Thank you to the two of you who purchased the book today. You made my week.
Just a note. The book and the blog are similar. If you have been reading the blog the book is a condensed version with fewer spelling and grammatical errors.
Monday, February 13, 2012
One Year With A Ferrari. The book, beleive it or not, is ready on Amazon. It is available as an ebook at this time but I am planning on making some hard copies and will have those available in the future.
Thanks to all of you for your encouragement.
You can find the book here
Posted by David at 8:18 AM
Friday, July 8, 2011
On Thursday, September 11 2008 someone searching for “mistress, walla walla, washington” found my site and stayed for some time. While I doubt I was much assistance with their research I hope they enjoyed the blog.
Why is there Blue Kool Aid under my Ferrari?
Several weeks after the track day, I noticed a few drops of what appeared to be blue Kool-aid on the floor of the garage. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I hoped the drips were Kool-aid they were more likely coolant dripping from the radiator just behind the driver’s door. There are times when I miss the dirty, dark concrete floor. A few drops of blue liquid would disappear. On the white tiles the drops were like a neon blue sign signaling that something was wrong.
Strangely, after a couple days the car stopped leaking coolant. Either it healed itself, was completely out of coolant, or was waiting to surprise me with a flood of coolant at the least appropriate time.
For many years Barb and I had wanted to visit Walla Walla and the surrounding wine country so when the Ferrari Club offered a trip to Walla Walla I decided it would be a great chance to see some great cars, drive some great roads, and visit some great wineries. If I spent the summer driving around Portland it will be the same thing over and over. How many times can I write about a trip to New Seasons to get ice cream or beer? A road trip of over 600 miles, with a chance to mingle with a bunch of other Ferrari owners in the middle should give me a Ferrari experience which will be substantially different from my hermit like existence. I thought the only hitch would be arranging for someone to watch the kids for the weekend so I called the host hotel.
“Hi I’d like to make a reservation for the 27th and 28th for the Ferrari Club event.”
“Let’s see. Their block of rooms are sold out and there are no other rooms available. Sorry, good bye.”
Ouch. Nothing like getting put in your place. The other hotel recommended by the club was the Holiday Inn Express. I have nothing against Holiday Inn Expresses but it seems an inappropriate place to stay for a Ferrari Club weekend let alone the first weekend Barb and I have had together sans children in eleven years.
Maybe there was a bed and breakfast available. A B&B would be nice, smaller, romantic, and give us a bit of breathing room from the other Ferrari Clubbers. Every B&B in Walla Walla I called was full. I was getting frustrated. I wanted to go on this trip. Barb wanted to go on this trip. Holiday Inn here we come. Sold out! The Holiday Inn in Walla Walla was sold out. What was going on in Walla Walla that made it so popular?
Eventually I found a place with rooms, a yoga spa about seven miles outside of town. I hesitated a moment and when the screen refreshed one of the few remaining rooms had been booked. I grabbed my credit card and booked a room. When I told Barb she thought it was perfect. So, our summer road trip was planned. We were going to drive the Ferrari about 300 miles into the middle of Washington, visit wineries, drive on beautiful country roads, and enjoy ourselves.
A few days before Barb and I were to leave for Walla Walla, I decided to have Tonkin give the car a check up, especially the cooling system, as we were going to be putting upwards of 600 miles on it in one weekend.
There was one complication.
It was self inflicted.
On Sunday June 22, 2008 a few days after the RTGT Ferrari track day and a few days before the Walla Walla trip I decided to tackle the lower plastic piece that covers the steering column. It had some scratches near the keyhole. I was expecting this piece to be pretty easy to refinish. It is large but without many dents or complex surface features. The car was going in for service the following day but I figured I could refinish this piece and have it back in the car in an hour or two.
Not all the interior pieces of the 355 wanted to be refinished. As I was removing the sticky stuff covering the plastic I thought “too bad was careless when starting the car, rest of it is in nice shape.” Then it started to melt. It must have been made from a formulation of plastic which was different from the air vent. It melted. Not all the way, just partially. It looked like a Martian landscape with tiny river valleys revealing the presence of water.
The Ferrari went in for service looking like I stole it. Tonkin did not have the steering column surround in stock so I ordered one from Ricambi. I ordered it on-line and added a note begging them to ship it soon as possible. About two minutes later I received a call from one of the guys at Ricambi letting me know he received the order and was processing it as we spoke.
