Now, at last, I get the fuss about Ferraris. I’ve just driven my first manual example, a 360 Spider, on a favourite road. I’d assumed the gearbox, with its long indents, would be a chore and the clutch too heavy. Wrong: the sprung lever was perfectly aligned for the next shift and the clutch pleasantly light. The suspension would be stiff and the ride brittle, I reckoned. Wrong again: it was supple and comfortable. I had no doubts about the 3.6-litre V8 engine. It would howl viscerally as the revs soared to the 8500rpm redline. It did.
Driving the 360 was an incredible experience but equally incredible was the fact that, only an hour or so before, it had been on the garage equivalent of an operating table, separated from its wheels and many of its vital organs. Timing belts, brake and fuel lines, coolant hoses, fuel pumps, injector rails, power steering hoses, steering gaiters, O-rings by the dozen… Over the course of several days, all of these and more had been removed and renewed by two young Ferrari technicians at Dick Lovett, the official Ferrari dealer based in Swindon.
I’d arrived to witness the final stages of the operation and to discover why one qualified technician (Jack) and his able apprentice (James) would devote so many hours to an 18-year-old 360 Spider with 8000 miles on the clock that, to these eyes, looked immaculate. I didn’t have to wait long for the answer. On a trolley next to the car were some of its old parts. They included a short length of fuel hose. I squeezed it, forcing small cracks to open on the inner faces at each end. They were to be expected on a car of the 360’s age but, as Jack explained, if left to deteriorate further, they might cause the hose to rupture, allowing fuel to escape.
“We’re doing preventative maintenance,” he said. “It’s the kind of work that isn’t done during routine servicing. Oil, filters, plugs and brakes are all replaced at intervals but hoses, brake lines, fuel pumps and so on are replaced only when they fail. We’re changing them before they do.”
I know Ferrari owners have deep pockets but deep enough to pay for work that might or might not be necessary? In fact, the two techs were giving the 360 the Ferrari Premium treatment. Launched in 2019, it’s a preventative maintenance package that ensures older cars no longer protected by Ferrari’s New Power warranty, which covers cars up to their 15th year from registration, are thoroughly checked and brought up to scratch and, crucially, certified as such.