Blowdog returns to a semblance of normality

550 was sold today – but not without blood and sweat.

It was a beautiful car and it really was a fine specimin. It deserved infinitely more attention than it received, but the market is well and truly dead. For those looking at buying an exotic car, beware.
The car’s gone, but not without some parting words.

Contrary to popular belief, owning a Ferrari wasn’t a life long dream of mine. I appreciate and understand the reasons others may aspire to own a Ferrari; social standing, aspiration, flaunting of success – I simply bought mine because at the time, it fitted both my criteria for a car and my available budget.

It was also Evo Magazine fever pitch. The 550 had just been voted the best drivers car for the past decade. Some accolade! Furthermore, Evo MD Metcalfe had just bought himself a Rosso 550 and commended the car in both his buyers guide and his northern group test.

It was a recipe for delight. Not only could I sample a front engine V12 exotic GT, there was also a good chance it would retain its value, as long as I got myself a good deal somewhere.

Now, for those without any Ferrari inside knowledge, buying a Ferrari is a WHOLE new ball game.

My first 550 viewing was based on the promise of an immaculate example that had been garaged its whole life and had never been out in the rain. A photo was sent and soon after, I was on a train 100 miles north to view this car. My 18 year old Honda Civic was in better condition – and I enjoy hitting walls in that. Sickened by a journey so wasteful, I made a stubborn decision to buy from a main dealer. I realised that the financial risks of a Ferrari were way beyond anything I’d ever experienced before, so an official Ferrari warranty was necessary.

Graypaul Ferrari is a hypnotic place. It’s the largest Ferrari dealership in Europe for a start and it’s also a brand new development with impressive architecture and content. The unit itself cost £6million to build. So when you step in, Peter Pan suddenly becomes your best friend, reality takes 5.

When a showroom is filled wall to wall with some of the shiniest and most expensive cars in the world, it’s often difficult to string together a set of coherent words with the slick salesman, who incidentally all come equipped with their Patek Philippe watches and immaculately ironed Savile Row shirts with custom cuff-links. I was like the fly in Bugs Life “It’s so beautiful….” *zzap*

Still, it’s very important to maintain composure – these people are lions and you are in a jungle. They sniff you out the moment you come in, based on the watch youâ??re wearing, the way you walk and the amount of perspiration on your forehead. Lose any of your control on the situation and they’ll have you signing a finance agreement you never needed.

Buying a Ferrari from an approved dealer is one of the best experiences in my life. They went into every detail and ensured that I was treated with the importance of someone handing over 4 times the national average wage for a car.

The car arrived at my house a couple of weeks later on the back of a Ferrari delivery lorry. The ramps were extended, the car started up and reversed out, like a bar of Toblerone sliding out of the gift wrapping. The exhaust note was interesting enough to lure all neighbours to shuffle behind silently shifting curtains. I was standing with wife and a friend, a violent Chelsea smile appearing from ear to ear. The feeling of utter embarrassment was overshadowed by my absolute joy – I was having my own Ferrari delivered to my door.

Again, the salesman (who had travelled 300 miles to deliver) spent until 8pm at my home going through documents – he even asked me to take him out in it to ensure I knew all the tools, finally ending up at a petrol station to have him fill up the (£100!) tank of fuel.

The service didn’t end here though. A few weeks into my ownership, an invitation arrived for a silver service dinner and ball, black tie gala event at the dealership. It was the launch of both the dealership, but also an opportunity to show the one and only Ferrari 430 and Maserati MC12 in the UK.

The company on our dinner table were simply otherworldly. Aside from the numerous football and rugby players in the floor, the room was dominated by those who quite simply had lost the concept of money a long time ago. The chap sitting beside me boasted to all how at one point he had 7 XJ220’s in his possession as he thought “they were a good buy”. He later laughed at how he lost £100k on each one.
My other side was entertained by a man who couldn’t decide whether to take the Enzo or the F1 to the race circuit.

I boasted about how once I spent £45 for sushi at lunch.

It was precisely 1 month into my ownership, about a day after this event that I realised owning a Ferrari is not about owning a fine piece of motoring. It’s all about the lifestyle. I noted, the night I went to the Ferrari star studded evening, with 300 guests, I was one of only a handful who actually drove a Ferrari to the event. The rest turned up in their Phantoms and Continentals. Truly a staggering statement.

I’d understand this more and more later on, especially when it was time to sell the car. A painful time for me, as you are treated not as a human being who is looking to secure a mutual deal where two parties celebrate some benefit, but more of a bitch.

It seems that most people looking to buy Ferraris are relatively successful in their field of expertise and as a result, they seek to turn a friendly discussion about buying a car into one of hostile takeover and a level of aggressive negotiating that would be more appropriate in a cold war treaty. I’ve had spoilt brats, self-important businessman, aspiring owners with delusions of grandeur – where on earth are the nice people?

I didn’t see one!

Well, the car is finally sold – and not without grit teeth. It cost a lot to own, run and maintain. Every spirited drive would have me thinking what I’d just broken. A gentle track day cost me over £3000 in consumables. It cost £100 to fill up the tank and it would only last 200 miles. It wouldn’t fit in my garage, so huge it was. But most importantly, it led everyone else to somehow believe that since I drove a Ferrari, I had suddenly become a w4nker.

I’ve just worked this out, the car cost me £4 a mile to run in the 4000 miles I had it.

However….

This is without doubt the most beautiful car I’ve ever owned. Jaw dropping beautiful. It also made me feel Hollywood every time I drove it, a massive, shark shaped, Pininfarina designed ego massage.
It also was ferociously fast and very usable. All in all, it made you feel great driving it.

So my final summary? Ferrari don’t make great drivers cars. But they make very expensive, very beautiful ornaments.

I won’t be buying a Ferrari again. Well, at least not until next time.

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