Double Apex managing editor, Sudhir Matai ended up behind the wheel of his boyhood dream car, the Ferrari F40, in Italy and shares his experiences here.
This street light must be old. The pool of light it’s casting into the darkness is dim and I struggle to locate the inside edge of the door-card. In my excitement I’ve also made a rookie error; I lashed up the Sabelt harness before ensuring the door was close enough to reach – GAH! I lean as far as I can and with outstretched fingers find an edge with my left hand, remembering that there’s no door handle, and with my fingertips pull the lightweight composite door towards me. It closes with an unsatisfying plasticky clatter…
I wriggle a little to reset my body in the figure-hugging race seat and do a cursory check of the mirrors. I also take a look around the cabin, which is best described as functional. The owner, a relative stranger, sits patiently alongside while I acclimatise myself to the unfamiliar surrounds. In the meantime, the boosted V8 idles innocuously waiting for driver input. Mr F40-owner has driven the car until now and thinks that the fluids are all up to temp, enough, anyway, to hand me the controls.
For the last 30 years there has been one car that I have consistently lusted after; the Ferrari F40. There have been flirtations with various other special cars, including a few racecars, but the F40 has remained at, or near, the very top of my wish list. Scarcely believable, I was about to set off into the hills above Ferrari’s hometown of Maranello in the car I glanced at every night before I closed my eyes since I was ten years old… a fricken Ferrari F40.
I blip the firm, mechanical throttle and it elicits a flare of revs from the small bent eight. The large middle pedal requires a firm shove as it is completely unassisted and the clutch, the clutch is surprisingly light. I glance over my right shoulder to check for traffic, hmmm, not much to see there and I set off… in a fricken Ferrari F40.
Easing out of the lay-bye I am, understandably, cautious. I modulate the clutch with just a few revs on the tacho keen to paint my driving in a favourable light for my co-pilot/benefactor. I short shift into second gear because 1st is, dogleg-style, down and to the left, so I am eager to dispatch with that awkward cog swap early. It is quite late into the evening so the road is virtually deserted, which means I don’t have to deal with traffic, thankfully. There’s no power steering, though once on the move this isn’t an issue. The slightly odd placement and angle of the wheel seem to fit my frame well; perhaps I was Italian in a past life?
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