You just can’t walk into a dealer and drive away with a Ferrari a few hours later. Well, I guess you could, but you really shouldn’t. Especially if you are just a normal dude on a budget. Here is my complete buying process: From inquiring on a car to driving away.
This is part 2 in my ongoing saga of buying a childhood dream car.
1 Month; 4 weeks; 28 days; 672 hours; or 40,320 minutes. That’s how long it took to purchase my car. Nothing about the process was easy. But then again, noting worth having comes easy.
October 4th, 2016 started like any other Tuesday before it. Work was busy, the phones were ringing, the production line was having issues, and the stress was noticeable but not overwhelming. I take a late lunch, like normal, and start browsing classifieds while eating my PB&J. Everything was business as usual. That is until I spotted a 348 at the local Ferrari dealer. The price was fair and the website said it was a one owner car with a recent service. I drove a 355 and 328 a few months prior and I was curious to check out the middle child. This car seemed like a perfect candidate.
I contacted the dealer, like I have many times in the past. Asked the typical, “is the car still available, does the car have service records, and can you send me the Carfax.” I excitedly/nervously waited for a response. The sales manager emailed me back shortly after. He included the Carfax and a PDF doc with all the records since new. Everything looked good so I scheduled an appointment to view the car that Friday.
Crunch time. Up until this point, I really didn’t know too much about the 348. I knew the specs, and other details, but had no idea of the pros/cons, common faults, must-do repairs, etc. I scoured the interwebs for every potential problem and other gotchas. From Tuesday to Friday, I did about 60 hours of research. I made a preliminary ppi checklist specific to the 348. I actually called in sick that Friday to leave extra time to complete research. This is the only time I’ve ever called in when I wasn’t actually sick. That is how serious I was about this car.
I complete the checklist around 4PM on Friday. I’m meeting at the dealer at 5. Perfect, 30 minutes to cruise in the Miata to get my mind straight before I head to the dealer. As I pull into the dealership, my mind is racing. What if they don’t take me seriously? After all, I am quite a bit younger than the average Ferrari owner. Plus I’m driving a 15 year old Mazda. I meet the salesman and we go upstairs to look at the car. A lot of Ferrari dealerships have an upstairs showroom with just 1-3 models in the lobby. I can tell he is felling me out a bit as he lists specifics about this particular 348. I can tell he is not discounting me as a potential customer but he is doing his job trying to determine if I am there wasting time. I entertain him for a minute before asking for a flashlight. He sees the huge checklist I made and rapidly comes to the conclusion that I am a very serious potential customer. He brings me a flashlight from the service department and leaves me with the car.
I inspect everything on my list that I can without putting the car on a lift. I find one or two minor things wrong. Not bad for a car that was built the year I was born. Hell, I wish I was in that good of shape. I go back down to his office and he casually asks what I looked at and what I found. I tell him it’s not bad for an old car but does have some issues. I play it cool and tell him I will call him early next week to schedule a test drive. He agrees this is a great idea as they are having an event on Saturday and will not have time over the weekend. (Side note, they had a La Ferrari and an F40 in the showroom. I should have taken pictures)
Monday rolls around. I didn’t sleep all weekend I was so excited. Give him a call (or email, I don’t remember). I schedule the test drive for Wednesday after work. The car is ready to go as soon as I get to the dealership. My favorite local twisty road is nearby so I tell the sales guy that is where we are going. He said no problem. The Targa top is already removed which is not my preference. I generally like to test-drive convertibles and Targas with the tops up/installed. Oh well, it is 70 and sunny with a slight breeze. No complaints. We take her out and my life changes. That car, my favorite road, no traffic, and a perfect sunny evening was pure bliss. I am trying, unsuccessfully, to hold my poker face. The 348 perfectly bridged the gap between the 328 and 355. The 328 was too raw and a little sloppy. Somehow, this sucked the fun out of the drive. The 355’s power steering felt very over boosted and the car was just too high-strung for me. Sounded great, though. The 348 was still a lot of work to drive but the reward when you got everything right was so much greater than the 328. Also, the manual rack on the 348 was a far cry from the over boosted power steering system on the 355. Also absent was adjustable suspension and a few other complex systems just waiting to fail on the 355. I was in love.
