Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I am not disappointed with the car

Don’t get the idea I am unhappy or disappointed with the car. I love the car. It is fantastic. I think, and you know I have a limited perspective, the 355 is one of the best Ferraris and therefore one of the best sports cars every produced. I admit when I bought it I felt I was compromising, buying the 355 rather than the 360. While I would really appreciate the larger cabin of the 360, I have come to like the overall packaging of the 355 better. The 355 is smaller, simpler, more angular, and more Ferrari in an old school Magnum PI way. I grew up watching Magnum. The 355 is barely longer than my 911 but is significantly wider and lower. The 360 is bigger in all dimensions than the 355. I love the shape of the 360. Pininfarina did an excellent job conjuring cars from Ferraris past while integrating F1 clues and setting a new design direction. 360s are simultaneously beautiful and menacing – like the ice queen from Narnia. In a strange way they ooze down the road and have a very organic quality. But, the car is not immediately recognizable as a Ferrari. The 355 looks like a Ferrari, sounds like a Ferrari, goes like a Ferrari, is a Ferrari. This is possibly the best single Ferrari to own if you can only get one. Sure 355s have some maintenance issues but I have yet to hear of a Ferrari that does not.

I am disappointed with most aspects of the Ferrari ownership experience I have blundered through. Why am I not happy driving the car to the grocery store, to the bakery or to work? I have given it some thought. When engaged in these activities I am in the car, I can hear it, see it, touch it, and interpret the feedback through the wheel. Driving it is exciting but simultaneously disappointing because I am driving it to 3/10s of its capacity. Shifting a car with an 8500 red line at 4000 is not so great but bring it over 4000 on the street and you are moving along pretty well. Shouldn’t I be content with driving the car around, enjoying the sights, sound, and attention which results when using a Ferrari in exactly the same way you would use a Prius?
Perhaps I am not a “good” Ferrari owner. I thought I would appreciate the car for its intrinsic qualities and abilities without having to exploit them to 8/10s or 9/10s. Knowing the potential exists and being unable and unwilling to exploit it is frustrating. Here is a hunch. Many Ferrari owners are totally content driving their cars to the grocery store, enjoying the sound, the experience, and the attention. Every once in a while they will punch it in second or third. Maybe go over 100 a few times. They might even get a wild hair and bring the car to the track – but only a few of them. Mostly, they drive around slowly, safely and enjoy the spectacle. I thought I would do exactly this. I thought it would be enough. Nope.

Let’s investigate my statement that most Ferraris are seldom driven on the track. When you look at advertisements for sale a large percentage say “never tracked or abused.” I appreciate the never abused but why lump it in with never taken to the track? Most, if not all, Ferraris were built to be driven fast. It is what they are made for. Why would a seller think a buyer would be put off by the car being used on the track? They were not built to be driven to the grocery store or battle traffic commuting to work. I believe driving the cars on the track, smoothly, gracefully is not bad for them, it is what they are for.

I wrote most of this post this morning then had a chance to reflect on it during the day. I decided it was up to me to make my Ferrari experience what I wanted it to be. Sure this is analogous to life in general. Originally I set some goals for my Ferrari ownership experience, things I wanted to do with the car. I am going to revisit the activities on the list, refine them a bit and then go do them.

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