My Ferrari F430 Spider F1 Ownership Diary

Discussion in 'Others' started by The CO, Mar 2, 2021.

  1. The CO
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    Right, where do I start? At the beginning I guess. As many of you know I finally hung up my uniform last year and I started a new job with a healthcare company down south. We did have a plan of working in the UK for a while before I got a job as a consultant, we would then move overseas and I would work from Croatia. That didn’t really work out so it looked like I’ll be staying in the UK for a few more years yet. I had a decent lump sum squirrelled away to buy a house overseas but now it was sitting in the bank doing the square root of nothing so I started pondering a 911.

    However, and as much as I like 911s, I couldn’t bring myself to do it because I simply didn’t want to lose any more money in depreciation and so my thinking was to buy an expensive toy, play with it for a year and sell it on with as little loss as possible. Less running costs obvs. That really narrowed it down to more exotic stuff like Atoms, Caterhams, classic cars and so on. I can’t really remember why I thought of a Ferrari because to be honest, they’ve never really appealed to me. I’ve always considered them to be a bit brash and largely unusable because of their very nature. Still, in Dec I started a thread on PH asking for opinions and one chap posted straight after and said he had the best F430 in the UK and was up for sale. Yeah right, I thought.

    We got chatting and he had owned the car for a couple of years and it was his fifth Ferrari (I think). He had owned several 911s in the past but got fed up with losing money on them so switched to Ferrari and never looked back. An ex-RAF pilot now in his mid-70s, he simply didn’t drive it anymore and wanted to concentrate on flying his Bulldog before he has to hang up his helmet in a few years hence the sale. He’d had a couple of people interested but then lockdown hit and that was that. We exchanged quite a few emails over the months but couldn’t do much more.

    During this time I did my research and worked out that I could actually buy one privately, run it for a year, and potentially get my money back. In the meantime I could get to drive one of the most evocative brands on the planet because whatever you might think of Ferraris you cannot deny their history, they are truly iconic. It was a no brainer, right? Even my wife agreed. Fast forward to Feb and the deal was done, car bought, storage sorted, insurance squared away and tax paid. Transferring the money was a gulp moment but what the hell, you only live once and if last year had taught me anything it’s that life ain’t always fixed.

    Last Saturday was finally the day and we raced over there in a high state of anticipation. Literally about 200 yards from his house and ‘The Pony’ we got stuck behind a tractor that was having stand-off with an HGV and nobody was moving. 20 long minutes later it cleared, longest 20 mins of my life. Anyway, round the corner and there it was in all its glory. The owner was a fastidious bugger, the car had lived in his garage for two years without getting wet so the thing looked glorious in the sunshine. After a handover time to fire up and bugger off for fun and frolics and also visit a certain @Spuffington in Swindon OPC.

    IMG_7804X.jpg

    Frankly, the six or so mile drive to Swindon was terrifying. I wasn’t sure if I was suddenly going to spear myself into a tree without even trying, I just didn’t know what was going to happen so took it very easily apart from one squirt under a bridge. I think a little bit of wee came out when I did that, the sound. Oh god the sound. Big grins. Got to the OPC and there he was offloading the Macan to the GTS! It was really good to put a name to a face and for the record he’s a thoroughly decent chap. We talked cars and forums for a bit but then I had to go, I just couldn’t wait any longer. The M4 and home beckoned.

    2CBA8622-0DD9-470D-9328-93DA4CA75198.jpeg

    Straight onto the M4 and 50mph – v dull. When that finished I thought right, let’s have a go. Put it in Sport and floored it. Dear God Almighty. Before I know it I’m doing very naughty speeds but what a way to get there. That engine, just over your shoulder, is an absolute masterpiece, the noise it makes as it headbutts the redline at 8500 rpm is beyond my writing ability to describe it but it sets you on fire. Even if you’re not a petrolhead I defy you not to be moved by it and if you are, prepare for a change of trousers as it is just simply glorious. I’ve (badly) stitched together some clips from the RRS’s dashcam for you to have a listen. It’s not perfect but hey.



