This post was originally written for, and appeared here, at Hooniverse.com.
(Phone rings) “Hello?”
“Not much, how about you? I haven’t heard from you forever.”
“I’m at the Costco, I got something to show you. I’ll be there in five minutes, cool?”
Five minutes later, the doorbell rang and, as I went to open the front door, I glimpsed the Modena in the street in front of my house through the partially open slats of the front window blinds.
Yep, my buddy, who knows I am a car nut, just had to show me his new-to-him 1999 Ferrari 360 Modena. I’m glad he did.
I’m no Jeff Glucker, so Italian sports cars don’t usually grace my modest driveway. This was a real treat. I started by giving it a general look-over. The Modena is a very beautiful car. The rear haunches are high and muscular, but still curvaceous, which conveys the car’s performance heritage. Look through the back window and you’ll see the hand built Ferrari 3.6l V8, which revs to a ear-pleasing 8500 RPM redline and creates some 400 hp.
The front of the car is also a nice combination of style and business. It’s sleek facia and headlights are underscored by huge nostrils for breathing and cooling purposes. It sits about 3.5” off the ground in the center of the front bumper, so don’t try to straddle any obstacles in the road.
And of course, in case you are dead to the world and forget you are in the presence of a Ferrari, there’s the iconic yellow shield with the famous prancing horse.
“Are you going to let me drive it?”
“Sure, jump in.”
(Silent fist pump in my head)
Driving this car, the first thing I noticed was that everyone – I mean everyone – looks, points, and stares at it. I have driven flashy cars, but this is a whole different level of flash.
As far as the driving experience, it was nearly everything I expected. The car is an interesting combination of refinement and coarseness. The seats hold you tightly as you experience every bump, crack, and pebble on the street. You are not sealed away in a silent cocoon by any means. The musical drone of the little V8 right behind your head seems to plead for more RPMs. I obliged.
Despite the raucousness, the car’s road manners are impeccable. Stop light to stop light, the car effortlessly starts and stops once you get the feel of the fully manual clutch. Then, you find a freeway on-ramp and the real fun begins. The car jumps to life when you stab the throttle and goes around the curves sure-footedly. When I reached an interchange, the ramp speed was posted at 40. It would be an insult to drive a Ferrari around that curve at 40, so I grabbed third gear and took it at about
85 43 mph. I have always held that different cars have different “happy speeds”. That is, a speed that the car seems to like to go on the freeway. The Ferrari was happy going pretty much any speed, but seemed to always want a few more MPH no matter how fast I went – and I went pretty fast.
I am sure that, somewhere far north of where I pushed the car, lies its limit, but I didn’t want to make the evening news. I tooled back to my house, parked it and thanked my friend. As he drove off, I thought of about 100 more questions I should have asked.
It was a good night.