Thursday, December 10, 2009
Last night I drove a Ferrari 355 Spider F1
Last night, the Elysée Wednesday gathering culminated with my being handed the keys to a red Ferrari 355 Spider F1 by its very gracious owner, his only warning being that the hard tires were cold and he had once gotten the car perpendicular to the traffic pattern by applying just a little too much throttle under similar circumstances. I took heed.
Turning the key to the first detent, we wait for the fuel pump to fill the line, which takes but a moment. Then a twist and the engine bursts immediately to life at what seems to be a high-rpm idle. This is what I've always experienced with Ferraris as opposed to other, slower idling machines. The car wants to go.
Foot on the brake and a gentle pull on the right paddle and we're in first gear. We move off easily, the car giving exactly what I ask of it--no more or less. It exhibits a precision of execution that says racecar to me. We turn the corner and I wind it up to about 5000 rpm when a flick of the finger on the right paddle moves us into second gear. We're to 4500 rpm and another flick puts us into third. When I have to slow for the intersection where I need to turn, I brake and a flick of the left paddle takes us back to second gear. Another returns us to first. Nothing could be easier. There is a feeling of perfection to all of this. It feels right.
As I drive this Ferrari with the top down hearing the sound of the engine echoing off the trees, it does what all my Ferraris have done--it entertains and, in the process, reminds me of why Ferrari has been the only car rather than merely a good one. The suspension, the steering, the general feel of the car all reward the driver--me, in this case. Beyond the physical dynamics of performance, this car also engaged the senses and even the intellect, which is, in part, the definition of fine art.
I was tentative and respectful with the car as one should be the first time behind the wheel, but I was impressed by what the car offered me and aware that it had so much more to give once I came to learn its ways.
My thanks go to the generous owner of this 355, an Elysee Wednesday regular, who I will not name out of discretion.