Alien Territory

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The day dawned bright and sunny again in Modena. Is it always like this? Seems so at the moment, although apparently just a week or so ago it was raining constantly. There is a God! And I thank him very much for ensuring it is bright and sunny for my visit. We still could do with a little reduction in ambient temperature but I’ll take that over rain any day.

My journey’s today were with My Motor Land, whom I had arranged a private tour with everything ‘non-Ferrari’. This included a tour of the Lamborghini factory arranged via my Lambo contacts back in Australia.

I was greeted at my hotel door at the allotted time by Rosella from My Motor Land and my town car and driver. Cool! Our first stop was to be the Maserati Private Collection.

Basically the story here is that Umberto Panini bought a whole range of cars that were to be auction off by Maserati a number of years ago. He did this so they could be retained in the local Modena region, in this case on his farm.

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Now you might be wondering what the farm actually does? Well, it makes world renown Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. I got to see where they milk cows, then use that milk to create cheese and finally to see where they age the cheese (as you see above). The cheese is aged for 24 – 36 months and each one of the cheese rolls weigh about 30 kgs and there are about 3,000 or so of them here currently. You can find out more information about the farm here – www.hombre.it. I also got to taste some of the product in the shop they have here, from which you also purchase a range of produce.

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The private car collection is housed in a separate structure and contains a surprising amount of not only cars (on the lower floor) but also bikes (on the upper floor).

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From there we headed to the Lamborghini factory for what I thought would be a tour organised by my contacts in Australia, however it appears that the wires got crossed and it wasn’t to be. Luckily, Rossella arranged for me to attend an afternoon tour (as you need to book in advance). Can’t tell you how handy it was having a native as a tour guide.

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With my factory tour arranged for later in the day we now headed off to the Ferrucio Lamborghini museum. This museum is dedicated to the man Lamborghini and to everything he achieved over his life time. Don’t forget that Lamborghini is now owned by Audi.

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The museum is quite out of the way, so it really doesn’t get many visitors, which is unfortunate as it is a good little museum that houses things like Ferruccio’s own Mura (above).

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Apart from the cars, Lamborghini is most famous for the tractors he created.

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You’ll even find a working helicopter that he designed and built in here.

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After an authentic Italian lunch we returned to the factory with enough time for me to also take in the museum prior.

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The museum basically has two floors with a range of cars.

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from old to new.

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The factory tour takes about 40 minutes and you once again have to surrender your phone and camera as no photos are allowed inside the plant.

At the moment there only two type of cars being built, the Huracan and the Aventador (V10 and V12). The plant is much smaller than the Ferrari factory and much more manual than Ferrari. The assembly line concepts are similar but Ferrari to me seems far more automated and modern. The Lamborghini plant has a much ‘smaller’ feel to it.

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Interestingly, Lamborghini are soon to start building a third model of car, an SUV like you see above. They reckon there is a market, but we’ll soon see eh?

Tour over, I returned to my ride for the 30 minute or so return trip to my hotel.

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At about 6pm I headed downstairs to register for my Corso Pilota. After basically signing my life away I received the above ‘swag’. A backpack, polo shirt, baseball hat, program and bag.

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After a cocktail reception at the back of the hotel we headed into a room to receive an overview of the course and to have any questions answered.

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We then jumped on a bus to head off for dinner at a famous local restaurant, Montana’s.

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I’d been give a number of recommendations to attend and certainly had it on my ‘to see’ list but actually being here as part of Corso Pilota made it even more special.

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Here you can see the walls adorned with all sorts of memorabilia from drivers to celebrities all leaving their mark.

I was lucky enough to sit with some of the course instructors and managers, getting a good overview of what’s in store starting tomorrow. Also again, enjoyed a fantastic Italian meal. I highly recommend you come here if you are in the vicinity.

It’s now time for a good night’s sleep because tomorrow’s going to be a big day. So excited.

