Fezza - Roots of a Mid-Engine Disciple, Part 2 of 2
Brands like Porsche and Ferrari are loaded with psychological baggage, and Ferrari fandom is as cliché and played-out as being a fan of the great "Michaels" of the 90s. Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan...........Mike Tyson...... anyway, brand baggage certainly registers in any crowd of good taste. As such, I find it prudent to share my dream car cautiously on public forums.
But I can't deny that these childhood dreams led me to the diverse crowd here at Oppo. With the Kinja home gone I wanted to give my former F355 the shout-out it deserves, here on the Hyphen--if not for anyone else, then at least for myself to wax nostalgic.
So in the years of owning my first sports car (a 2008 Porsche Cayman 987.1 described here), I got married and eventually prepared for parenthood. We bought a Fiat 500L for family duty and I inherited my finer half's CPO Accord.
Common sense would have ended the car movements right there, as my colleagues at work reminded me that I'd be lucky to keep a sports car into parenthood. But while cruising AutoTrader.com during Mrs Mid-engine's pregnancy, I made another startling discovery on my journey as a Mid-engine Disciple: Ferrari F355s were already within reach.
So with that possibility drifting in, I immediately listed the Cayman for sale. I also bought a 1998 Escort ZX2 from a high schooler to practise on a stick.
Now I had driven the 360 Spider, and that was an incredible car. But the F355 was literally the Ferrari during my formative years. A somewhat regular sight in 90s Hong Kong, it has a much more striking, cutting design than the smoothed-out 360 Modena. A newer, superior, less needy car could not overcome the power of nostalgia. Over several months, I read up on the, ahem.....unique maintenance needs of the car and budgeted for them.
With inquiries out to several sellers, someone on FerrariChat pointed me to a local car that he had heard about. Seller was a busy Italian car garage just a few highway exits from me, and never bothered to list the car online--it just sat there with an attractive verbal price, and so I stopped by for a visit and some pictures:
The car was in slightly weathered but decent condition for a Ferrari--certainly a more normal car would never look this good at 16 years old. Now I'm not "rich" by Silicon Valley standards, so even the quick-sale price was a stretch for me--I would be relying on significant value retention. We bickered on price and maintenance issues (particularly the exhaust headers, which have a story all on their own) over weeks and months.
The seller was Italian both in ancestry and in personality--often unreachable by phone, the kind of guy you sometimes had to pop over and find in person, lost in a giant mess of Italian cars needing work. I hadn't discovered Oppo yet but this guy is VERY Oppo.
I gradually became comfortable with the car as we explored the maintenance history--the shop had maintained the car for ten years before buying it out from the customer. The mechanicals were running well and the cosmetics were salvageable--I would plan the work later on to restore it to brand new. Eventually I had asked enough questions and paid for diagnostics, so he could tell I was serious.
One summer morning, he asked me to meet at the shop to help him pick up the car from a test run. It was at his house, so I rode with him expecting to ride back in the F355. It was kind of weird that he drove another customer's E38 7-series, but I brushed it off as a test drive.
Come to think of it, it was also weird that he would take a total rando into his backyard to parade in front of his wife and kids, but I brushed that off as being Italian. What happened next will stay with me forever...
He asked me to drive the car back to his shop. "But what about the BMW?" I asked.
"I'll drive it back," he answered. "You drive this one."
The route was congested with the morning commute, but it didn't matter. I already knew to treat the F1 like a manual. I had spent months preparing for this moment--it had come early but there was no turning back. I was alone in an F355 and I was absolutely starstruck.
The paperwork took another two weeks. And so, with a newborn and a babysitter at home, I had the incredible fortune of calling up my mum, asking for a ride to "a local garage" and driving to work in this 1998 355 F1 Berlinetta.
I wasn't sure where to hide it at work, but if there ever were a moment to live in the present and worry about consequences later, this was it.
TL;DR: After months of shopping nationwide, my childhood dream car appeared right under my nose--at a mechanic's shop just ten minutes from home. Also, Italian mechanics are kind of like Italian cars.
gettingoldercarguy last edited by
Excellent read, I was curious about your Ferrari entry after the Porsche. Question, how'd the missus take it?
MidEngine last edited by
Mrs. MidEngine is well past the point of being pregnant. I demand a retraction! Heh
@midengine Mine's got the hyphen though. This place is all about the hyphen...
amoore100 last edited by
Absolutely gorgeous, gorgeous car! I was watching the 1998 Top Gear Motorshow Special the other night and they featured the 355 and it's been on my mind ever since! Really a beautiful last hurrah from the wedge-shaped series that started with the Testarossa before the 360 came and was all bubbly.
@gettingoldercarguy Thanks for reading!
In a life arrangement that works out incredibly well in my favour, Mrs Mid-engine is authoritarian on smaller, routine purchases but leaves me free rein in larger purchases such as cars (provided the due diligence). She's an incredibly successful, professionally respected and self-driven person, but that's just how her personality works. I'm lucky to have met her on my first day of class in college
She also trusts my judgment on things like depreciation and value retention. I nearly broke even on the F355, certainly beating the depreciation cost of buying and selling a more mainstream car.
@amoore100 Thanks! It certainly was a looker (so is the 4C). A lot of people think that if the Testarossa didn't exist, the 348 would have looked a lot like the F355 to begin with
davesaddiction last edited by
@chan Moved to Best of OPPO.