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An Unexpected Realization

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything here, and the reason for that is I’ve simply been extremely occupied with my new-to-me classic car. What you’re about to read was hard to write, but it was an even harder thing for me to admit.

I bought a 1975 Ferrari Dino 308 GT4 on October 1, 2021. This was a life-long dream of mine since I first saw the car in 1987. I’ve wanted one of these just as much as (if not more than) I had wanted a 911. The 911 was undoubtedly my first love as I was introduced to those at the age of 11, but I’d say the Ferrari overtook it when I was first exposed to one of those at the age of 17.

A 2001 Porsche and a 1975 Ferrari couldn’t be more different from each other. The 911, albeit almost 22 years old, is a “modern” car in the sense that it has all the creature comforts one would expect: air conditioner, power steering/brakes/doors/windows, cold A/C, decent horsepower, good stereo, ergonomically comfortable, buttons and gauges well laid out, etc., and it’s simply an easy and reliable car to drive. The Ferrari, on the other hand, is lacking almost everything noted above. It has A/C, but it’s fairly useless, the only “power” assisted item in the car are the windows. The seats aren’t the most comfortable, nor are they very ergonomic, and some of the buttons and gauges have awkward placement. It’s not an easy car to drive, but it’s also a hell of a lot of fun.

So what really drove me to buy this car?

I asked myself that over and over again. I have a Porsche 911 and I’m very happy with it, but I had this unshakeable urge for something seriously vintage. My first couple of cars were 1970s era (first generation) Datsun Z cars, which were much like the Ferrari in the respect they had nothing to offer as far as power assisted features, comfort, or ergonomics. I had originally thought that was what drove me; a “mid-life crisis” (for lack of a better term)—wanting to get back to the feeling of my youth.

I was wrong. Well, partly wrong anyway. I kept asking myself “why” because buying a vintage Ferrari is a completely irrational thing to do. I don’t have “deep pockets” and people in my income bracket don’t typically own cars like this. There had to be more. I probably thought about this way more than I should have, but I kept coming back to the fact that I had always wanted one since I first saw one. Was that enough? I mean, I had lived 35 years knowing the car existed without owning one, and I also have my 911. Did I need to buy the Ferrari? Turns out, I did.

Ultimately, I blame this on my insatiable need to be actively involved in my passion. When I thought about it, I was reminded of what really prompted my search and what made me get serious about finding my Ferrari. Believe it or not, it was the whole Porsche scene. If you’ve read any of my past articles, then you know Werks Reunion as been a constantly declining disappointment for me over the last several years (so much so that I didn’t even bother to attend this year). Yet, shows like The Quail and Concorso Italiano were incredible and loads of fun. What makes these other shows so much better?

At Werks Reunion, and any Porsche show for that matter, you’ll quickly discover that 90% of the cars in attendance are 911s, the remaining 10% are a smattering of other Porsche models. When I attend any cars and coffee events, every Porsche that shows up is a 911. You almost never see any of the truly rare and unique Porsches like, perhaps, a 959, Carrera GT, or a 904, even a nice 356 or 914. Even the once common 924s, 944s, and 928s seem completely extinct at this point. Porsche enthusiasts, at least where I live, are all about the 911. Yet at other non-Porsche specific events, there’s a vast array of cars. Even at a Ferrari specific event, such as Ferrari at the Barnyard, all the cars weren’t 308s, or F430s, there’s always a variety of models, including extremely rare and unusual cars.

It goes deeper than that. Yes, one factor was the 911 is simply too popular and it’s quite frankly boring to attend shows and other events and just see hundreds of the same car—and let’s face it, they all really do look the same. Plus, I see these cars on the road every day, which may just be a byproduct of where I live, but that’s still the case. The other problem was the intangible “vibe” at every Porsche event I’ve ever attended, and I never realized this until after I bought my Ferrari.

When I bought my Ferrari, within a matter of days I was contacted via email and phone by other Ferrari owners I didn’t know and had never met. They just wanted to congratulate me and chat about the cars. When I was looking for something like a part, manual, service, etc., people bent over backwards to give me referrals. I found myself getting invited to events I had never heard of (and probably never would if I didn’t own a Ferrari). Random people start conversations with me about my car at traffic lights, gas stations, or anywhere else I park—and if just driving by I see huge smiles form on people’s faces. At the shows I’ve attended, I’ve barely been able to leave my car due to the amount of people queued up to talk to me. To top it off, the car has taken three awards at various shows and I was even invited by Ferrari to display my car on the field at Casa Ferrari in Pebble Beach. The Ferrari community has been quite welcoming, inviting, and very friendly.

Photo: Steve Souza

That, sadly, has not been the experience with Porsche. When I bought my 911, no one reached out to me at all, with the exception of my friends who knew I had bought it. When I started taking the Porsche to events like cars and coffee and formal shows, no one really seemed to care. A couple of folks here and there would ask the name of the color, but that was about it. It certainly never won any awards even though it was arguably in better shape when I bought it than my Ferrari. If any random strangers talked to me it would just be “nice car” and that’s it (whereas with the Ferrari, these were 20 minute conversations at a minimum). I’ve never been invited to anything unique, exclusive, or special (with the exception of a few local dealer events, and that’s only because I’m friends with a very charming young lady who works there). And Porsche has certainly never invited me to any events. While attending events, it’s been extraordinarily hard to connect with anyone. That’s really hard to describe, but Porsche events seem to be full of cliques, and there’s just an air of personal importance, snobbery, and eliteness that looms over every event.

I used to think the reason for the “cold shoulder” I tend to experience at Porsche events was due to the fact I have a 996, the black sheep of the 911s. The “unloved” 911. But, I also have the “black sheep” or “unloved” Ferrari, and I don’t experience the same treatment at Ferrari events. Over the past year I’ve found myself in conversation with other folks who own (or have owned) both Porsche and Ferrari and they’ve noted the same thing, and that surprised me because most of these folks owned air-cooled or current model 911s (very few owned 996s).

For me, car ownership is just as much about interactions and people as it is about the car. I’m a car enthusiast, and that’s deep-rooted into me, so owning and conversing about cars is part of the fun and absolutely essential to people like me. To put it simply, I just don’t “feel the love” from the Porsche community. That’s not to say there aren’t good folks who own Porsches, quite the opposite in fact, I’ve met many great people who are Porsche owners. But something about Porsche gatherings usually doesn’t relate to a good time. I can’t tell you why, but I’m not the only one who’s noticed this. And that has had a huge impact on my Porsche ownership experience. It took owning a different make of car to realize that.

Now, after owning the Ferrari for almost a year, I’ve found that I never take my Porsche to events. Any show, cars and coffee, etc. that I attend, I bring the Ferrari. My Ferrari sat in the shop for seven months getting repainted back to its original color, and I noticed during those seven months that I didn’t want to attend many events. I skipped a whole lot of cars and coffees, tours, and shows—or, I’d attend with someone else who was driving their car. It took me a minute to realize I had been doing that, but I also realized I wasn’t doing it out of embarrassment or something of that nature, but rather I just didn’t want to be associated with the “Porsche crowd” while at events.

Honestly, these realizations kind of freak me out a little as I had always considered myself a “Porsche Guy” to some extent. I love Porsche, I love their cars. They’re seriously great cars. But I don’t know how much longer I’ll be keeping mine. Right now the simple reality is I just don’t need it.

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2 thoughts on “An Unexpected Realization Leave a comment

    • Yes, very interesting! Honestly, I expected it to be quite the opposite. The real weird thing is you don’t really notice it (much) until you own a different car. I’m very happy in the Ferrari world. 🙂

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