Funny how often things work out differently to your expectations. I'd expected to fall madly in love with the Ferrari I bought, but didn't. In some ways I was actually disappointed. I even felt like I may have made a big mistake buying. Now, after 6 months of ownership of a 3.2 Mondial I'm finding that the true delights of the car ARE there, just hidden more than I expected.
Probably a better driver than me would have seen them straight-off, but didn't. I mainly saw what the car DIDN'T do. It didn't steer like a Lotus or change gear like a Cooper. It took a decent prod to get it going hard. The Mondials have dicky steering wheels (why are they larger than the 2-seater wheels?), and the engine is pretty raucous. It has a great sound, no question, but it's not like an Alfa. You can have fun revving out an Alfa without making a scene - when you run a Ferrari V8 over 6000 everyone is gonna know about it!
So at first I was a little underwhelmed. I think the main reason for this has been the driving - I have done 90% of the miles in slow city traffic, never getting above about 90km/hr. The Mondi handles this fine but it would be much more fun in a Mini. Also some teething problems (cooling, clutch, steering) no doubt took the edge off things a bit.
Well now I'm seeing the light. The car has got a definite character that I'm slowly unearthing. Part of the issue is you've gotta be "in the mood". As mentioned above, punting along hard takes a level of commitment not required in most smaller cars. The car is relatively loud & heavy, and so you need to choose the time & place - there's not that much fun to be had in traffic!
Get it over 4500 though on a clear backroad though and it starts to shine. Double-shuffling back to 3rd at speed is just a fantastic change - absolutely as fast as you can do it it just shifts brilliantly. Heeling the throttle also is just right, in fact the faster you change gear up or down the better it all works - you can just feel it through the lever. (You F1 guys just don't know what you're missing! :green: ).
The engine lives to be in the 4500 - 6500 range. It's certainly making lots of noise, but it's all belts & cams & chains & intake roar, plus that eerie exhaust whistle that comes in over around 3500. It sound like no Jap engine I've ever driven. I think only Italian engines sound like this!
The car has great poise in linked turns and the steering just doesn't stop talking to your hands. I'm getting there!
Anyway, I'm happy that I've taken the beast as a long-term proposition, at least 5 years. I can see however that there must be many buyers of Ferraris who resell within the year, disillusioned that the car didn't live up to the hype. Unless you go a little out of your way to experience the car in the conditions it was built for, and try to learn from it and drive accordingly, you could easily be disappointed. There's only so much fun you can get doing the freeway blast & traffic light Grands Prix.
The cars are capable of so much more.