How Ferrari spins (article/rant)

Discussion in 'European Cars' started by lucky strike, Feb 15, 2011.

  1. #1 lucky strike, Feb 15, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2016
    How Ferrari spins!rant

    I told the blokes here at Jalopnik I was pissed at Ferrari and wanted to tell a few people. They said I could do it here. Stay with me, this might take a while.

    I think it started in 2007 when I heard that Ferrari wanted to know which test track we were going to use for Autocar's 599 GTB road test, but in reality the rot had set in many years earlier. Why would it want to know that? "Because," said the man from the Autocar office, "The factory now has to send a test team to the circuit we chose so that they can optimize the car to get the best performance from it." They duly went to the track, tested for a day, crashed the car, went back to the factory to mend the car, returned, tested and then invited us to drive this "standard" 599. They must have been having a laugh.

    Sad to say it, but the ecstasy of driving a new Ferrari is now almost always eradicated by the pain of dealing with the organization. Why am I bothering to tell you this? Because I'm pissed with the whole thing now. It's gotten out of control; to the point that it will soon be pointless believing anything you read about its cars through the usual channels, because the only way you get access is playing by its rules.

    Like anyone with half a brain, I've been willing to cut Ferrari some slack because it is, well, Ferrari –- the most famous fast car brand of all and the maker of cars that everyone wants to know about. Bang out a video of yourself drifting a new Jag XKR on YouTube and 17 people watch it; do the same in a 430 Scuderia and the audience is 500,000 strong. As a journalist, those numbers make you willing to accommodate truck-loads of bullshit, but I've had enough now. I couldn't care if I never drive a new Ferrari again, if it means I never have to deal with the insane communication machine and continue lying about the lengths to which Ferrari will bend any rule to get what it wants. Which is just as well, because I don't think I'm going to be invited back to Maranello any time soon. Shame, the food's bloody marvelous.

    How bad has it been? I honestly don't know where to start. Perhaps the 360 Modena press car that was two seconds faster to 100mph than the customer car we also tested. You allow some leeway for "factory fresh" machines, but this thing was ludicrously quick and sounded more like Schumacher's weekend wheels than a street car. Ferrari will never admit that its press cars are tuned, but has the gall to turn up at any of the big European magazines' end-of-year-shindig-tests with two cars. One for straight line work, the other for handling exercises. Because that's what happens when you buy a 458: they deliver two for just those eventualities. The whole thing stinks. In any other industry it wouldn't be allowed to happen. It's dishonest, but all the mags take it between the cheeks because they're too scared of not being invited to drive the next new Ferrari.

    Remember the awesome 430 Scuderia? What a car that was, and still is. One English magazine went along with all the cheating-bullshit because the cars did seem to be representative of what a customer might get to drive, but then during the dyno session, the "standard" tires stuck themselves to the rollers.

    And this is the nub: how #$%#ing paranoid do you have to be to put even stickier rubber on a Scuderia? It's like John Holmes having an extra two inches grafted onto his dick. I mean it's not as if, according to your own communication, you're not a clear market leader and maker of the best sports cars in the world now, is it?

    What Ferrari plainly cannot see is that its strategy to win every test at any cost is completely counter-productive. First, it completely undermines the amazing work of its own engineers. What does it say about a 458 if the only way its maker is willing to loan it to a magazine is if a laptop can be plugged in after every journey and a dedicated team needs to spend several days at the chosen test track to set-up the car? It says they're completely nuts –- behavior that looks even worse when rival brands just hand over their car with nothing more than a polite suggestion that you should avoid crashing it too heavily, and then return a week later.

    Point two: the internet is good for three things: free porn, Jalopnik and spreading information. Fifteen years ago, if your 355 wasn't as fast as the maker claimed you could give the supplying dealer a headache, whine at the local owners club and not much besides. Nowadays you spray your message around the globe and every bugger knows about it in minutes. So, when we used an owner's 430 Scud because Ferrari wouldn't lend us the test car, it was obliterated in a straight line by a GT2 and a Lambo LP 560-4, despite all the "official" road test figures suggesting it was faster than Halley's Comet. The forums went nuts and some Scud owners rightly felt they hadn't been delivered the car they'd read about in all the buff books. Talk about karma slapping you in the face.

    It's the level of control that's so profoundly irritating and I think damaging to the brand. Once you know that it takes a full support crew and two 458s to supply those amazing stats, it then takes the shine off the car. The simple message from Ferrari is that unless you play exactly by the laws they lay down, you're off the list.

    What are those laws? Apart from the laughable track test stuff, as a journalist you are expressly forbidden from driving any current Ferrari road car without permission from the factory. So if I want to drive my mate's 458 tomorrow, I have to ask the factory. Will it allow me to drive the car? No: because it is of "unknown provenance," i.e. not tuned. I'm almost tempted to buy a 458, just for the joy of phoning Maranello every morning and asking if its OK if I take my kid to school.

