Friday, December 14, 2007

Ferraris are Addictive

Picked the car up at about 1:00 today. The painters did a nice job on the front. My first order of business was to pick my eldest daughter, Alex, up from school. Sitting in a line of SUVs and minivans the 355 drew a bit of attention. Alex climbed in, stuffed her giant parka in the passenger foot well and said, “Dad, this is a cool car.” Then, “Dad, that guy is taking our picture.”
I am only guessing but I think owning a Ferrari in Portland, Oregon will be substantially different than owning one in South Beach. I drove the car for about 45 minutes today. I stopped counting the number of times people took the cars picture after 20. People honked, waved, and gave me thumbs up. Portland is a fun place to drive an exotic car.
Right after I dropped Alex off at our house a warning light containing a big yellow gas pump appeared on the left hand side of the dash. It took a few minutes to find the button in the center consul that opens the gas tank. Taking the car to the gas station resulted in a marked reduction in the efficiency of the station for the few minutes it took to fill up. Every attendant and mechanic gathered around and asked questions I was unable to answer.
I drove to work and parked the car in the parking garage. I still have to pay for it, so I will be working late this Friday.
On the drive home I had a scare. A red light flickered briefly on the dash. It flashed on so quickly that I was not sure it was a warning light at all. Maybe the lights from the car behind illuminating a light on my dash. A few moments later and I was sure I had a warning light flashing on my dash but it was so quick and infrequent that I could not make out what it said. As you can imagine I have a sinking feeling in my stomach. I am just a few hours into Ferrari ownership and warning lights are flashing. Finally, the light stays on long enough for me to make it out. “SLOW DOWN” illuminated in big letters. Slow down? Slow down, you're a Ferrari. I am going 35 miles per hour behind a minivan. I can’t go much slower. What kind of a warning light says slow down?
The temperature is hovering just above freezing and it is misting rain. Maybe the car is looking out for me. Our BMWs always got concerned at this temperature. All the other gauges look good – as far as I can tell I have only owned the thing for a few hours. A bit of research later reveals that the “SLOW DOWN” light can occur for a number of reasons. None of which are directly related to the car looking our for me. The car looking out for itself yes, me no. Honestly, I am not worried about any of them. I realized after about 10 minutes of owning the car that the value of the experience of driving the car for one year was going to exceed my estimated budget and if I go a bit over with repairs fine. Further, after driving the car for 45 or so minutes it performed flawlessly. The “SLOW DOWN” light disappeared before I made it home. Porsche owners do not read this next bit. The F355 is a more competent car than my 911. The suspension feels more balanced, the feedback through the wheel is just as good but the steering effort is less. The Ferrari has superior balance. The Ferrari is more mischievous. This car goads you into trouble. What a great car. Truly fantastic. I don’t want to sell it in 364 days.

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