First Impressions - First Ferrari

Discussion in '360/430' started by rquad, Aug 13, 2019.

  1. rquad

    rquad Rookie

    Jul 26, 2019
    I'm no stranger to the car scene. But the 360 F1 is my first exotic. I have a Nova with an LS2 in it, so I'm used to having a little power under foot. I also switch frequently between a Malibu, Suburban, and late model Challenger, as well as spending time with a Z-turn mower and a Kabota tractor. For me, it's easy to go from one form of transportation to another. And, in *some* ways, that's the same in switching to the Ferrari. But there did seem to be just a bit longer learning curve...

    There is no more beautiful car than a Ferrari. Period. Take your pick, doesn't matter which model is your favorite, they are downright gorgeous. My 360 is twenty years old, and from a few feet away it looks factory new. Even up close it can hold its own with any late model car. I can't say that I'm surprised by the beauty, but let's just say that I'm pleasantly surprised that the car looks as good in person as the photographs I've seen.

    The starting procedure is already old hat, but it took me quite a few tries to get it right. Clicking the remote for an unlocked car just isn't intuitive. Once, it took me six tries to start the car. Now I get it right the first time, every time.

    The car *smells* exotic. The interior, that is. I don't know if every Ferrari is this way. The prior owner had the interior "conditioned" (whatever that means), and perhaps that is what I smell. But I've never been in any other car that had such a unique scent.

    First gear is really jerky. I can drive a true manual, so I understand what's going on with the clutch and low gear. But it's not something I had been prepared for before purchasing. Sure, it's something you can mitigate and get used to, but it's just a lot more "unrefined" in First than I expected.

    The car is smooth! I had expected a rough ride since it's a sports car. I don't know what others' impressions are, but I find the car quite comfortable. And although I can tell when there's a bump or hole in the road, there's nothing harsh about it. Along the same lines, I've been over several different kinds of speed bumps, and not only have I not scrubbed once, but the bumps feel no more harsh than in any other car.

    Being used to American muscle with lots of low-end torque, the powerband is very different, and I find that difference hard to describe. My Nova will break loose spinning if I'm not careful how I launch it, and it will lose a little traction going into second gear under full throttle. The Ferrari has wider and grippier tires than the Nova, and it has less torque - even though both cars have roughly the same peak horsepower. The Ferrari just gets up and goes. I haven't matched the Ferrari and Nova in a 0 - 60 sprint, but I suspect the Ferrari would win just because of better traction. At the same time, the Ferrari doesn't have the gut-wrenching takeoff that I expected.

    In another comparison with my Nova, the Ferrari is not scary fast. It's fast, and it's quick, but I never feel like I'm on the verge of losing control. The Ferrari's overall design is well matched to its power output. In contrast, under heavy throttle, my Nova is right on the edge of being frightening - there's that feeling that you're just not quite sure what it's going to do. The 360 on the other hand inspires confidence - even at 8500 RPM.

    There are plenty of quirks, but they're not outlandish. Yes, it's goofy to have the window controls in the center near the A/C vents, but they're not hard to reach or use. It's a little different to require the key for the trunk and fuel door to open, but again it's not a big deal. Having to switch into Neutral before going into Reverse is also a bit funky, as is the goofy reverse lever, but there's nothing hard about the sequence. Also, I've heard complaints about the clunkiness of switching back and forth between First and Reverse for certain parking maneuvers. The procedure itself is a bit clunky, but the car isn't jerky during parking. I'm not sure what my expectations were, but I do feel like I'm lowering myself into a go-kart every time I sit in it. Another surprise is the view while driving - visibility is excellent, but that long hood disappears when behind the wheel.

    Overall I'm pleasantly surprised at how easy the car drives. I've seen plenty of YouTube videos that say you can't daily drive a Ferrari (or other exotic). I couldn't disagree more! Yes, the fuel costs and maintenance would really rack up over time, but if you're willing to take that hit then I see no reason you couldn't drive this car anytime, anywhere. In fact, I drove the car to work one day, which is a 30-mile trip one way with a good bit of stop-and-go traffic at certain points. Not a problem. I've been out in 95-degree heat with no overheating issues and the A/C keeps me cool. I drove the car 250 miles home from the point of purchase, and most of that, unfortunately, was in the rain. No leaks. No traction issues. No problem staying in the seats two hours at a time. The only real issue is the lack of cruise control for those long stretches at steady speeds.

