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Racing Teatray

360 Modena

A friend of mine has just acquired a rather nice new toy in the shape of a black Ferrari 360 Modena complete with obligatory manual gearbox. So when he asked if I wanted to blat down to Petworth and back with him on Saturday morning I could not say no and so off we headed in convoy on a very crisp and sunny March morning…

He is very much the type who likes cars for the way they drive rather than for the way they look, so this particular 360 has a relatively leggy 50k miles on the clock and a not inconsiderable 8 previous owners, and is ever so slightly dog-eared. But what appealed to him, apart from the fact he wanted a black/black colour scheme and a manual gearbox, is that it has also had an absolute fortune spent by a besotted previous owner on making it drive "just so". In addition to all the mechanical work, it's had upgrades including a racing clutch, a Tubi exhaust that produces the most ridiculous avalanche of noise, attractive Challenge alloys and the perforated Challenge rear grille.

All in all, very desirable. Plus he hadn't cleaned it and it was covered in a liberal quantity of road grime, which just made it look even more cool and infinitely less of a high speed poser's pouch. We stopped in a petrol station for a sandwich and I was surprised by the friendly attitude of other motorists – I think the fact the car clearly wasn't in the first flush of youth and looked like it was being purely for the fun of driving rather than as an item of conspicuous consumption somehow neutralised the opprobrium I was otherwise fearing.

And then on the way back, after chasing his sonic boom half-way around Surrey, he very kindly agreed to swap cars and let me have a go from Hindhead back down the A3 to the junction with the M25. And yes that means I got to drive it through the tunnel. In third with the window open….

Well, wow, "what a ma-sheeeene" to quote a certain Mr Clarkson. This the third Ferrari I've drive and the newest (the others were a manual 456GT and a 355 F1), so the noise, the drama and the speed I expected. The friendliness of the driving experience I did not. That's not to say the other two weren't friendly to drive – I just was rather expecting such an extensively mechanically-tweaked example to be slightly mad, bad and dangerous to know. Certainly that's how it sounds. However, I should have known better - my friend, who has raced Elises extensively and also used to own a 211, had already described it as basically being like a giant Elise. And I can see what he means. Uncomplicated by adjustable systems, low, very direct, remarkably agile for one so wide and absolutely telepathically glued to the road surface. No squirming when you apply the power – just absolutely resolute and arrow-straight acceleration that was truly impressive. And all achieved without an appalling ride quality – I suspect that somewhere along the line it has also acquired has some very high-quality aftermarket suspension.

It wasn't the longest drive (about 20 rapid miles), but my recollection was that below around 5,000 rpm the acceleration was vivid but not mind-altering, and likewise the noise was there but not truly singing. Give it the beans above 5,000rpm?? Umm "phwoarr" is all I can think of saying. The throttle response is nigh-on instantaneous and suddenly there's the notable acceleration gap over, say, my car, and the driver is treated to the most superlative and unmistakable yowl hardening into a proper full-throated shriek as it heads for a distant red-line and you're suddenly verging on jail-sentence speeds and have to back off. "Cor" and indeed a great deal of "lummy" to boot. But the noticeable thing is that it remains a surprisingly unscary experience because the car feels so absolutely four-square and planted on the road. Yes all the responses are very immediate but without feeling nervous or twitchy. Which makes it a surprisingly amenable companion on a motorway at motorway speeds.

And that gives you time to settle down and appreciate the car. The driving position was comfortable, the interior (black leather in this instance) reasonably spacious and attractive (some very spindly column stalks and shonky secondary ergonomics (lots of Fiat parts bin in here) not withstanding), the metal gearstick one of the most tactile things ever to fitted to the interior of a car, and you can see out of it (including out of the back). And if there were rattles I couldn't hear them over the wails of the engine.

It's also not particularly difficult to place on the road (I drove it down some narrow Surrey lanes before joining the A3) despite the width and the whole clutch/gearbox interface way more usable than you expect. Given the racing clutch and somewhat deliberate nature of the open-gate gearchange, I was warned of, and expecting, a reasonably nasty learning curve but instead provided you take it easy but nevertheless firmly at first, you soon learn to work with it and understand that the gearbox needs a guided "clack clack" to slot the right gear. In any other car, needing to learn like this could be considered a massive failing, but in the Ferrari it's just part of the whole utterly charismatic mechanical connection with the machine that just somehow feels appropriate. Just as you wouldn't jump on an unknown thoroughbred stallion and spur it into a gallop straight away unless you had either a death wish or were Frankie Dettori's slightly more talented cousin, so you also need to exercise a degree of respect at least at first until you realise that your steed is actually a bit of a big amiable cheetah rather than a enraged caged leopard. Soon I was blipping downshifts for fun like I'd had the thing for years.

I am guessing that as a 2001-car, this is more or less the last generation of truly "analogue" Ferrari and that's the appeal. It reminds you of the old phrase that with Ferraris you bought an engine and got the rest of the car thrown in for free. In this instance that's not quite true because the chassis is also fantastic, but there's something to it – this is not an especially attractive design (particularly from the front) and the interior looks and feels distinctly old and cheap, lashings of leather notwithstanding, if you are used to modern German cars.  The genius of it is that I genuinely no longer care what it looks like. You can't see it when you're driving it. And if I owned it, I might never stop driving it.

Big Blue

Good write up.

I've driven a 360, too. I was also surprised at how piss-easy it was to get comfy, to use the controls, to drive about etc.

Probably the most accessible Ferrari to the middle-aged man.

Yes, really good review.

I've been casually looking at 360s (and others) as part of a Lindsay gets a company car and we have something extra nice in the garage.  But it's more of a musing than a serious consideration right now.
Bob Sacamano

One of my favourite Ferraris - I'm so jealous. Great write up.

Great review - it really involved the reader in the experience.
Nice to have friends like that.

Fantastic!  I've driven a 355 and found it very analogue - still loved it. Not driven a 360 but that one sounds great from what you say.
Nice Guy Eddie

That one looks great. I went off to look at the classifieds but I was surprised they have gone up so much in the last 2 years. I was expecting to see some decent examples around the 40k mark but seem you need more 60K now.
Racing Teatray

Everything has gone up it seems.

Big Blue wrote:
Good write up.

I've driven a 360, too. I was also surprised at how piss-easy it was to get comfy, to use the controls, to drive about etc.

Probably the most accessible Ferrari to the middle-aged man.

The 360 Challenge I drove at MIRA was, with the exception of the F1 gearbox, a lovely thing. It was light and balanced and felt just "right". Plus it sounded chuffing fantastic.

Cheers for that Jonny - the car looks lovely and sounds as it it's a peach.

A brother of a friend bought a red 360 F1 about 2 years ago.  I think he paid £42k, so he got in at a very good time.
About a year ago he also bought a Gallardo (grey, manual).  I think he paid £55k so again he's probably timed things nicely.

A lucky chap, certainly!

Great write up. And nice friend too!

For me, that swooping shape is one of Ferrarri's wins. It looks pretty, but in a menacing way. Which is exactly what I like about it.

You lucky git!

Nice write up.

Nice.  Driven one a few laps on a corporate day years ago, and my lasting impression was how easy it was to drive.

I found that too, it had a lightness I didn't expect. And it felt smaller than it really was.

I drove 2 many years ago,didn't do it for me,the 430 is a huge leap over it.also one wouldn't start the first time I went ,i had to go back .

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