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You have to understand; I really do love Porsches. I bought my first one almost 32 years ago. I’ve owned six, and I plan to keep buying them, as long as I‘m able. But there’s something about the Prancing Horse.

This came galloping home to me at a joint Porsche - Ferrari car show a number of years ago. I scanned the field and, yeah, there were a lot of very nice Porsches of all types, 356s, 911s of every vintage, 928s and so forth. But then there were 275 GTBs, 250 GT Californias, Lussos, Daytonas, 328s and 360s.

While you’re contemplating this scene, I’ll give you the answer to the magic question; the Porsches don‘t compare. I’m sorry. They simply don’t. And you can dangle your gold chains in front of me. You can reveal your hairy chest. You can wear Hawaiian shirts, and leap in and out of your car. You can buy logo Pumas. You can carp about maintenance costs. It doesn’t matter. You’re dealing with works of art. Works of art that you can drive. Fast. They’re in another league.

I’ve had so-so luck in getting to know them over the years. I sat in a Boxer at a car show in the early ‘80s, and I remember telling my wife that I fit, that I felt like I could drive the car really fast.

But my first opportunity came only five or so years ago, in, yeah, well, it’s a fact, the South of France, in a 355 Spyder. Gated shifter. Silver ball shift knob. Top down. I was going to get a ride. My host started it and I said, “Tubi exhaust?” He looked at me, looked at me again, and said “you drive.” And, once again, it fit like it was meant for me.

And the sound! The only sound from a Porsche street car that matches, at least of everything I’ve heard, is from the Carrera GT. If someone on that car’s development team told me that they wanted to match the “wail of the Banshee” at 8,000 rpm, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Which brings me to the point of this story; I was invited to drive a new Ferrari California recently.

I received an invitation in the mail from the local Ferrari dealer, which also sells Maserati, Bentley and Lotus. And I got an e-mail. I responded faster than an F1 shifter can blip downshifts.

And why did I receive such an august invitation? I can only think that I got on their list from my visits a few years ago, when I test drove a Lotus Elise, twice, before deciding on my current Boxster S. But that’s another story for another day.

When I showed up, the first salesman I ran into just sort of stared at me, and looked me up and down. I announced, in an out-of-body way, that I was there for my Ferrari test drive. “Do you have proof?” he asked.

Proof! We’ve all heard the stories about construction company owners being ignored at Rolls Royce dealers because they still have mud on their boots and they’re driving a pick-up. Well, I came in my beater Honda Civic, because it just so happened that the battery was dead that morning in my Boxster S… but I was not about to be ignored. No sir. I pulled out my e-mail verification and almost shoved it at the guy. “Oh,” he said. And he introduced me to another salesman, Derek.

And Derek was a lot more accommodating. We got to talking. Why are you doing this? Derek said the invitation was only sent to people who don’t own Ferraris. It’s a car designed to expand the market. Folding hardtop. Dual-clutch transmission. Seven gears. Does it go? Front-mounted direct injection V-8, 4.3 liters, slightly retuned from the 430 series to 460 hp, 3.8 seconds 0 to 60. How does it drive?

Derek took it around the corner, but not before demonstrating the mechanical dance of the folding hardtop. And the fact that the inhuman jump seats fold down to allow for extra pass-through cargo room from the trunk. And the GPS/DVD infotainment screen. And the fact that everything works like a normal car. It even has cruise, and cupholders.

Then he started playing with the paddles. Neutral is arrived at by pulling on both at the same time. Then just pull the right one and you’re in first. Pull again for second. Pull the left one and it’s back to first. And so forth.

And it was my turn. I told Derek about my experiences with PDK, that a Porsche factory driver told me you get the hang of it in a half hour. Not here. It’s intuitive. In 15 seconds it’s like you’ve always done it. I asked Derek if he uses auto or manual, and he said always manual. So that’s what I did.

At steady speed, it’s like a loud switch. Say you’re in fourth. Pull the left paddle and, boom, it’s louder. Pull it again and, boom boom, it’s real loud. Prancing Horse loud. Ripping canvas loud. Pur sang loud.

Then you step on the throttle and, boom boom boom, a line of little red LED lights dance from left to right, out of nowhere, above the steering wheel. Pull that right paddle again. As fast as you can read this, those LED lights start shining again. You need to brake? Do it and the thing will act like an anti-gravity machine as it downshifts with you to first. Then it sits nice and calm, ready to do it all over again. Which is what I did.

Derek said the LED lights were first on the Enzo, but now every model gets them. He explained the Manettino settings, which are on the little knob on the lower right of the steering wheel hub; I was in Sport.

We rounded a few corners. If this was Sport, I’d leave it there for everything but the track. The shifts were firm and crisp, but not harsh. The suspension rode over everything without losing any composure. This is a Ferrari you could use every day. No, this is a Ferrari I could use every day.

But what of the other models, say the new 458 Italia that’s been featured in all the car magazines? Two year waiting list, said Derek. “Hey,” he said, “we only get, like, eight of those a year.” Is it true you have to be a prior owner to even get on the list? “It helps,” he said. “Like coming from one of these.” And he pointed to the California.

So who’s the buyer? Derek said 911 Turbo owners, SL65 AMG owners, M6 owners, Aston owners, Continental GT owners.