Pilgrimage

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Modena awoke to another brilliantly sunny day, without a cloud in the sky but a California T parked off to the side of the entrance of my hotel. All that signalled it would be a good day.

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My car service arrived on time and whisked me away to Maranello and to the front door of Ferrari in about 20 minutes. I was way to early for my 10am tour, so after proving my credentials at reception I set off to kill some time nearby.

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Even the Ferrari store across the road wasn’t yet open, so all I could do was peer in the window and try and not leave smudge marks as I pressed my face to the glass.

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Now what did strike me when I was looking in the store was what appeared to be any old exhaust manifold as you can see above.

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However, when I checked the price (and picked myself up off the ground), I thought about all those Ferrari parts I have laying around back home. Surely, they must be worth SOMETHING if someone is will to pay this much for a used exhaust manifold! Maybe I can pay for my whole trip with my closet of spares? I wonder …

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With my tour time approaching I return to Ferrari reception at Via Abetone Inferiore 4 and was waved into the ‘waiting’ room to the left of the reception desk to await my tour.

You wouldn’t believe that as I soon as I stepped into the room there was another Ferrari Club member from Australia! Small world eh? It was good to have someone familiar to chat with about our travels amongst everyone else waiting for a tour.

Now my invitation letter for the tour had simply said to be at reception by 10am and to bring the invitation, which I did. Turns out that the invitation fails to inform you of two VERY important points that failure to abide by will result in you forgoing the tour.

Item 1. You must bring photo ID. My passport was back in the safe in my hotel room but luckily I had my drivers license with me that sufficed.

Item 2. Long pants. SAY WHAT??? Yes, you can’t come on the tour in shorts. Given that I was dressed appropriately for the Italian summer IN SHORTS, this was going to be a BIG problem. Why? Because my closet set of long pants was 20 minutes away in my hotel. Awe crap.

The resolution to the problem that item 2 raised for me was that my ONLY option was to pop across the road to the Ferrari store and buy some long pants. Hmmm…sounds like this was a plot hatched with commercial intent eh? When it was pointed out that exposing ones calf’s was only a problem if you were male still fell on deaf ears my last lifeline was extinguished. Ok, I get it. Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to the Ferrari store we go.

Still not being quite 10am yet the store was yte to open, however I was greeted by another poor soul in shorts who also needed to make an urgent purchase like me. We both felt a little better that we had not being singled out for special ‘bare leg’ treatment.

Store opens. Store staff immediately point us towards the pants section (happens all the time they say. Really? You think?) and I select a fashionable pair of blue trousers that at least fit my girth and could also be used after their functional purpose this morning. I shed my offending shorts into the official Ferrari store bag and I’m good to go. Fastest pants purchase I have EVER made!

With items paid for (including a 20% discount as owners – cool) and now dressed in appropriate garb we returned to the ‘waiting room’ again with those yet to see the inside of the Ferrari store and make an ‘emergency’ purchase.

We then received our radios so we could listen along to the commentary provided. We had the cameras on our phones covered with stickers and then were divided into two groups and loaded aboard two shuttle buses.

First stop was the fabrication plant where they make a lot of the engine components. Next was the V8 assembly line, followed by the V12 line.

About 80% of the cars assembled are V8’s and 20% V12’s. They aim to make around 25 V8 car’s a day and about 12 V12’s a day. The V8 engines are assembled in stages with different workers assembling a different section of the engine, while the V12 engines are built by a single worker.

The assembly lines periodically advance each car every 20 minutes or so to the next station, with the whole floor section carrying the car moving. Also roaming the floor are a number of ‘platform’ style robots. We saw one carry an assembled engine and move it into position under the body of the car and then ‘marry’ it to the frame. All the workers do is screw it in, the machine does all the alignment.

We also got to see a windscreen being installed, again all done by robots. It takes a little while to check the alignment but once it has done this, wham, the windscreen is on in a split second.

