‘Bip.’ ‘Thock.’ ‘Chang.’ No, these aren’t typos - they’re the sounds you hear when you wash the bodywork of a Ferrari F430, the noise of high tensile aluminium and carbonfibre body panels being inadvertently finger-tapped as you attack with a sponge.
If you didn’t know better you’d think this accompaniment was the product of cheap and slightly insubstantial bodywork, but these are the sounds of kilo-cutting, the lightweight materials of this Ferrari tautened and pared to the max through painstaking CAD-CAM optimisation.
Hand-washing a car always turns up some little secrets as you slide a wet sponge across its body - the subtleties of sculpture that you don’t spot when you’re stand 10 paces away, the tidiness or otherwise of the joints between panels, glazing, bumpers and mirrors and sometimes, evidence of the curious demands of aerodynamics.
Nabbing the mag’s long-term Ferrari for the weekend had me washing it on Saturday afternoon after I’d cleaned my ’81 Jaguar XJ-S, the F430’s dusty, rain-spotted panels looking rather sorry in comparison. The Ferrari is a much smoother object than the Coventry car, whose protuberant bumpers and recessed windows make it a much more fiddly thing to clean - the sponge whips faster across the surface of the F430 because there are fewer abrupt contour changes to snag it from your hand.
The most awkward bits are aerodynamic, the vertical blades of the rear diffuser demanding as much dilgence as the curious mouth beneath the numberplate, whose smooth and surprisingly deep orifice sweeps air deep beneath the car to suck it onto the road.
At the risk of sounding lightly deranged, there’s almost sensual pleasure to be had from caressing the voluptuous billows of an F430’s front wings, and it proved impossible not to think of the Ferrari 156 Grand Prix car when I scrubbed at the mesh of the F430 airvents that it inspired - which is, of course, the point of them - and there’s something slightly weird about sluicing the long, smooth rear screen while seeing the complicated topography of the V8 powertrain lying beneath.
All of which added up to an unexpectedly pleasurable bucket and sponge experience, topped only by the drive that followed.