Monday, October 27, 2008

Fall leaf tour

More than once I have said that one of the best aspects of my Ferrari ownership experience has been the opportunity to share my car with others. Usually this involves talking with folks in parking lots, gas stations, or red lights about the car. Sometimes it involves giving a friend a ride in the car or letting a friend drive the car. In either situation sharing their enthusiasm about Ferraris and cars in general makes the experience enjoyable.

This past weekend Barb and I decided to take the Ferrari out on a jaunt through the countryside. The leaves are changing and the air is cool and clear. I called a friend who has a red 360 and suggested a drive out to a restaurant located about 20 miles southwest of Portland. We had a pleasant drive out. Our pace was leisurely, partly because of the number of cyclists on the road, partly because Tonkin told me to take it easy on the engine during a short break in period. I spent much of the drive looking in the mirror, watching Kevin’s red 360 through a swirl of red, gold and brown leaves.

I had asked Kevin if he would let me spend a bit of time looking over his car. I have been working on the section in my book where I describe the different models I was interested in when I started my search for a Ferrari. Amazingly the section on 355s has a ton of detail. Unfortunately the 360 and 456 sections are pretty thin. Kevin offered to let me drive his car after lunch. We decided to swap cars for a section of the drive home. I had driven Kevin’s car once before, right after he replaced his stock exhaust with a Tubi. He had me do a flying pass through our neighborhood which woke everyone up. That was several months ago and the drive through the neighborhood and a slow loop through the hills by our house were not enough to gain an understanding of the car.

The very first thing I noticed was how much easier it is to get into a 360. No guessing where the door handle is. No wide bulkhead to climb over. After driving the 355 I can call the 360 roomy and comfortable with a completely straight face. The seating position and angle of the steering wheel are better in the 360. Kevin’s car was getting a new clutch while mine was getting valves so the clutch feels good. To my feet it does not feel as good as the clutch in the 355 but good none the less. The shifter in the 360 is lighter and the steering heavier than the 355. The whole car feels more rigid and better connected to the road. While it is a bigger car, and drives bigger it also feels heavier even though it is lighter than my car.

The motor feels like it has significantly more low end grunt and from my seat of the pants evaluation the 360 is noticeably faster. I have heard several writers complain that the 360 is difficult to drive at its limit. I never tested this assertion. The car felt so competent and inspired so much caution I wonder if it lulls testers into a false sense of security.

During the drive I joked to Barb that Kevin’s car had a bit more gas than ours and I was just going to keep driving until he finally pulled over. I really like 360s.

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