Illustration for article titled Man Pops Ferrari Cherry

There are fast cars and then there are fast cars. Heed the warnings of a Ferrari novice before the Maranello Mafia part you from your life savings.

Observe fast cars from the vantage point of the average automobile and anything with more than four cylinders and 200 HP will merge with their kin like railway sleepers on the horizon.


Because can there possibly be a difference between, say, a BMW 335i with six cylinders and three hundred horsepower and a Ferrari F430, where the respective numbers are eight and 490? They will both rip your head clean off upon a blip of the throttle and will both exceed legal speed in a matter of seconds.

Yet up close, the differences grow. My friend Gergely Antal has recently spent some time in a gray F430 Spider and he has emerged a different man:

Look, I don’t edit a fancy motoring magazine, I don’t drive race cars for a living, I am not a petrolhead. Still, I’m familiar with what a 300 HP car feels like [the BMW 335i you can see hereEd.] and have even picked up a set of wheels for Xbox driving games. I don’t throw common sense out the window when I evaluate things, even if this is not always apparent—but this car is so much more than I’d believed. I was thinking maybe it’s twice as good as the 335i. But no: it’s like ten times as good.

This is what stepping on the slippery slope of supercars is like. When you realize that beyond the numbers are innumerable details. That an engine which is perhaps twice as powerful is also twice as responsive in raising and dropping revs. That its power flows through a gearbox twice as precise, through a suspension that follows the road surface like a silken glove, through tires—and I’ll have to quote Neal Stephenson here—“with contact patches the size of a fat lady’s thighs.” Add them all and quantitative differences emerge.


And don’t think that it’s regular cars on one side and supercars on the other. The F430 may be the inflection point on the way there, but the slide from an F430 to a Ferrari 599 GTB is just as steep, according to Nino Karotta, who has driven both. At the bottom of the slope stands Harry Metcalfe, managing director of Evo magazine, who has once paid Horatio Pagani a quarter million dollars to upgrade his Pagani Zonda C12 to F spec—and he called it money well spent.

So please, for the sake of your comfortable retirement and your children’s nutrition and higher education, avoid Ferraris like the plague. Look what’s happened to Gergely—a reasonable man, an engineer by training—barely a day after his experience with Maranello’s gateway drug:

I have now made the decision to not get old or die without having once owned a Ferrari. You do need goals to keep you moving.


Junkie talk!

Photo Credit: Andras Horvath

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