Unlike most people I like rain. I think rainy days are much more unique than other days. Unlike most people again, I actually enjoy driving in the rain as I find it far more challenging. Driving in the rain also allows me to get ‘amongst it’ while remaining in a comfortable observation capsule.
One of the things that I did learn when I took my drive day in some Ferraris all that time ago was that driving an old convertible car in the rain is no fun. Why? Because over the years the folding roof tends to stretch and not fit so well, allowing a good deal of water inside. That water then causes the car to fog up and that is really no fun.
When I initially purchased my F355 I was completely rain adverse. I didn’t want the car to get wet at all. My major fear was that water would get into the engine electrics and cause a failure.
The reason for my paranoia, as you can see, is that the engine is pretty much exposed to the world. So to me, when it rained, then the engine would get soaked, which is never a good thing right? Silly I know as the rain DOES splash up from underneath after all on ALL cars.
This aversion to weather is a very common thing for most super car owners I have found, although I think most fear getting the car dirty than it not running, but no matter what the reason they avoid rain like the plague.
Early on with ownership, I’d wake up early and pensive for a drive and if I found the weather outside to be in the slightest moist I wouldn’t go out. However, there is an overriding need for the car to go out for a run at least once a week to give everything a work out. Failure to do this is asking for guaranteed mechanical and engine problems. So when it was raining on a weekend I wouldn’t go out but I’d then be forced to take the car for ‘maintenance’ spin during the week sometime (usually around midday) to satisfy this. Now playing chicken in the weekday traffic was many times more unnerving than taking the car out in the rain. Ah, the joys of owning a super car eh?
However, a few years in to ownership and having HAD to actually take the car out when it was raining has taught me that it won’t self destruct at the first sign of H2O. The exposed engine always gave me cause for concern but speaking with Sal from Racing Red I learned that the engine in the F355 is sealed pretty good. This also comes in handy after the fire extinguisher incident recently.
With that knowledge I can now happily (well almost) take the car out during inclement weather. I even did so recently on a trip into the country where the weather was particularly foul before the kick off and the car had to stand for a fair while in the pouring rain.
Of course, I’d prefer there to be no rain during my drives and it is not for the reasons you may think:
Reason 1 – Other people do REALLY STUPID things in the rain. They drive too fast, they drive outside their lane, they jump red lights, and so on. Not being on the road at the same time avoids this.
Reason 2 – Rain seems to magically cause potholes to open up and swallow wheels whole. Roads here are bad enough in the dry but in the wet what can look like just a puddle can if fact hide a wheel shattering pothole.
Reason 3 – The car does leak a little during showers. It is no where near as a bad as a convertible though.
The water gets in just where the window and the body meet and just where the angle of the body changes as illustrated above. That is, just above the mirror and just at the roof line. This probably has something to do with the rubber seal deteriorating somewhat over the years. It isn’t a huge issue but you can get a fair dribble, especially in heavy downpours so a rag is always something handy to have available in the cabin during these time (and of course, remember there is no glove box to put it in!).
Reason 4 – It does get dirty. if you allow the rain water to stand on the car after you have it back undercover you’ll be greeted with annoying dirty spots the next time you take it out. I have therefore learned that upon return to dry the car off as best as possible with a microfiber towel.
However, now when it rains on a weekend I no longer have any hesitation in taking the car out for a ‘maintenance’ run. I simply need to be more vigilant for the reasons above but experience has shown me that I and the car have nothing to fear from the weather. It is just a car after all and cars are deigned to go in the rain (well most cars anyway).
Avoiding taking the car out simply because it is damp should not be an excuse for giving the engine a work out as that’s far more important. In short, there is no need to fear the rain in a F355.
I am pleased to report that the F355 now has a fully verified 3 point alarm system. It took a few hours and a few hundred dollars to get sorted but in the end I am glad it is done.
Interestingly, one of things that we checked upon completion was the override code. Basically you switch the ignition on and off in accordance with the code and the alarm is disabled allowing you to start the car in event that you don’t have access to the fobs.
When we tried the code that was provided it turned out not to work. Luckily, after some further examination of the alarm we found the working code. This means that the details that have been provided with the car since the day it was installed have been incorrect. Thus, if any of the previous owners had needed to start the car without the fob they would have been dead in the water!
This experience has highlighted another learning experience when it comes to buying a super car. You need to firstly check exactly what the alarm does to disable the car as many insurers want three point alarms. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, you need to check you have all the documentation about the alarm, especially if it is after market.
Most super cars build after the year 2000 have factory three point alarms, so that makes things easier, however if you have or desire one prior to 2000 then you really need to do you homework.
So, the long and short of it is that I am a few hundred dollars poorer but I have a car that is more secure and more complaint with what insurance companies request. Downside is I have found an alternate that doesn’t car about the alarm being three point or not. However, having a three point alarm and a known override code does remove any future worries (in that respect at least) when it comes to insurance.
Now all I have to do is pony up the money to pay for the insurance. Ouch.
One of the advantages of being a Club member is that you do occasionally get the opportunity to attend a Ferrari event.
So it was this weekend when FMS opened its doors. This is always too good an opportunity to pass up as you get to see some really cool things like:
A Testarossa engine being worked on,
A 458 Speciale,
An F12 (although not my colour if I’m honest)
A 550 Spider.
A 458 (I really like the rims on this one!)
and basically everything else they have in the show room.
The other benefit is great coffee and pastries, so a great time all round if I’m honest. What else could you ask for?
So I took a trip with the Club to a location about three hours from the city. The drive there was a bit bumpy but it was good to let the car stretch its legs a bit.
Stayed at local accommodation overnight (car parked right outside the room) with plans to head back the following day after breakfast. However, at about 3am I heard all this shouting and wasn’t sure whether I was having a dream or not. Unfortunately, when I emerged later in morning I found my car covered with what appeared to be some form of powder.
Turns out that someone had discharged a powder fire extinguisher over a Ferrari two cars along from mine. The overspray had covered the car next to me as well as mine (although less so). The powder in the extinguisher was ammonia phosphate which is really not something you want sprayed on your car.
The best I could do when I discovered this was to wash it all off using a fire hose and a microfiber towel (leant to me by another Club member). I made sure I went over the car a number of times with the hose and the towel until everything was removed.
I wasn’t too concerned with the paintwork because because it was merely overspray and secondly I am pretty confident that the Permoanon I have on the paintwork provides excellent protection. Still, having what are nasty chemicals on the paintwork for five or so hours along with damp overnight conditions is really something you want to avoid and there is always that worry in the back of your mind.
My concern driving back was, had any of the overspray gotten into the engine? My assumption was that, hopefully it would have been burnt off, shaken loose and blown away during the 3 hour drive back. The 355 has its vitals pretty well sealed so I don’t think I have to worry there.
I checked the paintwork again carefully upon return and can’t see any ill effects but I’ll give it a good wash as soon as possible to ensure any remnants are removed. The car needs a good clean after a country drive anyway.
Hopefully the other Ferrari that was directly sprayed also shows no ill effects but it is disappointing when things like this happen. The positive is that it could have obviously been a lot worse, so small mercies there. But this sort of incident, although rare, is part and parcel of being an owner because not everyone admires the car regretfully.
My previous post on Permanon vs Nanloex showed the sheeting capabilities of both sealants but flooding the surface is a bit of an extreme test. The above is the results of some light rain on the same panel.
As you can hopefully see, there is a not an apparent difference between the two coatings as there was in the previous test.
Like I said previously, the next test is to clean the surface with the Nanolex cleaner BUT THEN use Permanon and see if that results in any differences. I doubt it but I’ll let you know what I find.