There was quite a bit leading up to my first drive in my first Ferrari, a 550.
I bought mine sight unseen from Mali in West Africa, where I work. I had the car checked out by my brother and mates from another forum who knew the specialist I bought it from very well and assured me he was reputable. One of them, who also owns a 550 (incidentally his serial number is only 3 away from mine, must be built on the same day!), picked me up in his red shark at Schiphol airport and drove me to my car. It was the first time I'd ever been in a 550!
When we arrived at the specialist, several forum members were waiting for me, and the car was prominently parked with my name on a car on the roof. I spent several minutes admiring the gorgeousness of the thing, chatting to people and Alex (the specialist) said: have you arranged insurance for the car? I said, no not yet, because I would only pick it up 4 days later after the full payment was made. He said, oh dear - then you can't drive it yet. But I'll take you out for a spin. We drove to a deserted industrial area and after showing me the car, he offered me the driving seat! It was a bit unexpected.
My first impressions were as follows:
The seating position was excellent. The steering wheel is at the right angle, the right size, the right thickness. The gear lever is the right distance away. The pedals are right where they should be. The car just fits like a glove, something that my brother's 328 didn't do (although I still loved that car to bits). Engaging first gear, I notice that the clutch is a little heavy but not very. Just perfect. The gearchange "chinks", I drop the clutch and we're away. I notice how the clutch is very easy to regulate - not difficult at all. The same for the throttle. It has a long, measured travel and it's easy to drive in a very civilised manner. I drive around the industrial area's roads and gain a bit more confidence. I let V12 howl a bit more and I noticed the lovely weighted steering. All too soon, though, (after 5 mins or so) we need to go back. It was just a little taster.
I still don't know how I survived the days after that as I was trying to battle my way through international money transfers. We drove to the specialist on the 20th of June 2007, not knowing whether the money had arrived. But as I drive up to his gate, he phones me with the good news!
That second drive to my house, about 110kms through back roads along canals and rivers was very special. It was the first time I got to know the car in more depth, the first time I (well my car) got photographed by a stranger as I passed by, the first time I took it through a tunnel and listened to that V12 roaring through a Tubi, and the weather was spectacular.
A great day and I have quite a bit of it on video. It's very nice to watch once in a while.
Since then, I have learnt much more on how to drive the car. But those first impressions still fit with my current view. An iron fist in a velvet glove. Civilised but brutal. Charming but viscious. The 550 is one of the all time great Ferraris.
I may sound silly but here I go,...my first driving experience w/ Ferrari was a test drive of 355 F1. In all honesty, I wasn't very keen on acquiring a Ferrari at the time, but my friend dealer coaxed me to test drive this silver 355 F1 saying that it is easy to drive and reliable. I drove around the block (carefully) for about ten minutes. My impression ? ...not impressed. I thought (at the time) it was loud and uncomfortable getting in and out. Didn't care much about the interior leathers making squeaking sounds as the car passed over bumps also. This was due to my lack of knowledge and interest at the time. A year later, I bought a '97 355B/manual. The rest is history. Does this mean that I "matured" ? Who knows. w/ smiles Jimmy
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