Name: Neil Srivastava (fastgerman)
Car: 1997 Ferrari 456 GTA
Owned since: September 2020
Previously owned: Audi S4 (B8), S5 (B8), S8 (D2), BMW E36 and E46 M3s, Porsche 968 Sport and 997 Carrera 2 S, VW Corrado VR6 x3.
Why I bought it:
"I spent many evenings during 2020 - as we surely all did - browsing various online sites with a view to buying a Porsche 911; the dream was to be able to take both my boys to Goodwood Sunday Breakfasts once things return to normal. I have something of a car buying problem, which usually emerges after some drinks or after watching a car film (hence buying an original S8, which is wonderful by the way). So when I saw a four-seat, V12 Ferrari with pop-up headlights and a face like my favourite Ferrari (the F355) - well, the rest is history.
"The Ferrari name is special to me, as it is to everyone, but I'd never really considered one, assuming they would always be too expensive. As a kid, I remember going to Beaulieu and Ferrari Egham with my parents a lot. I still recall the salesman giving me a load of brochures that I cut out and stuck around my bedroom aged about 10. Back then, the F40 my favourite Ferrari by a mile. I remember seeing a Daytona in the showroom and not thinking much of it, and next to it was a 456 costing the same as the F40. I can recall my dad looking around the 456; we were complete dreamers, really, turning up in a red VW Golf GTI, but I never felt out of place. It remains a very fond memory."
What I wish I'd known:
"As well as being my first Ferrari, this is also the first car that I've bought at auction and the first I've purchased from storage. My estimate for getting the car roadworthy and safe to transport my family around were circa £4k; this figure, somewhat inevitably, has grown, now at over £7k in a bid to make everything perfect.
"Costs such as a cambelt service are no more expensive than for my old Audi, but some Ferrari-specific bits - see the window regulators at £800 - are a bit more troublesome! Parts such as door locking actuators and suspension spheres are fitted to BMWs as well, made by Febi Bilstein. So they can be bought from BMW or online for 20 per cent of the Ferrari cost. That said, sourcing parts such as Bosch fuel pumps recently has been interesting during Covid times with the factory shut and various suppliers still claiming availability."
Things I love:
"Well, just look at it. The sense of occasion far exceeds anything I have previously owned. It has that classic car level of feedback while still being easy and enjoyable to drive over longer distances. Being able to take my family out is one of the main reasons it was possible; as much as I love the F355, I don't know when I would have used it. The engine noise is immense over 5,000 rpm and, even though it is an auto, the first three gears are selectable in a sort of US muscle car kind of way; along with having a limited-slip differential from the F40, it's still good fun. This car has a great history, too, with the first owner being Paul Weiland OBE (Mr Bean and Blackadder Director), then onto Paul McKenna and Michael Barratt (TV presenter). There are now £24k worth of receipts for the last 800 miles, which exceeds what I paid for the car. It's not perfect, but it is getting there."
Things I hate:
"The things I love far exceed the things I hate, fortunately! However, there is the whole 'you pay Ferrari for the engine, and they give you the car for free' saying, and some of that is true. The handbuilt engine is phenomenal, the way in which Ferrari conducted their testing of components is exceptional. As for the less exceptional stuff, the good news is that, 23 years on, the specialists and various forums can identify which parts to use from other sources. This means knowing where to get components rebuilt (Bilstein can refurbish the suspension at less than the cost of a Ferrari wheel refurbishment) and the TV repair shops that can rebuild electrical components."
"The car was purchased at a great price; I don't want to upset the seller so won't divulge that. For those that know where this car came from, knock off the buyers fees and a bit more. Road tax is £270, insurance £250 and I have had two invoices at £5.8k and £1.3k. As mentioned earlier, the car had been in storage for three years, so the battery was flat, it obviously didn't have an MOT, the cambelt needed renewal, the electrics required attention and there were cosmetic blemishes as well. The big work should be out of the way now, hopefully. From now on, it ought to be a £3k a year car to run."
Where I've been:
"Two trips to Rardley Ferrari specialist (or little Italy, as I call it) via the Hindhead tunnel, several evening trips to see the Christmas lights with the kids and many 'just because' drives around Surrey and Sussex. It's been a long time since I've had a car that I just want to go and drive."
"I have a Readers' Cars thread going, where I'll keep running costs and experiences up to date. Some European trips would be great next year if possible, otherwise maybe a drive to Scotland. I'm going to have a go at removing the dashboard and sending it off for a retrim as the leather has shrunk. There are several trim rattles and squeaks that I'll spend some time removing and fitting felt tape behind. The hi-fi is pretty useless, but I want to retain the factory look; I'm amazed the speakers are fitted behind carpet in the door cards!"
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