End of another era.
Been swamped with various things going on in life, so hope all is well on Oppo!
Disciple of mid-engine
Until recently, my road to mid-engine sports cars had been somewhat narrowly defined. I wanted an engine behind me (987.1, 2010), and I wanted to eventually own a Ferrari (F355, 2014).
With the childhood itch scratched, what was I doing to do after the Ferrari? I knew that it would be financially unhealthy to fund an engine-out service every 5 years, so that ruled out keeping the F355 for life. But being a new parent and just getting started on the car's long restoration process, I put off answering the question.
My planned restoration ended with a 2-stage paint correction and ceramic coating completed about two years in. At this point I felt that I had truly ticked the "childhood dream" box. I had an F355, fixed all of its problems and got it back to looking like a brand new car. So, the question naturally came back to me: I've done it. I'm free. What next?
On one of our group drives, I met a new friend who brought his Alfa Romeo 4C, and the more I saw his car the more I found it interesting:
Having decided on my next car, I felt comfortable letting go of the Ferrari. While it was listed for sale on BaT, I actually found a yellow 4C on the local Turo listings and rented it. Meanwhile, I began negotiating with a dealer in Kansas which had the only white-on-red car I could find. A PPI returned nothing--the car was pristine despite the low resolution of the sale pics.
So, after another 2 years of enjoying my restored F355, it went away to an East Coast buyer and I went an agonising 1.5 days without a sports car.
The next day, a transporter dropped this beauty off nowhere near my house because the driver couldn't understand his GPS nav.
This is the second car I've bought sight-unseen, the other being my CPO Jag which @ITA97 kindly inspected for me.
I have a shortlist for what's next, but until I save up enough money this 4C is plenty of crazy fun. It's going to need new tires soon and since the P Zeros get mixed reviews, I'm planning to try the Bridgestone Potenza S-007A. On TireRack it's the only other tire made in the 4C's sizes.
So that completes my series of "introductory posts." Thanks for reading!
Hey gang, I know I'm not among the more prominent contributors here, but Oppo is definitely a unique place online that actually provides a sense of belonging purely for the love of automotive things.
We aren't bound to each other by any significant real-life commitments so we can post here without any of that baggage. So I wanted to write something to both thank and encourage everybody here, especially the mods/curators.
I have been impressed and humbled by the personal stories of many Oppo members, and I appreciate that the place offers a haven for people to share some of their personal challenges sans filter.
To be honest, I didn't really believe that Kinja would finally kill Oppo--this had been predicted many times before so of course I'm sad that it finally happened. For a while I worried about saving my important posts, but after thinking about it I'm perfectly happy with keeping the memories and only screenshotting the one post that I might ever need again (a bumper removal procedure).
Now that we're here, I would gladly chip in to fund the maintenance of this place, so I am expecting a free-range shitposting licence--of course, everyone here deserves it all the same.
So, happy motoring and shitposting to everyone. F355s for your time, from when I first gained authorship at Oppo.
How are you all doing with life and vaccination? We're dealing with schools reopening, a kiddo eczema outbreak and my 4C threw a CEL while coasting downhill on Sunday. The CEL went away last night. All in all, a little stressful but not too bad.
Another thing to look forward to post-Covid, the rail network in Hong Kong rolled out new trains a few weeks ago, along with an all-new CBTC signalling system enabling automated train operation on a century-old line. This roll-out has been delayed for nearly 5 years due to technical difficulties with the signalling upgrades, trapping dozens of completed trains in Hyundai's factory.
By LN9267 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=99620893
This line is also the last line in Hong Kong not to have platform barriers ruining the thrill of incoming trains. Those can't be installed until all the old trains retire. Fortunately, our place is right on this line although copious YouTube viewing has just about halfway ruined the surprise for me
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.
@derp thank you for sharing and for all the good things that you guys have done and tried to do, regardless of how people spin it.
Long time no update. Due to pandemic vibes I had skipped detailing my cars last year and the XJ had accumulated some issues, most notably:
A large patch of fading clear coat on the bonnet
Wet paint splash on the rear bumper
Happy to have my not-so-new car looking new again. One of the cathartic pleasures of my simple life. Hope everybody is staying safe!
In other news, my mother bit the bullet and endured a mandatory 14-day quarantine to enjoy a Covid-free Hong Kong for a month and a half. Ever since the US returned to high-risk status this has been lengthened to 21 days to basically discourage casual tourism.
@dr-zoidberg that makes a case for highrise living….maybe……not.