So here’s a letter I got from a reader just recently, regarding his ownership experiences with Ferrari and, soon to be, with McLaren.
‘Dear Steve, I enjoyed your piece about McLaren making the MP4-12C cabin engine noise a little louder. I have an MP4-12C on order, and expect delivery later this year. My choice was, in part, on the basis that its engineering is truly superb, and, in part due to your reviews of the car. However I thought you might be interested to hear about one or two of the ‘soft’ issues that helped me to choose the car after many years of Ferrari ownership.
I have bought six Ferraris – all new – in the UK over the years, typically paying a £5k deposit against the next one each time I bought a new one. Shortly after I bought my F430 in late 2006 I tried to do this again, but was told that the deposit would now be £20k.
This I could handle, but I was also told that it would be non-transferable and non-refundable – and this was before the price of what was to be the 458 was even announced. On enquiring why, I was told that it was to “discourage speculators”, but in my view it was a very arrogant way to treat a loyal customer.
My disappointment was compounded last year when I took my very low mileage car in for servicing to be told that a manifold was cracked. Because the Ferrari factory were on holiday and no replacement was in stock, I had to do without the car for nearly eight weeks last summer.
Finally, Ferrari seems to be damaging the brand with increasing “bling” and some rather tasteless exercises, in my personal opinion.
Contrast this with McLaren. Since I expressed interest in the car, the company has appeared extremely keen to get my business. My wife and I have been invited to functions (e.g a private screening of “Senna” hosted by Ron Dennis, and a to McLarenVIP invitation to the Festival of Speed). We have also toured the Woking factory.
As a guest of McLaren I have driven a prototype MP4-12C at Dunsfold and met a number of other customers and potential customers. I thought the car was exceptional.
I have been kept very much in touch with progress on my car (due November), and have heard very reassuring claims regards spares and servicing. I feel I have already established a good working relationship with those who will be supplying and looking after my car.
Now I acknowledge that none of the above makes the McLaren a better car than the 458, but it certainly suggests to me that the overall ownership experience may be more fulfilling.’
And before anyone from Ferrari UK appears on my front door step carrying a violin case and an overcoat fashioned from pure concrete, remember; don’t shoot the messenger, if you please.
But maybe it’s time to think about some, or all, of the above?