This is the summary of my first longish trip in the F50. It was a 2 day adventure with almost all the F50 driving on the 2nd day. Total distance covered was 500 miles in brilliant fall weather. My co-pilot this time around was my son, who also is responsible for all the pictures.
Due to time constraints, this time I had the Ferrari F50 transported most of the way down to Madrid. The truck it came on was fantastic and unlike any other transporter I have ever seen. The F50 arrived in perfect condition and I even had the “fun” of backing it off the truck, which is always a clutch life threatening situation. As it arrived late in the day, we decided to leave it in a guarded garage on the city outskirts and set off early the next morning. With the F50 safely bedded down for the night, we hoped in the Ferrari 308 GTB “City Car” and headed into town. The joke at this point was that this early production fiberglass 308 GTB was the tender for the F50 “Mother Ship”. As the F50 could not have fit in the garage elevator at the apartment building in the city center, this actually was pretty accurate as we did need the 308 to ferry us back and forth. Before finishing up for the day, we had a brief strategy session for the drive the next day. We plotted our route and came out with a total distance of just about 500 miles. After a brief discussion we then decided to use a two stop strategy, for as my son put it, “Dad, if you run out of gas, you are going to look really stupid”. And with that we then headed out to dinner.
We started and ended without a cloud in the sky. We got up, threw our stuff in a small duffle bag, had a quick bite to eat, and headed down to fire the 308 GTB up. The 308, as usual, started perfectly with the 1st turn of the key, and after a few minutes of idling, we headed to the garage elevator of doom. Based on the multiple paint scraps along the elevator door edges, my guess is the building management receives a commission from the local body paint shop for each car the elevator nails.
After a couple of minutes and a full upper body work out in this most manual of cars. We had maneuvered out of the tight courtyard and were on the road. As it was still fairly early, traffic was light and it only took 10 minutes to get out of the center of the city and to the garage to pick up the F50. Once parked alongside we quickly transferred the luggage and cleaned the windscreen. One major issue with the F50 is luggage space. What was in effect a small carry on bag, entirely filled the front “boot”. On a trip of more than 3 days, you would be limited to toothpaste, a toothbrush, and clean underwear. The last thing we did before firing the engine up was remove and store the small emergency roof. I had put it up prior to shipping the car to keep the interior clean. While it looks quite diabolical, it actually is quite simple to install and can be done by one person in about 10 minutes without too much fiddling.
We were now ready to go. Immobilizer off, ignition key to the right, wait for the system check to run and flash ok, then hit the start button. With that, all 12 cylinder erupt right behind your head before settling into a steady high idle while the cats warm up. In an underground garage, it is brain rattling. As this is one car that really needs to warm up before you start to move, there we sat having our brains slightly scrambled for the next 5-10 minutes. My son looked at me about half way through and said, next time just pick me up in front when you are ready to go. The two temperature gauges finally light up too the proper levels and we were off. Out the gate, up the road, and within 2 minutes we were on the ring road around the city.
Proceeding down the exit ramp, two quick gear changes and a glace down at the speedometer, and that was it. With the speedo reading 150 kph it was time to back off quickly. Instant power is probably the best way to describe how an F50 accelerates. No lag, no build up, just full thrust as soon as you apply pressure with your right foot. This coupled with a clutch that is perfectly weighted and a pleasure to use makes for blistering acceleration. In fact the combination of clutch and short throw gearbox are the best of any Ferrari I have ever driven. The only problem is it does it with so little effort that you do not think you are going as fast as you actually are.
With two quick road changes we were out on the outer ring road and headed for the main highway west headed towards Portugal. A series of never ending speed cameras keep traffic at a steady 100 kph. I decided at this point to move into the center lane and just flow with traffic. Over the next 10 miles we filled the roll of moving photo op. At points is a bit dangerous when you get people trying to maneuver around you to get the perfect shot. In general I will now sit patiently and let them take the picture before moving on. We did have one change of strategy though, in a couple of obnoxious cases, my son would pull out our camera and take pictures of them taking pictures of us. Now that got some interesting looks.
The ring road was dispatched in due course and it was now out on the open road. We settled into a cruising speed of just a bit over the speed limit and at around 3800 rpms in 6th gear. Humming along at this speed the F50 really feels like it is barely stressed. Traffic was light and we were able to open it up a little on several long segments with no one else in sight. With the open top, you not only feel the engine (it is bolted to the back of the bulkhead) but get the full F1 type scream right behind your head. After a bit over 2 hours, it was time to stop for gas.
With our tanks back to full, and having given a wedding party plenty of time to take pictures in front of the car, it was back out of the highway. Running down the entrance ramps in this machine is just fantastic. The combination of 12 cylinders in a car that weights less than the average NFL offensive line is a near perfect package. The fact that the brakes actually work as soon as you get a bit of heat into them is an added bonus.
The sun was right over head by now and both of us had started to pick up a nice tan. Traffic was still light to nonexistent so forward progress continued at a respectable clip. 50 miles down the road we entered a mile long tunnel. Speed in the tunnel was restricted to 60 mph, so we dropped down to 3 gear, ran the rpms up to a bit over 5000, and announced our presence to any fellow motorist within ten miles. The echo was earth rattling. Exiting the tunnel, my son turned to me and declared that this was the car he wanted when he got his driver’s license. I told him he could have any car he could afford.
After one last fuel and food stop, the rest of the journey went quickly, the only other incident of note happened while crawling across large suspension bridge near the end. We had several conversations and plenty of thumbs up from other slow moving motorists. All in, a great drive on a beautiful day, in a car whose capabilities are far in excess of mine.
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