I still don’t see why Ferraris cost so much, but today I realized why people are willing to pay that much for a car.
On this Tuesday, the 20th of October 2015, at 2.30pm, I, Aadil Naik, drove around the hills of Maranello in a Ferrari 458 Italia. You don’t have to be a supercar fan for a Ferrari drive to be on your bucket list. You don’t even have to like cars. That’s how unanimous this dream is for the world, and I got to check it off!
Maranello, in case you live under a rock, is the home and birthplace of Ferrari. And to commemorate that, the locals have pretty much turned this into a Ferrari Town. There are Ferrari Museums, Ferrari Restaurants, Ferrari Stores, and exclusive parking spots for Ferraris! But the highlight is the amount of Ferrari Test Drive centers. I’d estimate there are easily about 15-20 of them, with each having a fleet of at least 10-15 Ferraris.
All of them offer, what they call “test drives,” which is code for “joy rides.” How it works is simple, and insanely brilliant. You rent a Ferrari for 10/20/30/60/90min depending on your budget; an instructor gets in the passenger seat with you, and then guides you. While you may think that’s a party killer, having a company man sit with you to make sure you don’t belt it around, then think again, because they are more co-conspirators than instructors. My instructor was a man who had been doing this for the last 15yrs. After a “photo shoot” with the yellow 458 Italia, he helped me in and assisted me in getting the right driving posture and adjusting the seat and steering rack. Then he got in next to me and said the magic words, “push the start button.” A high pitched roar greeted me as the beast came alive and cleared its throat. A shiver ran down my spine as my mental self was stuck on repeat “I’m in a Ferrari. I’m in a Ferrari. I’m in a Ferrari”. This was real, this was happening, and we were off… Chris guided me through the town toward the highway that would take us to the hills around Maranello. I was itching to floor the pedal and let that V8 behind my head loose, I wanted to unleash the beast, but that’s why they sent Chris right? To prevent me crashing a car that cost more than my home. To quote Thorin Oakenshield, “I have never been so wrong in all my life”. Turns out Chris wasn’t there to ensure I go slow, he was there to make sure I break every speed limit and go as fast as my courage would allow. The first thing he says in his sing-song Italian accent as we reach the highway was “Ok now GO!”. And for the first time in my life, I floored the pedal on a 570bhp Ferrari 458 Italia. Oh. My. God. It took off like nothing you have experienced. It went from 70kmph to 170kmph in a couple of seconds, and with the noise every car dream is made of! You think you know music, but wait till you hear a Ferrari V8 howl at 8000RPM. I was yelling like a child. Chris was laughing. These were public roads, and I was hooning a Ferrari on them. With great power comes great responsibility though (that’s Uncle Ben), so Ferrari has put some humongous brakes on their cars, and I stabbed them on Chris’ orders. Suddenly I was shaving speed faster than I thought possible, with the seatbelt preventing me from being catapulted out the windshield. That’s when I realized I was witnessing another magical moment; a Ferrari decelerating and downshifting with pops and snarls. I was swearing and laughing again, and this time I got a high five from Chris. He says, “you can never tire of hearing that” and I couldn’t agree more.
Through the course of the next 30min, Chris barked orders like a WRC co-driver making sure I unleashed all the car could throw at me “Brake! You clear on the left, wait for it, wait for it; Ok Go!” and “Turn right, ok floor it! Shift! Shift again!”. And we did. Again, and again, and again. Floor the pedal, hear the engine howl to the rev limit as the car gets skittish with the traction control working overtime, shift and floor it again! Come way too close to the car in front before stabbing the brakes and downshifting! Pop pop on the overrun, HUGE smile, and then again! Overtaking doesn’t require planning, it just happens. It’s like I was jumping time. And never do you feel the car roll; forever rock solid, just pulling cleanly, obeying every little input. So much confidence all the time! The feedback you get of the road below is unreal! You feel what is happening just by handling the steering wheel and the seat under you, it’s that good! I wish I had access to a racetrack! I wish Chris would teach me all day! I wish I had a bunch of friends who could race with me…. Suddenly 30min is over before you know it, I’m jolted out of my wishful thoughts, and we were pulling into the parking lot.
I wondered if they accepted payment in human souls, because I was broke monetarily. Nope, they didn’t. Another high five later, and I was walking away. It was done; the sun had set on this. Sigh. I don’t know if I’ll ever see so many Ferraris again, and I’m pretty sure I’ll never get to drive one. But for now, I still have a stupid grin plastered on my face, and the realization that I went from having a bedroom poster, to watching TopGear, to finally driving one! Supercars cost an obscene amount to own. I don’t know why they cost so much to make, but the people who buy them, do it for the experience. The most common argument we lesser mortals make is “he could’ve bought a house for that money”. You could purchase a mansion, true; but wait till you floor the pedal and hear a Ferrari at full chat and then talk to me. Your argument is invalid. I drove a Ferrari. A real Ferrari 458 Italia. I drove a Ferrari. What have you done?
This post is written by Aadil Naik, a PGPB3 student, currently in Milan for his 4-month specialization semester.
You can write to him at – firstname.lastname@example.org