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Let the intimidation start

posted 8 Sep 2012, 04:48 by Robert Crane
After much heartache and anxiety the decision had been made and it was time to actually take delivery. A train trip to the dealer provided plenty of time to reflect on the choices made and whether it was such a smart move. Upon reflection, it would seem that actually purchasing a Ferrari F355 is not the issue, the issue is more around things you never think of, like insurance, garaging, cleaning and so on. However, the commitment had been undertaken and it was time to live the dream.

Finally taking the keys and starting the vehicle is a very alien feeling. The Ferrari F355 is very different from other cars, especially from a drivers perspective. It is more 'analog' than most modern cars, it sounds very different and most importantly it 'feels' very different simply by virtue of being a Ferrari. Pulling away from the curb outside the dealer is a surreal experience. The responsibility for the vehicle is now all yours. Strangely enough, your thoughts are consumed more by the negative that the positives. So the intimidation has commenced.

Driving the F355 through city traffic is again a  surreal experience as you are now inside what you have only admired previously from the outside. Now you have entered the rarefied atmosphere of being behind the wheel. Problem is, in city traffic, you have to deal with other vehicles and doing so for the first time is somewhat nerve racking. The other challenge is actually sticking to speed limit. You are now in a car that gets noticed even when it is standing still, you know that many eyes, including speed cameras, are now watching.

All appeared to be going smoothly until about thirty minutes into the drive when the "1/4 Slow down" light started to flicker on the dash. This is accompanied by an immediate loss of power as cylinders 1 through 4 are shut down. This warning light is an indication that the catalytic converters are overheating. Interestingly, the vehicle was travelling less than 40 Kmph in a freeway construction zone. Exactly the same issue had surfaced at alomost exactly the same time for the author of "One Year with a Ferrari". Reading the book is a very worthwhile experience for anyone considering an F355 but it was very deflating to see such a problem with the car almost immediately.

Carrying on, through the freeway construction zone, resulted in the "1/4 Slow down" warning not reappearing. There was a chance that the issue had something to do with the thermocouple reading the temperature rather than the catalytic converters. Something to make a mental note of now coming off the freeway and back onto suburban roads. A few moments later the vehicle was stationery and ticking itself cool. There was a general sigh of relief as the very first experience with the car was now complete.

The next challenge for the driver and vehicle was to see whether it would fit in what appeared to be a somewhat narrow garage area. Arrival at the door, deep breath, and in we go. So getting in is ok, now what about getting out? A few moments later the F355 emerged successfully from the exit to the garage. Phew. A big sigh of relief. Really didn't know what would of happened if it hadn't been able to get out of there. Time to park the beast and walk away for today.

Like any new car, getting acquainted takes time and a few of the major concerns had been answered but another one (the "1/4 Slow Down" warning light) had been raise. Yet on balance the positives outweighed the negatives and relationship had passed its first major test.

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