Went to pick up the 1997 550 I spoke about - awesome. I have been pretty lucky in terms of ownership (Porsche, Aston, BMW, TVR etc.) but never had a Ferrari. I was intrigued and convinced by its history but less by its intrinsic qualities, having test driven a couple of them over the years. The Maranello has fundamentally changed this opinion. This particular car has close to 30,000 miles, all services done, all recalls done, it has a sports exhaust and sports suspension (lower by 2,5 cm). The owner has REALLY driven it, which means that the engine revs angrily and is very well run in. This was the 3rd 550 I drove and the fastest subjectively. While I did pay top $ the car is as new condition. The only blemish were stonechips on the front, which was resprayed only after the owner had shown me the car! So I went to pick it up in Germany, past Dortmund, a lot of traffic going up there, but very comfy in the Alpina 7 series. Spent a while looking, test drove, my mechanic had a good look, and off we were at around 8:30 pm and with 220 miles to go. Weather was awesome, warm, sun down, driving mostly B roads until we got on the A1 before Köln. Another 30 km of heavy traffic and suddenly it was in front of me - the opportunity to nail it - REALLY nail it. About 2 km of straight 3 lanes wide tarmac ribbon, no traffic and no speed limit. I took her up to around 285 km/h to 290 km/h around 177 mph until traffic appeared and I had to slow down. From then on I averaged speeds of about 135 mph almost to the border with traffic becoming less and less cumbersome and the car feeling absolutely stable. I really am positively surprised by the stability and even, yes EVEN the quality of the car. Some people, although not on this forum, might not like what comes next, but although there are some little squeaks from the seats, or other parts behind (still looking), the performance is great, the drive is gratifying and most unbelievably the finish is of higher quality then my 2003 996 TT!!! The brakes will be replaced though..... G.