The little drips of blue Kool Aid turned out to be from the radiator. Not from a leaking hose. It had a tiny crack in it. My first impulse was to ask Tonkin to smear some JB Weld on it or send it to a radiator shop to have it brazed. I resisted this impulse and Tonkin over nighted a new radiator from somewhere. I had just spent a bundle of money on Ferrari stuff. The service, including the radiator was $1,462 and the new steering wheel column was $300. I suppose it was lucky I had already missed my goal of not spending money on maintenance.
Posted by David at 3:59 PM
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Monday August 4 2008 with a generous dose of excitement someone exclaimed “wow how to get to Ferraris”. With what I expect was less excitement someone queried “boxberger vacuum”. I did the same. There were more responses than you might expect. My favorite was a page which contained both “boxberger” and “Image Analysis on Temperature Distribution within Lettuce Undergoing Vacuum Cooling”
A Mistress You Keep in the Garage Part II
The black silly putty in the Ferrari got stickier in the summer. I associate summer in Oregon as a wonderful time for growing things. Everything green is sprouting and growing, making the most of a fertile combination of rain and sun. I never assumed the Ferrari would react so vigorously to the season. Interior bits which looked great when the temperature was 55 degrees began to sprout a thin growth of lint at 85 degrees. As I spent more time in the car the sticky, furry bits and poor fit of the leather around the center AC vent began to get on my nerves.
I decided to remove the center AC vent in an effort to get the leather dash to fit better. This project was a nice size for me. It was also one of those projects that can be worked on for an hour or two and then put down without inconveniencing anyone. A three step project was required for sprucing up the dash. First, remove the vent. Second, peak under the leather, determine what was causing the little dent in the leather above the vent and treat the leather. Third, replace the vent, changing its angle slightly so it sat evenly from top to bottom.
The first part of the plan went well. If you like to take things apart Ferraris are great cars. I bet you could disassemble the entire car with only a few tools, most of which can be found in a kitchen junk drawer. The vent came out with only a few minutes work. Once out I realized how bad the gooey finish on the vent was and that it would not look appropriate once the leather was tidied up.
That’s the problem with fixing things. Perfecting one piece of the whole only makes the other parts look worse. It’s all or nothing. The goo had to go.
I checked Ricambi to see how much a new vent would cost. $433. Ouch! For 433 I will try refinishing it, if I screw up and it turns out looking worse I can buy a new one or have someone with more talent give it a try. While browsing the Ricambi site for the vent I ended up buying two trim pieces, the piece which houses the controls for the mirrors and a larger more complex piece which fits over the metal gate for the shifter and holds a number of switches. Compared to the vent they were a deal. Total cost for both pieces was less than $100.
The only component left to replace is the big kahuna of 355 sticky parts, the AC/Heater control module. Ricambi has them available – for $1,400. Luckily they also have a sticker which, with a bit of work allows you to use the internals of the module but rid yourself of the sticky top.
To remove the goo from the AC vent I tried first Goof Off. It did not do a good job. It made finish gooeyer. Next I tried Acetone. That did the trick. About half an hour later my garage was full of rags covered with goo. With the black goo removed I saw why Ferrari had coated the plastic pieces. The raw plastic looks like something out of a 80s Ford. I can imagine the conversation at Ferrari. “OK for the 355 we’re going to do something special. A stealth bomber matte black finish on the interior pieces.” The supplier having never seen a stealth bomber translates this to “It’s Ferrari, use the shiniest stuff possible” Ferrari folks get it back and say “Uhh that’s awful, spray it with some of the coating we put on the underside of the car.”
When it’s not scratched up or sticky the finish is actually very pleasant. It has a rich, smooth satin look to it. The finish of the new ashtray is very nice. To refinish the vent I bought three cans of paint to see if I could get a close match. I used the old ash tray housing to test the different paints. My first try was a rubberized paint. It had the right texture but was too shiny. Second try, too gray. The third, a flat black model paint made by Testor was the best. I found that if I sanded it with fine steel wool it was an almost exact match for the factory finish, except it was not gooey.
