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. 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. 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. 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. 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!