To many of you, this is old news.  But I have resisted writing about it in my blog because I’ve felt uncomfortable about “going public”.  But I have recently come to the conclusion that I should share my experiences on this topic because I am so passionate about it.  So here goes.

Since I was a little boy, I’ve loved sports cars.  When I lived in England, I’m told that I would sit on the floor in our house and race my little cars while listening to the trucks and cars go by on their way to a track where Jackie Stewart would practice.  Like many young lads, I had that iconic Ferrari Testarossa picture on my bedroom wall, along with assorted Porsche’s, and Lamborghini’s.

About 8 months ago, at breakfast, I mustered up the guts to say, out loud, to Helen “Honey, I’d really love to get a Ferrari.”  So I’m expecting a rational, well thought out response something along the lines of “well, that’s nice dear, but it’s not an effective investment vehicle, so let’s not do that.”  But God bless Helen, she says “You should do it!”.

So that started the process.  I started looking at F355 Spiders.  I really liked the look of them.  And due to the incredible strength of the Canadian dollar (or is it incredible weakness of the US dollar?), I decided that the best selection/price combination would be found by importing the car from the US.

I have never imported vehicles into Canada.  Helen imported both our vehicles when we moved back to Canada.  So I had some homework to do.  I quickly establishes that the F355 is not currently admissible by Transport Canada’s Record of Imported Vehicles (RIV).  So I started looking at the newer (and curvier) 360 Spider.

The 360 is a much different car mechanically, and esthetically from the 355.  I love them both, but the 360 is much lower cost/hassle on maintenance (so you drive it more).  More research was commenced.  This particular Ferrari was the first all aluminum chassis/body model, which reduced weight while maintaining stiffness.  Here’s a view of the 360’s other vital stats:

  • Engine: 90 degree 32 Valve V8
  • Engine Displacement: 3586 cm^3 (thus the ~3.6L = 360)
  • 395 BHP (redline at 8500, and what a sound that is!)
  • 0-100km/h in ~4.5s
  • Curb Weight: 3197lbs (fuel+lubricants, no people)
  • Production Years: 1999-2005

What years was I looking at?  What options?  Color – well, my first Ferrari was going to be Rosso Corsa Red with a tan leather interior.  I settled on finding a car with these options:

  • Year: 2002 – 2004
  • F1 Gearbox
  • Scuderia Shields
  • Tubi Exhaust
  • 1 or 2 owner car with low (but not ridiculously low) mileage

Those were my “must haves”.  However, I was concerned about the import process, as well as finding a quality car, so I reached out to James Simpson, President of Simpson Automotive Consulting.  He specializes in importing exotic cars into Canada, and knows all the ins and outs.

In late January, the search was starting to turn up some candidate cars.  After some discussion with the dealers (I wanted to stay with Ferrari factory dealers), we narrowed the search down to 2 cars.  One in Scottsdale, AZ and one in Denver, CO.  After some more diligence, we decided the Denver car was the one to look closely at, and have a Pre-Purchase Inspection performed.

As fate would have it, I was driving from Waterloo to California for my last week at McAfee, and could stop in to see the car myself, and take her for a drive.  It was a great plan!

So, to make a long story a little less long, but still longish, the test drive blew me away.  Bill Orth, the GM of Ferrari of Denver was a wealth of information about the car, company and brand, as well as a really nice guy.  After the PPI came back clean, I said “Bill, ship it to me!”.

My 2004 360 Spider, affectionately named “Sophia” (after that other curvaceous, beautiful Italian lady), arrived April 8, 2008.  She also has the following options (in addition to the ones above):

  • Power Daytona seats with black piping
  • Modular Wheels
  • Black carpet
  • Front & Rear Challenge Grills
  • Premium Sound (like the sound coming from the engine isn’t premium enough?)

One of the places I’ve learned alot about the cars is FerrariChat and FerrariLife.  I’ve met some great fellow owners and enthusiasts in the Toronto area, and have gone on a couple of country drives.  What a great days those are!  Imagine 17 Ferraris touring through the hills and curves north of Toronto.  Heaven!

Helen and I took Sophia to Montreal with us for the F1 weekend.  Sophia was VERY popular with the crowds on the street.  And she managed to consistently get us primo parking right in front of the restaurants we were dining at.  We are both still getting used to all the attention coming our way when we’re driving her.

I can’t tell you how much fun I’ve had driving her.  When a childhood dream comes true, it’s hard to describe how special that feels.  But I don’t for a minute forget how fortunate I’ve been, and while I’ve worked very hard and started from pretty much zero, I’ve also been blessed with great opportunities that 99% of the people I share this planet with don’t have.

Oh, and for those of you who are screaming “Mid Life Crisis”, I will share with you a joke I was told prior to buying my first Ferrari:

A man comes home to his wife and says “Honey, I need to get a motorcycle, a 20 year old mistress or a Ferrari.”  His wife says “Dear, you better get the Ferrari, because the other 2 will get you killed.”

Thus my torrid affair with a red headed Italian girl begins…