The diversion with the vent kept me from tackling the leather on the dash. With the vent removed and refinished it was time to get my project back on track. I had two steps left. First, repair a slight depression, visible under the leather that runs in a gentle curve from the one side of the vent opening to the other. Many 355s have a similar depression. I figured the depression was the result of a dent in the dash. Turns out the backing for the leather had shrunk or never reached all the way to the vent. I fixed it with a piece of backing cut to fill the space.
As I was playing with the car I had time to reflect about the different aspects of the car and their appeal to me. There is much about the car which appeals to me. To me the 355 represents the result of a very direct, very pure focus on building the most wonderful road car possible. It can be argued that there is bit more luxury than is strictly necessary but when compared to most other sports cars all aspects of its design represent a dedication to driving that is difficult to match.
Why does this matter?
In my opinion it is not possible to achieve something special, something great, without an uncompromising focus on a clearly defined goal. The more pure the goal and maniacal the focus the better the result. Life is the same way. The goals of young life, to learn, grow, and have fun are later obscured by needs, real or self imposed -work, houses, cars, big sofas, storage closets, new drive-ways, landscaping – all of which smother the original goal. Our time here is so short, so precious why do we spend so much of it doing things which are of low value or not to our liking?
I think the idea of a good use of time has been corrupted. A good use of time does not always mean a productive use of time. With caveats a “good” use of time is time spent in pursuit of an activity you find pleasurable or rewarding.
Having fun is a good use of time.
Within the context of the Ferrari a good use of time was taking the driver’s seat out and conditioning the leather. Did it need it? Probably not but it was an excuse for Max and I to spend a few hours in the garage together.
Originally, I planned to take out both seats but the passenger seat was stuck in the furthest back position and I could not get to the bolts which hold it in the car.
I was disappointed to find nothing more than 53 cents and some plastic sheeting under the driver’s seat. I was hoping for some shell casings, a passport, something interesting. Before I sell the car I will hide something in it for a later owner to discover, hopefully they will find it interesting.
With the seat out I rubbed a bunch of Leatherique into it. It noticeably darkened the leather. The leather looked better, fresher. Before the treatment it looked more Burgundy than Bordeaux. With the best of intentions I wrapped the seat up in plastic wrap to let it sit overnight before I wiped off any residue and put it back in the car.
That evening, while putting the seat back in the car I got to thinking about Ferrari maintenance, the horror stories I have heard, and sticky interior plastic bits and without a shred of scientific evidence, conjured a theorem out of the ether as I was putting one seat back in a Ferrari. A Ferrari in which one seat refused to be removed.
My theorem is Ferrari owner’s complaints related to maintenance peak when the Ferrari is between 3 to 15 years old. Further the greatest numbers of complaints are from owners of starter Ferraris and these complaints are seldom generated by the original owner.
I think people buy these Ferraris with a few miles and years on them expecting the maintenance to be more or less like the Porsche or Corvette they were driving. Sometimes it is. The same stuff breaks or wears out. The big difference is the rate of failure and the cost of parts. Ferrari stuff wears out quickly and costs more to replace. So many owners gripe about the maintenance they are deferring and sell the car just before it implodes.
Let’s face it, for many owners, myself included, had to stretch to afford a Ferrari. When it comes time to maintain it spending $4,000 or more every year plus any other incidentals along the way can push them over the edge. I don’t recall hearing anyone complain about the maintenance on a 288 GTO. My guess is it costs a good bit more to maintain than my 355. I hear very few 430 owners complaining about their cars but I bet in a few years the next owners of those 430s will be whining about clutch prices, F1 gear boxes, and carbon brakes.
Ferrari does not care.
Ferrari did not build the 355 for me. They built it for the guy who bought it new. He drove it for a few years and sold it. He never dealt with a belt change, sticky interior bit or cat ECUs.
Back to the seat.
I know I was supposed to wait overnight or even a few days to allow the Leatherique to soak in but I couldn’t. I am sure it would have made the leather even softer but patience is not one of my virtues. I peeked under the plastic wrap and decided I had not used enough Leatherique. So I pulled the plastic off, cleaned the seat and put it back in the car. Unlike the passenger’s seat which did not want to leave the car once liberated the driver’s seat wanted to remain free. Two of the bolts which held it in place refused to thread properly so I left them for the morning. It was too late to deal with finicky Italian bolts. I treated the passenger seat in place and left it to sit overnight.
