They’re coming for it next week. The shipping company, that is. They’re picking up the Ferrari, taking the keys, putting it inside a trailer, and transporting it far away to a new owner, thus bringing to an end my childhood dream of owning a Ferrari. I should be downtrodden; dismayed; depressed. I should take time to gaze at it longingly during the last few days before its departure. I should take it on one final drive with tears welling up in my eyes. I should be browsing AutoTrader for a new one.
Now, before I get started, I want to stress that owning this car didn’t work for me – but it’s important to remember that my experiences aren’t universal. Some people love these cars, and enjoy these cars, and wouldn’t own anything else – and despite my complaints, I would love to have another one someday. But from my perspective, this car was a disappointment – and here’s why.
Let’s start with the thing that annoyed me most: the attention. As far as I can tell, most Ferrari buyers fall precisely into two camps: those who buy the car for the attention, and those who buy the car for the driving experience. Admittedly, there’s some crossover – but you can usually distinguish the “Let’s go on a mountain drive” people from the “Let’s wrap it in neon gold and cruise up and down busy streets” crowd.
As for me, I prefer the driving experience: few things in life sound more appealing than an uninterrupted hour in the car, going through the gears, hearing the sounds, negotiating curves, and staring at the engine through the rearview mirror. But when you’re driving a bright red Ferrari, “uninterrupted” isn’t really possible.
At every light, the guy next to you will ask what it cost. At every gas station, a guy in a Chevy pickup will come over and ask if you “wanna trade?” People will want to take pictures of it, next to it, and in it. Kids want you to rev so they can put a video on YouTube. And no matter where you drive it, everyone goes a little faster when they’re near you, eager to prove that they can keep up – whether they’re driving a Subaru or a Porsche.
And over the last year, I’ve indulged every single person with a big smile. The guy who wants to know what it costs gets to sit inside. The guy who asks if I want to trade gets to see the engine up close. Kids get rides, parent permitting. And if anyone wants to take a picture with it, I grab their camera and invite them to sit behind the wheel. But it gets tiresome. And every so often, when I’m thinking about taking out the Ferrari for an hour or so, I’ll pause for a moment and remember the attention. And I’ll fire up Forza and drive a Ferrari there, instead.
Now, I shouldn’t say that I don’t like attention on the road. In fact, I loved it when people would approach me at gas stations, restaurants, or stoplights when I was driving my E63 AMG wagon or my CTS-V wagon. But that’s because those were car people, eager to discuss one of the most unusual — and most subtle — cars on the road. In the Ferrari, it’s everyone, coming at you from all sides, asking personal questions about how I can afford it, and what it cost, and what I do for a living. After a while, it simply gets old.
Then there’s the issue of actually driving it. A lot of car enthusiasts make fun of Ferrari owners, since the typical car only covers about 2,000 or 3,000 miles a year. In the last year, I put just over 5,000 miles on mine, and I discovered the reason why most Ferrari owners are so sparing with their mileage: these cars are difficult to drive.
One reason is simply time. A few months ago, a friend perfectly summed up this car to me: it’s a Point A to Point A car. In other words: this isn’t a car you use to go somewhere. It’s a car you take out of your house, and drive around for a while, before you return to your house. You don’t go to the mall in it. You don’t take it to dinner. You can’t pick up anything large, and you can’t transport more than one person. It’s not a vehicle you use. It’s a toy to be played with.
And therein lies the problem: most Ferrari owners don’t get to the point of owning a Ferrari by having large blocks of free time they can devote to aimlessly driving around for several hours. So the cars sit, and sit, and sit, except for that one weekend, in between business trips, when the weather is nice, and the wife and kids are at the museum, and the house is clean, and the car is in good, working order. As you might imagine, this only happens a few times a year. Roughly two thousand miles worth, I suspect.
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