    Anyway, the car itself. 2007 F430 Spider F1, semi-automatic (more on that later). Just under 15k miles, full Ferrari Service History, five owners. Challenge wheels painted grey by Dick Lovett Ferrari to match the car's Grigio Silverstone, sabbia leather, carbon driving zone and that’s about it in terms of extras. 4.3L (hence 430), 483 hp, 0-60 less than 4s, top whack around 193mph. Fuel economy – lol. Steel brakes, from late 2007 the car came with CCM as standard. Think I just missed out, bah.

    The Drive.

    To be honest I thought I was going to have to wrestle with it, I really thought it was going to be a pig to control. I couldn’t have been more wrong if I tried. It’s incredibly easy to drive. It feels so light on its feet, so responsive and so unsavage that you really do feel as if you could do anything in it. It really does inspire confidence. Did I mention the noise? There are several driving modes; Ice, Low grip, Sport, Race and CST (everything off). Ice puts the car in full auto with low gear changes. Low grip returns the car to manual and is good for driving around town. Sport is the default setting and where the fun starts. Gear changes are quicker, suspension is firmer, exhaust valves open up and throttle response is quicker. Race is more of the same and CST is only for the brave.

    The Cockpit.

    Driving position is spot on although pedals are offset to the left a fraction so that takes a little getting used to. Some of the switchgear is a little dated and the known sticky window switches are present and correct. Seats are electric and v comfortable although I can’t seem to get the bolsters right, just a little tight and I’m no fatty. Steering wheel is a squared off style, horns are where your thumbs rest and the manettino switch is the most obvious gadget. The other most obvious thing is the bright yellow (giallo) rev counter in front of your face – love it.

    83D54C7B-65B9-4B29-80A7-42E59929C0BF.jpeg

    The F1 Gearbox.

    I must admit it took me while to wrap my head around how this works and I’m not sure I’m still there yet. In essence it’s an F1 derived manual gearbox that has a conventional dry-plate clutch but is controlled by a Transmission Control Unit, torque curves and throttle ‘stuff’ rather than a clutch pedal. At low speeds and low revs it’s pretty docile but when you start to liven things up it becomes sharper and more pronounced to the point that you get a shove in the back when changing gear at higher speeds. It’s at that point that you feel as you’re actually part of the car. That all said you can stick it in auto and it’ll behave like a fully automatic car albeit with a conventional clutch. Yeah, I don’t get it either but then the car does have 17 ECUs to keep it all together.

    The Engine.

    A common saying is that you’re paying for the engine and Ferrari are throwing in everything else for free and I can see why. It is beyond words, it is an epic, epic thing. I could listen to it start up all day, it just gives you a massive grin and makes you feel like a very naughty boy. I thought that it would be a binary thing, on or off with nothing in between but it’s surprisingly smooth and not unruly at all. Make no mistake, it’s outrageously quick and more than enough for any way that you to care to use it but it’s a long way from unmanageable. It’s hard to drive sensibly though, a dab of the throttle in sport opens up the exhaust valves and it just roars, you just cannot help it. It’s highly highly addictive.

    7C9FC411-377D-41AA-B2A7-740F1068E91C.jpeg

    The Downsides.

    You get stared at. A lot. This may not be problem for some but I can’t say I’m entirely comfortable with it. So far it’s all been positive though with thumbs up from some, waves from others and kids just go nuts when they see it. However, the biggest issue with the F430s are the manifolds. They are prone to cracking and as they have a pre-cat there have been some reports of them failing and being ingested in the engine and destroying it. The only remedy is to buy aftermarket manifolds or an upgraded Ferrari system (the latter costing a cool £7k). Apparently, it’s not a matter of if but when because the design is so poor. Mine are on their originals so I may have to dig deep in the future but I’ve gone in with my eyes open so can’t whinge when it finally does happen.

    Anyway, I think that’s enough for now. The car did 200 miles over the past year but I managed to do 280 this weekend! That may give you an idea of how I feel about it. It is still very new to me so will undoubtedly take me some time to gel with it and I hope I grow to love it for what it does and the way it does it rather than simply for the badge. I want to drive it and enjoy it so have provisionally planned a few driving trips this year and yes, Italy is definitely on the list.

    I’ll keep you posted!
     