Why am I trying to make the Ferrari look new? It’s not new. I know it’s not new. Why is the patina of age not as beautiful as a pristine new car? In many things patina adds character, texture, even beauty. Maybe it is because the car is in that phase between being old and new. If it survives to 100 I hope the 355 has a nice patina.
Posted by David at 4:14 PM
Friday, June 3, 2011
It was on Wednesday, July 16 2008 that someone, probably someone sitting at home contemplating the past weekend, spent alone watching reality TV shows asked “do you get more dates if you drive a Ferrari?”
Ferrari Track Day
Turns out there were some fringe benefits to owning a Ferrari. One of which was getting invited to all sorts of interesting car centric stuff. During my year with the car RTGT was closing their dealership every other Tuesday night to show F1 races. If you are a car guy and are not able to attend an F1 race in person the chance to watch a race surrounded by Ferraris while eating pizza, and drinking a beer is not a bad substitute. It was at an F1 night that I was invited to a RTGT Ferrari track day, an even better fringe benefit.
The Ferrari track day was Monday June 16 2008. It was not overcast and there were Ferraris everywhere. I had no idea there were so many Ferraris in Portland. Where had they been hiding? I might see ten Ferraris a year on the road and here were twenty or thirty of them.
The RTGT track day was organized by ProDrive and followed the same format but with an additional session, a fancier lunch, and lots of Ferraris. There were about equal numbers of 360s and 430s, a couple 575s, a Challenge Stradale, one beautiful F50, and a nearly new 430 Scuderia. In addition to the various flavors of Ferraris there was a monster Ford GT with slicks, a race prepped Porsche RS America and a Lotus 211.
There were three 355’s in attendance. The 355’s were the oldest, slowest Ferraris to show up. Chronologically, the F50 was probably a year or two older than my car but as you know I view F50s as timeless. There was sufficient density of exotic cars to cause an unbalance in the universe which resulted in a small but noticeable increase in the price of a barrel of oil.
My goal for the day was to try to follow my advice from the previous track day. Listen to Tony. I was more comfortable this time. I listened to Tony. I went faster. I passed Porsches. I passed Corvettes. I passed Ferraris. I did not pass the Ford. The Ford, which Alex and Christina nicknamed “Noisy Car” passed me. The Ford did not just pass me. It blew me off the track. Once, when it went by I tried to keep up.
We had both just passed a 360 and I was feeling punchy. I braked too late and entered the chicane with more speed than I wanted. I was still on the brakes after I turned in which resulted in the car being much looser than optimal. Don’t ask a car to do more than one thing at a time. Tony was yelling “Brake, HARD BRAKE!” as we skipped and hopped through the chicane.
Aside from my testosterone induced silliness with the Ford I drove well. For brief moments I explored the limits of grip with the car. It was like being on a flat roof and walking slowly to the edge, looking around and then walking slowly away. It is a testament to the engineering of the 355 that a driver with my limited skills can safely explore its limits. The feedback provided by the car is so clear and so direct that once understood the car can be taken right to the edge of its capabilities.
The car does not obviously telegraph the decreasing amount of traction through squealing tires or slight slipping so much as a general feeling of diminished control. It is as if the road surface becomes progressively slicker as you reach the cars limits. It is a difficult sensation to describe. Once that limit is passed it is another story. A car which was working with you suddenly becomes very difficult to control.
I had accomplished one of the big things I set out to do when I purchased the car. Drive a Ferrari on a race track. After the Pro Drive day I was hooked on driving on the track but I did not feel like I “drove” the car on the track. I went around the track, I went kinda fast but I did not really drive the car. This time I drove the car. If I could have sold the car that instant I would have. It would have guaranteed my time with the car ended on a high note.
When the day was over my brain was mush. Somewhere, at some point I processed too much information and was done, cooked, toast. I felt tipsy, giddy and euphoric, a result of too much sun, gas fumes, and Ferraris. That evening I could still smell overheated brakes in my hair.
What a day.
Sometime after the Ferrari Track Day I stopped dying. Alex became comfortable with my mortality. I am still unsure what causes a young adult to consider their parent’s mortality. Is it an event or combination of events? Is it the result or the child’s increased awareness?
I am confident I could ask Christina if I was going to die and she would answer affirmatively. Alex would have given me the same answer when she was six. Why did it start to bother her when it did? Should I expect the same from Christina when she is 10?
Will I be buying another Ferrari in 2011?
