OK, if it’s one thing I know, I know Ferrari’s…
I have yet to meet anyone quite so stubborn as myself and animated by this overpowering passion that leaves me no time for thought or anything else. I have, in fact, no interest in life outside racing cars.
In fact there was one in my garage from 1995 – so 10 years of continuous ownership and 14 different cars in total. I’ve been to the Grand Prix in the Ferrari Corporate Box in the Paddock Club as a guest of Ferrari in 5 different tracks, 12 different time.
I have visited the factory twice. I had the 3rd F 430 Spider in the country and that’s only because I was away the day they announced they were taking orders and missed the email.
I have photos of me and Michael and Rubens and Jean Todt, and have sat in (sort of – too chubby to get right in) a real F1 racing car.
I have driven EVERY super-car (except a Veyron and some super exotics) currently available for sale in Australian and I still come back to the Ferrari. I have driven Ferrari’s in the European Club Sport races, and raced a F355 for 2 years, and driven them on roads in the US and Europe.
Ferrari’s rock. They are not old man’s cars (as somebody ignorantly accused) and even if they are you’d soon become young again. And yes, believe it or not many women do love them. I have had ample incidents where I have become instantly significantly more attractive because I was standing near my Ferrari and actually took out the keys – don’t start – I knew what they were after!
The sound, the smell (Connolly Leather), and the feel of the car is unbeatable. The handling is AMAZING – just like a go cart. The clink of metal on metal as you change the gears through the famous Ferrari metal H gate… all experiences you just don’t get with other cars.
And yes, I have owned other cars – a Mercedes Benz SL65 and a Bentley GTC for example, and yes they are awesome cars but lacks the one thing the Italian has in droves… Soul.
And people LOVE Ferrari’s – I have owned other cars as well Porsche, BMW, MB, etc and they are often vandalized and so on, but I have never had my Ferrari as much as scratched.
Police let you off speeding fines, but never in a Porsche, parking Nazi’s at the airport let you park the car for an hour in the 2 minutes zones, people stop to let you into traffic (try that in my BMW and you’d end up with a BIG dint). Hotels will always Valet park them for free. People have their photo taken in front of them. People buy you lunch. I’ve had one situation where I used to park the car at work and come back at the end of the day and it had been washed and polished by somebody I didn’t even know (and this went on for 9 months until I finally caught him 2 weeks before we moved office to thank him).
And people who own Ferrari’s are unique too… Yes some are w@nk#rs but most are genuine enthusiasts and always have an interesting story to tell. And when you get together at social events their partners are invariably good looking and intelligent – it seems the admiration of the same qualities comes through in both car and woman.
In the US 29% of buyers are now women too. You will NEVER see me wear any promotional gear on any clothes except Ferrari at GP time. I have been to the Monaco, Monza, Indy, Singapore, Sao Paulo and Chinese Grand Prix to follow the team and every F1 driver in the world wants to drive for them. Even when they they’re losing!
Ferrari is not just a car, it is a way of life, a way of being, a state of mind. On the good days a Ferrari is just a wonderful car to drive, on the bad days a Ferrari is just a wonderful car to own because every time I get in one I feel just a little but better about myself.
They make people smile. To the little boys and girls who wave at you to the teenagers who get down on their knees and “worship” the car as you drive pass to the mums in the people movers who give you a wistful smile and the guys in other cars who look and drool,. And that doesn’t happen in any other car I own. Not one.
People give you the forks as you drive past in a Porsche, ignore you completely in a MB and BMW’s are as common as Holden’s these days, but most people smile even just a little and often bust into spontaneous happiness and give you a little wave when you drive past in a Ferrari – everybody loves a Ferrari.
And if you don’t then I feel sorry for you. Not only are they an awesome automotive feast, they are beautiful to look at – a genuine mobile piece or art (and MB haven’t been able to achieve that since the gull wing). You may never want to own one but it’s hard not to admire the company for their technical genius and amazing branding – most people who support Scuderia Ferrari will never get to own one in their lives and yet they still weep when Ferrari wins a GP.
And they cost less than you might think to own… They have a 3 year, 100,000km warranty and a 5 year warranty on the Aluminum body.
They have an annual check up which costs about $750 but their first real service is at 50,000km. Insurance is cheap ($3,500 per year – my Porsche cost $6,500 and the SL55 was almost $10,000) because they are never stolen (in fact the insurance company is VERY suspicious of every theft claim because of the rarity of the event). Why? Because the immobiliser is bullet proof so no joy riding, and there is no secondary market for the parts (all numbered) and no imbecile would risk the warranty by not taking their car to a Ferrari garage to fix it, so no professional theft. Most people don’t drive them – tragedy – so they are rarely crashed but when they are it is usually a right off.
Parts are expensive and if you do prang them it’s really going to hurt, plus Ferrari don’t keep much in stock so they time off the road is exasperated by the delay time in ordering the part from Italy.
Depreciation occurs most when the models are replaced – everybody not interested in the old model any more, but stabilises then and they rarely lose their value from there. Other than that during the model life cycle they can usually be sold for only a $10K to $30K less than you paid due to the extended waiting lists for most people, and the fact that in times of good economies demand exceeds supply.
The maximum amount I have lost on a Ferrari when I came to sell / trade was $30,000 and that was on a car with 30,000 on the clock (like 150,000 in any other car) and the dealer knew that I had pranged it (not a big bang but a bang none the less).
Contrast that to the last Range Rover which I bought for $135,000 and sold 2 years later with just 7,500kms on the clock for $60,000 and my last 911 which I paid $265,000 and sold 2 years later with 9,000 kms on the clock and sold for $190,000 and you can see how awesome those figures are. One Ferrari, my Barchetta I bought for $605,000 and sold for $670,000.
