Ferrari Fever

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
ferrari fever

A pistonhead can no more resist a Ferrari's charms than a Labour party fundraiser can stop himself from accepting money from, um, anyone. The 360 Modena personifies the marque's appeal. The car's voluptuous curves and aggressive angles seduce pistonheads and innocent bystanders alike. When woken, the 360's flat plane crank unleashes a mechanical siren song of mythical proportions. To drive a 360, at speed, down a familiar road, is to surrender your soul to the Tifosi's embrace. Her screams still invade my sleep.

Hello, my name is Robert Farago and I'm a recovering Ferrari owner. I'd like to tell you about my first Ferrari…

I was working in Newport, Rhode Island at a nightclub called The Candy Store (as in nose). On that fateful night, I rounded the corner and practically walked straight into her: a Dino 246GT. Yes, I know. A Dino isn't a Ferrari. And Kelly Brook was never on Baywatch. So what? God made both Pammy and Kelly. Enzo made Ferrari and Dino. Anyway, the aspiring Italian rust bucket sat on the weathered dock, glowing in the fading sun. The Dino instantly re-ordered my automotive universe. I could never see another American "sports car" as anything but an enormous, clumsy barge. And boy, did I want one. A Ferrari, that is.

Of course, I couldn't afford a Ferrari back then. And I couldn't afford a Ferrari later. But that didn't stop me from buying one. Twenty years after my dockside encounter, I was still smitten. So I walked into an authorized Ferrari dealership to buy a F355B. I approached a salesman and gave him a buying signal as clear as a Tibetan gong struck on the plains of Nepal: "Hello, I'd like to buy a 355." The salesman crossed his arms and let loose the dogs of war: "And how do you set a budget?"

Translation: do you have enough money to buy a Ferrari? The salesman's tone implied that even if I could somehow wangle the readies, he reserved the right not to provide me with a car. Normally, if someone doesn't want to sell me something, I consider it reason enough not to buy it. But I wanted the 355 so bad I could smell it. Well, I could almost smell it within the cloud of Paco Rabanne swirling around Mr. Oxford Cambridge. I should have known better. I should have run straight to the nearest BMW dealer for a lesson in "residuals". But I didn't.

Flash forward to actual ownership. I'd had some fantastic drives. The car had transformed commuting to work into communing with Horsepower. But the damn thing lived at the shop; I'd started to call myself a "Ferrari visitor" rather than an "owner". Naturally enough, during these long periods of forced separation, I wanted to know when I might have a usable motorcar in exchange for my mortgage-like car payment. Did the Service Department answer my calls? No. Did they return my calls? No. Did they give me accurate information when I got through? No. Did they give me a loaner car? "Most Ferrari owners have a second car". Did they apologise when things went wrong, again? No. Do you get treated better down at the local Ford dealer? Yes.

In this I was not alone. An enthusiast who goes by the name of Bigkid told me of an owner who sent his red 355B in for repairs, only to receive a blue 355 Spider in return. His car was off with someone up North who was "uncontactable". Over a damn fine snifter of cognac, a member of the Ferrari Owners' Club casually revealed that his dealer had installed a new racing harness. When he pulled up to a traffic light, the entire mounting snapped off. Another acquaintance sent his four-week-old 360 back to the dealer for a laundry list of repairs (including faulty F1 software). After a promise of a week off-road, he received the car back two weeks later without a single job done.

Most pistonheads live in Ferrari denial. They believe that mainlining Maranello is worth anything up to and including testicular donation. I could tell them about the time the car's alarm system trapped me inside a roasting cabin in the middle of nowhere—without the slightest impact on their car-nal desires. In fact, lusting after one of these machines is a mental illness that can only be cured by buying one. If, however, you are not yet afflicted, I recommend that you avoid them at all costs, and buy some Ferrari shares when this little horsie goes to market. I mean, if you're that sensible, why not live off the weakness of others?

Join the conversation
  • Analoggrotto By the time any of Hyundai's Japanese competitors were this size and age, they produced iconic vehicles which are now highly desirable and going for good money used. But Hyundai/Kia have nothing to this point that anyone will care about in the future. Those 20k over MSRP Tellurides? Worn out junk sitting at the used car lot, worn beyond their actual age. Hyundai/Kia has not had anything comparable to the significance of CVCC, 240Z, Supra, Celica, AE86, RX-(7), 2000GT, Skyline, GT-R, WRX, Evo, Preludio, CRX, Si, Land Cruiser, NSX etc. All of this in those years where Detroiters and Teutonic prejudiced elitists were openly bashing the Japanese with racist derogatory language. Tiger Woods running off the road in a Genesis didn't open up a moment, and the Genesis Sedan featuring in Inception didn't matter any more than the Lincoln MKS showing up for a moment in Dark Knight. Hyundai/Kia are too busy attempting to re-invent others' history for themselves. But hey, they have to start somewhere and the N74 is very cool looking. Hyundai/Kia's biggest fans are auto Journalists who for almost 2 decades have been hyping them up to deafening volumes contributing further distrust in any media.
  • Bd2 Other way around.Giorgetto Giugiaro penned the Pony Coupe during the early 1970s and later used its wedge shape as the basis for the M1 and then the DMC-12.The 3G Supra was just one of many Japanese coupes to adopt the wedge shape (actually was one of the later ones).The Mitsubishi Starion, Nissan 300ZX, etc.
  • Tassos I also want one of the idiots who support the ban to explain to me how it will work.Suppose sometime (2035 or later) you cannot buy a new ICE vehicle in the UK.Q1: Will this lead to a ICE fleet resembling that of CUBA, with 100 year old '56 Chevys eventually? (in that case, just calculate the horrible extra pollution due to keeping 100 year old cars on the road)Q2: Will people be able to buy PARTS for their old cars FOREVER?Q3: Will people be allowed to jump across the Channel and buy a nice ICE in France, Germany (who makes the best cars anyway), or any place else that still sells them, and then use it in the UK?
  • Tassos Bans are ridiculous and undemocratic and smell of Middle Ages and the Inquisition. Even 2035 is hardly any better than 2030.The ALMIGHTY CONSUMER should decide, not... CARB, preferably WITHOUT the Government messing with the playing field.And if the usual clueless idiots read this and offer the tired "But Government subsidizes the oil industry too", will they EVER learn that those MINISCULE (compared to the TRILLIONS of $ size of this industry) subsidies were designed to help the SMALL Oil producers defend themselves against the "Big Oil" multinationals. Ask ANY major Oil co CEO and he will gladly tell you that you can take those tiny subsidies and shove them.
  • Dusterdude The suppliers can ask for concessions, but I wouldn’t hold my breath . With the UAW they are ultimately bound to negotiate with them. However, with suppliers , they could always find another supplier ( which in some cases would be difficult, but not impossible)