When I consider my own experience I cannot point to any specific event which triggered my sudden worry about my parents dying. It was not a worry I had during the day but as I was trying to sleep all I could think about was my parents dying. I was scared to be alone. My sister was seven, my brother five. How would I care for them?
I missed our talks. She was worried about me. This beautiful, smart, wonderful person who has everything in front of her was worried about me. It made me feel important, special. It made me sure I was necessary in her life. While I missed our talks I was glad she was no longer so worried about me.
Although I was no longer dying I realized I had a desire for greater risk in my own life. Generally, I am a risk adverse person. I do a good job of analyzing and limiting risk of physical injury but wanted greater risk, not too much but some. I suppose a good analogy would be climbing a small mountain with a guide. I thought driving on the Ferrari on the track would satisfy this desire but it did not.
It was an odd combination of desires. On one hand I wanted to do something so over the top and outlandish that someone else would write a book about my exploit. Something akin to sailing around the world solo with only graham crackers, an Ouija board, and a profane parrot. I wanted to entertain the constant risk of a nasty death, a death held at bay by my quick thinking, resourcefulness, and perseverance. On the other hand I wanted to spend all my time with my family. I wanted to ensure that their lives are full, rich, and comfortable.
At first glance these desires seem mutually exclusive, maybe they are. Unfortunately, both are desires I have. Driving the Ferrari on the track was not enough to satisfy my need to “do something risky”. It was a great start, but after the euphoria faded and the smell of gas and burnt rubber left my hair it was not enough.
One of the major realizations of my first track day was how safe it felt to be on the track when compared to driving on public roads. To compound the problem it was not my wits and my skill keeping me from harm. It was Tony’s knowledge of the track, understanding of my skill, and the car’s capability keeping me safe.
Posted by David at 2:11 PM
On Saturday June 21 2008 someone wondered “what do women think of ferraris”. Again, Google thought I might have the answer. I don’t have the answer but I suspect many men wonder the same. On that same day someone, probably not the same person Googled “sam kennison” and was rewarded with a visit to my blog.
Gaining Resident Status in Ferristan
Until Wednesday, May 21, 2008, I was a tourist in Ferraristan. It is a coincidence that the search term “how nose rings are safe” and the date I stopped being a tourist are the same. I did not get a Ferrari nose ring. I did not even get a Ferrari tattoo. I do have a Ferrari club name tag but I have never worn it.
Until that Wednesday I was borrowing the car. It was on Wednesday, May 21st that I took the car in for service. At that moment I became a citizen of Ferraristan.
Buying the car, taking it to the track, washing it, putting a new floor in my garage, none of these things made me feel like a Ferrari owner. Taking the car in for service, describing its symptoms, surrounded by other broken Ferraris, made me feel like an owner. Silly, sure, but I was happy the car went in for service. Committing to have the car serviced made me feel like it was mine. If I buy another Ferrari, it is going in for service right away, whether it needs it or not.
While taking the car in for service meant the end of my goal to drive the car for a year without spending any money on maintenance, I did not care. I was in a Ferrari whirlwind. Maintaining a Ferrari is part of the ownership experience. So what if I ended up spending some money on maintenance?
Before getting into the service let’s talk about the floor. A Ferrari really is mistress you keep in the garage and I was unhappy with my mistress’s accommodations. I had been unhappy with our garage before the Ferrari brightened it up but once I had the car I began reducing the amount of detritus by moving unused stuff to the attic or Goodwill. This made garage neater but it was still dark and dingy. I spend a good amount of time in the garage, tinkering with stuff, working out, or messing with the cars.
About 480 commercial flooring tiles later and the garage became a significantly less dingy place. For the bulk of the floor I used white tiles and incorporated a checkered flag motif to each side by adding black tiles. Changing the floor transformed the garage. It now looks like a fitting home for the Ferrari and Porsche. It is remarkable what a change it made.
Back to Ferrari maintenance.
When I dropped the car off and described the “SLOW DOWN” light activity Kelly, the service manager, recommended replacing all the ECUs that monitor the temperature in the catalytic converters. He was unsure of the price, but thought they were around $600 each. I said to go ahead and fix it. They were going to look through the codes on the computer to see if they shed any light on the problem. With regards to the short they would call when they had three hours of labor into trying to fix it.