Cars to me are a part of life and life is just a little bit better with a Ferrari in it. To all those guys and gals who want one I can only encourage you to go for it – keep dreaming – it’s worth it – and more importantly learn to scoff at people who say cars are only for getting from A to B – they will never know the joy and passion they are missing out on.
I remember, before I had my first one doing all sorts of things just to get a decent look at one… One night when I first saw the F355 I took my car in a 6 lane U-turn over a median strip – through bushes and out ran a Police car that saw me do it just to follow the Ferrari to the place he parked so I could see it – the fine was worth it!
I remember my first drive in one… We started in city traffic and I was not too impressed by the hard clutch, the tight steering and the jarring suspension – then the salesman suggested we go further afield – through the airport tunnel (before the speed cameras were installed), turn around, check for coppers and do it foot to the floor. The acceleration was awesome (a friend of mine says the closet you can get to riding a super bike on 4 wheels), the handling as we zipped through cars unsurpassed and then just before we got to the tunnel (dong about 160km/h by now) he yelled, “Third Gear!”.
“WHAT?!?” I yelled back…
“Put it into 3rd gear – NOW!”
And I did – just as we crossed the threshold of the tunnel. The chill that went down my spine as I heard that amazing engine at 7,000 RPM is still with me today. I can report that there are some things that are better than (or at least as good as) sex, and that sensation is one of them! And YES, I know how to do it properly 🙂
At that moment the car was sold – the rest was mere details and filling in paper work.
That first Ferrari – an F355 was never out of my site – I think the marks from the hand stitched leather are still just perceivable on my butt! I remember going to a Ferrari club meeting about 6 months after I had it and listening to everybody talk about their drives.
“I was asked – so what drives have you done in your car Peter?” People listened with mixed horror and excitement as I told them that I was virtually NEVER out of the car, had been to Queensland twice and driven many times just about every exciting road in NSW. Then somebody thought to ask, “Goodness, how much mileage have you done?”
“23,000 km,” I replied to an audible gasp. The sales manager pulled me aside later and said, “I think we need to talk… Your Ferrari is only 6 months old and you have done 23,000 km?”
“I don’t think you understand… Most of these people put less than 3,000 km a year on their cars.”
“Are you KIDDING?” I gasped in reply, “I will NEVER do that – that’s a tragedy – how could you own one of these beautiful cars and NOT drive it?”
“Well, Peter, in Ferrari terms, 23,000 km is like doing 150,000 km in a Commodore – If you ever want to recover some value from your car, we’d better trade it now!”
And so, just 6 months after buying my very first Ferrari, I had my second one! Of course still vowing I would drive and drive and drive.
I remember one day where the most beautiful woman I had ever met – somebody you would know but I am sworn to secrecy, saw me in my F355 Spyder at Bondi Beach and walked straight up to me waiting at a set of traffic lights, introduced herself by name and said, “Hey, I feel like going for a drive – you wanna take me?”
And I did. We spent the most magic day, only getting out of the car to get lunch at Terrigal, driving up the Old Pacific Highway (before the put the ridiculous speed limits on it), and then up to the Blue Mountains via Windsor over the Ferry, weaving in and out of traffic with smiles as wide as the road and mostly really pushing the car as well.
I dropped her back to the Park Hyatt (after a picnic on the playing fields at Dover Heights overlooking the twinkling lights of beautiful Sydney) at about midnight and with a quick, kiss she said simply, “See ya – that was awesome – thanks.” I never saw her again but it was an amazing day.
I remember the late night races (before the impounding laws came into effect) through city streets showing those boys with those hotted up Fords, tricked up Hondas and yes, even Subaru WRX’s what a real Super Car was all about, occasionally out running the coppers and occasionally being caught. (A quick drive of the car usually resulted in a warning – ahh, the good old days).
I remember getting the 3rd F360 in the country and how many Ferrari lovers came up to me and talked to me about it.
I remember the awesome drive days where dozens of real Ferrari lovers (and ring ins – Alfa’s were always welcome) would take their cars for a serious drive with a lead car, walkie-talkies and road blocks so we had the roads to ourselves).
I remember going to my first Grand Prix and understood why Ferrari built cars (Enzo Ferrari said the only reason they put up with customers was to fund their racing program) and why my little piece of Ferrari folklore was so very awesome at everything it did.
I remember learning how to race myself and realizing just how bad a driver I was before and those two heady years of plummeting around tracks trying to avoid the walls, the other cars, the odd spectator and actually getting a place.
I remember the long drives with friends.
I remember taking kids and disadvantaged for drives – even just around the block to give them a sense of what a beautiful car like this was like.
Those were REALLY the days.
And I remember the day I started to realise I am not immortal and all those naughty things I had done in cars may just result in me not being here anymore (and it was also the day I lost my “edge”).
I miss those days. Right at the moment there’s no place in my life for a Ferrari and that’s very sad for me.
And I remember talking about my love of Ferrari in just about every seminar I ever presented!
My best advice to everybody is, LIVE life. Sure invest for the future, sure keep a couple of things for “special occasions” but until we remember that EVERY day is a special day – it could be our last – our life can become so very routine.
My encouragement to anybody who will listen is “Go for your dream – a beautiful car, a $300,000 record collection, an amazing rose garden, a trip around Australia – whatever it is – go for it – and go for it now.”
I have realised that I have lived a hundred dreams because of that advice – some people never get to live one. I understand how extraordinarily privileged I am to have had these experiences and am grateful beyond words for them.
And I am also grateful I was a custodian of some of the most beautiful pieces of machinery that graces our planet.