    Oh, I forgot to mention that I'm 6'4", and I have at least an inch of spare head room. The seats easily adjust to various positions, and my wife, who is 5'7" fits in the car as well - and she loves to drive it.

    Perhaps my biggest surprise was the RPMs this thing turns at speed. I couldn't believe it was hitting 3k at 70MPH in 6th gear. I'd never read anything that prepared me for that, and it was a worry until some people told me not to worry about it - the car was made to sing.

    The seller warned me to be ready for people taking photos all the time, constantly being asked questions, and generally getting a lot of attention. I haven't found that to be true. Yes, *some* people notice the car and want to engage in some way. But so far, those experiences have all been positive, and occur rarely. There was a 20-year-old kid drooling over the car the day I bought it. I took him for a ride in the mall parking lot. It made his day, and made me feel good I could spread the joy. I have no problem with that kind of attention. But the truth is that 90% of the people out there don't even give the car a second glance.

    There is a slight element of "never meet your hero." Though the car is absolutely drop-dead gorgeous, time has passed and it isn't all that fast compared to modern machinery. That's a slight let-down, but I'm not out racing, so performance is not a major factor. I've found it so easy to adjust to the car, and it is so easy to drive, that in a small way it's disappointing - not as much flash as I expected. But these are just minor things. I don't regret the purchase, and if it doesn't eat me up in maintenance costs, my plan is to keep the car until I'm too old to get in and out of it - I'm not the kind of person who needs - or can afford - the latest and greatest of everything.

    And there you have it. I had never sat in an exotic car before buying the 360 - all my impressions are from a cold turkey purchase. I'd be curious to hear if anyone else's experience differs from mine.
    tomconte, davidiaz, C50 and 8 others like this.
  2. KC360 FL

    KC360 FL Formula Junior
    Silver Subscribed

    Jun 20, 2017
    Melbourne Florida
    Full Name:
    Congrats on your "new" car!
    I have an '03 F1 Modena and it too was my first F-car. I think it's design is a grand slam. Timeless --and nobody I have met has thought the car on a design level was more than a few years old.

    From the first time I saw the engine under glass I was hooked. I agree that the F1 takes a little getting used to. But as you get to know the car, you will find out little things that make it perform better for you. I didn't see what year your 360 is, but if it is an early one, I would urge you to have the TCU updated. The latest iteration of the 2003 and 2004 cars is a vast improvement over the earlier ones. Do a search here and you will find out the where and how of it.

    I'm a little surprised that you don't feel the car is that fast. I run 325s on the rear of mine and I can tell you I can still break it loose. As one race car driver once told me when I told him I had never broke my 911 loose: "you're not driving it hard enough". I too have other high HP cars and have driven 911's for years. For me the 360 feels way fast. Certainly not the "king of the road" when it comes down to it, but it has all the usable power I could want in a road car. And truth be told it's probably more of a car than I am driver on a road course. And I've had my 911s on the track.

    Enjoy your car. Drive it often, and sneak out to the garage once in a while just to peep it. I know I do!

    All the best to ya!
    kes7u likes this.
  3. MJGinTX

    MJGinTX Rookie

    Mar 30, 2019
    Colleyville, TX
    Fantastic write-up - I enjoyed reading your comments.

    I purchased my 2007 430 in April of this year - and like you I have found it quite easy to get accustomed to - quirks included.

    I don’t get to drive mine as I much as I would like but I do thoroughly enjoy it when I do.

    Thanks again for sharing your experience and I wish you all the best with your new beauty!
  4. kes7u

    kes7u Karting

    Oct 18, 2017
    Shorewood, MN
    Full Name:
    Fantastic write up! Thank you for sharing!!

    You didn't mention the year of your new 360? The older years have older Transmission Control Units (TCU), which are fairly rough in their operation, particularly starting out in first gear. If you want this car to function as a more modern car, you owe it to yourself to research the Challenge Stradale TCU which can be installed in your car. (search user: eric355) I was disappointed in the operation of my MY2000 360 before I did this. IMHO, it is a necessary upgrade for these cars.

