Sunday, November 30, 2008

Rookie Ferrari Buyer Mistakes

So as I roll up on one year with the car I have been thinking more and more about some my original thesis, that it is possible to buy and drive a Ferrari for a year all the while spending only pocket change. Ever the optimist I believe that is a thesis which can be proven true despite my experience with the 355 over the past year. In hindsight I made a few, glaring, rookie Ferrari buyer mistakes. More on that later. While it may be possible to buy and drive a Ferrari for a year without much out of pocket expense doing so would be to miss an important and in my opinion fun aspect of Ferrari ownership, maintaining the thing.

In the lexicon of Ferrari ownership mechanics and maintenance are prominent. I spent significantly more time with the mechanics at RTGT than I did with the sales guys at GPI. Getting to know the folks who are working on the car is important. Spending a boat load of money maintaining the car, then getting comfortable with fact that you just spent a boat load of money to maintain the car, is part of the Ferrari ownership experience. I am one of those people who from bonds with cars. I don’t get weepy when I sell them but when they are in my care I treat them as if they have a bit of soul, spirit, or sentience. Regardless, spending money to maintain a car is making a commitment to the car and, again in my opinion, part of the Ferrari ownership experience is making a commitment to your Ferrari.

Rookie Ferrari owner mistake number one was not researching the individual car extensively enough. I spent a bunch of time researching models. I thought I knew enough, probably did know enough, about the problems which plague 355s to make a wise choice. Unfortunately, I did not spend enough time going through the pages of service history which accompanied the car I bought. Had I spent enough time I would have noticed that the car’s catalytic converter ecus were original and would probably need to be replaced soon. I would have noticed that only bank of valves had been replaced and could reasonable expect the other bank would need replacing sometime. What I did to was look at a tome of receipts and think, “Wow, this car has had a ton of stuff done to it.” It had and it had been nicely taken care of by its previous owners, just had one or two things which might fail.

Rookie Ferrari owner mistake number one and a half. Take the car to a place with all the tools to diagnose everything. While I had a great time meeting Dick at ATD he did not have the electronic tools necessary to review the codes on the 355s computer and see what the car was complaining about. With the next Ferrari, whether it comes from the dealer or an individual, the car is going to someone who can fully diagnose every chough, sneeze, or sniffle the car may have.
Rookie Ferrari owner mistake number two. Buying a Ferrari right before an economic down turn. OK so it’s more than a downturn. At least I bought a cheap Ferrari. When I purchased the car it was clear, not crystal clear, but clear that the economy was slowing. If I had held up for a year I would have been able to buy the car for less, or buy a new car for just a bit more than I spent. While the current economy makes selling the car a less than palatable option, I don’t regret buying it and will just hold on to it until the economy and Ferrari prices recover or until I get bored with the car and decided to clear up some garage space. That said, now is a great time to get an exotic car at a bargain price. I bet, from a buyer’s perspective, times will be even better in six to nine months. I am trying to find a way to squeeze a track car into our garage and my budget.

No comments: