How are your childhood dreams doing today? I have had this one particular dream for quite some time now, but had no sign of it materializing - until now. Granted, my dream was the classic one of owning a bright red Ferrari, and I have to admit it is not easy to make that happen. Buying and even renting all seem expensive. And if I was to rent a Ferrari for a day, would I cry when asked to hand the keys back? Yes, yes I would. Now that would not be a pretty ending for a dream.
Lately all kinds of experience events have grown in popularity and no wonder, nowadays you can experiment everything from making sushi to skydiving, and people are both able and willing to try these unique events. Maybe even twice. As it turned out, in Helsinki a local event organizer Elämyslahjat.fi for activity gifts offered also a drive in a Ferrari. Not just a ride, but actually a drive. The 120 eur deal would include 10 minutes of driving after 5 minutes of introduction, and there would be an instructor accompanying you. Ten minutes is better than nothing ever, I counted, and signed up.
Going to this event, I tried to keep an open mind and not expect anything. I walk in and there is the car, a bright red Ferrari 360 Spider F1. Designed by the legendary Pininfarina, this a classic two seater, mid-engined convertible that goes from 0 to 100 km/h in just 4.4 seconds, assisted by the 3.6 liter Tipo F131 V8 engine producing 400 hp. “F1” in the name indicates a six speed electrohydraulic gearbox that can be operated with steering wheel mounted paddles or you can let it run in automatic mode.
Owner of this beautiful car, a very friendly and relaxed Lithuanian guy, should deserve a Nobel prize for generosity and courage to let total strangers drive his beloved Italian beauty. Would You? We take a seat in the car, and despite this car running out of the Maranello factory some ten years ago, it still looks almost brand new. So all-in-all a very fitting car for this dream fulfilling purpose, ticking all the right boxes: red, mid-engined, naturally aspirated V8, convertible, easy to drive, soulful, well looked after… I start up the engine and you can hear it first pumping gas and then lighting up with a rumble. I take a moment to appreciate the fact that for this particular time I have been lent a mid-engined convertible where you can literally hear the Ferrari 400hp masterpiece growling behind your ear. I give the engine some revs and trust that all hearts within a block take few extra beats.
I click on the first gear from the steering mounted paddle and ease off the brake, off we go! Of course there is a series of speed bumps on our exit route, I literally crawl over them watching out not to scratch anything. On to the street and then a quick acceleration to the highway, the engine is just screaming away “faster faster!!” It’s one of the first warm days of summer, there’s wind in my hair, a 400 hp Maranello V8 behind my back – life is so beautiful right now. I switch on to cruising mode and we adapt to traffic speed rolling down easy to a higway exit and stop. As you slow down and switch gears down, the engine sound is like massive waves crushing on to shore. On the sidewalk young boys note our Italian classic and naturally we reward them with a rev concert. There is no describing the width of their smile, I can’t help but to burst into laugh myself as well.
I always imagined driving a Ferrari to be both difficult and overly exciting, but in fact this is just fun, fun, fun. The route we are taking is mostly limited to city speeds so there is no possibility to take the car to the extremes, but there is no need to either. I do switch on the Sport mode to hear the engine rev higher, setting the car even more alert for fast driving on all terms. Few accelerations off the traffic lights are just pure simphony to my ears, I could do this all day long, every day.
For this purpose, the 360 is amazingly easy to drive, I can concentrate on enjoying the drive rather than worrying about something else. Ten minutes may not be that much on paper, but we were able to complete a versatile six kilometer route taking it easy. In any case, time awareness blurs in all the excitement when you are behind the wheel for the very first time. Price for driving a Ferrari is rarely this affordable. Most people can save the money from monthly "misc" spending or friends can easily gather this money as a gift for some unlucky tifosi. In fact, this deal is such a fair value that it should be considered as a social benefit. Personally, I got to experiment a Ferrari, and yet I am able to let go. This short drive managed not only to realize my dream, but also maintain and enhance it. Now I really dream of a Ferrari, knowing that miracles are made to happen and that even the short moments are all accounted for.