I was, of course, scandalised. Or at least I would have been had my Canadian chum had the slightest idea what he was saying, which was that this Ferrari was rubbish. Even so, it was with refocussed eyes that I slotted back into the 348 and headed up the road. And it was like I was driving a different car: one that wasn’t that quick, that did have an awful gearbox and handling you had to watch every step of the way. In that instant, an illusion built up over my life to date that Ferrari was a brand that could do no wrong shattered into a thousand pieces. My rookie mate, unburdened by pre-conception, saw all along what I could only now see myself: the 348 was, indeed, rubbish.
That drive changed everything and I never again allowed myself to be romanced by a car just because it was a Ferrari. Since then I’ve been blessed to drive an example of almost every one to go into production since the Daytona. So here are some disconnected jottings about the Ferraris I’ve driven whose reality was some distanced removed from their reputations.
The Daytona: a genuinely great car for its age with a wondrous engine, but not the paragon I had been led to believe. Appallingly heavy at low speeds, it needed space and pace before it would do its thing.
The 365GTC/4: remember this one? A de-tuned Daytona engine, with sidedraught Webers, additional rear seats, self-levelling rear suspension and power steering. Not as quick as a Daytona but most of the time a nicer car to drive. Light to handle, incredibly comfortable over long distances and, to these eyes at least, even better looking.