Our First Ferrari

I grew up in California, and with that came the requisite love of cars that most boys out there develop. The weather and the lifestyle led to pretty good car spotting on the roads, and having a Dad who loved cars also helped. In 1984 I was 10 years old and completely hooked on Ferrari’s.

At the time, beyond the stats and knowing they were “fast cars”, I understood nothing about the engineering that went into them. I just thought they were the most beautiful cars ever made. I owned a ton of Ferrari books, every issue of of any car magazine that had a Ferrari, anything I could find. I was obsessed.

My Dad was a big car guy but mostly into old American and modern British cars. But after months and years of relentlessly showing him pictures and talking about this model and that model, he started to come around, or at least to humor me, and we would spend Sunday afternoons visiting dealerships. We lived in Santa Cruz so Bruce Canepa was always a cool spot to visit (and he was always great to us kids – letting us climb in and check out the cars). We’d also drive to Ferrari factory dealerships in Monterey, San Francisco, and of course, Los Gatos. Still, mostly these visits were for humoring me more than shopping for cars. By that time my Dad could easily afford a Ferrari and he thought they were impressive, but I think he thought they were a bit flashy for him.

Then finally in 1987, my Dad started to take a sort of liking to the Mondial Cabriolet. He’d see it in my books and magazines, and drop exciting sentences like “hmm, that one would have room for all of us”, or “I really like the look of that one”. Still though, I was the bona-fide Ferrari nut, and while I wished he’d become one, it seemed unlikely.

So I was surprised one school night when my Dad called me and said “Hey Dave, there’s a Mondial at Ferrari Los Gatos…should we go look at it on Saturday morning?” I was REALLY excited by this…he’d never called me to suggest we go look at a specific Ferrari before, it was always the other way around…I called him to beg and go see them! This could be it, I thought!

Needless to say I said yes and there we were on Saturday morning, standing in the dealership showroom, looking at a spotless ’84 QV Cabriolet. Rosso Corsa with beige VM 3218 leather. It was beautiful. The leather smelled amazing. It had only 5000 miles put on it in 3 years by the first owner, and it looked new. They wanted $57,000 for it. I was in love. But my Dad, who had a pretty tried and true Q&A routine that he went through with dealers when he was seriously considering buying a car, just kept joking around with Brian and the guys. He seemed to be having a great time, but we didn’t seem to be seriously shopping for the car. Just as I was resigning myself to the idea that this was another “have a look” visit to the dealership, my Dad cut Brian off mid-joke and said “I’ll give you $51,000”. I was in shock! “Holy ****!”, I thought. “Are my dreams coming true?!?! Are we about to buy a Ferrari?!?!”

No.

Brian laughed and said “No way!”

My Dad instantly stopped smiling and said to me “Let’s go, we’re leaving!”

I couldn’t believe it. I was panicking. There had to be a way to salvage this. Then as my Dad was literally dragging me out the door, I heard Brian shout “Ok, I’ll go to $55,000!”
Very reasonable!!!!!!!, I thought! Surely my Dad will see this as fair. “Dad! DAD! He said…!”

Nope. “Come on”, my Dad said, and walked out without even so much as glancing back. As for me, instead of going home in a Ferrari all I got was a lecture over Highway 17 about not undermining him with a dealer by pleading the dealers case! Oh cruel world.

Fast forward to the next weekend, I arrived at my Dad’s and plopped down on the sofa, and opened up one of the many Ferrari books I kept at his place. “Dave”, he called, “can you go grab the laundry hamper off the dryer in the garage?” I shrugged, mumbled the teenage equivalent of “yes,” walked down the hall and opened the door to the garage. They must have heard the shriek for miles. There it was, sitting in the garage where my Dad’s XJS usually sat…the very same ’84 Mondial QV Cabriolet we’d walked out on the previous weekend. I was in shock. I didn’t know what to do! I wanted to drive it of course, but I was only 13! I just stumbled back into the living room mumbling “how…but I thought…but…?”

My Dad just gave the crooked grin that runs in our family, shrugged his shoulders, and said “I got a message a few days later saying they’d take 52,000”.

I LOVED that car. It eventually became “mine,” until it was sold years later. I have endless fond memories…I got to take it at my own discretion for the most part as long as I looked after it. One of my happiest memories is driving the Mondial over the hill to Ferrari of Los Gatos to have an air filter replaced. It was a weekend morning and there weren’t many cars on the road. I got to put the Mondial through its paces on the twisty highway roads. Then I got to see a bunch of other great Ferrari’s being worked on, killed time munching cheeseburgers and a chocolate shake at Jack in the Box while I waited, and when the car was ready had a sunny afternoon drive back over the hill to Santa Cruz. Such simple pleasures but even after all these years, it doesn’t get much better than that.

Submitted by Dave, Santa Cruz, California

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