Thursday, April 14, 2011

Chapter 8 - I just bought a Ferrari

On Thursday October 9 2008 someone was led to my site by Goggling “how to build a model tar pit”.

I just bought a Ferrari!

It was anticlimactic.

One day after the test drive Joe called to ask what I wanted to do. He caught me sitting in my truck, stopped at a red light on Highway 30 in northwest Portland. I had decided to buy the car, even if I had to spend over $73,000. Even so I was still not ready to say yes. Close, but not ready. I bet many potential Ferrari owners become non-potential owners at this point. I was comfortable with the 355, both Barb and I liked it. It would make a great character in this story but I did not want to commit to buying it, was not ready to commit to buying it, sitting in my truck stopped at a red light.

30 Minutes later I emailed Joe and told him I did not want to get in a bidding war with a 12 year old and would pay $71,000 for the car. I then closed my email and did not look at my Blackberry for an hour. When I logged back in I had a message from Joe saying the car was mine.

Simple as that. It was Wednesday, December 5th 2007.

I am not sure what I expected. The rain to stop, maybe some theme music punctuated by an F1 motor howling in the background. I called Joe to start the process of getting the pre-purchase done. I then called Scott and told him I needed money as soon as possible. I had started to fill out the forms for the line of credit but stopped when the car was “sold” on ebay. I now have to hustle to get those done, to make matters worse Scott is going out of town for a few days.

That’s it.

I had just bought a Ferrari. I was sitting in my office. It was quiet. It was raining. No different than before.

I am not being truthful. I know exactly what I expected.

My expectation of my Ferrari purchase did not include rainy Oregon weather, email, or filling out forms. Frankly, my expectation for my Ferrari purchase did not include 355s.

This is tad embarrassing but this is what I expected.

After finding and negotiating the purchase a perfect F50, Silverstone with Bordeaux, from a Count who was a dear friend of Enzo’s I made arrangements to collect the car the Ferrari factory and enjoy a few days of great driving and wonderful food in Italy.

The flight to Italy was pleasant. I am a big guy but the 1st class seats were comfortable and accompanied with a never ending supply of cheese and champagne. Plus, the flight attendants were nice enough to bring warm towels every hour or so. I usually don’t travel well but getting to Italy was effortless. Even customs was easy, I got a laugh from the customs agent when I wrote, “To pick up my dream car” as my reason for entering the country.

This was our first time in Italy and I confess I was nervous about driving the Ferrari here. I don’t read Italian. There are were little cars, scooters, and motorcycles zipping chaotically around. After a full day of traveling I decided not to rush to see the car. I wanted to take a shower, a nap, and get a good meal.

We booked a room at the Giovanetto in Castelfranco Emilia, a small town just outside of Modena. It’s a quiet bed and breakfast, the beds have thick comforters and big down pillows. The room was painted a pale yellow. After a glass of wine and a plate of antipasti I slept well.

When I told other Ferrari owners I was picking the car up at the Factory and getting a tour they were incredulous. Why should I get a tour? I bought a used car. Sure, it’s an F50 but it was still used. The answer is simple. I bribed my local Ferrari dealer.

I was not taking any chances, how often will I get to go to Italy to pick up a F50? It did not take as much as you might expect. Tonkin arranged the sale and I made sure two cases of Barolo found their way into Steve’s hands. Admittedly they were 2001’s but I think it was well worth it. That was it, 24 bottles of wine and we are picking the car up at the Factory and getting a tour.

Barb and I arrived at the Factory at 11:00 am. I am glad we chose to wait and recover from the flight prior to seeing the car. We were met by an attractive tour guide, wearing red, who led us to the only F50 parked inside the main entrance. Sharing the courtyard with the F50 were two 430 Scuderias and a 599.

The F50 is essentially a formula one car with an extra seat and wearing a slinky dress. The car has a 4.7 liter V12 that produces 513 horsepower. The chassis is made of carbon fiber. If you look closely at the bodywork you can see the carbon fiber weave through the paint. Ferrari made only 349 F50s and our car is one of only a few which is not red. The car looked perfect in each of the 312 pictures I had been sent. It looks even better in person.

I hope the weather will stay dry as the F50 does not have a roof. That’s not entirely true. I made a commitment to being honest. The car does have a roof but it was stored in a rather large piece of luggage which arrived in Portland the day before Barb and I left for Italy.

I spent 20 minutes looking at it. Just staring. I didn’t touch it. I was afraid to get in, worried that doing so might cause me to wake from a dream. After a broken Italian/English conversation with our guide Barb learned we were going to have lunch before going on the tour. That was fine, I was hungry.

We went across the street from the Factory to Cavallino for lunch. The tour started at 1:00 so we had plenty of time for lunch. I have no photos to share. The rumors you hear about Ferrari not allowing cameras on the tour are true.

I can tell you that the Factory is amazing. The most memorable part of the tour was the Ferrari Classiche department. Classiche will restore older cars with original parts or build new “original” parts for the car. There were some beautiful cars undergoing restoration.

With lunch and the tour over it was time to drive the car. It was only now that we realized we couldn’t leave the Fiat in the parking lot across the street from the Factory. One of us gets to drive the Ferrari one of us would be stuck in the Punto.

Barb and I flipped a coin for it. She won. Jealously, I followed her back to the B&B to drop off the Fiat. For our first drive in the Ferrari we had mapped out on a driving tour which took us on some narrow country roads north of Castelfranco Emilia.

The weather was perfect, 70 degrees big clouds, blue sky, and beautiful Italian sun. This was the right place to pick up the car. The roads were barely wider than the Ferrari and twisted through farms and little villages. We nearly got stuck in one village when the road became too narrow for the car. The houses were built right up the road.

An old woman wearing a shawl poked her head out of her window and shook her fist at us. If she could have I bet she would have slammed her shutters. Admittedly the car is loud and the sound was amplified by the echo of the exhaust note off the houses. We made quite a scene backing out of her neighborhood in search of wider roads.

We had five days of this. Great roads, wonderful food, beautiful wine, and the Ferrari to enjoy in Italy. When we returned the car to the Factory I got to drive. I said good bye to the F50 and was back in the Fiat to the airport for the trip home. Tonkin arranged for the Factory to ship the car to Portland.

Of all our experiences one stands out as unforgettable and completely surreal. It was our third day and we planned a driving trip south to Monfestino, for no particular reason other than the roads looked nice on the map. Just outside of Pazzano di Sotto we turned right onto a small, narrow road. We had not gone more than 300 meters when the road was lined with attractive, young people, male and female, in underwear. They were standing about 10 feet apart. Some were standing at attention, some talking with their neighbors. Those at attention seemed annoyed by their chatty neighbors.

The underwear started off white, then as we progressed, now slowly, down the road the underwear started to gain some color, first light blue, then greens, the yellow, then orange, the last was red. Needless to say we were both confused until we saw several cameras mounted on a motorized rolling platform. I stopped and asked what was going on and a British guy told me they were filming a laundry soap commercial. He said they had 312 models in their underwear. I asked why they did not close the road. Why bother was his answer.

That is what I expected.

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