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  2. Adie
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    Adie WARLORD Site Supporter

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    Superb!... both write up and car, enjoy
     
  3. Mieke
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    Mieke WARLORD Site Supporter

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    Fantastic car! It sounded great on the video @The CO - you lucky, lucky man. (y)

    One of your trips surely has to be to Germany. You need to get that bad boy off to the Nürburgring, :driving: :)
     
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    Last edited: Mar 2, 2021
  4. Wynne71
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    Wynne71 WARLORD

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    What a fantastic car and write up. I’ve never really seen the allure of a Fezza, even though I’ve owned and loved Alfa’s, but I can totally see why you fell for this one. It just looks brilliant.
    The one sentence that made me drop a jaw was the “17 ECUs to control it”. Gulp. 17 Italian computers......
    I hope the car keeps you grinning and not reaching for the wallet to often. Great to hear you are driving it.
     
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  5. E39mad
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    E39mad

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    A trip to Croatia over the Alps this year? I can just imagine the sound echoing around the mountain valleys. Things hopefully to look forward to!!
     
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  6. idrussell
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    idrussell

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    Thank you for taking the time to do the write up. What a fantastic thing to have and hear.
    I have heard about the manifolds being the weak link on the F430 but otherwise the cars seem very reliable :) I hope you enjoy it and keep the write ups coming!
     
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  7. The CO
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    Cheers chaps. One thing I forgot to mention is the E-diff which at the time was a massive step change for Ferrari. I can't possibly explain it so a quick cut and paste from italiaspeed:

    One of the technical features that sets the F430 apart is the E-Diff or electronic differential. This solution has been used for years in F1 single-seaters and has been continuously developed and refined, effectively transferring massive torque levels to the track under extremely high cornering g-forces.

    The E-Diff is now standard equipment on the F430 - the first time that a production car has been equipped with such a sophisticated system for high-performance roadholding. On the track, the E-Diff guarantees maximum grip out of bends, eliminating wheel spin. On the road it is a formidable technological refinement that improves roadholding.

    This system is available both on the F1-paddle shift version as well as on the manual gearbox model and consists of three main subsystems:

    - a high-pressure hydraulic system, shared with the F1 gearbox (if present);
    - a control system consisting of valve, sensors and electronic control unit;
    - a mechanical unit housed in the left side of the gearbox.

    Torque is continuously distributed between the wheels via two sets of friction discs (one for each driveshaft) controlled by a hydraulic actuator. The amount of torque actually transmitted to the driven wheels depends on driving conditions (accelerator pedal angle, steering angle, yaw acceleration, individual wheel rotation speed) and brings considerable advantages in terms of performance, direction stability, active safety and handling feedback.

    Again, F1 racing was a vital testbench that enabled Ferrari's engineers to develop a highly sophisticated system that perfectly matches the requirements of a road car designed to reach over 196mph (315km/h) and generate considerable cornering forces.


    The electronic differential actively helps reduce Fiorano lap times by 3 seconds compared to the 360 Modena. For the driver, the E-Diff increases handling balance and grip (which noticeably improves acceleration), improves roadholding on the limit and also guarantees even better steering feel.

    I think e-diff is now a standard feature on all Ferrari models now.
     
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  8. K777
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    K777 WARLORD

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    Great write up and I am jealous.

    One day (eventually) we need a group meet - when we can have passenger rides in each others cars.
     
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  9. mach one
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    mach one WARLORD

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    glad you are happy with the car and l hope you enjoy your seat time it looks a real beast

    fingers crossed that the manifolds don't cause any problems as that could be very expensive :eek::eek:
     
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  10. zarnd
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    zarnd

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    Sounds epic. The gearbox in the e60/1 M5 and that era M6 gets better the harder and faster you go.

    Enjoy. We bought a new house that is a massive project so once that’s done in a year or two I’ll start thinking about my next move and will be around my 40th birthday then so can have a treat I guess

    Look forward to some more pictures and updates

    Cheers


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  11. 535i MSport
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    Massive congratulations, enjoy!


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  12. 535i MSport
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    Great idea. Why not have a ‘Land trip to the ‘Ring in whatever you drive.

