Ferraris may be the most exciting, rewarding and covetable of modern high-performance cars, but I have never regarded them as being too exacting for experienced drivers to tame on the road. With this in mind, I thought up a little stunt intended to prove their docility and controllability as well as their great powers of speed and acceleration. I thought that, on my 75th birthday, it would be fun to test drive any Ferrari that Maranello Concessionaires might be able to provide.
All I intended to do was to drive it, admittedly as quickly as I could, from Egham (which dear old Rodney Walkerley of The Motor could never resist calling 'Poached Egham') to my Welsh retreat, over roads I know intimately. There it would spend the dark hours under cover (I have no idea of the strength of the lamps of modern Modena motor cars) and the next day this 'oldie', as Richard lngrams calls us, would drive back and return the precious car. The PRO at Maranello at the time thought it a fine idea, or stunt, and even considered inviting the media to see old WB leave in case, presumably, he never came back (an embarrassment I had not contemplated).
However, the best laid plans of mice and men, as a better-known writer has expounded, tend to go astray. When the day came the PRO had overlooked the plan and no Ferrari – I suppose it would have been a Mondial, Berlinetta Boxer or Tipo 308 – was available. "Never mind," he said, "you must do it another day." But, although I was confident I would have enjoyed myself, that was not quite the point, so I let it go. Maybe it was just as well, because I now read in Autocar & Motor that, although Luciano Pavarotti apparently paid £725,000 to buy the F40 that keeps his Maserati company, the father of ski champion Alberto Tomba thinks a Ferrari too dangerous for his son to own, more hazardous than downhill racing on skis!