This post is essentially 2 years in the making due to an unfortunate experience with my previous Ferrari dealership - but now with a 458 Speciale just weeks, maybe days away from delivery I wanted to share with you the experience of ordering a new Ferrari. To be honest 80% of it is just waiting, waiting, waiting. So i'll just cram in all the cool stuff!
The Bitter Beginning
At the very beginning, before the Speciale had even been announced or had a name, I was aware of the Speciale being in the works so I placed a really early deposit on the car to secure a build slot. Such is the case with modern Ferrari's that chances are they are going to be good, so despite having never driven a Speciale I was pretty sure that based on my 458 experience it was going to be an awesome car. After all this was something promising the hard core ethos of the Scuderia combined with the sophistication and dynamics of the 458 Italia - a dream scenario. As it happened that first deposit never came to fruition because my previous dealer shafted me and requested a further £20k worth of optional extras the week the car was supposed to go into production or else they would not build my car. Yeah, that actually happened.
Anyway - this lead me to swapping dealers to a group I am very very happy with today and they presented me with another build slot on a Speciale just under a year ago - of which I snapped their hands of for...
A Spot of Research
Before I even visited the dealer to spec the car I did lots of research online looking for similar specifications I had in mind. I always knew I was looking for a darker colour on the car, my previous 458 was Nero Daytona (Metallic Black) and it looked awesome so there was a chance I was going to end up with another black Ferrari, But upon researching I came across a Speciale in Portugal (below) in Grigio Silverstone that changed everything for me...
After a little research I booked an appointment with my dealer to sit in their Atelier to spec the car. The Ferrari Atelier is a dedicated area within all official Ferrari dealerships where you completely immerse yourself in options. Paint colours, leathers, alcantara, carbon fibre and seat configurations are but a few things you can get lost in specifying. This wonder room is an extension of the Atelier program at the actual Ferrari factory in Maranello, Italy and is essentially the stage where you take Ferrari's foundation and make it your own. It is a very personal experience that almost all new Ferrari orders go through resulting in no 2 cars ever being identical.
Within the Atelier are samples and examples of a huge variety of optional extras so you can literally get a feel of what you are speccing. Paint samples come on panels of metal formed at different angels to help get an idea of how the light reflects off it and even steering wheels with different carbon colours and materials are available to hold and pair next to seats and other options you are considering.
As you select options and colours the Atelier has a big screen in the room where the dealer ticks boxes and adds the options you are considering which builds a model in real time of the car you are personalising. Not every single option is available on the screen but it is enough to give you a good idea of how your car is going to look. Conveniently you are in a Ferrari showroom and often there are similar options on the cars in the dealership you can check out to give you an even better idea of how something is going to look.
Once you have completed your specification the final renders of the car are saved onto a cool little Ferrari USB stick coated in Nappa leather (nice touch) So you can take it home and wind your self up by looking at the pictures every day for many months until the build starts!
Typically I though of something else that i'd like to add to the car that I didn't think of at the time of being in the Atelier. Looking back at my images I decided that even with the contrast yellow stitching the interior of the car was still a bit too black so I photoshopped some custom yellow inserts into the horizontal lines on the seats to break it up a little which I think turned out pretty cool. I emailed these over to the dealer and they put in a special request with the factory to add this bespoke detail to the car seeing as it was not a standard optional extra.
Another custom option (which i don't have a render of) was removing the yellow stitching from the top of the dashboard. This may seem odd considering the stitching is everywhere else in the car, but my experience with having bright contrast stitching on the dash of my previous 458 was distracting reflections in the windscreen when the sun was out. It sounds a small issue but when you are presented with the option to eradicate it - why not!
My level of customisation was pretty low but you can go insane - if you have the vision (and the cash) you can run your car through a very bespoke personalisation program resulting in some seriously exotic specs.
After this stage there is a long wait, and I mean months and months of absolutely nothing until your car reaches a stage the factory calls "Red 10" I have no idea why they call it Red 10, it sounds like they're about to launch a nuke, but this stage simply means you can no longer amend any options on your car - presumably because they have ordered all the parts to build your specification. So at Red 10, if you want to change something - you're all out of luck!
At this stage nothing much happens either, your dealer informs you it has reached Red 10 which essentially means it is about to go into production, just a reassuring nod that they haven't taken your money and ran! This however can still be many weeks before the car actually appears on the production line. It's all incredibly drawn out and one hell of a tease!
Upon your car manifesting it's self into something more than just a build code, Ferrari will email you completely out of the blue one day to say a picture has been taken on the production line of your car entering the early stages of build. You get access to the Ferrari online portal (AKA My Ferrari) and log on to discover the first image. At this point it is usually a picture of your chassis with the primer coat on and nothing else. Mine looked like this...
Despite essentially being emailed a picture of a grey shell, this is actually incredibly exciting. This isn't just any shell, this is your shell, this is the foundation of everything you have been waiting for, and if you are anything like me, you have been on the forums and seen pictures of other peoples chassis and dreamt of the day your picture would arrive - and now it's here!
After this first image things move relatively quickly, certainly compared with the previous 6 months of zero activity at least. 1 week later I received another chassis picture, only this time it had been sprayed in Grigio Silverstone (the colour I ordered) and all of a sudden it becomes quite real, that element of personalisation is showing and you develop a new level of connection with this car that hasn't even been built yet!
And then things get REAL. A few days later you receive your 3rd and final production photo. The car is practically completed. The engine is in, the wheels are on, the interior is complete with all of your personalisation and it rolls off the production line in all it's Italian glory! This is a moment you have been anticipating for months - and in my case years!
At the final hurdle the updates actually stop and only your dealer knows the status of the car...so obviously you call right away!
Status 70 soon follows this image which is 'road and track testing'. Essentially a test driver takes your car for a spin to make sure it is performing properly and that there are no squeaks or imperfections that can be identified and corrected before shipment.
Status 85 is "Storage" I guess this is holding the car before shipping because the next stage is Status 90 which is shipping! There are a couple more stages after 90 but essentially it is well on it's way to you.
I am based in the UK so delivery from the factory in Italy is only a few days but for people outside of Europe they have an extra layer of anticipation to battle through waiting for a boat to ship their car over. Unless they cough up extra to fly it out ; )
One thing I have learnt through all this is that the statuses aren't necessarily in sync with the actual progress of the car. A Ferrari customers told me he was supposedly at status 70 and got a call the next day saying his car had arrived at the dealer! So there is an element of 'Italian timing' going on here!
At the time of writing this - I am at status 85! I still don't have my car - it is literally due any day now and i'll be sure to do a post covering the whole thing...maybe even a video!
So there you have it, a brief over view of what it is like to order a new Ferrari. Lots of waiting but also lots of excitement.
So, obviously since writing the original article the car was going to turn up at some point - AND IT HAS! Before filming the collection video I thought it would be cool to do a video on what the car was like before taking delivery - with all the import stickers and travel protection on etc - because this is the side of things you don't normally see! Hope you enjoy the video...
If you have any questions please let me know in the comments below!