    Where I've personally run into trouble is by using owners' cars for comparison tests. Ferrari absolutely hates this; even if you say unremittingly nice things about its cars, it goes ape shit. But you want to see a 458 against a GT3 RS so I'm going to deliver that story and that video. Likewise the 599 GTO and the GT2 RS. Ferrari honestly believes it can control every aspect of the media — it has actively intervened several times when I've asked to borrow owners' cars.

    The control freakery is getting worse: for the FF launch in March journalists have to say which outlets they are writing it for and those have to be approved by Maranello. Honestly, we're perilously close to having the words and verdicts vetted by the Ferrari press office before they're released, which of course has always been the way in some markets.

    Should I give a shit about this stuff? Probably not. It's not like it's a life-and-death situation; supercars are pretty unserious tackle. But the best thing about car nuts is that they let you drive their cars, and Ferrari has absolutely no chance stopping people like me driving what they want to drive. Of course their attempts to stop me makes it an even better sport and merely hardens my resolve, but the sad thing is its cars are so good it doesn't need all this shite. I'll repeat that for the benefit of any vestige of a chance I might have of ever driving a Ferrari press car ever again (which is virtually none). "Its cars are so good it doesn't need this shite."

    None of this will make any difference to Ferrari. I'm just an irrelevant Limey who doesn't really matter. But I've had enough of concealing what goes on, to the point that I no longer want to be a Ferrari owner, a de-facto member of its bullshit-control-edifice. I sold my 575 before Christmas. As pathetic protests go, you have to agree it's high quality.

    Jesus, this is now sounding like a properly depressing rant. I'll leave it there. Just remember all this stuff then next time you read a magazine group test with a prancing stallion in it.

    Chris Harris is a UK-based freelance car writer who once bought a 1995 512 TR but sold it when his mates called him Tubbs and put Jan Hammer on his iPod.

  2. actually a very interesting read.

    it would be funny to see what a certain someone thinks about this..... ha
  3. I hope this turns into a 20+ page arguement thread
    I'm going to keep bumping it until the fanboys see/respond to this
  4. Good read, Chris Harris is great.
    Wonder when Sportscarhaveitialianwhateverthe#$%# he called gets in here?
  5. everything he's said is right. I used to work at a Ferrari owned dealership and I've seen (and done) the extra measures for press cars. when I was fired from said dealership (for suggesting a customer go look at a gallardo instead of the 360, the 430 would be coming out in a years time and I was positive he wouldn't want it) I was told to hand in all of my computer equipment (my scanners and test tools that I had personally paid for) so they could check if I was stealing any reletive information (what they wanted were the different computer settings I had for the 360, 360 Challenge, 550, and the Enzo) I gave them the scanner for the commen stuff (but not for the Enzo) and they threatened to sue me for not handing over that scanner. nothing happened because I had (and still do) backup everything I have ever had on any car i've worked on. so when I finally gave up the scanner they tried to stop selling me updates for newer cars (which I found a way of navigating around). after that they stopped selling me parts (also found a way around that). I've been on their "black list" for almost a decade now and they still won't give me certain things but I always get what I'm looking for. when I help clientel buy cars (certain people at that dealer remember me and really really don't like me) they always (usually very begrudgingly) let me in with the customer to buy the car. theres always been that bullshit you just have to know how to negotiate around it.
  6. lol Italy. it's a nice surprise to see just truth and honesty from someone working directly in such a niche industry that receives so little negative attention. I always liked Harris, and this adds to his integrity tenfold IMO
  7. In the years I've been reading EVO they've been pretty consistently honest about this stuff too. After the Car of The Year issue in which the GT3 RS won over the 430 Scuderia, Ferrari sent them a letter threatening not to give them anymore cars to test. They published that, obviously it was an empty threat. It would be pretty bad PR to blacklist one of the most respected car magazines out there.

    In an article about the Zonda R, there was a sidebar talking about how EVO wants to set up a comparison test between the Zonda R and FXX, but Ferrari refuses to send an FXX to be tested.

    For this year's Car of The Year test they apparently wanted to include both the 599 GTO and 458, but Ferrari wouldn't allow them to put both cars in the same test, since one would invariably end up finishing ahead of the other, and therefore there would be a loser.

    Of course this is nothing new either, going back like 15 years the same thing was going on with the F50. I know most people here have read the Car and Driver test where they go into detail about calling one private owner after another for a test, and all the ones who agreed eventually calling them back and saying they can't do it, for fear of losing their standing with the company, and their position on the waiting list for new models.

    It's really a shame too, because I love the actual cars and engineering, the company's PR is horrible though. The dictator like attitude toward customers and the press is definitely enough to turn off a lot of real car enthusiasts. This is how they choose to do business though, and they still find more than enough people willing to play the game to get the goods.

