Does Ferrari Make the Best Cars in the World?

To paraphrase Julius Caesar, I come to praise Ferrari, not to bury it. I know: all my previous posts focus on Ferrari’s brake problems. That’s why I started this website. No one would cover the class action lawsuit claiming my favorite car brand “fraudulently, intentionally, negligently and/or recklessly” concealed brake defects. Yes, favorite. Because Ferrari makes the best cars in the world.

Mazda RX4 (courtesy

I fell in love with Ferrari in the summer of 1976. I was working as a disco DJ in Newport, Rhode Island. My job: entertain cocaine-crazed trustafarians in The Clarke Cooke House‘s basement disco, spinning songs whose inanity was inversely proportionate to their danceability.

I commuted to my summer gig in a Mazda RX-4, a Wankel-engined Japanese two-door that looked like a Toyota Celica gone wrong. Not to put too fine a point on it, if I had a dog as ugly as that car I’d shave its ass and made it walk backwards.

That said, in comparison to the bloated luxo-barges plying America’s highways and byways during America’s bicentennial, the Mazda RX-4 was . . . ugly. I had no idea how repulsive my car was until I rolled into town one fateful afternoon.

Dino 246 GTS

There, parked on a dock jutting out into the bay, glowing in the dying rays of our nearest star, sat a red Dino 246 GTS.

We can debate whether or not a Dino is a Ferrari, but there’s no question that designer Aldo Brovarone and Leonardo Fioravanti created a Michelangelo-class masterpiece in metal. To say I was smitten would be like saying Wayne Gretzky was a pretty good hockey player.

Coming from the House of Ferrari, the Dino redefined the brand’s vision of automotive beauty. Perfect in all its proportions, the flying buttress babe sang a siren song I’d never heard before. That I didn’t know existed. That I didn’t know could exist.

More than that, the Dino made we want to drive it. Not drive as in risk life and limb to get around a corner at a moderate pace (the standard handling dynamic for cars of that era). Drive as in become one with the machine.

Dino Austin

Decades passed before I got behind the wheel of a Dino. In the intervening years, sports cars leveled-up astronomically. I’d driven some of the world’s fastest examples: the Porsche Carrera GT, Lamborghini Murcielago, Pagani Zonda, Ford GT and more. And yet the Dino was just as much of a pleasure to pilot as the sleekest supercar. As wonderful as I’d hoped it would be back when bottoms had bells (don’t ask).

The Dino’s old school man-machine interface thrilled me to the core, at speeds today’s minivans pass on the way to daycare. The sound of the Dino’s 2.0 liter V6 cranked up to 8500 rpms wasn’t as cargasmic as a F355’s Here Come the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse wail, but there are an infinite number of far less satisfying ways to fill your ears (see: disco reference above).

The author and his 458 Italia

Also in the interim, I owned a succession of Ferraris: F355, 550M, F360 and 458 Italia. Sure, the cars’ stunning lack of reliability broke my heart – and threatened to do the same to my bank account. Yes, the dealers’ condescension brought new meaning to the word obsequious. But . . .

All of Maranello’s mad machines are trance-inducingly beautiful. Caning a properly sorted Ferrari on a twisting country road is still the most fun you can have with your clothes on. And again, as the Grinch would say, the noise, noise, noise, noise! Even the much maligned sound of a turbo Ferrari stacking insanity on top of depravity is an automotive earworm for the ages.

Ferrari 488

So don’t get me wrong: I’m not anti-Ferrari. Quite the opposite. I simply don’t want Ferrari owners to die from a mechanical/software fault. Nor do I want the automaker to shirk its responsibility for bad engineering, defective parts and/or manufacture.

Speaking of which, I was talking about the brake issue with someone who knew nothing of Ferraris, bringing him up-to-speed on the highs and lows of ownership. What makes Ferraris the best cars in the world.

I told him Ferrari owners are familiar with horrifically expensive “issues” that other manufacturers * cough Porsche cough * have either surmounted or eliminated (usually strangled before birth). Convertible tops that fail. Transmissions that sh*t the bed. Rust. And so on.

“If Ferrari had told its customers, ‘sorry, but your car’s entire braking system has to be replaced and you have to pay for it,’ the majority wouldn’t bat an eye,” I insisted. True story! And that’s why . . .

Ferrari and friends

Ferrari’s reluctance to sort its braking problems strikes me as craven contempt for its customers. Not just for their safety. For their love of the brand. A love that lives deep in my heart. As far as I’m concerned, the brake issue confirms a fact I knew before it pinged my radar: Ferrari doesn’t make the best made cars in the world. But they do make the best cars in the world.

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