We then went and had a look at the XX division where FXX, 5XX and FXXK cars are held.Also in this area are the F1 cars purchased by owners that Ferrari maintains and brings to track meets for the owners to drive. Seriously exclusive stuff that, however seriously impressive to see all these ‘vintage’ F1 racing cars lined up in one garage. All this is housed just off the Fiorano track, where I’ll be in a matter of days.

Back on the bus and off to the new building for the F1 team. In here we actually saw both Seb’s and Kimi’s F1 cars being prepared for the next Grand Prix. Looks like a very interesting place but not much is on show here so the team can maintain their secrets and any cutting edge advantages they glean.

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Next stop was the Museo Ferrari, which is just around the corner from the factory. Although we didn’t have to pay for entry, we were whisked through all the exhibits quite quickly (as we had of course started late for some UNKNOWN reason! Like someone having to get long pants!). I knew I’d be coming back after this tour completed anywaybut it was good to get an overview none the less.

The final stop on our tour was the place it had all started for me, the Ferrari store, where we all received a ‘gift’ (an Official Ferrari magazine and thanks from our guides).

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So here’s my booty from the tour. A magazine, official ‘guest’ pass, earphones (from our radio), as well as the tag from my new set of pants.

Speaking of which, it was now becoming somewhat annoying that my new purchase was constantly falling down. So in line with the ‘merchandise conspiracy’ I also purchased an ostentatious, bright red Scuderia Ferrari cloth belt to hold my pants up. They have this whole thing worked out don’t they? Just when your pants are falling down that you bought originally from this place, do you find yourself with the need to buy something to hold up your new purchase that you HAD to have to go on the exclusive factory tour in exactly the place where they are able to sell you something to solve the problem eh?

All joking aside, the tour was fantastic. It ran for over 4 hours and apart from being Ferrari, the whole assembly process is amazing. The thought they have put into designing the layout of the factory and the focus they have on ergonomics and productivity is something to behold. If you ever have the opportunity to do a Ferrari factory tour do it! Just make sure you bring photo ID and WEAR LONG PANTS!

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From the store I headed back to the museum, passing a F355 baking the sun. How could you be so cruel?

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Don’t believe me when I say it was hot? If you can’t read the temperature in the above photo it says 34 degree C. Smokin’

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I purchased a dual entry ticket for Museo Ferrai and Museo Enzo in Modena.

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The museum has two main levels and you start on the ground floor with the supercar exhibit where you can see things like this F12 TDF.

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You’ll also find cars like the GTO, F40, F50, Enzo and La Ferrari.

At this point I couldn’t control myself when I heard someone authoritively explain that the La Ferrari was 8 cylinders. Excusi Signore, ma La Ferrari ha 12 cilindri!

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You then have a hall full of major F1 cars and driver history along with many of the victory trophies you can see on the wall in the back.

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The rest of the floor is pretty much dedicated to F1 cars.

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However, there is also a room full of other racing cars.

All in all, you’ll absolutely love museum if you are a Ferrari and F1 fan. You’ll enjoy it a bit less if you are just a Ferrari fan. You’ll be done in less than 20 minutes if you’re not really into cars at all. However, for the true fans there is well over an hours worth of time you can spend here working through all the exhibits and taking billions of photos like I did.

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My next stop was going to be in Modena at the Enzo Ferrari museum. To get there would mean I needed to take a shuttle bus that runs on a regular schedule. The ticket price of 6 euro is not included in the museums entry price. You need to purchase the ticket from the tourist information area outside the main museum entry (left as you exit the museum facing the road).

With bus ticket in hand and with a little while to occupy I meandered up the main drag a ways to look at all the businesses that offers paid rides in Ferrari’s. Of course I allowed myself to be solicited being more than willing to pay top dollar on the proviso that I could drive a manual car! That is, not one with a flappy pad shift. Suffice to say that I was able to retain all my money. Luckily, I do know a place where I can get such an itch scratched.

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The shuttle bus takes about 30 minutes to travel back to Modena and also stops at the railway station before the Enzo Ferrari museum.

