Hunks of Metal

James Prashant Fonseka
4 min readNov 11, 2019

It’s amazing how much value we can put in a hunk of metal. Of course, when we put value in one, we usually think of it as much more than a hunk of metal.

I was walking through Nolita in the bitter cold last night when I saw this car.

blending in

I barely noticed it, as I barely notice such cars now. At one point these cars were special, almost magical to me. The mere presence of one would transfix. They had the flair of the exotic and the manner of the divine. They subjectively beautiful and objectively supreme. They were then, as so much in this city is to me now, unattainable, which made me want them so much. Those hunks of metals were once objects of desire. Then I got one, and now they’re just hunks of metal.

Let’s talk about this hunk of metal in particular. The car is a BMW M6 Gran Coupe. The model year 2014 or later. I can tell that by the headlights. It doesn’t have the Competition Package. I can tell that by the wheels and exhaust. The exterior is Singapore Grey which is a subtle shade, but sublime in just the right lighting. I remember gazing at; longing for that paint color on an M5 in the Plano, TX showroom of Classic BMW circa 2013. The interior is fully wrapped in black leather; a safe but handsome choice, and the general preference of the car’s Germanic makers. I once thought so much about these hunks of metal.

The Gran Coupe is of particular interest. I never actually owned one of these. I had an M5 which is very similar, particularly in substance, but the M6 Gran Coupe was the top dog and took its styling to the next level. I remember the first time I saw a Gran Coupe.

I was amongst a large group having a meal at the former President’s house. That home was nestled in a gated but relatively humble looking neighborhood in a premier section of North Dallas. We were seated in tables on his front lawn, as was often the case when him and Laura would host, as they did often. Going into the main home was the privilege of those who needed to use the restroom. Naturally, the guests of the President would never be subjected to the indignity of having to use a porta-potty steps away from a Gran Coupe.

A car enthusiast like me never forgets their first Gran Coupe. The car rolled up and parked right in front of the house. I knew exactly what it was because I had seen them in pictures. Its owner was probably a friend of the President, and likely a trustee of one of the many non-profits he was then affiliated with. I actually have no idea about any of this, but I could then only make the most illustrious assumptions about anyone driving a Gran Coupe. Dubya himself was pretty chill, but that car ended up being the main attraction of the day.

It wasn’t even an M6. I think that Gran Coupe was a 640i; maybe a 650i. It was definitely black, probably Black Sapphire Metallic as I don’t Jet Black was a regular option on the 6-series and only someone as crazy as me would pay extra to special order an otherwise common color on a special color. Regardless, it was stunning. At the time, I could hardly dream of ever having one.

Back then, a 6-series, pre-tax, cost about double my income, pre-tax. An M6 three times. In case you didn’t catch it, those taxes work against us in both directions. That car wasn’t a car. It was a fantasy. How things have changed, for me.

Fast forward to today. I barely noticed that M6 Gran Coupe. Better to say that I noted it. I didn’t actually to take a picture of it until my walk back, along which I just happened to trace back my steps and come across the car again. Maybe my subconscious took me there, or not (note to readers of past writings — that’s a tautology). Even then, I walked passed, feeling cold, but then doubling back inspired by the memory tracings of yearning and desire from what now feels like a distant past.

I had to work to remember these feelings. The truth is I felt almost nothing walking by that car. I think I’m de-sensitized because I basically had one when I bought my M5, the M6 Gran Coupe’s slightly more attainable sibling. One can imagine the experience of having one being quite similar to the other. Once you’ve had one it’s like you’ve had them all. And you have what you want it just becomes… nothing; the usual, hardly to be noticed or observed.

This all makes sense. The successful conquest of the desired tames the desire.

I’ll confess: the Bentleys and Lambos still get me a little. Those feel a cut above the M cars. But I know the pattern now. If I were to get one, those too would feel like nothing. It’s nice that they feel like something. I don’t want them all to turn into hunks of metal.

those eyes