    LP360 and KC360 FL like this.
  5. 360trev

    360trev F1 Rookie
    Project Master

    Oct 29, 2005
    isle Of Man
    Full Name:

    As kes7u said the CS TCU is well recommended. Similarly the exact same thing goes for the *modified Challenge Stradale Engine ECU re-flash too.

    In fact if you fit a Challenge Stradale TCU and re-flash the engine ecu's too they complement each other so you get even better experience. Totally transforms the feel of the car and you gain a healthy upgrade in power, especially if you get my SAK tool version (search Swiss Army Knife tool for more information) which has the instantaneous torque patch applied. No second delay between your request for torque and it happening at the wheels so it makes it feel even better than a stock CS. Note this does makes it easier to brake traction but boy does it liven up the car!

    *Modified to work on non CS applications like Spiders and Modena's. It also *requires* a sports exhaust.
    kes7u and Tajir Al-Ahzan like this.
  6. hessank

    hessank Formula 3
    Rossa Subscribed

    Aug 8, 2005
    Full Name:
    Congrats on your new ride.
    Now let's have a few pics of this beauty.
  7. rquad

    rquad Rookie

    Jul 26, 2019
    Thanks so much for the info on the TCU. I'll look into that when I take the car for it's first service appointment - which I hope doesn't happen until next year. I'm not at all unhappy with the performance. I was just giving my impressions as a new 360 owner. I don't think it's slow by any means - it's just one of those expectation things, plus the fact that I'm used to my torque-monster Nova.

    Sorry I didn't mention the year - it's a '99. Also, here are a few pics. These are from the seller's garage:

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    hessank, C50 and kes7u like this.
  8. kes7u

    kes7u Karting

    Oct 18, 2017
    Shorewood, MN
    Full Name:
    You likely have the oldest version of the TCU.

    Please consider upgrading sooner. Not only with regard to the significantly improved operation of the car, but using such an old version of the TCU significantly increases clutch wear.

    User Eric355 sells reflashed challenge stradale TCUs. You should be able to install yourself and get good results from his TCU right off the bat. (Unfortunately, I'm just this side of useless when it comes to cars, but I was able to follow the instructions and get it to work perfectly) When you take in your car for service, they can fine tune and make it nearly perfect. Just consider it.

    And I would trust anything from Trev. Can't wait to get his ECU reflash. Just waiting on getting aftermarket exhaust installed ( and considering gated conversion.......!)


    Sent from my SM-G930P using mobile app
    LP360 likes this.
  9. LP360

    LP360 Karting
    Silver Subscribed

    Jun 12, 2016
    West Midlands UK
    Full Name:
    +1 on the CS TCU, I had my 360 7 months with a challenge TCU and when upgrading to the CS TCU I can tell you it makes a HUGEEEEE difference!

    My only regret is not making it priority when I purchased my 360.

    Contact Eric355, fantastic guy to deal with and helped me out in every way possible with purchase and installing the TCU.
  10. 67bmer

    67bmer Formula Junior
    Silver Subscribed

    Oct 28, 2015
    LOL - that is not that unusual for a European car! I do that on the way to work in a 1994 e36 BMW that easily gets 28 mpg on the highway...

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  11. HJZ360

    HJZ360 Rookie

    Nov 27, 2017
    Weslaco, Texas
    Full Name:
    Harold John Zurlo
    Your remarks on your first exotic are so true. I have rented a Lambo and Ferrari in Las Vegas and was amazed how different they are from my Corvettes over the years. The 2002 360 has great smooth lines which are fantastic to look at. People ask to take photos which is also nice. I drive Sophia everyday to work, about 5 miles total, except when it rains! I entered The Italian Motor Gathering in Boerne, Tx. and she won Most Beautiful of Show! I'm the 7th owner, 10,400 miles when purchased December 2017. Enjoy Yours!
  12. espvh

    espvh Formula Junior
    Silver Subscribed

    Nov 11, 2005
    [QUOTE=" It's a little different to require the key for the trunk and fuel door to open .[/QUOTE]

    Just a quick fyi, there is a t handle under the dash for the trunk, an another one in the rear of the car, inside the left quarter panel, for the fuel door, no key required.

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