The Lighter Side of Owning a Ferrari  by john babos



The other day as I was running I began pondering the cost of my Ferrari experience.  My first real conscious awareness of Ferrari’s came in August of 1975.  Car and Driver featured another chapter of the “Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining Sea Memorial Trophy Dash” across the U.S. that was won by a white Dino 246 in 35 hours and 53 minutes. (Reference page 22 and 23 of the magazine, I still have it).  The picture of that car struck a note in me somehow and I often thought if the Good Lord willing and the creeks don’t rise, I’m gonna get me a little Ferrari some day.  However, the U.S. Army had other ideas and life proceeded by, but I never forgot that car.

Many years later after saving and investing, at the time in a good market, I finally had the funds necessary to purchase my dream car, a little Ferrari.  I purchased my 328 in the same manner I purchased my airplane, extensive record research investigating outstanding directives, a.k.a. factory recalls, and a going over by an experienced mechanic. I promised my lovely wife Crystal that I would not let the car interfere with the household budget so I put thousands in reserve for that tremendous expense I was warned about when owning a Ferrari, the big ‘M.’

Now after owning my little Ferrari for just a few years, my thousands that were held in reserve are gone the way of the dodo. Call it naivete or just being stupid, the big ‘M’ got me good and took me to the proverbial cleaners after all of my careful planning.   The big ‘M’ that got me was not the Mechanical or even the Maintenance as I had planned for, but of all things, the Merchandising.   Untold thousands going into toy Ferraris, an extensive Ferrari library, Ferrari polo shirts, Ferrari jackets, Ferrari hats, Ferrari key FOBs, Ferrari magazine subscriptions.  I purchased a remote control Barbie Ferrari 355 that was at the time really cool.  Somehow it looked strange running across my driveway without a driver, so a few bucks later and a Mattel Ferrari Barbie doll is sitting in it. Crystal thought Barbie looked lonely, so a few more bucks and viola, a Mattel Ferrari Michael Schumacher doll.   And the coup de grace, Ebay.  Imagine items unknown in the world suddenly available.  More Ferrari books, some in languages and script I can’t identify, but I bought them for the pictures, and for a few bucks why not. I won bids from countries in the world I have never heard of.  I got Ferrari stamps, posters, original Ferrari art (?) that required triple matting and non-glare glass, Ferrari manuals and rare Ferrari parts.  In all of my years of owning cars I have never had trouble with a fuse panel, so I figured I had to be due and purchased one when it became available on Ebay, as well miscellaneous latches and knobs. I won bids for Ferrari canutant valves and Ferrari finnegin screws, don’t know what they are or where they go, but I had to have them.  I found myself in the merchandising-spending spiral. I finally recognized the trap and began to pull out.  I almost made it, almost, but the Formula 1 race at Indy, with booth after booth of Ferrari merchandise finished me. It’s all gone, almost more than the original purchase price of my little Ferrari.  So, some advice for the new, soon to be Ferrari owner, beware the big ‘M,’ MERCHANDISING.

By the way, my little Ferrari has been the perfect car, except for gas and a few oil changes it hasn’t cost me a dime.  And that’s good, because that’s all I got left.