him was the Plymouth Prowler. He sometimes operates a forklift, but hasn’t driven pretty much anything.

I found him through Bunz (look it up, it’s also not made up and is a lot more innocent than it sounds), where I put an open call to any friendly stranger who wanted to take a joyride with the Mercedes-Benz AMG GT C Roadster, one of the sexiest and most thrilling cars you can buy right now. My motivation for embarking on this random adventure was two-fold: I struggle with finding the confidence to talk to people, and if this car didn’t make me bolder and chattier, I’m not sure what else I could do besides resort to heavy drugs. I’m an introvert and a homebody, but other than that, this car is just too cool to be selfish with — I very quickly fell in love the AMG GT and wanted to share it with everyone I knew and even people I didn’t know. What better way to force my way out of my comfort zone than to be crammed in a V8-powered, leather-lined missile with a complete stranger?

Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster-SMART-4

I met Christopher Graeme Sidebottom, who I will only refer to by his full name, on a cold, monochromatic day in December. Against a completely grey backdrop, the black AMG GT C Roadster still manages to sparkle and add some much needed visual spice to the blandness of a Canadian winter.

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Even though it was winter, I had been driving with the top down, which is made possible because Mercedes gets drivers like me who are militant when it comes to having the top down — unless it’s raining, I prefer the open air. All Mercedes convertibles, including the AMG GT Roadster, come with AirScarf, which blows warm air on your neck to keep you toasty. The AMG GT also had heated seats and a heated steering wheel, and dual-zone climate control, which combine to make top-down motoring somewhat comfortable even in frigid weather. The low slung and gorgeously dramatic AMG GT gets enough attention as it is, perhaps not the best for an introvert, but driven in the winter with the top down, you might as well be wearing a neon “Look at Me” sign. A great test for a shy person like me.

Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster-SMART-4

Unfortunately, Christopher Graeme Sidebottom was not able to experience the joy of winter convertible driving because the GT Roadster was wigging out and would not allow me to put the top down, even after a few power cycles. It was probably a good thing anyway, as I didn’t want Christopher Graeme Sidebottom to leave his joyride with a runny nose. It turns out that would be the least of his problems.

“It’s fancy!” Christopher Graeme Sidebottom said immediately after seeing the roadster for the first time.

“What’s the fanciest car you’ve ever been in?” I asked.

“My friend had a Lexus once,” he replied, his tone sheepish. “What about you?”

“I was lucky enough to drive a Lamborghini recently, but I like this Mercedes better,” I said, immediately embarrassed by my privilege. It sounded like a brag, but it was the truth. The Mercedes-AMG GT is perhaps my favorite car right now, easily outshining the Lamborghini Huracan Spider I was referring to. The hand-built twin-turbo V8 sounds divine, the car is gorgeous and luxurious both inside and out (the Lamborghini is stunning, but it isn’t pretty like the Benz), and the driving is magical — engaging and intimate yet not at all intimidating. This car oozes personality, something that’s increasingly rare these days.

Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster-LAI-9

I slid into the driver seat easily but Christopher Graeme Sidebottom had never even been in a sports car before, so the process was quite awkward for him. I saw his buttcrack within five minutes of meeting him and he nearly got stuck. “Maybe it’s made for a smaller person,” he said. Our friendship was off to a great start!

We talked about his job, my job, about why he liked the Plymouth Prowler (mostly because of the little trailer it came with), and why he sort of likes the Camaro and Challenger but not the Mustang. He told me the AMG GT was kind of intimidating and that, “If cars were more like forklifts, I’d probably have no problem driving because you can see everything.” He noted that the car’s long hood and tiny windows might make it hard to see things. He’s not wrong, but this is one of those cars that communicates well with the driver, so you can easily tell where it is and what it’s doing.

After about an hour of driving of us talking and laughing the whole time, we learned a lot about each other, and I believed my quest to be more confident had gained me a new friend.

Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster-LAI-9

But then Christopher Graeme Sidebottom stopped responding to me. He got real quiet and wouldn’t even look in my direction anymore. Did I offend him?

“Are you OK?” I asked, quickly scanning through our conversations to see if I could have said or done anything questionable.

Silence.

“What’s wrong?” I pushed, still worried to hear his response. He closed his eyes and put his hand out, which is the international sign for “Talk to the hand” or “I’m going to be sick.” Judging by how pale he had suddenly gotten, I gathered that I hadn’t offended him and that he was getting seriously carsick.

I was so worried that he was going to vomit all over the soft, beautiful cream-colored leather in the AMG GT and I was so focused on getting him home and keeping him distracted that I completely forgot to take a photo of Christopher Graeme Sidebottom to prove he is a 100 percent real person with a 100 percent real name. We never talked again after our drive, both of us too embarrassed to see our brief friendship through. The AMG GT is on my lottery list of cars and if I’m ever lucky enough to drive one again, maybe we could give it another crack, but this time with some anti-nausea medication in tow.

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