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The brick house you see at the front is a restoration of the workshop that Enzo Ferrari’s father worked in. Behind this is, in dome shaped structure is the main Enzo museum.

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The museum contains the history of Enzo around the walls in text and pictures, while the centre contains a number of notable and famous Ferrari’s (mainly from Hollywood movies).

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The premier model is of course the F355 (well, that’s what I think and whom do you think is writing this after all!).

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There is also a regular multimedia summary of Enzo’s story that is projected onto a large screen so everyone inside can see.

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The final Ferrari stop for the day was the workshop museum just outside the dome that houses a variety of Ferrari engines. From F1 cars, to production models, even to boats, you’ll be able to get a close to them and have good look.

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Here’s the F355 engine on display.

With hunger beginning to set in it was time to find a place to eat.

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I headed to the America Graffiti Diner just around the corner from the museum. Like most dining places here in Italy they don’t open until at least 7pm, so I had to wait outside for a little while.

It was nice to have a change from the all pasta diet tonight but given they didn’t speak much ‘American’ the place lost a few marks for authenticity in my books. However, the burger and milkshake were great and I can certainly recommend a visit if you are nearby after a hard day of everything Ferrari.

After dinner, I wandered back to the railway station, which was nearby, and caught a cab back to my hotel. That cost about 15 euro and took about 20 minutes.

Time for a good sleep to get ready to visit the other motoring icons in and around Modena. More on that tomorrow, so stay tuned.

Touch down Modena

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My day started with the tourist ‘cage match’ that is Florence railway station where I waited to board my first train to Bologna, where I would then change to the train to Modena.

I was a bit puzzled when the arrival platform for my Bologna train had not appeared on the board. Stupidly, I had been looking at the ‘delayed by’ column not the platform column. D’Oh. I grabbed my bags and headed towards the platform, still with plenty of time up my sleeve.

I doubled checked the screens on the platform and only had to wait a few moments until my high speed ride arrived. Now, Italian rail carriages for high speed trains are numbered, typically one through eleven (plus an engine at either end). I had booked a ride in the business/first class section which meant my carriage was going to either be really, really close or really, really far away.

Having lost today’s lucky carriage draw, I hustled to the other end of the platform to board the right carriage and find my ‘executive’ seat for the thirty minute or so trip to Bologna.

Upon arriving at Bologna Centrale I had about twenty minutes to find my connecting regional train to Modena. The intercity trains are at the lower levels of this rather large station, while the traditional regional ones are above at ground level. To add further complications, there are also east and west platforms with the same numbering. In my case, I was heading for platform one, west.

Thanks to good signage, it wasn’t too hard to find the right platform and I jumped on board. Whoopsie. Forgot that for this regional train I’m in second class not first. Off the train again. Some more hustle. On the train again in second class where I’m meant to be. I hoisted my main bag up into the overhead racks, tucked my other bag under my legs as I settle back for the thirty minute or so ride to Modena.

Upon arriving at Modena I was surprised at the number of people not only alighting but also milling around on the platform. I thought this was a sleepy little village! Obviously not. I joined the crowd leaving the train.

I exited the station and was pleased to find my car service waiting for me. There’s nothing better to boost your ego that sliding into the back of a big black BMW while the driver takes care of your bags. No simple taxi for me. No sir-ee.

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My accommodation for the next few days is Hotel Una, halfway between Modena and Maranello.

I attempted to pay for my transfer using my credit card but needed some help in ‘authorising’ the payment. Basically I needed to use the driver’s iPhone screen for the charge, ‘signing’ with my finger. Ah ha, no tap and pay or swipe here. Ah, I get it now. He accepted the payment, even though it looked more like a daffodil on the screen than my signature. Transaction complete none the less.

The news was also good when I checked into reception that they were expecting me (you never know now do you?) and had a room for me. Best of all, it included WiFi. Praise the Lord. Where would we be without WiFi!