    This was me on my first trip in 2014 in a 530d...
    [​IMG]


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    Last edited: Mar 4, 2021
  13. snrbrtsn
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    snrbrtsn WARLORD Site Supporter

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    Wow what a car!
    But more importantly, what a wife you have!
    Full respect for her time, patience and understanding, the dash cam clip describes her joy, understanding of a man living his dream, without saying words! those giggles are naturally gleeful!
    The ‘three’ of you deserve the best of happiness!

    A very unusual colour for a Ferrari & I think you may have it spot on, desirability shall be high, simply Beautiful!
    Enjoy your ownership!
     
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  14. Mieke
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    Mieke WARLORD Site Supporter

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    I'm up for that, but only if I can have a Ferrari as well. :D
     
  15. Adie
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    Adie WARLORD Site Supporter

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  16. The CO
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    Nice phot of @Spuffington and his spuffling with his new Porky:

    IMG_7808.jpg
     
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  17. zarnd
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    Nice photo. I’m waiting for @Spuffington to do the thread for his Cayenne unless I’ve missed it somewhere if he’s out enjoying it still...


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  18. The CO
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    End of the second weekend with the car and thought I'd post my thoughts. For a start the weather has been crap with gusts, rain and hail thrown in for good measure so getting the roof down was a bit hit and miss but we gave it a good go.

    For me, I'm learning the car and its character. The engine is the obvious place to start and it's a masterpiece as I've already said. The noises it makes are extraordinary from low V8 grumbles, to a yowl as the exhaust valves open and to outright screaming as you hit the redline. Truly addictive and damn near impossible to drive sensibly if only for the noise rather than the speed itself. Not going to lie, it is a difficult car to drive slowly. You can of course but because it makes so many noises you want to hear them again and again. And again. And possibly once more. Ok, be a bit rude not to so just one more time then. You get the picture.

    As for the handling, I'm getting into the flow. Every now and then I seem to find a sweet spot and it's only after I've gone through the bend(s) do I wonder how it did that with so little drama. Other times I'm twitchy and setting up badly but that will go with confidence I hope, I'm still a little intimidated by the thing. Our wonderful British roads do make you wince as you thump over yet another pothole but the car handles it well with the odd twitch to let you know it's got everything covered. The steering wheel feel is wonderful, you really can feel the road beneath your paws. You could probably drive it with your fingertips if you really wanted to (I might try that one day). As for the manettino I use it a lot, mostly between Wet and Sport mode. I stuck it in Race once but chickened out of doing anything!

    Mrs CO managed to drive it this weekend and like me, she was terrified to begin with but after about ten minutes realised that it was much easier than she anticipated. In Ice mode the car is fully automatic and changes up at very low revs so she started off in that setting. As her confidence grew she switched to Wet and started to change gear manually but was still somewhat cautious. Our route took us onto the M4 for about 8 miles and I got her to stick it in Sport and floor it. It did take a fair amount of persuasion and false starts to get her to floor it but we sort of got there. I say sort of because I wanted her to redline it at 8500 but she couldn't bring herself to do it and changed up around 6500ish. Even so, she remarked a bit later that you feel the whole experience through the noise, the thump in the back as the gearbox does its business and the outrageous pace. Truly this thing must have been epic in its day.

    There are a couple of things that need sorting though. I have squeaky windows, sticky switches, a pitiful hifi system (I'm an audio nut, I have to have a decent system even if I'm not going to use it that much) and there's an annoying buzz coming from the engine bay at low revs. Sounds like a heatshield so that'll need sorting. There's a very well regarded indy in Kent so I'll probably get it trailered over there for a thorough inspection and work where needed. I'll still get it serviced at Dick Lovett Ferrari though, a full Ferrari service history is worth its weight in gold.

    Finally, after going through the paperwork I discovered that the previous owner did around 700 miles in 2.5 years. I've done that in two weekends!

     
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  19. Mieke
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    Mieke WARLORD Site Supporter

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    Glad to hear that you're still using it, even in this weather @The CO, and your wife looked as though she was starting to enjoy it.
    Careful, you might not get it back. :D
     
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  20. Wynne71
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    Wynne71 WARLORD

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    Fabulous update. Sounds glorious, even when short shifting...
    From your commentary it seems you are bonding quite quickly, and using the car, which is brilliant.
    Mrs W hasn’t even driven the 440 yet, she keeps saying no, so massive kudos to your good lady.
     
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