I took sixteen months to find the car I would eventually buy. In that sixteen months I learned everything I could about the cars and what I wanted from my ownership experience. The more I thought about what I wanted from the experience, the easier it became to find the right car.
I had the car PPI’d before purchase by the best Ferrari mechanic in the city where the car was located.
Overall the first year has been absolutely brilliant. There has not been a single problem with the car. I should have purchased one 10 or 15 years ago. As a professional car and product designer, the 328 is like no single product I can think of in regards to how it exists at the extremes. I’ll explain.
When the car is parked or sitting in the garage it is literally like a piece of sculpture, sublimely beautiful from every angle but fragile and vulnerable in every way. Breathe on it too hard and you’ll dent the sheet metal. The 25 year old plastic, what little there is of it, is brittle and seemingly irreplaceable.
The doors swing on hinges that feel like they can barely hold up the doors, let alone someone leaning on them to get in and out. And then there is the infamous pre 88.5 / 89 front trunk hood strut. In essence, the car feels like a Faberge egg with wheels.
Then you turn the key and everything changes.
All the wonderful analog switches, diodes and relays awaken the v8 behind your head. Everything about how the car feels once its running is the opposite of the fragility it exudes when it’s not.
The car literally comes alive and in doing so awakens all your senses and makes you feel more alive. It is the single most engaging product I have ever experienced. The harder you drive it, the harder it wants to be driven. It’s like Rocky, taking a beating, then laughs at you and asks you if that’s all you’ve got, coming back for more.
Each time the car is driven it’s slightly different than previous drives. Air temp makes a huge difference as does having the correct tire pressure. Also, changing the gear oil and brake fluid seems to have changed those two mechanical experiences for the better.
So over the first year the car has evolved from good to great to drive. Everything is wonderfully connected and solid and precise with no software maps, stability control or nanny statism aboard to spoil the fun.
Growing up, if you are into cars, you read car magazines and if you read car magazines it is always fun to read reviews and road tests of Ferraris because the writers are always keen to point out, or try to, what makes a Ferrari so special. And after a while I started to wonder if it was all hype or if there was something to it. After a year of driving one of these cars, it was not hype. I get it now.
After 6 years designing at Chrysler, and development projects with Lamborghini and Vector, I have driven a few cars. But nothing approaches the combination of true, timeless beauty, visceral insanity, Forumula One derived engineering, sheer physical engagement and championship history supplied by a Ferrari.
Each sense is engaged seemingly at all times when you are driving the car: The sound of the mechanicals, the smell of the oil and gas, the touch of the steering wheel in your hands as you feel the changes in the surface of the tarmac or as the point of slip gets closer in a corner, the sight of the environment turning to a blur at 7000rpm or the whoosh, whoosh, whoosh, of the trees overhead as the strobing sunlight fills the interior. Driving this car is not something I can do distracted nor should would I ever want to.
I recently got to drive a late model Ferrari California. There is something great about old analog cars that companies like Ferrari are doing a damn good job of replicated through software and silicone, but at the end of the drive, did I feel like the California was worth the $200k price difference? No. While the car is technically brilliant, it did not not feel as special, as challenging and most importantly as engaging as my 328. That’s what I want from my F car ride. The 328 checks all my boxes.
Driving one of these cars on a regular basis, or even once, is a chance to experience something truly wonderful. Its purpose as a vehicle is a front, a slight of hand, an illusion. What these cars are designed to do is create joy for those who understand and appreciate them. Its really just a machine that turns horsepower into happiness. And after you get back from a barnstorming run with a giant smile on your face and the car is ticking itself to sleep, ask yourself how much is that worth?
Inside a Ferrari owners club concourse
My first trip after lockdown in the new Ferrari Roma in Italy!
The ultimate posh Daily
By Jody K Deane