Hooniverse Asks – The Ferrari Man Behind the Curtain, Acknowledge or Ignore?

A couple of days ago Jalopnik posted a rant by automotive writer Chris Harris, in which he exposed the magic behind the myth that is Ferrari. It was an excellent read, which I highly recommend if you haven’t already consigned it to memory, but raises the question – do you give a rat’s ass?
The point of Chris’ screed was that Ferrari provides journalists with specially prepared cars that are not equitable to those that the average—if that is the appropriate term—Prancing Horse buyer may obtain. The main bone of contention I had with the article was that all the manufacturers do this, it’s just that Ferrari has more on the line.
Ferrari is more than an automotive icon, they are an aspirational goal for many an enthusiast. And if they are perpetuating the myth of ultimate performance envelope expanders, well then, perhaps so be it. We need our heros, as well as our dreams, and we don’t take kindly to those who try and burst our bubbles. Growing up, there’s a strong likelihood that you had a poster of a Lamborghini Countach on your bedroom wall. Would you like me to tell you how uncomfortable and kit-car like those ’70s Italian stallions really are? No, I didn’t think so, it’s better to have the dream than to live the painful reality.
So, the question is, do you care that Ferrari goes to great lengths to make sure their cars are presented in the best – if not the most accurate lights? Or, do you, like Chris, take umbrage in the fact that the Maranello maker has been fudging the numbers for, oh probably, forever?
BTW, today just happens to be Enzo Ferrari’s birthday, and were he not spinning in his grave he’d be a ripe, old 113. So happy birthday to il Commendatore, I’ll bet they bring two cakes to the party—one that looks magnificent, and one that tastes so.
Image source: [Cartype.com]

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39 responses to “Hooniverse Asks – The Ferrari Man Behind the Curtain, Acknowledge or Ignore?”

  1. muthalovin Avatar

    I simply do not care for Ferrari. They are, for the most part, driven by posers, and overpaid executives that never realize the cars true potential.
    That being said, even if Ferrari provides journalists with above average vehicles for testing, the average Ferrari will be better than 9/10's of the high performance cars out there.

  2. buzzboy7 Avatar

    I really don't care about Ferrari. I never really have I don't really ever plan to. Yes, they do amazing things but I don't like them still. There is something about seeing something that flashy and that "amazing" that really turns me off to it.

  3. Smells_Homeless Avatar

    What Ferrari's doing doesn't bother me at all. They're just trying to protect their position. Plus, they're probably still stinging from when Wangers and crew pulled the same kinda thing on them back in 64.
    However, that automotive "journalists" are complicit in the game flat out pisses me off. That's bullshit to the highest degree. Yes, it's true that I'll probably never buy whatever new GT Ferrari has out, but that doesn't mean I want you to tell me lies in an attempt to keep some kind of image that doesn't bear reality. I count on those writers to let me in on what I'm missing out on and dammit, I want them to be truthful. The only people who need their egos protected are the posers who have already shelled out too much money for status symbols.

  4. Feds_II Avatar

    Did anyone check and see where Ferrari's are made? No? O.k., well, it's a country called Italy.
    Ever been? No? O.k., well just so you know, I'll keep this brief: Italy is FULL of Italians (not EYE-talians, those guys live in EYE-taly). Italians, as it turns out, are not Americans. In fact, they are not even LIKE Americans. They do things differently. Their black market represents 20% of their GDP. As in for every $4 that goes over the table, $1 goes under it. Usually into the back pocket of a corrupt official.
    Their sense of fair play is not the same as ours. I'll go millimeters out on a very sturdy limb and suggest that the practice of tweaking cars to win comparisons dates back to il Commendatore himself. I don't know if you know this, but Ferrari got his/its start doing a little thing called "racing", wherein you tweak your car to win a comparison of its speed with that of cars from other manufacturers.
    Barry OBams can't get away with sleeping with underaged prostitutes. Silvio Berls can. The average midwestern family man isn't likely to have a girlfriend. The average Italian family man is. They just do things differently in Italy. You see "cheating to win comparison tests", I see "exploiting an opponent's weakness".
    And before you get up on your high horse about fair play and whatnot, let me just say this: If I had an Alterian Dollar for every time I heard one part of the galaxy look at another part and say "that's not right", I certainly wouldn't be in my office on a warm sunny day in February.