I received a call from the service center around lunch time. They were unable to get the fuse to blow! No matter what they did the fuse was fine. We discussed the diagnostic work I had done and they decided to spend a bit more time tinkering with the car. The cat ECUs turned out to be the source of the “SLOW DOWN” light and they were replaced. This was good news in the sense that bad ECUs were the least expensive of all the problems with cause “SLOW DOWN” lights. There was more good news, Tonkin charged me only $305 a piece, about $20 cheaper than I could find online.
Total bill, $1372.23. They charged me for ½ hours time to diagnose and fix the short which turned out to be some corrosion on a ground. I probably spent 4 or 5 hours taking the car apart looking for the problem. I was glad I took the car to Tonkin for service. They took care of one service campaign which was outstanding and checked the car for any other problems.
None were found.
Please let me brag for just a moment. When I picked the car up one of the service managers commented that several people had remarked on the color and condition of the car and I should have no problem when I was ready to sell it.
It was raining and the traffic was stop and go on the freeway back to the office. The steam coming off the engine caused the rear window to fog up on the outside.
What a great car.
While the 355 was great it was an older Ferrari. There are more capable machines. I knew this but it did not make the car less magical to drive. The word that best describes the 355 is proportional. All aspects of the car, its size, performance, interior, noise, everything seems to be in proportion. I have said this before. It does not need more or less of anything. Driving this car on a beautiful road is simply fantastic. If you like cars you owe it to yourself to find a way to drive a Ferrari on a sunny day on a beautiful road. Trust me, it is worth it.
During my honeymoon with the car there was only one gas station I was comfortable taking it to. In Oregon you are not allowed to pump your own gas. It was not that I didn’t trust other gas station attendants but the first time I had to put gas in the car I took it to this station. The attendant was very careful and asked a bunch of questions about the car. The mechanics came out and looked at the car and took pictures. It was sometime before I had the nerve to take the car anywhere else for gas.
One day, while I was getting gas at my favorite station a fellow walked up and commented that “Grigio” was a great color on the car.
“So you have a Ferrari, what are you getting next?”
“Good question. I have driven a Gallardo, but I’m not sure it would be a good next car.”
I drove the Lamborghini a few months after purchasing the Ferrari. What an impressive car. The performance was out of this world. The 355 was fast, but not in the same way the Gallardo was fast. This was the first car that I have been in where straight line acceleration was so violent that no other word than scary is applicable. The car was scary even without full throttle. When an open stretch of road presented itself I pulled the left paddle to put the car in second and pressed the throttle to the floor. Second gear went by in a flash. About ¾ of the way through third gear I lost my nerve and let off. I suppose that was what I should expect from an all wheel drive car with 500 horsepower but I was unprepared for the speed.
The car I drove was a dark blue 2004 Gallardo with the E gear (paddle shifter) transmission. The car had a mostly black interior with blue stitching. I have always liked the looks of Lamborghinis and think the Gallardo is one of the better looking cars they have produced. I don’t think I would call it a pretty car. The Gallardo is more masculine and intimidating than the 355.
If I were to fault it I would say the Gallardo was too competent and the interior too Audi. I know competency and Audiness are seldom considered faults but in the lexicon supercar they can be.
When does competency become a fault? When it takes a mediocre driver like me and makes me feel like Michael Schumacher, but in a Lamborghini not a Ferrari. The car spackled over the rough spots and imperfections in my driving, allowing me to go more quickly than I would in a lesser car.
Doesn’t sound like a fault does it?
If the goal were to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible it wouldn’t be. When driving on the street absolute speed is not as important as relative speed or imagined speed. In most situations a driver is unable to use even a fraction of the capability of an average car. The Lamborghini would be unfazed at two or three times the speed limit. This excess capacity removes the pleasure that comes from piloting a car on a twisty road at a speed which will not result in jail time. The Lamborghini is simply too good. The Ferrari, with less sure handling and 125 fewer horsepower is more fun to drive.
There was more to it than that. The Lambo with all wheel drive and traction control does more than its fair share of the driving. It provides an unfair advantage. An unfair advantage in what? I am not sure but it does. It should be the driver who makes the car not the car which makes the driver. While the all wheel drive certainly contributes to the cars phenomenal grip and does a heroic job of harnessing the cars power, I believe it makes the car drive heavily and dulls the feedback through the steering wheel causing the Gallardo to lack life. If an accountant or business consultant could be embodied in a car it would drive like this; very precise and very solid but without art or poetry.
