For so many people, Ferrari is where it started. A red car, possibly cut with loving irregularity from a favourite magazine, loosely adhering to a bedroom wall. We looked, and we imagined; we fantasised. And then we read. Which is when we discovered that they were actually even better than they looked. Imagine that!
Thing is, they still are. Most of the time. And this is what’s astonishing about Ferrari. We may laugh at the chutzpah of the rampantly commercial Maranello operation, and its ability to charm tens of additional thousands from the wallets of its devoted clientele for carbon fibre boot linings and the like; we may goggle at the reality gap between how Ferrari drivers are perceived and how they believe they are perceived, and we may be convinced that few if any will drive their Ferraris as they were designed to be driven, and yet…as things to simply get in and drive, modern Ferraris are as good as they’ve ever been.
Really. The only comparable era was the early Seventies when Ferrari had the Daytona, the Dino and, lest we forget, the ever-underrated 365 GTC/4. Today Ferrari will sell you a front-engined, rear-drive car with a naturally aspirated V12 motor, the same configuration as the first ever Ferrari and it will have you weeping with excitement. Or you can have a mid-engined V8, just like the 308s of the mid-Seventies. But unlike them, their descendants will have you crying with laughter if you’re ever lucky or brave enough to discover how much fun and how controllable they are on the limit. There are coupés and convertibles, fine driving cars to the last.
Because once you’ve fought past the hype, the image and the money-making and dig down to the engineering heart of the beast, what you find is that car on your bedroom wall, reinvented for the present day. Striking to look at, expensive to buy, but over and above all of that, simply sensational to drive. Let’s hope we’ll still be saying the same after we’ve driven the SUV…