  5. OA5599 Avatar

    It doesn't really make a difference to me whether or not some journalist gets blacklisted for not writing a positive review or otherwise exposing Ferrari's dirty secrets. Anybody who owns a prancing horse is either independent enough to make up his own mind or rich enough not to care.
    I might be biased, though. I bought a Syclone.
    <img src="http://www.albaco.com/store/prodpic/cd3703_m.jpg"&gt;
    <a href="http://www.sportmachines.com/wiki/tiki-index.php?page=Car+and+Driver+Sept+1991” target=”_blank”>http://www.sportmachines.com/wiki/tiki-index.php?page=Car+and+Driver+Sept+1991

    1. Age_of_Aerostar Avatar

      do you really have a Syclone? Is it as awesome as it is in my dreams?

      1. OA5599 Avatar

        I used to have one. I bought it when I was single, but now I'm at the point where I need more than two seats. I traded it for a Typhoon.
        The 'phoon gives more legroom and two more seats in a nicer interior, but the Syclone is definitely the more hoonworthy package. I hope to have another one some day. Some people criticize it for not being a real truck, but I used mine, at various times, to haul plywood and lumber, a fridge, a freezer, a riding mower, a load of auto parts, bicycles, things too greasy or smelly to put inside my other cars, and an engine. I only had the Sy at the track twice, and both times the outside temperatures exceeded 100 degrees, but it ran mid-13's at around 100MPH in nearly stock configuration.

        1. Age_of_Aerostar Avatar

          there couldn't be a more appropriate replacement for the Syclone, good choice!!!

        2. ZomBee Racer Avatar

          I LIKE YOU.
          (second or third time I've been compelled to tell you that…)

        3. mr. mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
          mr. mzs zsm msz esq

          Kick-butt! You keep being you!

        4. CptSevere Avatar

          I have craved a Syclone or a Typhoon ever since they came out. You lucky dog.

    2. nitroracer Avatar

      I see a lot of WIN on that magazine cover, SVX, ZR1, SHO, GMC, etc. Three letters must be special.

  6. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    I'm outraged and disgusted. It's a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham.
    Not only that, but the ridiculously huge income I rake in as a widely respected, unbiased motorsports journalist is seriously threatened by this debasing of the field.

  7. lilwillie Avatar

    I'm fine with Ferrari, or any other manu making sure their test or show cars are absolutely top notch. No issue with me. Basically no different then the guy who spends a whole day washing, waxing, cleaning and detailing his car before going to a cruise night or car show. You want to present your ride in it's best state.
    Of course this coming from the guy who is normally criticized for not cleaning the burnt rubber off the rear quarters. "Oh lord, you know that will wreck the paint?"

    1. Smells_Homeless Avatar

      If the paint gets wrecked, who cares? Just apply another fresh layer of drag radial and you're good to go. My last ElCamino was painted two tone silver and tire.

  8. Alff Avatar

    I don't give a rat's ass because:
    – The relationship between the automotive press and the industry is so incestuous that they are essentially opposite sides of the same coin. Have you seen Acura's "winter" TV ad that features a prominent MotorTrend logo for it's duration?
    – I bought a new car once. It may never happen again.
    – If I ever buy a Ferrari, the choice will not be based upon minor statistical differences at the ragged edge of performance.
    – I already assume that all high end marques are managed by manipulative assholes.
    – If F's behavior should somehow resuilt in degradation of the brand's value, I may actually be able to afford one.