The interior of the car looks German rather than Italian. It looks and feels high quality and well laid out but mass produced. I have no doubt that the knobs, dials, and electronics in the Gallardo will outlast those in the Ferrari but they are not as fun. They lack the whimsy and the not for everyone ethic of the Ferrari.
Add it all up and the Gallardo is faster, handles better, is more comfortable, and less expensive to maintain than the Ferrari. It appears the perfect car. But it lacks that extra something, the joie de vie which exists in the Ferrari. The heady affair which exists between Ferrari and driver is less intoxicating in the Lamborghini. I don’t think this was an oversight by Lamborghini. I think it is the German soul in the Italian body.
I know why someone searching for “sam kennison” would visit my site. Starting December 23, 2007 I dreamt of Sam Kennison the next three times I slept. I remembered the dreams but could not remember Sam’s name until the day of the last dream. During a nap on Christmas day, between opening gifts and cooking dinner I dreamt that Sam Kennison and the Ferrari were the same thing and that thing was the leather tongue on a pair of brown shoes that I wear to work.
In my dream I was not bothered by the non sequitur of Sam Kennison and a car being represented in their entirety by a piece of textured brown leather. When I awoke I remembered Sam’s name but could not get my waking mind comfortable with the concept of Sam, the car, and my shoes as one.
The first time I dreamt about Sam Kennison he was not Sam Kennison but the first employee John Halsey, my business partner, and I hired. I was constantly worried that he would yell at our clients. Unfortunately, in the dream I didn’t know his name and felt too uncomfortable to discuss my worry with him. The next night I dreamt that Sam was one of our clients and was yelling at me. I still did not know his name which again put me at a disadvantage.
My next dalliance with a different car, a 911 twin turbo, reinforced my thoughts about the difference between the Ferrari and Gallardo. The 911 I drove was a 996 body style car, I believe it was a 2001, maybe a 2002. It was a metallic tan with a tan interior.
A tan supercar? Double tan even. Tan with red would have been something. How about tan and green? Porsche should not have offered this car in tan. I am sure the marketing folks came up with some fancy name for it, Sahara Beige or something equally foolish but regardless of the name this Porsche supercar was the same color as the 1980 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme I drove to high school, tan. The Cutlass had an “I LOVE HAWAII” sticker in the rear window.
Even though it was tan, when I drove the 911 I felt like I was cheating on the Ferrari. I think I will be able to get away with it since I had driven our 911 to work and all 911s smell the same, a reassuring combination of gas, oil, and leather.
If you like cars you must own, or better yet have a friend who owns and lets you drive a Ferrari, a 911 TT, and a Lamborghini. I am sure there are others to add to this list but for now these are the big three, each car delivers a unique driving experience. Until driving the twin turbo I did not think it would make this list. I love our Porsche. Not for its performance but for its personality. I did not think the twin would deliver enough performance to make up for the lack of personality I was expecting. It did.
The 911 Turbo accelerated and decelerated with such ferocity that I worried I might become sick. It felt like my insides were all fighting, trying to see who could be first to get to the back seat. The car pulled harder and harder as the turbos spooled up. More impressive than the performance was the car’s Jekyll and Hyde personality. This is truly a car which could tear around the track then, with perfect civility be used to take the kids to school or pick up groceries. The twin was a race car masquerading as a Lexus while simultaneously being a Lexus masquerading as a race car. In this sense the 911 was superior to the Ferrari and the Lambo. It may be the perfect car if you could only have one vehicle.
When compared to the Ferrari the 911 turbo was not beautiful or engaging to drive. It was dead, where the Lambo was an accountant the 911 was a mortician. Sure, it was faster than the 355 and probably handled better but both cars are well past the point where faster and better handling cease to be important. At this level of car faster and better handling are paper specifications and not exploitable on the road or even the track by someone of my meager talent. What matters is the driving experience. What matters is the whole package and for me the Ferrari delivers that package in a way the 911 did not.
All that said I expect I will own a 911TT someday but after the Ferrari it will be a distant second place. These same feelings have kept me from being too excited about the Lambo. Great car, really fast, but not a Ferrari. It did not have the same ballet dancer, first growth, absolutely refined, designed by genius, no compromise, feeling the Ferrari does.
Posted by David at 2:10 PM