A fair few flash Fezza’s! 36 to be exact. Including a 288 GTO, F40, F50, Enzo, F430, F355 and well, er two LaFerrari’s. Two!! It’s usually hard to impress the posh suburb of Newmarket, Auckland but the stellar collection of red, yellow and black, carbon fibre, aluminium and steel was enough to stop traffic. As only an Italian car manufacturer could… The occasion was a fundraiser for the Gastro-intestinal Cancer Institute (GICI). Their chairman Grant Baker has an envious collection of a black LaFerrari, red Enzo & F40, yellow F50 and a Daytona!
By teaming up with the NZ Ferrari Club, GICI was able to auction rides on a Sunday drive which raised $25,800. I parted with $400 to attend and rode shot gun in a black 599 GTB. I’ve been lucky enough in the past to ride in a 355, 360, 458, 456 and pilot a 430. The 599 always held a soft spot with me for it’s detuned V12 Enzo engine and flying buttresses. The opportunity to ride in a modern front engine Ferrari was the auction item I jumped at.
At 8am, the silence of empty streets was broken by the rumbling of dozens of Ferraris arriving at Continental Car Services. Soon the carpark was beginning to overflow with cars and onlookers. The crowd was interrupted by the trumpeting arrival of a yellow F50, sans exhaust. Followed, eerily by the comparative silence of a black LaFerrari slinking, cat like into its park. Drivers, passengers checked in, the riot act was read – no speeding or silly buggers… damn!
We set out in convoy, bunching up whilst driving over the Auckland harbour bridge so a helicopter could film us. We proceeded north at a reasonable pace up SH1 before reaching the Northern Gateway. Now as any gearhead knows, there are few sounds greater in the world than a V8 or a V12 screaming through a tunnel. We luckily had those ingredients handy! We slowed to a crawl and then, windows down, foot flat, screamed through the tunnel. What a noise!
Turning off the main highway lead us to some twistier backroads to arrive at Whenuapai Air Force base. The 599 was remarkably composed on the open road but really showed its size trying to get through the tight stuff. From the passenger seat it was easy to see its huge bonnet makes it a challenge placing it into the corners. I’d driven a 430 before in tight roads and I hate to use the cliche, but it really was like a big go kart. The steering is light, paddles effortless and noise with the roof down intoxicating – it eggs you on to rev higher and higher – but it’s size is much more usable, but less torque. I can see the owner’s attraction in being able to easily go away for the weekend with his wife. Much more GT car than race car. Unless of course, you’re Chris Harris…
As a Porsche owner I had to quietly chuckle at a lot of the owners’ physical relief after the 130 km drive to the air force base was complete – all the cars had arrived without mechanical mishap. Just one late arrival from a talk and donation to the local constabulary…
Pre-planned and colour coded, the cars were lined up to spell ‘GICI’ so a photo from the control tower and then helicopter could be taken. Lunch and presentations followed to cap off a brilliant morning. It really was a one in a lifetime arrangement of cars.
I was pleasantly surprised by the mix and approach-ability of the owners. From successful business owners to ordinary 9-5 employees with a passion for Prancing Horses they were all happy to talk about their cars.
I really enjoyed seeing the progression of cars all in one place – the Dino, 348, 355, 360, 430, 458 all represented. The big V12’s of the 599’s and an F12. A 288 GTO, F40, F50, Enzo and LaFa, the only notable absence from the line up was ironically the most stereotypical Ferrari of them all – a Testarossa.
I’d been unsure of the styling of the LaFa from photographs. I guess I’m one eyed being a McLaren P1 fan but it looked too tame to match its 950 hp. As with a lot of cars, in the flesh, it looked to fit its skin much more comfortably. And black made it look much more sinister and sleek than red.
I asked myself- if there were only one I could choose- which would I take home? Even as I write this it’s hard to say. I think it’d be the 458 Speciale. Crazy with all those F series cars there? But really it’d depend what I had in my garage. The LaFa would be insane on a track and is the way of the future but too special to risk on the road everyday. The F40 would be iconic to own and a great appreciating investment. The 355 is very pretty but unreliable. F50 would be a great summer, top off analogue V12 experience and a manual 430 the chance to own the last of the open gate shifts. To me, the Speciale seems to be the right mix of epic track but usable street. Paddles keep your hands on the wheel for fast back road driving and the convenience of saving your left leg in bumper to bumper traffic. It’ll be the last of the NA V8’s too.
One day I might have to decide. It would be a first world problem to have… I’m pleased the money raised from the day will benefit many that struggle with cancer everyday.
For the trainspotters out there the models represented were – Dino, Mondial, 308, 328, 355, 360, 430, 458, California, 550, 575, 599, F12, FF, 512 GTB, 288 GTO, F40, F50, Enzo, LaFerrari