    1. Age_of_Aerostar Avatar

      I saw that Acura commercial, and was waiting for some MotorTrend reference, but I don't think it happened. Wonder who paid what for that commercial.
      (didn't like it)

  9. raphaelinberlin Avatar

    I thought there was a good discussion over at axis of oversteer about the subject. There seems to be some potential customers and something called "tracktards" in the commentariat, so they have a different set of perspectives on the issue. To make things short, while adding new rubber to cars and the like is probably less than kosher, having engineers set up cars for different tracks certainly makes sense, as they're just adjusting what is already adjustable, as the owner should be doing at that track anyway. However, even if Ferrari's tactics are underhanded, no one is going out to EVO or CAR these days to get genuine consumer information – at best they're going for the subjective opinions of the writers.
    As for my opinion on the matter, most folks know the badge and the rest is secondary, as whether or not the new FF drives well won't have any weight on the rich poseurs vacationing in the South of France, renting the car to show off on the way to the next nightclub. They'll be loud and they'll be red, which seems to be enough for most.

  10. Syrax Avatar

    Since I despise Ferrari I don't care about this at many levels. What's ridiculous is the degree of micromanaging they feel they need to do. All this "Special Ops" money would be much better spent in R&D. And yet, a GT-R and a 911T will beat any Ferrari.

    1. dragon951 Avatar

      A run of the mill customer's GT-R? I recall a certain American showroom model that caused some concern round the Nurburgring. That dyno-ing or taking a production model to any track voids the warranty should also be some cause for suspicion.
      That being said, I always trust Porsche. I have read countless independent tests where customer cars match or exceed the factory provided demo cars. Well, I used to always trust them, then they went all WWII on VW…

      1. Syrax Avatar

        I don't think it's like that. They even have that limiter that is turned off when it recognizes the car is in a track.
        And yes, Porsche always deliver. The only annoying thing is that "deliver" is a $5k option bound to the $7,5k Porsche Exclusive Track Pack.

        1. dragon951 Avatar

          That was what the Customer Disclosure Form said.
          "The warranty also includes a number of other specific conditions, exclusions and limitations which include (but are not limited to) the following non warrantable conditions:…Driving in places other than a public road (e.g. circuit, disused airport, examination (or test) road and dynamometer testing." I believe I originally saw the story on Jalopnik
          It's mainly the dyno thing that gets me. Why don't they want you running it on a dyno? Mayhaps cause Motortrend dynoed their test car and got 430.6whp. I read a thing on autoblog where a consumer's dyno was more like 400whp. That's like 35-40hp back at the crank.

  11. SSurfer321 Avatar

    thats my biggest gripe also; that they are bringing two cars.

  12. ZomBee Racer Avatar

    Ferrari… Meh.
    You can still get a Corolla with a clutch pedal.

    1. ZomBee Racer Avatar

      When I was a kid pretending to drive the world's coolest cars, I would stomp on the invisible gas, dump the imaginary clutch and thrash the make-shift shifter while the worlds noisiest tires screamed and billowed smoke.
      I never once sat there staring straight ahead like a dolt imagining a computer could do it faster. NO. I relished the gear-grinding and missed-shifts as I pushed my steed to catch back up and win heroically in an amazing triumph.
      Shifting is such a primal and tactile part of the performance car experience, I'm still amazed the upper echelons of car-dom would go to such lengths to make it a non-event. Today, if I were driving a Ferrari, I would literally have to "pretend I was driving a Ferrari" in order to feel like I was driving a Ferrari. WTF?!?
      The Testarossa was the last car from Maranello I thought was really cool. Perhaps the onset of puberty had something to do with that.

