(UPDATED Monday March 4th, 2013 - Brandon van Zyl and his lawyer reached a plea agreement with crown prosecutors. Charges of impaired driving and dangerous driving were withdrawn. Mr. van Zyl in turn pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of driving in a careless and imprudent manner. The charge carries a $1000 fine, and van Zyl has his licence suspended for 6 months. Additionally, another driver who says he was injured in the crash last October has hired a lawyer and intends to sue van Zyl.)
Brandon P. van Zyl wrecked his expensive car and got himself charged for impaired driving at 11 am on a weekday, in a small-town crash that also injured the driver of a pickup truck. But before all that, he left a long list of eyebrow-raising posts at the Maseratilife.com owners forum. Then he left some more after the crash.
While most people associate the Maserati Quattroporte with scenic drives along Tuscan roadways or casino-lined Rivieras, this four-door Ferrari-powered import is also sold in far away places like Canada. Which is how a 2011 QP GTS, owned by Mr. van Zyl, came to be ruined in the Nova Scotia town of New Glasgow, pop. 9500.
The 42 year old (at the time of the crash) associate physics professor and soccer dad is scheduled to stand before a judge next week, after pleading not guilty to charges of dangerous driving and impaired driving from the October crash.
Mike Smeltzer, a member of the Subaruclub.ca forums, happens to work at the tire shop across the street from the crash. He snapped these pictures and shared the story on that forum.
"Maserati pulled out to pass a line of cars, lost control and this was the end
Other local Subaruclub.ca members familiar with the black Maserati added their thoughts.
"When I was up there, the driver was always keen to play the exhaust note thats
for sure. I could never hook with him, but he wasn't afraid to please the crowd."
"We've all been saying since the guy got the car that it was just a matter of time
before this happened. He was a total douche driving around, tailgating and
reving his engine trying to get anything and everything to race him on the main
Mr. van Zyl teaches a few miles down the road at St. Francis Xavier University. Reviews on ratemyprofessors.com (where we found the photo above, clearly from his younger days) describe him as "childish" and "a bit full of himself." He's also seen as a tough marker. Others purr that he's "hot." His score is 3.2.
Since 2011, he's been an active member of the Maseratilife.com owners forum, posting under the user name bvanzyl.
A reading of his 600+ posts reveals this crash might have been prevented, had van Zyl heeded multiple warnings from police, friends and his wife.
Instead, he wilfully ignores them. Furthermore, he chooses to post online, bragging about his exploits and defending his questionable driving habits to a sympathetic group of fellow Maserati owners.
In May of 2011, van Zyl claims to have hit an impressive top speed.
"170 mph ... For the cops reading this, maybe I'm joking. Lol."
A year later, he's pulled over at the side of the road, talking his way out of a ticket.
"I was pulled over yesterday and warned that I was not allowed to use engine braking in the town limits.
My car is a fully auto QP GTS. I was driving in sport manual mode, and downshifting.
Anyone else ever had this happen? I explained to the officer that the car is an automatic. Is this strictly engine braking? I love the blip on downshifts in sport manual mode, and would hate to have to now drive in auto just to avoid the po-po. The officer informed me that they will ticket next time. WTF?"
A couple of hours later, in the same thread:
"Lol. I think I'll roll the dice. Cops have NOTHING better to do here. RCMP R a
joke. Funny, all crotch rocket bikes are ignored. I know the radio chatter - black
Masearti, pull him over."
Same thread, two days later, van Zyl gets another warning, which he prophetically ignores.
"The police have been looking out for me ever since I got the car. A local officer
(who has a kid that plays soccer with my boys) told me to be careful. Several
people have complained about the noise and claim I was speeding ... Anyway, I'm
going to continue to drive the car as usual, and when/if I get stopped again, I'd
rather go to court."
"The father of one of our friends is a judge, but alas, he doesn't handle traffic cases. I'm sure I can always call in a favour or two regardless.
Of course, my wife likes to remind me that she warned me that this would happen. Lol. Her mantra last year was "Why do you have to drive that thing in sport mode? It's so loud".
Then, just days before the crash, he describes another warning from the police:
A few weeks ago, there were flashing lights in my driveway! Someone complained, and the RCMP paid me a visit a few hours after I had parked the car. Verbal warning, etc, and the conversation quickly went to the car, how nice it is, and how fast I've had it up to (off the record). Lol. I was told that the complainant said I had made an unsafe lane change.......hell, I was only picking up some milk.
Up until this point, Mr. van Zyl simply feels he's being persecuted for showing too much flash in small town Nova Scotia. He worked hard, and now he wants to drive the dream car he
Except, he didn't:
"I wonder how many of the gents here actually purchased their cars? In my case, I could NEVER afford a brand new Maser on my salary. LOL. My wife paid for it, but interestingly, she has absolutely no interest in driving the car, or any of the others for that matter.
We have a fleet of cars, some of which are more expensive than "our" new QP, but she still drives our 11 year old Honda Accord!!!!!!! ...
I've said it before, and I'll say it again "It's nice to be a kept man""
Despite the arrest, the legal bills and the costly front-end damage, van Zyl, who says his other cars include a lowly Audi S8, isn't done with the Maserati life.
After taking a four month break from posting at the owners forum, he recently returned, indicating he's taking a serious look at the 2014 model (which he says starts around $150,000 CAD, if you have to ask).
Though van Zyl regretfully had to turn down an invitation to the Toronto launch event, last week he posted asking for impressions of one crucial detail:
"An important factor for me is the exhaust note, as my current QP GTS is nothing short of outstanding in that category."
"I'm also looking forward to a test drive, I just have to find the time to fly to either Montreal or Toronto to take one out for a spin."
Mr. van Zyl has never acknowledged the crash on the Maseratilife.com forum, and it's not clear if his car has been repaired. It's winter now anyway, so something lesser from the family fleet might have to get him to court on Monday morning. Not that he's likely to take advice, but he might want to plan for a ride home and hold off on booking that test drive. If convicted, he faces a lengthy licence suspension and up to 5 years in prison on the dangerous driving charge.
That is, unless he can call in a favour from the judge on this one.