Friday, April 15, 2011

Chapter 9 - Stop Shopping

On Tuesday January 13 2009 someone asked “how to talk your wife into buying a ferrari”. That’s an excellent question. Good luck fellow traveler may your manifolds never crack.

Stop Shopping

Gran Prix asked for a check for the entire amount of the car. I wrote it. Joe said they would hold the check until Scott comes through with the loan then I will have a Ferrari and Gran Prix will have $71,000.

Later that day Joe called to say that Dick Guthrie had given the car “a thumbs up” and Gran Prix would trailer it to the paint shop. I used all of my negotiating powers to get Joe to throw a re-spray of the front bumper. It took several hours and I had to storm out of the dealership twice but he finally capitulated. Actually, he volunteered to have the bumper cover repainted saving me the expense of doing it later.

I called Dick to get the full measure of his opinion. He told me the car was in great shape and needed nothing. That was good news. Even better the car had the best compression Dick had seen in a 355. The only negative item he discovered were some scrapes on the undercarriage, maybe from a bit of off-roading in the car’s past.

I felt good about the car after the last test drive. This news made me feel even better, I was confident this was a good car. Based on what I learned during my search for a Ferrari I developed a theory about 355s and Ferraris in general. This theory is based on nothing more than my own observations and prejudices. As such it may be entirely worthless but as I have gone to the trouble to tell you other nearly worthless things I believe I should be consistent and throw this in too.

My theory is that there are milestones during the life of a Ferrari when the opportunity to purchase is more compelling. The first opportunity is when the car is new or nearly new. In a Ferrari nearly new means fewer than two thousand miles and only a year or two old. The only downside with a new or nearly new Ferrari is they often sell for over MSRP.

The second buying opportunity exists in the mid twenty thousand mile range for cars which have been well taken care of and had major service items completed. As I researched 355s I noticed that cars with very low miles sold at a premium. This does not make sense. I can understand why a newer Ferrari with a few thousand miles and a warranty would sell at a premium but the newest 355 will be of 1999 vintage and out of warranty. It seems to me that a 355 with fewer than twenty thousand miles comes with a fairly large maintenance liability. A bunch of critical items have not had a chance to break yet.

Cars with over twenty thousand miles often have had this work done but sell at a discount when compared to their less well traveled peers. If my math is right a car with lower miles and lacking the valve and manifold services will sell at a $15,000 premium over a higher mileage car but may require upwards of $20,000 in service. That is spread of over $35,000 for a car with ten thousand fewer miles, roughly half the price of the higher mileage car.

Take it or leave it, that’s my theory.

On Friday December 7, 2007 I had some free time and used it visiting ADT. Easier said than done. After two trips around the block I gave up driving, parked my truck, and started walking. On foot it did not take long to find Dick’s shop, the Ferraris parked inside gave it away.

I will do my best to give you a description of what I saw and heard after walking in. There was stuff everywhere. Interesting stuff, stuff best described as having lots of texture. If ADT were sandpaper it would be 40 grit. Ferraris, in various states of disassembly, classic motorcycles, and other interesting mechanical bits were piled everywhere. Some cars were hidden under covers. There was an old, partially restored Aston Martin and remote control airplanes, big ones, mostly models of World War II fighters hanging from the ceiling and stuffed onto shelves.

Classical music was playing loudly from speakers mounted atop the office space which had been carved out of one corner of the large, old commercial building which housed ATD. A heavyset fellow, dressed in shorts and a tee shirt, was arguing that the complexity of the universe and the difficulty human’s encounter when attempting to understand nothingness is compelling evidence for the existence of a higher power. He did not appear to be addressing anyone in particular.

ATD was one of the most wonderful places on the planet. It was perfect, I could live in here.

A woman came out of the office and introduced herself as Linda Guthrie.

“Are you David?”


“I had expected someone shorter. Tall people are disadvantaged when it comes to Ferrari ownership.”

“Uh, well I slouch a bit when I drive”

“Are you going to buy the car?”

“Yes, I bought it.”

“Congratulations, what a beautiful car. I like the contrast between the silver exterior and red interior. And 355s are such nice performing cars. Have you owned an exotic car before?”

“No, but I have a 911.” I said hopefully, but could see from Linda’s expression that my 911 does not count.

The fellow talking metaphysics decided it was time for him to leave, said good bye and wandered out. Almost simultaneously Dick emerged from the office. Dick was bigger than I am and so at an even greater disadvantage when it came to driving Ferraris. Dick asked if I bought the car and upon hearing my answer reassured me that I had made a good choice.

Our conversation switched to some of the cars in his shop. The Aston, whose restoration has been stalled for years as the owner decides on a paint color and the old red truck whose dash had repeatedly come in and out. Finally, I asked Dick how much I owed for the inspection.

“One hundred eighty dollars.”

“You said two fifty when we talked.”

“Well my memory’s not what it was. One eighty will be fine.”

While I hope my car does not have to visit them, I looked forward to the chance to talking with Linda and Dick again. Sadly this was not to be. Dick passed away shortly after I had the pleasure of meeting him.

Things seldom work out exactly how you planned.

The car left ATD on Thursday and went to the painters. I hoped that between the time at ATD and the painters I would be able to arrange financing and not have to dig into savings to cover the cost of the car. Scott had fast tracked my request and should have the money early next week. If possible I would like to pick the car up on Wednesday, one week after I bought it.

Everything was in order for the loan. Everything looked good. No skeletons in my closet. Scott had to attend a seminar in Portland on Tuesday so he was going to bring the paperwork Barb and I needed to sign.

Only two months ago I decided to buy a Ferrari and write a book. I had accomplished a good bit toward that goal; posted an on line journal of my progress, found a good car, and hopefully, found a way to purchase the car using little to none of my own money, and most importantly convinced Barb that buying a Ferrari is a good idea.

Did you know that banks are required to give you three days to think about what you have done after you sign papers for a loan so you can change your mind? I didn’t. Once I signed the loan papers Summit will not be able to apply the funds to my account for three days. I will not be able to give Gran Prix a check that will clear until Friday.

For about 10 minutes this was not a problem. Almost immediately after learning I had to wait three days for the money I received an email from Joe letting me know the painters were unhappy with the quality of the paint job on the bumper and decided to do it over. If I had the money for the car I would be disappointed but as I am not ready to pay for the car it was blessing, but only for 10 minutes. Hot on the heels of the “car is not ready” message was the “we accidentally cashed your check” message.

I called Barb and asked her to stop shopping.

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