And, just for grins, let’s see what he says, do you have a choice of options? The steering wheel I was using, which is carbon fiber on top and bottom, is one. As is the Prancing Horse plaque on the side, which everyone seems to want nowadays, and the 20-inch wheels. And the calipers for the carbon-ceramic brakes, which are standard, can be ordered in any color you want. And that’s about it. They’re made by Brembo, by the way.

Oh, and the car was a dark blue, with tan interior. It didn’t scream Ferrari. But it wasn’t a shrinking violet, either. It was purposeful, for every day. While driving around, we were no car-lover magnet; we didn’t see any bodies hung out of car windows, cellphone camera in hand, trying to record our visage.

On my way out, I asked for a brochure. Derek said they really only give them to new buyers, as they cost $50 each. But he did give me a gift… a line drawing of the car, signed in one corner by what looks like Luca Di Montezemolo, Fiat/Ferrari major domo, and in the other corner by a name I can only guess is the artist.

I didn’t ask the price. What was I going to do, negotiate? Offer my first born and adjusted gross income for the next five years? The fact is that I was about to get into my beater Honda Civic, to go buy a new battery for my Boxster S. Reality sucks. Because even this, the most accessible Ferrari ever made, is still in another league.
 

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Ok, I hear you, and I'm envious of your drive. First, although I've been a Porsche owner for over 30 years, I love Ferraris too, but have lived with the fact that I will never be able to afford one (well, maybe a 308).
I went to their museum last September before the F1 at Monza. I was disappointed, it doesn't compare to either the Porsche museum or the BMW museum. maybe I was expecting too much.

I love the Dino 246GT, unfortunately, a good driver in the same year 911 can smoke it. The back new California looks like a Chevrolet in my opinion. No, I've never driven one, but I have driven a Lotus Exige on the track, and while I've driven more powerful cars, it was the most fun. I get the feeling that your Elise drive didn't compare the your drive in the California. I wonder how the lap times compared.
Also, ther's the practicality factor for me. I can drive a Cayman to work, shopping, golfing, well more places than I'd drive a Ferrari. I have no idea about the maintenance for a Ferrari, but I guess if you can afford one its no worries.
My Ducati Superbike is about a close to a Ferrari that I'll ever get, but if my lotto numbers come in, you just may see me in something with a stallion on it's side.
Thanks for sharing.
 

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Yes, it is a great story. I hope to read more like it in the future. After all, we are all about cars. Even though we love our Porsches, we can still admire and dream of other marques which pique our passion.
 

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Great story indeed! The only sport car that ever attracted my attention other that Porsche is Ferrari...Who knows about the future? ;)
:thanks::thanks:
 

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The California with options I heard is pretty heavy and it doesn't go as quick as advertised. Is that true?
 

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I truly admire your story and I totally agree that Ferraris are a childhood dream for many of us. But I have the following question to ask:

I was told that Ferrari is under warranty only for 12,000 miles or two years (whichever comes first). Is this true? If so, seriously I am disappointed in Ferrari and I praise Porsche at a much higher level.

The second thing is that I hear Ferrari/Lambo owners complain about reliability of such cars. And it needs frequent maintenance. Again if this is true then Porsche is at a much higher league !!!

I hope someone can shed some light on the above.
 

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I don't know about you guys, but in 2-3 years from now I would love to own a Ferrari California to either replace my CS or be my weekend cruiser.
 

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I have owned 2 Ferraris and driven many of the latest models. My cayman S is the first Porsche I have even owned. I can say without fail that the build quality is far superior in the Porsche to any Ferrari I have ever seen. I drove my friends 2008 GT3 and his 360 Challenge Stradale back to back and they Porsche blows it away in all categories except looks. Sure the Ferrari will always get you more looks but the lowest priced Porsche still beats Ferrari in quality and reliability. There are many many better exotic cars for your money instead of Ferrari. I know first hand after owning 2. I would not go back to them again. For my money, Lambo, Porsche or Lotus anyday.
 

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Imagine the most beautiful woman you have ever seen. So gorgeous she makes you ache inside when you are with her. Undergraduate degree in Economics from Stanford, and graduate degree in love-making from Chatsworth Community College.

But it turns out she is a cocaine addicted, alchoholic, manic-depressive holy terror.

Ferraris are porn stars.
 

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Imagine the most beautiful woman you have ever seen. So gorgeous she makes you ache inside when you are with her. Undergraduate degree in Economics from Stanford, and graduate degree in love-making from Chatsworth Community College.

But it turns out she is a cocaine addicted, alchoholic, manic-depressive holy terror.

Ferraris are porn stars.
Funny....by the way; where is Chatsworth Community College? Just curious.;)
 

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Imagine the most beautiful woman you have ever seen. So gorgeous she makes you ache inside when you are with her. Undergraduate degree in Economics from Stanford, and graduate degree in love-making from Chatsworth Community College.

But it turns out she is a cocaine addicted, alchoholic, manic-depressive holy terror.

Ferraris are porn stars.
Very poetic... very well written !!! God bless you Dave for such talent in writing ;)
 

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Imagine the most beautiful woman you have ever seen. So gorgeous she makes you ache inside when you are with her. Undergraduate degree in Economics from Stanford, and graduate degree in love-making from Chatsworth Community College.

But it turns out she is a cocaine addicted, alchoholic, manic-depressive holy terror.

Ferraris are porn stars.
After your permission I'll use this on my Facebook :cheers:
 

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