It’s 9.10 on an otherwise very normal Thursday morning in November, except that I’m about to order a brand-new Ferrari. Well, I’ve recently turned 40, so you know how these things go.
As if. Sadly, the car is not for this undervalued motoring journalist (accessories by Argos and Specsavers; overdraft is model’s own). Even so, just getting a flavour of the showroom process through which customers are led when deciding exactly how their six-figure supercars should look, feel and operate should be a fascinating exercise.
This all stemmed from a short conversation with Ferrari’s UK PR man, among whose responsibilities it is to fully dress to impress as many as six press demonstrators per year and who was a little ambivalent at the prospect of doing it all again for the SF90 Spider he expects in May. “Perhaps you would like to do it?” he wondered. Sure, thought I – feeling somewhat obliged in light of the number of times I’ve made suggestions in print about how one of his cars ought to have been equipped.
Which is what has brought us to Graypaul Ferrari in Solihull, near Birmingham, and a meeting with sales executive Richard Thompson. I’m feeling confident, having spent a quality hour or so on Ferrari’s excellent online model configurator and already settled on a combination of exterior paint, interior hides, alloy wheels, brake calipers and other items that I like.
Then two things happen. First, the aforementioned PR man cruelly dashes my dreams by reminding me that it's a press demonstrator I’m ordering and therefore his money that I’m spending rather than my own (that much, believe me, I knew). There will be some ground rules. Pick a bright metallic colour that will make the car stand out on a magazine cover or newspaper page. Pack in plenty of optional technology, because demonstrators exist partly to demonstrate that stuff. You won’t have the Assetto Fiorano (Ferrari’s package of track-intended performance-enhancing options such as semi-slick tyres and special springs and dampers), because we already have an SF90 berlinetta with it. “If in doubt,” he says, “just tick the box and spend the money.”