Modena, Italy – Ferrari has announced the successor to the F430, the Ferrari 458 Italia, giving gullible hacks the world over the chance to salivate into their keyboards about how wonderful it is.
Wired, for example, bleats that the 458 ‘shows, once again, why Ferrari is the best carmaker in the world. Automakers around the globe would give anything to make a car this good, and it’s only Ferrari’s entry-level model.’
The 458 will cost ‘considerably more’ than the outgoing F430, which carries a $255,000 price tag for the entry-level model. And like the F430, it is exactly the same as every other Ferrari produced in the last twenty years – impractical, overpriced, unreliable, obscenely expensive to service and painted red.
So it has a 4.5 liter V8 producing 570 horsepower, will top 200 mph and do 0-60 in 3.4 seconds. You could buy 100 used motorcycles for the same price that could match that 0-60 time and when was the last time you drove at 100 mph, let alone 200?
Ferrari does, of course, make more money from selling hats and key rings to people who have never sat in a Ferrari – let alone having driven or owned one – than it does by selling its absurd vehicles. The nearest the millions of Ferrari fans ever get to the Ferrari experience is pinning a poster to the bedroom wall or watching reruns of Magnum PI.
One undeniable motoring fact is that every last one of the people you see wearing a Ferrari hat or jacket doesn’t own a Ferrari and never will, with the exception of a racing driver who has had one plonked on his head by a PR man before a press conference and gets one free as a company car.
People who actually own a Ferrari are, to a man, the kind of self-obsessed weasels you’d cross the road to avoid. And they’d be walking because the Ferrari will be under a dust sheet, broken or being serviced.
There’s a lot of low-mileage Ferraris out there and they have low mileage because once you’ve saved up the purchase price, you can’t afford to change the oil every 3,000 miles or the timing belts every 30,000 to avoid the engine turning itself into a collection of lovingly-crafted scrap metal.
The factory specifies service intervals of 15,000 miles, which includes a tune-up and valve adjustment. The 30,000-mile services are the big ones and involve the removal and reinstallation of the engine, along with replacement of the water pump, the timing belts, ignition parts, the clutch linings, various seals and hoses.
In terms of spare parts, a set of Repco brake pads at $45 works just as well as Ferrari pads at $180. A $10 radiator fan switch from a VW Rabbit is the same as the Ferrari part at $63 and the electric mirror switch from a BMW 7-Series costing $26 is the same one Ferrari will sell you for $70.
A Ferrari may be an aspirational vehicle, but then so are BMWs, Mercedes and Jaguars costing a fraction of the price and offering practical, reliable, motoring enjoyment. These cars are bought by people who know about driving rather than simply having more money than sense.
The bottom line is that for the thick end of $300,000, you’d be better off spending your money on something else. Like a house.
But of course this won’t stop Toyota-driving hacks from wetting themselves with excitement when they see a red shiny object adorned with a prancing horse, even if it’s just a Ferrari pen.
Editor’s note: The writer drives a Jaguar, so a small degree of bias may have crept into this article. He also assures us that he has actually driven a Ferrari around the Silverstone Formula One circuit.