    Even though the F50 is probably my all time favorite car, if I did have supercar money, I'd rather give it to Pagani, McLaren or Porsche.
  8. Thats an interesting read. They have always seemed to be very concerned with choosing backhanded ways of trying to 'assure' their success:

    - The BS their F1 team pulls on the track
    - the way they handled the release of their 'halo' cars (ie F50, Enzo) I remember Car and Driver were pissed at Ferrari for not allowing them to test the F50

    Now this shit about 'extra measures' lol. Like the author said, too bad they resort to shit like this, since their cars certainly are amazing.
  9. yeah I read the F50 article. definitely really stupid. they have all of the really difficult sides covered when it comes to consistently engineering cars that are both innovative and extremely involving to drive. and then they #$%# with everyone like this. oh well, as you said it's their choice really.
  10. Not surprising, Italians are control freaks.
  11. When EVO reviewed the new (at the time) DB9 and said it wasn't as good as some rivals, Aston were very very annoyed, and called a meeting so that the team could explain themselves.

    Most of the changes that were suggested by the EVO team made it onto the sports pack they came out with not long afterwards
  12. I hate the new Jalopnik format.
  13. Now that's a proper way to handle a negative review. Of course for Ferrari, anything less than domination in a comparison test or universal praise seems to be viewed as a negative review.
  14. " Should I give a shit about this stuff? Probably not. It's not like it's a life-and-death situation; supercars are pretty unserious tackle. But the best thing about car nuts is that they let you drive their cars, and Ferrari has absolutely no chance stopping people like me driving what they want to drive. Of course their attempts to stop me makes it an even better sport and merely hardens my resolve, but the sad thing is its cars are so good it doesn't need all this shite. I'll repeat that for the benefit of any vestige of a chance I might have of ever driving a Ferrari press car ever again (which is virtually none). "Its cars are so good it doesn't need this shite." "

    Important point.

    But everyone already knew what this guy was saying. The people at Ferrari are nutjobs. Do I care? No. I still love their cars.

  15. Honestly I feel like the shit they pulled with the F50, not allowing any official press testing at the time of release, and discouraging any testing of customer cars is probably the main reason it doesn't have a bigger following today.

    It only reinforced the rumors that it probably wasn't as good as the F40, and that's what Ferrari didn't want anyone to find out. When in reality it's extremely good. If I were an engineer working on these cars, I would hate a marketing department that protects them as if they won't hold up under objective review. I'm pretty curious about who's actually behind this attitude, and the policies associated with it.
  16. I hope Ferrari continues to make people angry.
    When Ferrari pisses off people, awesome things happen.
  17. I remember this being a big deal when the 599 started putting out literally insane numbers during early magazine tests. From the standpoint of a guy who's never going to be able to afford any of these cars, it just makes me really dislike the company. Let your product speak for itself. Bullshit like this is why I'm a fan of one man, one dream, one vision sort of supercars, even if they're boutique cars without insane amounts of money backing up their R&D. Not only that, but the favoritism and politics they play with their customer base. In smaller companies, purchasing the vehicle makes you part of a very special circle which is treated well, because without your individual contribution the company in question would be significantly more #$%#ed financially than it already is. If I had 500K to 2 million to be throwing around at a car of my choice, this shit is why I'd be ringing up Jarod Shelby, Roland Gumpert, or Horacio Pagani instead of dancing through rings to get something from Maranello that doesn't live up to the insane hype of the magazine ringers.
  18. hence "Innotech syndrome"
  19. I still have that Car & Driver magazine.

    Stuff like that shows Ferrari is often very insecure about the static numbers of their cars. They didn't want people to test F50 because it was slower than F40. It was 10 years later that people found out what a great car F50 was in terms of driving experience.

    If back in the 90's they had let more journalists experience the F50, the car would have gotten a much better reputation. A lot of the guys who were allowed to drive the F50 did so around relatively short tracks like Fiorano and a few other ones instead of driving it on the mountain roads.
  20. I know quite a few people with that amount of money to spend on cars and when it comes Ferraris they wait until the price goes down to buy one (or they pay a bit more in cases of Enzos, F50's etc...). one of them owns a 250 GTO and an Enzo (are his current Ferraris he's also owned an F40 and F50 as well as numerous "cheap" Ferraris) and after his first experience with dealing with Ferrari (the F40) he refused to buy another car from them directly.
  21. ferrari is pure shit? what a suprise!

  22. It makes me think of Bentley pulling out of the Top Gear episode in Albania.
  23. I love Chris Harris.
  24. i thought it was common knowledge if you write a bad review they will refuse to do business with you in the future. and this is just not for cars alone.

    anyway, i didn't know they fitted better tires and stuff to make it better than the actual car that's available for the customers. that's a smart move if nobody finds out, but when they do you're image is going to get #$%#ed up.

    i respect how harris has the balls to bring this up btw. i always thought he was an arrogant person(maybe he is, maybe he's not i dunno), but he has some respect in my book now.
  25. it's pretty much like BMW.

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