Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Seats back in

While putting the seat back in the car last night I got to thinking about Ferrari maintenance, all the horror stories I have heard, and sticky interior plastic bits. Without a shred of scientific evidence and conjured out of the ether as I was putting one seat back in a Ferrari, the other refused to budge, my theorem is Ferrari owner complaints related to maintenance is at its peak when the Ferrari is between 3 to 15 years old and is concentrated in starter Ferraris.

What’s a starter Ferrari? A 348, Mondial, 355, and now 360s all relatively inexpensive when compared to their new price many now less than a nicely equipped BMW. I think people buy these cars with a few miles and years on them expecting the maintenance to be more or less like the Porsche or Corvette they were trading up from. And generally it is except that Ferrari maintenance is more frequent and parts a bit more expensive. So people defer maintenance until the car fails catastrophically or sell it just before it implodes. Let’s face it for many buyers, myself included, this is the first Ferrari they have owned and they had to stretch to afford it. When it comes time to maintain it spending $4000 or more every few years plus any other incidentals along the way push them over the edge.

I don’t recall hearing anyone complain about the maintenance on a 288 GTO, Enzo, or F40. My guess is they cost a good bit more than my 355 to maintain and probably require more frequent service. I hear very few 430 owners complaining about their cars but I bet in a few years the owners of those 430s will be whining about clutch prices, F1 gear boxes, and carbon brakes.
With even less supportive evidence I think it is the cars in the 15000 to 30000 mile range that have the most problems. It appears that many parts on the Ferrari were designed to last about this long. Most people don’t drive the car anywhere near its potential so maybe the part will last a bit longer but somewhere in this mileage range really expensive repair bills, when compared to the price the newbie Ferrari owner paid for the car, start to pile up.

Know what. I don’t think Ferrari cares. Ferrari did not build this 355 for me. They built it for the guy who bought it new. He owned if for a few years and sold it. He never had to deal with a belt change, sticky interior bit or cat ECU.

Yes, I know I was supposed to wait overnight or even a few days to allow the Leatherique to soak in but I couldn’t wait. Patience is not one of my virtues. I peeked under the plastic wrap around 9:00 last night and decided I had not used enough Leatherique. So I pulled the plastic off cleaned the seat up and put it back in the car. Well mostly, two of the bolts were not cooperating and I left them for this morning. I also treated the passenger seat in place and left it to sit overnight.

The seats cleaned up and softened up very nicely. They feel different, better, softer, buttery. I look forward to getting to take both out and give them a thorough treatment. I like the slightly darker, richer color the treatment left them with.

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 a bit of use not as beautiful as pristine new car? In many things patina adds character, texture, beauty. Why not in a Ferrari? If it survives to 100, outliving me, I hope the 355 has a nice patina. I hope it gets forgotten in a barn for a while so mice and raccoons can nest in it. Why spend so much time, effort, and money to make it look new?

The short answer is because I want to. Can’t tell you exactly. I get a lot of satisfaction from fixing some minute blemish on the inside of the fender. In a spot where no one would ever see it unless I ran over them and parked on their head. I was driving the car today and decided to replace all the sticky interior stuff. First I will do door latches and the piece in the central tunnel that holds the gate for the shifter. I know these pieces can be stripped and repainted and that stripping and repainting them results in a more durable piece, one that will never be able to trap an unwary fly but I am going to buy new, soon to be sticky pieces.

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