This year i'd pretty much all but given up on this website. I don't really have much of an interest writing about my cars anymore and the value of a basic HTML website created in dreamweaver is somewhat questionable in this age of Youtube, Twitter and Snapchat. And then one day recently I saw an old friend who I've known since the early Lotus elise days back inthe late 1990's and he urged me not to jack it all in and surmised that there are probably still folk out there who enjoy reading all my crap, referencing my road trips and their routes and pondering on their own car choices vis a vis mine. So there you go, i'm not 100% sure but maybe he has a point so thanks to him i've decided to keep things going for a bit longer.
The world's gone a bit supercar mad of late. The last couple of years or so I've been wanting to buy something in this genre and for the last 5 years or so, i've been wanting to break the Ferrari duck as well. Two problems here though. Firstly I struggle with the looks of most Ferraris and often the way they drive too. On various ocassions I've gone to go and buy one (manual F430, 360CS) but ended up buying another Porsche instead simply because the German car looked better and drove an awful lot better too. The other problem here of course is Supercar genre and culture in general, something I completely loathe; I don't like ostentatious, I don't like getting 'papped', I dislike shouty cars and find that the indutry's incessant war of ring times and 0-200kph figures is all a bit sad, especially for the next generation of petrolheads who are now just emerging in life and learning about cars, driving and what it's supposed to be all about. So for an ageing old petrolhead like me who grew up on Pug 205s, Elise S1s and 4 pot Esprits, it's not as simple as hitching a ride up to South Kensington to buy the first Nuclear Green Aventador that you lay your eyes on.
When I started on my shopping journey truth be told that I really did want to try and do the Ferrari thing and I also have had a bit of a crush on the F12 ever since they came out in 2013. So my list always had the V12 car at the very top and it was more a case of seeing if other choices could usurp it. Although I like the Huracan shape I quickly discounted it altogether as all reports suggest that it's not nearly involving enough for what i'm looking for. The next car I discounted was the 991 RS. Now I love the look of the latest rennsport effort and it would make a great turnkey road trip and trackday car and I would not rule out getting one in the future but for this purchase I was adamant that I would avoid anything that came out of Stuttgart.
So what exactly did that leave ? Well the Mclarens of course which seem incredibly popular right now and then other Ferraris in the range. Now Mclaren is a brand I still struggle with a bit. My feeling is they are still very much building their heritage, desireability and DNA as well as improving reliability and quality control. This is happening at an impressive rate but for me, spending this kind of money, they are not quite there yet. The 675LT is a fine looking machine and I did go to view a beautiful white example at Ascot but prices were falling on them, I couldn't test drive it unless I was sure to buy it and the pre and post trackday inspection regime of the car didn't float my boat either. I also test drove a 650S whilst I was there and although that's a much softer edged car, it really wasn't my cup of tea at all. Perhaps the next generation of Mclarens will get my heart thumping a little harder when as they roll out over the next few years ?
So that really just left other Ferrrais to consider. The standard 458 or 458 spider I like a lot but both were simply not premium enough for this purchase. I did view a rather tasty yellow 488 GTB but decided that I didn't like the look of it nearly as much as I do the F12. I have to confess that the 'flagship', 12 cylinder, 'gentlemans express' persona of the F12 also was becoming more and more appealing as my hunt progressed and was resonating with my own identity and stage in life more than any other car I could think of. So really that just left one last contender on the shortlist and that was the 458 Speciale, a lightweight V8 that I have really loved the look of ever since it came out. I did test drive a few Speciale and yes, it's a fabulous machine and in many ways an easier purchase to make being a semi-limited run car but quite simply, I preferred the F12 in pretty much every department, from its personality and road presence to the drivetrain, engine noise, cabin environment and "giant caterham" weight distribution and driver position.
So after all that, it was just a case of finding one and as luck would have it, I was offered a slot for one of the last ever cars for delivery Spring 2017. Elegant, classy, race seats, tons of carbon, sporting interior. That was my remit and I have to tell you that speccing your own brand new Ferrari exactly the way you want it, getting wined and dined in Maranello on the Factory tour and then finally watching that cover glide off in the showroom, it was a completely addictive process that you just want to do over and over again every single year.
Here's how she, or rather HE turned out ...