I am fortunate enough to have owned two Ferraris before: an exquisite silver 308 GTB qv and a gorgeous dark metallic blue F355 Spider. Note that neither have been in the clichéd Rosso Corsa and I wasn’t going to change that tradition with my third.
I reluctantly sold the F355 back in 2004, as I couldn’t really justify its upkeep when racing Caterhams, buying a Smart Roadster Coupe AND joining P1 International, the supercar club.
The 360 Spider had never appealed as I didn’t like the simultaneously understeery yet snappy handling and hated the front end styling.
However in 2005, thanks to another supercar club that I joined, Revo250, I had the use of the stunning new F430 and was blown away. Writing for both evo and Ferrari magazine, I described the new coupe as a “mini-Enzo for a quarter of the price” and it was easily the best car I had driven to date, which was especially pleasing as I had paid my £5000 deposit for one in October 2004.
I was told back then that it would be a two and a half year wait for my car which I airily dismissed as pessimistic. “People will be sure to drop out of the queue” I thought and started picturing getting the car in time for summer 2006.
Summer 2006 came and went and still no sign of my F430 and by August 2006 I was literally seconds away from buying a second-hand one to “tide me over until my new one arrived” when I changed my mind and bought the Z06 instead.
Finally, in December 2006, I was told that I should come in to my dealer, Maranello Egham, to final spec my car and pay my second deposit.
The exterior and interior colours, Grigio Silverstone and Bordeaux respectively, had always been my unwavering choices since I saw photos of the first press cars.
Other decisions were not quite as easy, although it still didn’t take me that long to rack up over £20k worth of options including the £10k carbon ceramic brakes, £3k carbon race seats, £1.5k carbon Challenge grill and of course the £6k F1 “paddle-shift” gearbox.
I was then told that the car would be built in March ’07 which was a pleasant surprise as I had been told that the speccing and second deposit was usually done six months before delivery.
All was good whilst I continued to enjoy my Z06 and looked forward to F Day.
Finally, at the end of March, I got a call from my salesman, Asif, who told me, to my dismay, that there was a “big problem” with my car.
Unbelievably, despite them being a routine tick-box option, my lovely leather covered carbon race seats were nowhere to be seen, replaced instead by the rather dowdy standard leather armchairs. And to add insult to injury they did not have the redeeming “Daytona” straps or even electric adjustment! I cannot honestly believe that anyone with the means to buy an F430 would ever order these pauper-spec seats.
Asif, however, had anticipated my anger and had already come up with a solution as a good client-oriented salesman should.
He had cleared it with his manager that they would “emergency order” me a replacement car that would be built precisely to my spec (including some contrasting dash and steering wheel stitching that had also got lost in translation) and delivered in June or July.
I would then be able to swap cars at no cost to myself.
Well it’s not every day that you get offered, effectively, a free F430 F1 Spider “loaner”, so I reluctantly said yes.
So one overcast Friday morning, I presented myself to Maranello’s gleaming premises, having been picked up in a very nice Maserati Gran Sport, and was taken to the “delivery suite” where three new automotive babies waited quietly for their new parents. Mine was sitting pristine, nearest the doors, with the other two covered in their swaddling covers.
I must admit, my annoyance at Ferrari’s inability to get my spec right after two and a half years melted at the sight of the gleaming Grigio Silverstone curves.
Asif took me through the very thorough delivery paperwork, which in my case also included a guaranteed buy back value for my car of exactly what I paid for it in exchange for the forthcoming “emergency vehicle”.
I was in a euphoric state, still not quite believing I was going to drive off in my own brand new Ferrari. The roof was down, the showroom doors were ceremoniously opened and…it was bloody raining. Not just a light shower, but proper rain that lasted the whole day and covered the immaculate paintwork in road grime that, despite dark grey’s best properties, still showed up.The F430 and I had got off to a damp start…