Saturday, July 27, 2013

A tale of Ferrari ownership

Yesterday, Hooniverse had a piece on driving the Ferrari 550. Dropgate, a commenter, had this to share about his 550:

Dropgate: Bought one in May of this year, a Rosso Corsa (red) '98. It broke down and cost me $5000 THE VERY FIRST DAY. 

Still totally worth it.

Me: Jesus. What broke down?

Dropgate: I spent 2 months negotiating with the owner, getting the car inspected, smogged, etc. On May 3rd I finally flew to LA to pick up my new toy and drive it back to Sacramento. The first 50 miles were uneventful, though I was mired in Friday afternoon LA gridlock. Just as traffic freed up and I started up the Grapevine, I noticed a loss of power. Then shortly thereafter I got a dreaded Check Engine light. Then came the "Slow Down" warning message (in Ferrari-speak this means you're overheating the catalytic converters). 

I should have stopped immediately, but I carried on for about 10 miles, babying it. When I finally decided to throw in the towel (and had found a safe spot to stop) the damage was done. I had blown a hole in the right side catalytic converter 50 miles into a 400-mile trip. 

The root cause turned out to be a cracked pressure hose on the right side fuel pump, which starved the entire right bank of cylinders. The misfiring overheated and killed the cat. The tow home was $1500 (AAA covered the first 200, the last 150 came in at $10/mile). Once home, I found a great mechanic who took mercy on me and located and installed a used catalytic converter and fixed the fuel system ($3700). They key was the used cat - even though it cost $2300 (!!) a new one from Ferrari is...wait for it...$11,000. And since it's illegal for a junkyard to sell a used cat in California, the fact that this mechanic was able to pull it off was a miracle. 

So that's my $5200 story. Things have gone much better since then and the car is a joy to drive. But I got a baptism by fire into Ferrari ownership. It's almost as if the car was trying to see if I was "worthy" of owning it. :)

Me: Bravo....

Dropgate: I also neglected to mention that 1 block into the first drive, I went to adjust the rearview and it fell off in my hand, taking a hunk of the windshield with it. Not kidding. That whole day was a comedy of errors.

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