I had the opportunity to drive F-Life's Eve_P's 328GTS today. Her battery failed on my driveway on Sunday - just too many cobwebs. We got the car started and drove for half an hour then wouldn't restart. Battery was just too flat still.
Golden tip for today: just give your battery a full day's worth of charge after winter, she'll be alright after that.
Anyway, as said, I had to drop off her 328 at her house and then we took a drive to the specialist 70kms to the South. The weather was SPECTACULAR! Driving to Eve_P's house, I had the roof down and was enjoying the sunshine almost as much as I was enjoying driving the car. I love 328's. But it's been a long time coming - I only ever drove one 328 - it was my brother's. He owned it for 3 years, bought it in the weekend that MS became the first WC in F1 after Jody Scheckter (October 2000). But I was away abroad for most of those 3 years so I only drove the car once. It was my first ever Ferrari drive, and the memory will stay with me forever. The next time I drove a Ferrari was 7 years later, and I owned it! It was my 550, which I also drove today.
Getting behind the wheel was a bit more laborious than I remembered - there is less space in the 328, it seems to me, than Vitalone's 308 vetro. At the same time, I am fairly certain the throttle is not as far right as it is in his car. But what struck me was that I was staring into the top of the windscreen - if the roof had been on I would have been unable to sit upright. I have so much less room in this car than my 365 Boxer, quite surprising since that car is 13 years older.
But it was easy enough to find a comfortable position. The wheel was nice, it's a bit thick-rimmed but just seems nicely weighted. Something you just want to take hold off. The steering at low speed was quite comfortable, much more so than my Boxer if a bit less than the Maranello.
The car fired up instantly, and settled into a happy burble. Driving off with my dad in my 550 in the rear view, I had to juggle my memory on how to drive this car, but it all came back quickly. Just like other older Ferraris, this car likes a firm hand. Nothing forceful, just focused. Someone with authority but kindness, like a favourite grandpa. She responds instantly to my more committed inputs. The gearbox is great, a bit inbetween the reluctance of my Boxer and the ease but clunkiness of my 550.
I let her warm up properly in the first couple of miles and then start short-shifting. Although this car has a Tubi end section, the noise is hopeless compared to my brother's old car. Sorry Eve_P! The extra US dampers stifle the lovely noise that is trying to escape. My brother's car had a sports exhaust and we could hear it screaming under the underpass that is 2 miles from our house. What a sound that car made. This one is a bit subdued, but you can still hear the soul of it and I'm enjoying it.
By now I'm getting frustrated by my dad who always insists in driving BELOW the speed limit. So in between short bursts of pleasure I have to slow down to a crawl to make sure I don't lose him. Just when I think of getting a bit agitated, I look up through the open sunroof and stare at this steelblue sky. The wind is playing with what is left of my hair. It's just fabulous.
On the route we have few nice corners to play with the 328's handling, but using a couple of roundabouts I can establish that this car is well sorted in that department. And, by the way, the car doesn't have a single rattle or other noise. Who said anything about poor build quality?
When I hand over the car to Ivonne, we head for our specialist and have a couple of traffic light races. Ivonne remarks that the 550 is just so much quicker it's a bit ridiculous. I agree, but it's about the driving pleasure. And the 328's given me that in equal measure. On a day like today, even more so with the roof down.
328's - you know, they're just great cars.
Thanks Ivonne, for letting me drive your pride and joy. She's fantastic.
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