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Part 1 of 2
A good friend of Mrs. SSO’s, who is a bit of a petrol head, recently asked if I had ever owned any Ferraris. I told her I had owned several and then she asked how many. I turned a bit red and answered that I really didn’t know but it had been quite a few. To avoid future embarrassment, this is an attempt to document my Ferrari ownership history and provide a few insights on all the different cars. I have broken my history down into two eras, F355 GTS thru the F40 and F50 till today.
The first Ferrari I was fortunate enough to own was a 1995 F355 GTS, SN 100952, purchased in 2002. I collected the car in Brussels in late December and drove it down to Lisbon. Looking back, this was quite insane. Up until this point, I had never driven a Ferrari, it was winter, and I had 1,200 miles to cover. Miraculously, other than one high stress moment when I couldn’t get the immobilizer to disengage after filling up, it was a smooth drive across France, Spain, and then down into Portugal. Over the many miles, I learned and bonded with the F355. I kept the F355 for about 2 ½ years before trading it in for Ferrari #6, a 550 Maranello. I do remember the F355 GTS being a fairly fragile car. At one point I was very lucky not to have been BBQ’ed when the fuel hose developed a leak. The steering was unnervingly light, but it did handle like a go-kart. The engine loved to rev and was spine tingling near the redline. Overall the F355 was a great introduction to Ferrari ownership.
Ferrari #2 was a 1980 512BB, SN 33635, acquired in 2003. While I liked and enjoyed the F355, the 512BB was the first Ferrari I really fell in love with. This 512BB was originally delivered in Switzerland before moving to France and then onto the UK. I purchased it from a retired Racecar Driver who had lovingly restored it to great running condition over the prior several years. I did several major cross European trips in the 512BB. As a long-distance GT, the 512BB was sublime. It would cruise effortlessly at 80 mph (or a bit over) for hours on end. The only issue I ever had with the 512BB was when the fuse box decided to liquify itself whilst driving across Spain one August. This took out the radiator fans which made the remaining 1,100 mile drive up to London more challenging than planned. The routing was immediately changed to all highway and the water temperature gauge became a fixation. As long as we were moving at speed on the highway, we were fine. Traffic was much more of a challenge. There were a few times we had to pull over, open up both the front and rear clamshells, and wait for everything to cool off. This seemed too provide much amusement for other French motorists and provided an opportunity to expand my French vocabulary. In what was a tough decision, the 512BB was one of the three Ferraris that were parted with in 2006 for Ferrari #7, the F40.
Ferrari #3 was a learning experience. In 2004 I decided a 2+2 would be a great idea as it would allow me to take my sons on drives. I found a higher mileage 456GT, SN 99488, that had a huge history. In the history file it looked like any issue that could possibly arise had already been addressed. This was very naïve on my part. The day I picked it up, it overheated on the drive down to London and spilled the radiator’s guts all over a Halfords parking lot. On a drive across France, the cambelt jumped a tooth and the car had to get flat bedded back. The horn died, the clutch needed replacement, the windows didn’t seal properly, and the stereo worked randomly. Unsurprisingly, we parted company after less than a year. The 456GT was by far the worst Ferrari I have ever owned.
Ferrari #4 was a 365GT4 BB, SN 18685. As I really enjoyed the 512BB (2nd generation Boxer), when the opportunity came up in July 2005 to acquire a 365GT4 BB (1st generation Boxer) I jumped at it. I was my first RHD Ferrari and forced me to learn how to change gears with my left hand. SN 18685 was the 1975 London Show car and had been meticulously maintained its entire life. The gentleman I purchased the car from had a large garage full of Ferraris and clearly took great pride in ownership. While the two Boxers looked almost identical, in many ways they were quite different. The 365BB is a much more demanding car to drive. The large single plate clutch demanded precision, power came in the upper end of the rev range, and the front tended to go light at speed. Like the 512BB, the 365BB departed in 2006 when Ferrari #7, the F40 was acquired.
Ferrari #5, an early fiberglass 308 GTB, SN 18729, started my year of the three Ferraris in 2006. The 308 GTB was my most modest acquisition to date and 2006 would end with by far my most extreme. SN 18729 was an impulse purchase during a visit to Classic Remise in Berlin. I had no intention of purchasing a car that day, but it looked so good sitting there and at Euro 23,000 was quite an easy man math equation to solve. A good test drive, the selling dealer’s reassurance on the condition, and a superficial look through the car convinced me to go ahead. This turned out to be a Euro 12,000 mistake as within a year the engine needed to be rebuilt and major rust in the door frames needed to be addressed. The 308 GTB did survive the drive from Berlin to Madrid and a couple of round trips between Madrid and Lisbon before the rebuild though. The 308 GTB handled beautifully and was a joy to run up and down the Portuguese coast. I kept the 308 GTB for about a year before selling it to a friend who then sold it onto another friend a few years later.
Ferrari #6, the 2nd acquisition in 2006, was a silver 550 Maranello, SN 119793, supplied by Ferrari Antwerp. I traded the F355 GTS in for the 550 Maranello and promptly drove it from Belgium down to Portugal. As long-distance tourers go, the 550 was in a league of its own back then. While I only owned the 550 for about 6 months, I did get plenty of use out of it in that short period. Our final act together was a great drive from Madrid to Kassel where it was traded in for Ferrari #7, the F40.
The third and last Ferrari acquired in 2006 was #7, the F40 SN 93380. We still have the F40 and in fact it is the only Ferrari we currently own. Earlier in 2006 I had gone to Belgium to look at a Dino 246 GT. While the Dino turned out to be a no go, I couldn’t get comfortable behind the wheel, a side discussion on F40s led directly to this purchase a few months later. A broker who I had gotten to know advised that he expected F40 prices to start to rise rapidly and now was the time to get one. I took his advice and then spent the next 6 months looking for the right car. To get the deal done, I ended up exchanging 36 cylinders (365BB, 512BB, 550 Maranello) for 8 cylinders and a pair of turbos. I still remember the 1st test drive vividly. The acceleration when the boost kicked in was unlike anything I had experienced to date. Like several of the other Ferraris, the acquisition was immediately followed by a long multiday drive across Europe over which we bonded. In this case it was the 1,200 miles from Kassel back to Madrid.
Next up: Part 2, F50 ->