After the test drive I told the sales guy I would think about it and schedule a PPI at a local Ferrari independent shop. We negotiated a few stipulations and I left. I call the mechanic the next day. He has a hole in his schedule on Friday, due to a car waiting for parts. I tell him to arrange it with the dealership. He calls me back and said we are on for Friday.
Friday. Wow, that was a lot quicker than I expected. All of this is getting serious. I decide I should look for insurance and evaluate the cost of ownership. When I was looking at the 355, I had 2 or 3 decent quotes. I assumed a collector policy would be even easier to find since the 348 was over 25 years old and therefore a “classic”. Boy was I wrong. I hit all the usually suspects, including a company that advertises during all the TV auctions. It wasn’t that the price was high, it was just no company wanted to insure me. Yes, I was only 26 and looking to insure an exotic, but I have a clean record and I had no difficulty getting quotes on a 355. At one point, I called state farm. The agent gave me a bit of run around but finally committed to emailing me a quote. Great, this was a start. About an hour later, she calls back with a no quote. Her reasoning? The wasn’t over 25 years old and therefore did not qualify for the state farm collector policy. “Wait, what?” “Ma’am, the car was built October, 1990, it is currently October 2016.” “2016 minus 1990 is 26 years”. “The car is 26 years old, which is more than 25.” She told me to hang on a sec so she could confirm this. about a min later, she told me I was right. *Facepalm* Needless to say, I am not insured with State Farm. In the end, I found a policy with the agreed value I wanted, great coverage, and a premium less than my VW.
After finding a decent insurance quote, I start really digging into my finances. I could just buy the car with a bit of negotiating, but it would take all of my savings. I would be left with very little emergency funds. Buying a 26 year old Italian car, it seemed like a well padded savings would be a good idea. Money was cheap at the time and the S&P 500 was killing it. I start wondering if there is financing available for something like this. Most banks and credit union loan stipulations require a car less than 7 years old. Everything I saw seemed like it was going to be impossible to find a loan. But, I persevered on. Finally, I found a few companies that specialize in classic and exotic car loans. Rates seemed decent, not a 0.9% you could get on a new car, but still less than what my investments were doing, and certainly less than having to use a credit card in case of an emergency. I decide if the ppi checks out, I’ll apply for a loan.
I stop by the shop Friday after work. They did the entire inspection in the morning but still had the car on the lift when I stop in. The shop owner walks me through their findings and lets me poke around under the car. After I’m done looking around, we BS for a while and he casually tells me his first Ferrari was a 348 and if it was him, he would buy the car. That, mixed with the very detailed report and minor findings gave me all the confidence I needed. I had a good preliminary look-over, full service records, one owner, a great test drive, and now a good bill of health from one of the best shops in the US. A few hours later, the sales guy calls me. He asked how everything went and tells me the car is back at the dealer. I tell him they found some issues but I want to put in an offer. We set an appointment for the next week. I am overcome by emotions. lots of joy, but also stress and anxiety. I should mention I’m a pretty relaxed dude and handle stress pretty well. That is not the case this time around.
Monday morning I fill out a loan application. The bank calls back an hour or two later telling me I was preapproved and that I will receive the loan documents the next day. This was actually happening.
Tuesday (week 2) I start on all the loan paperwork. Holy cannoli! There was sooo much to do! I need a copy of the current title (which is a light PITA because the dealer did not want to violate the privacy of the original owner); a copy of the purchase agreement (so I had to buy the car before getting the money to actually buy the car?); an insurance binder for an agreed value; and a few other things. All documents, plus the application needed to be notarized.
On top of that, in order to insure the car, the insurance company wanted pictures of all four sides, engine, trunk, and interior; my daily driver insurance docs; and pictures of my garage door. Then an insurance agent had to go physically inspect the car
These are probably common required documents, but it seemed like a lot to juggle and a lot of the documents needed to be done at the same time or in the wrong order. I should note: this is my first car I’ve ever taken a loan on, my first car ever bought at any dealer, my first car with collector insurance, and my first car that was more than 10k. There are a lot of lessons learned and this process should go slightly smoother next time. Hopefully.
By Friday, I finally have almost everything together. The last loan doc was the actual purchase agreement. That means I needed to buy the car, I guess. This was it. I call the dealer and make another appointment. I prepare a little ammo to negotiate and come up with a plan. I leave work early yet again and head to my appointment. I get the price down to the range I am comfortable with, we shake hands, and fill out the standard CA sales contract. This was the only normal part of this whole process. I write a check for the deposit and sign the contract. The deal was made, I just needed to bring in the rest of the balance. I take this picture on the way out.
