I will start this story with the admission that I do, in fact, own a 1986 Ferrari Testarossa. Like many a man traversing through middle age, I had the opportunity to get one of my childhood dream cars. The first thing I learned, as a new owner of the Italian standard for luxury sports cars, nobody feels sorry for you when you own a Ferrari! Guy’s, just keep that in mind.
With my wife out of town and my boys at a sleep over, I had the house all to myself. It’s early Saturday night, and I decided to take my Italian girlfriend out for an evening drive. Afterwards, we went to my favorite pub, TirNaNog, in Daytona Beach. Leaving the Testarossa parked out front, I walked in for a pint. I talked to the British ex-pat regulars for a while, discussing politics, religion and all those things we’re told to avoid in polite conversation. As usual, I heard about a dozen different variations of the F-bomb, and enjoyed them all.
In walks a 30-something hipster and his girlfriend and with them, a herd of tatted scarf clad millennials. After ordering their pints of PBR, the leader of the pack looks around and loudly asks the entire bar, “Whose Ferrari is that out front?”
“Mine,” I said.
“My GT-R is better!” he proudly boasts.
WOW! I really should have seen that coming. I look out the window, and, lo and behold, parked in front of my Rosso Corsa Italian is Godzilla herself, a dark silver Nissan GT-R. Believe it or not, I was the one thinking “show-off!” Go figure…
That has me thinking though, and at the pub, my brain and mouth are very rarely properly coordinated. So, it’s ON!
“My friend,” I begin, “your car is better than mine, and in so many ways! The GT-R has a twin turbo charged 3.8L V6 making 478bhp at 434ft/lbs of torque. Her 6 speed dual clutch transmission can change gears in milliseconds, and it is attached to computer controlled 4-wheel drive system that actually makes Sebastian Loeb jealous. With a 0 to 60 in 2 point very little seconds, I am told Nissan stole a launch control button left over from the Apollo Moon mission.
“She has more processing power than a Boeing 787 and I believe the air-conditioning has artificial intelligence. It has power everything, and the front seats can move in so many different directions, it could be its own ride at Disney. Oh, and that display! WOW, what a piece of art meeting science. My boys video games aren’t nearly as cool!
“At 30 years old, the Testarossa is an entirely different being. Her 48 valve, 4.9L, 180º V-12 has 380bhp. Her exhaust is not suppressed by turbo-chargers and inter-coolers, and the sounds she makes leaves men weak in the knees. With a leisurely 0 to 60 of just under 6 seconds, she’s no longer among the quickest. When you see the color of her cylinder heads, you realize you have a real life redhead on your hands, in both beauty and temperament.
“That wonderful piece of artistic engineering is attached to a traditional 5-speed synchromesh manual transmission with a chrome gated shifter and a small black knob mounted atop a thin steel shaft. Your hand falls onto that knob as if Michelangelo himself designed it, putting it there for you to caress her. Her light clutch and short throw shifter make the act of changing gears like foreplay. There is a search for perfection and you keep doing it and doing it, constantly trying to get it just right.
“She has neither power steering nor ABS. The power windows with a mind of their own and the air conditioning has an intelligence that is more malevolent than artificial. It is either off or set to Arctic freeze, or maybe, she wants to roast a turkey today. You just never know! Oh, and the radio, with its 2 speakers, sucked in 1987 and has not improved with age!
“Wrapping that package, however, is a work of absolute beauty. Though her goal is a high top speed in a comfortable setting, she was drawn of pure emotion. This car was one of the last Ferrari’s designed mostly on paper, using a pencil. Artists were still in charge at a time before computers, when passion, not aerodynamics, ruled the design process.
“Let’s face it, your GT-R is the perfect girlfriend! She is modestly attractive, and is as comfortable in tight jeans and a white tee shirt as she is in that small black dress she keeps for special occasions. She can party all night long just as easily as she can get up early in the morning to take the kids to school, and pick up groceries on her way home. She is easy to get along with and there is little to complain about. When things do get crazy, she’ll hold her own and still get you home, safely, and tuck you into bed. Maybe give you a little peck on the forehead.
“The Testarossa, on the other hand, is not your girlfriend. As boys, we had her picture on our walls, above our beds. We spent nights staring at her; wishing, dreaming, fantasizing. She’s the one in the knee high boots with 4′ heels and the black leather miniskirt! She enticed us with her beauty and exudes pure sex. We longed to just get close to her, be with her, even for a moment. We just knew we’d never have her.
“She is very high maintenance and requires a great deal of attention. When the world gets wet and things get wild, I can’t tell if she wants to tie me up and hurt me or demand that I take control and dominate her. Then, without warning, she’ll change her mind! What’s worse, I can’t get enough of it, I want more! She’s an addiction that’s hard to explain. It never gets old!
“Even with your girlfriend beside you, you stare at the redhead; wanting, needing, fantasizing! You can’t hide it, you want her, for just one night. You know you can’t have her. She’s right there, in front of you! No longer the poster above your bed. Jealous, your girlfriend won’t have any of it! I can see it in her eyes, and yours.
“Your perfect girlfriend checks all the right boxes. My supermodel, on the other hand, is imperfect; equally as beautiful as she is neurotic. At the end of the evening, she is a Ferrari. That, alone, says it all!
“So, cheer’s my friend. This round’s on me. Enjoy! Lucky for us, swapping cars, even for an evening, is a lot easier than swapping girlfriends. Maybe someday, you’ll have your chance!”
I paid my bill, and headed home to an empty house. My hipster friend caught up with me at the light on International Speedway Boulevard at Peninsula. Looking over his girlfriend, he opened her window, gave me a thumbs up and yelled “Nice car!” The light turned green and he was gone, the GT-R’s taillights leaving a long red streak into the night, like the Millennium Falcon going into hyperspace. Smiling, I realized hadn’t even released the clutch.