Saturday, February 9, 2008

Ferrari 1Porsche 0

I had hoped to drive both cars back to back today. It was mostly dry, over 50 degrees, and broken clouds. Since I have owned the Ferrari I have not had a chance to drive it and the Porsche in the same day. I know there is a big difference between the cars. I know the Porsche is a generation, or two, earlier and it is unfair to compare a convertible to a coupe. Or is it? Back to what makes driving fun. It’s not all about going fast. When I consider the bucket of things that make driving fun for me the Porsche stacks up pretty well. It sounds great. It handles fantastically well, especially on low and medium speed roads. I call the Porsche the world’s greatest go cart. It is convertible. Yes, purists everywhere are cringing but it is hard to beat a topless car, with a great exhaust note, on a winding road in early summer. Especially if there are tunnels. With slightly harder tires and a suspension tuned to oversteer the Porsche is a blast to gently drift through tight turns. Sure the Ferrari is faster and handles better but that is only part of the equation.
I spend the best part of the morning in the office and it was about 1:00 before I had a chance to drive the car. I took three kids with me so not enough room in the Ferrari or Porsche. The whole time I was in the office I was tortured every time I looked outside. It was beautiful. I was sure it would be raining by the time I got home.
It wasn’t raining. I decided to drive the Ferrari first. I usually park my truck in the driveway behind the Ferrari’s space in the garage so I parked it on the street. The Porsche was blocked in by Barb’s minivan.
The car started right up. Not a cough, not a bauble. It just started. I let it warm up for about 10 minutes. It is not a car you can jump in and go. Well, you can but it does not shift too smoothly and the engine is rough. Let it warm up a bit and it shifts beautifully and the engine smoothes out.
I decided to take the car out into the country for a nice drive. No passengers, no destination just a nice drive. My goal was to spend about 2/3s of the drive on twisty back roads then idle home on the freeway. I live in Portland’s southwest hills. There are fantastic roads 300 feet from my house. Unfortunately there are driveways, joggers, cyclists, dogs, minivans, etc. So I drive slowly and as quietly as possible. I make my way to Skyline. As its name implies Skyline runs along a crest of hills. It’s a great road. Not great for speeding, again too much traffic and too many cyclists. Please note, I am not complaining about cyclists, I am a cyclist. I love riding on Skyline. I was not looking for a deserted stretch of road where I could open the car up. I was looking for a nice stretch of road where I could continue to get to know it. Sitting at the DEQ and short trips around town don’t do much to familiarize oneself with how a car handles.
Again I am struck with the incredible grace of the Ferrari. Every movement, every change of direction is graceful. The whole package works together to produce the automotive version of a ballerina. As long as my inputs are approximately right the Ferrari rewards me with beautiful, smooth transitions. I had a few chances to open the car up in second gear, just brief runs up to about 7500 RPMs the shift to third and let off the throttle. The rush of acceleration combined by the howl of the motor is intoxicating.
Just as I was about to get on the freeway one of the two motorcyclists I had been following for the past 20 minutes decided that a friendly drag race from about 20 mph was in order. The Ferrari was quicker. Not bad, however I had to brake hard to make the 25mph sweeper to get on the freeway. It is remarkable how much like a racecar, or what I think a race car would be like the Ferrari is. It took the 25mph onramp at over 50 with no leaning, slipping or squealing. Just smooth, flat, and graceful.
The only thing I have found that I don’t like about the Ferrari is the ergonomics. I am about 6’5”. The car would be perfect for someone 5’9”. The rear view mirror is directly in my line of sight for right hand turns and I don’t have anywhere to put my left foot when it is not engaging the clutch. Oh well.
It was still nice when I arrived home. I needed to make a run to the grocery store so I grabbed the keys for the Porsche. Nothing. The battery was absolutely dead. How often does that happen? The Ferrari starts fine but the Porsche won’t even turn over. That must be a first.I drove my truck to the grocery store and then picked up a battery charger for the Porsche. Ferrari 1, Porsche 0.

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