I was freaking out that whole night. I just “bought” a Ferrari. I was very much in shock. But realistically, I didn’t actually buy the car, yet. I still had to complete the loan docs. That night, I double check everything, including a fresh copy of the purchase agreement, and drop my envelope at the FedEx Office. Now we just wait.
I hear back from the bank a day or two later. Everything looks good. I will have the check on Monday. I call the dealer for the last time, and say it’s on for Tuesday.
I got absolutely no work done on Monday. Tuesday, I probably seem like a nervous wreck. I had my roommate take me to work and pick me up. Someone at work asked me what was up, and I came up with a lame excuse. I don’t even remember what it was. Car in the shop maybe? Who cares. My roommate picked me up early and we go to the bank for a cashier’s check. This part is actually the most memorable part of this whole ordeal. The bank was decently busy but a teller opens up and calls me over. I say I need a cashier’s check and it is business as usual. She hands me the form, I fill it out, and hand it back. She reviews the form and asks if I was buying a car. I sleeplessly say yeah. The teller next to her looks over to me and asks what I am buying. Before I can even open my mouth, my teller semi yells, excitedly, “He’s buying a Ferrari!!!!” The bank stops. Everyone comes over to me. The lady next to me, who probably drove a 100K Range, excitedly asks me if I’m really getting a Ferrari. I say yeah, go through the spiel about wanting one since I was six, etc. She asks how old I was. I tell her and she genuinely seems excited that someone my age (a millennial) was able to plan, save, and accomplish a goal. A few other customers talk to me and then the manager comes over. We talk about the car a bit and he authorizes the check. Then, some random employee runs out from some room behind the teller and asks if I was really buying a Ferrari. I say yes, for about the 6th time LOL. He asks me what I do for a living, and says he went into the wrong field. The amount of excitement from everyone was really awesome. So much positivity and conversation with strangers. The same people who probably didn’t even notice me walk in. It really was amazing. Mega good vibes. When I finally get back out to my roommates truck, he asks me what the hell took so long. He got a major kick out of the story.
My roommate drops me off and I see the receptionist, a very attractive blonde. I’ve been in there a few times now, and she always remembered my name and knew who I was. She, like every other time I was there, offers to grab me a drink. Espresso, tea, soft drink, water, etc. I request a (Ferrari branded) water. She leads me to the waiting area while the manager finishes up his phone call and brings me the bottle of water. A very short time later, the entire sales staff greets me, shake my hand and tell me congrats on my first Ferrari. I meet with the manager, hand him the check, double check the paperwork, he hands me the keys and a bright red Ferrari folder with all my paperwork. He walks me out to my waiting stallion. They send me off and I head home.
I live in the next town over from the dealer, only about 5 miles. The drive takes about 10 mins. This whole buying process was definitely stressful. Well, I thought I knew stress. I was wrong. That 10 min drive home might have given me a gray hair or two. Every bump, every noise, every inattentive driver. It all worried me. I pulled into my driveway, scraping the nose for the first time. That was painful. I park it in the garage, shut down the engine, and just sit in the driver’s seat, taking it all in. I snap a picture and send it to my two friends who have always supported me through my ups and downs. The past month, I did not mention anything to them, because I wanted it to be a surprise. It felt great to finally tell them, BC I’m terrible with secrets. I am smiling from cheek to cheek. I fucking did it. There is a Ferrari in my garage, and it’s MINE! (technically the bank’s). OPPO, this is honestly one of the happiest days of my life.
Happy days calls for celebration. A few friends stop by to see the car. On his way home, my roommate picked up a bottle of champagne. We pop the bottle and all toast. What a day to have a day.
Normally, when you buy a new car, you go drive it around, show it off, maybe even take a road trip. When the car is a 26 year old Italian, you take it to the shop. Nothing major or unexpected, I just wanted to take care of the little things that popped up on the PPI. I took delivery Tuesday evening and took the car in Wednesday morning. This actually worked out really well. I was leaving for a destination wedding on Thursday so I wouldn’t be home to drive the car anyways.
The day after I get back from the wedding, I grab the car. All the little things are fixed and she is perfect. Yet again taking advice from the shop owner, I skip the gym and go for my first pleasure drive in my childhood dream car. Life is good.