Sunday, February 27, 2011

Test Drive: Ferarri California!

Hi folks -- Ed Garten, I wish you were here!

Thanks to friend, collaborator, and former San Diego Automotive Museum Curator Rebecca Morales, I had a special treat on the beautiful North San Diego County afternoon today. Perhaps because Rebecca had at one time organized a Ferrari exhibit a the museum, or who knows what else, she was invited to a special Ferrari test drive at a resort (Rancho Valencia) north of San Diego. I went along, and though a bit of luck, also got a test drive of the Ferrari California. It was a special event that featured champagne and appetizers, and a only a few people were invited. Peasants rarely get in the door here, but somehow I managed without pretending that I was a member of the custodial or service staff.

After signing a release and having my license checked, I was on my way with co-driver and professional driver Nicholas Kunewalder. While waiting my turn I had the most delightful conversation with Nick's mother, who really is a fascinating and lively individual. While Rebecca drove a red Ferrari (what else?), I drove a gray model with a tan stitched leather interior. Nick let me drive the car as I liked, up and down shifting with paddle shifters that were a blast to use once I got accustomed to them. There is no clutch pedal on this car. It has a top speed of 193 mph, and as Nick said, the car costs $1000 per mph, or $193k. Actually, with a few options it normally comes out to $204k, but if you ask maybe that is a tip off that you really can't afford this car.

The ride was terrific, extremely tight, and of course downshifting while passing was remarkable. The beauty of this car is how easy it is to drive and how comfortable it is. I could easily see one driving this car cross-country (back to Ohio, Kaye?), and you could not do that with ease in any previous Ferrari model without feeling it a bit.

Nick has a passion for safety and driver education. He feels strongly that students should take a real driving course, not taught by a shop teacher but by someone who knows the art of driving. If this were to happen, fatalities among the young would decrease markedly. I agree wholeheartedly -- let's get real driver ed in the schools before another young person dies needlessly.

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