But it was cold oil rather than lunchtime wine that saw Barnard finally meet his match.
It all led to a memorable ‘dressing down’ from Enzo Ferrari, who cut a typical enigmatic and unruffled figure at the head of the Prancing Horse during Barnard’s tenure.
“I do remember having been, for the first year I was there, I think it was the Sunday Times sent a journalist to follow me around for a week and I got talking to this guy and a lot of it was supposed to be off the record.
“I remember saying something like – because I’d been given a Ferrari road car to use, ‘the trouble is, I leave the garage in the morning, with the oil cold I can’t get first gear, I can’t get out without reversing because there’s not enough steering lock, there’s no ABS on the brakes that I can get on a Fiat Croma no problem at all’
“I then looked at his article before it went in the magazine and I was saying ‘take that out, take that out and take that out’, and when the magazine did run a lot of it was in and the road car factory saw some of this stuff, it wasn’t all in there but there were bits and pieces.
“They went storming off to Enzo and there was almost going to be a strike and so Enzo got me in and said ‘you’ve got to say something, you can’t say this and you’ve got to fix it’ – that kind of thing. So I made a statement saying that it wasn’t as bad as this or it was misinterpreted or whatever. I remember that caused quite a big stir.
“Even though I didn’t speak Italian and he couldn’t speak to me, there was a bit of a smirk on his face when he was going through it, because he knew the problems there were with the road cars.”