  13. mr. mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
    mr. mzs zsm msz esq

    I'd like to echo a few things others said. Ferrari, they are competitive. Racing is like cheating in ways that are barely withing the rules or outside of them but to not get caught together with finding the weaknesses of your competitors and using them to your advantage. So I don't see the issue of Ferrari bringing ringers and even tuning cars to specific tracks. It's just the competitive nature, and they are one of the most like that, and well every industry makes sure the journalists get ringers. I mean even connector manufacturers do it for trade magazines. But once you get into the realm of having to call Italy before you drive some other Ferrari, even if you will not write about it, and Ferrari saying you can't or you lose access to press cars, for fear of having a lesser experience in some not tweaked ringer, well that's getting into the absurd. So I think Ferrari has lost touch to a large extent.

  14. mdharrell Avatar

    Every time I become convinced that my cynicism is boundless, I find unexplored new vistas opening before me:
    "…as a journalist you are expressly forbidden from driving any current Ferrari road car without permission from the factory."
    I knew nothing before this about Ferrari's practices, yet that line is the only part of the article that surprised me. Come on, guys, that's just pointless and demeaning for all involved parties. Pointless OR demeaning I can understand, but both? Really? Now it doesn't just look manipulative, it also looks stupid.

  15. smokyburnout Avatar

    My point of contention with the article was that it was coming from the same guy that whined just 1 week earlier that the Miata was "shit" and "not a real sports car."

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      I've never driven one, but my understanding is that Miatas seldom fail in ways that inspire the owner to pray for death (the owner's death, the manufacturer's death, the car's death, pretty much anyone's death…), and that when they do fail, parts can be obtained and repairs can be expected to work. That hardly sounds sporting at all, so no, it's not a real sports car.

  16. Tomsk Avatar

    Do I hate the '64 Pontiac GTO because Pontiac provided Car and Driver with a 421-powered ringer for their (in)famous "GTO vs. GTO" comparo? No. Same goes for Ferrari. Do I think less of them as a company? Yes. Do I think less of their cars? Not really, provided they still look great, make beautiful music and haul nearly as much ass as the ringers provided to the press.

  17. BlackIce_GTS Avatar

    If I will ever buy a Ferrari, or what I think of Ferrari or their cars or the owners of said cars is irrelevant. They are disseminating false information and coercing journalists into representing it as the truth. I have no idea how any of you think that's acceptable.
    This is just proof behind my disinclination to trust car reviews written by anyone who makes a living at it.

  18. Møbius Avatar

    Very few of the readers of magazines and blogs are actually going to own those Ferraris and experience them in all their glory.
    Why not make the majority of the readers feel better about this world they live in? Ignorance is bliss, or a redlining V12.

  19. dustin_driver Avatar

    Wait just a minute. Do you know how hard it is to find a job in Italy? Even if you do know how to tune Ferraris, it's damn near impossible. Personally, the fact that Ferrari employs multiple tuners to make sure their cars are super awesome for track-day tests warms the cockles of my heart.

  20. Deartháir Avatar

    This is why you and I get along so well. Also because I want you to share that $41M with me when you get it.

  21. Maymar Avatar

    <img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4011/4578696553_0f5304d1c8_z.jpg&quot; width-500 /img>
    If I ever had the chance to buy a Ferrari, it'd probably be something like this. Performance isn't really my priority, but I also don't lionize the prancing horse. I just like brown Ferraris.

    1. Syrax Avatar

      And most likely automatic.

      1. Maymar Avatar

        I try and overlook that. Since my 400/412 ownership is largely hypothetical, I have no issue creating a theoretical reality in which I find a brown 400/412 with a manual. Or not find myself at the mercy of a mob of pitchfork-armed Tifosi, enraged that I've painted mine brown.

        1. Syrax Avatar

          With all that hypothetical money I'm sure you can adapt a 6-speed ZF.

  22. Age_of_Aerostar Avatar

    Do I suggest it? Yeah, I guess I'll have to.
    Guess the only way to determine how a Ferrari actually performs before buying one is to read a Consumer Reports review!
    <img src="http://thumbs4.ebaystatic.com/m/menZ4EMUtf-mKRPr-VEK-sA/140.jpg"&gt;