Interestingly, here’s a summary of what is required by the hotel, and I quote:

“Dear Guest, in the hotel industry an Italian law regulates the usage of internet access provided by a company and prohibits anonymous usage. Therefore the company has to acquire your personal data and keep it within a register.

The communication of your personal data is mandatory. Without the acquirement of your data the usage of the internet is not allowed.

Your personal data will be processes by an officer (licencee) of the company and its representative, the information will be kept confidential.

In reference to the data collected mentioned above you have the rights mentioned in article 7 of the Italian privacy law”.

Each device you use that connects to the internet has a unique login and password so it can be identified. Not a huge issue (as I can go full stealth if I need to), but interesting to note this is the first time I have seen this throughout my travels in Italy.

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The room is quite nice as you can see.

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and importantly contains a safe as well air conditioning you can manually set to be as cool as you want. FINALLY! I will be testing the lower limits to see how low it can actually go.

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The bathroom is also quite modern. The only thing that was lacking was an ironing board but I got reception to deliver one to me so I can look less ruffled for the week. You wanna make a good impression and all now don’t you? Not having ruffled and creased clothes helps.

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The view from the room is not exactly what you’d call ‘picturesque’ but hey, I’m not here to look out of hotel windows!

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My initial plans were to rush back to Modena and catch some of the traditional sites but as soon as I discovered I could set my air conditioning to being as cold as I wanted, that put and end to that idea. Instead I took a showered and headed downstairs for a late pasta lunch and coffee. That being just as ‘touristy’ I figure.

On the same floor as my room is the ‘wellness’ centre (i.e. corporate speak for gym), but it also has a nice balcony overlooking the surrounding area and seems like a good place to while away the evening once the Italia summer sun gets turned down a notch or two.

So I’m now settling in, doing the chores (i.e. ironing) and watching Top Gear in Italian. What a life eh? Tomorrow is my my Ferrari owners factory tour following by the Ferrari museums and everything else Ferrari. Stay tuned, because there will be lots of photos!

Weekly Price Guide–19 June 2016

F355 models (all models)

Average = $175,600.00

Change = $6,425.00

360 (all models)

Average = $136,981.10

Change = -$2,048.20

F430 (all models)

Average = $229,433.40

Change = -$6,283.60

458 Italia

Average = $421,385.60

Change = $2,733.40

458 Spider

Average = $469,444.50

Change = $0

Value = (Avg price / cars)

458 Spider = $78,240.75

458 Italia = $38,307.78

F355 = $35,120.00

F430 = $16,388.10

360 = $6,226.41

Brand value

Ferrari = $34,856.61

Change = $422.81 (1.23%)

I’ve been invited

Well the time is drawing near for me to depart to the other side of the world, to the land of the supercar and home of Ferrari. As an owner you have the opportunity to take a restricted tour of the factory (no photos allowed), which I am happy to say that I have now organised and received confirmation for.

I’ll be in the Maranello/Modena area for about 5 days. Two of these will be attending the Corsa Pilota as I have mentioned but I’ve now just about finished mapping out plans for the others days. One morning will be the factory tour, which runs for about 3 hours after which I’ll take a stroll to the nearby Ferrari store for a look and see. One of the biggest challenges I have found with purchasing official merchandise via the Ferrari online store is that most items are tailored for that slim European fit, which unfortunately is not my body size. I’ll be interested to see if the premier Ferrari store actually has clothing that will fit me!

After that I plan on strolling along to the Ferrari Museum not far away to while away most of the remainder of the afternoon. I’m not exactly sure how long I’ll spend here but I’m aiming to take a late afternoon shuttle from this museum to the Enzo Ferrari Museum back in Modena. That should take me through to early evening, where I can grab something to eat and head back to the hotel.

The following day I have arranged to do some other supercar marque touring, with my main aim being a tour of Lamborghini. Luckily, I have some local contacts that I trying to arrange something a bit different. Hopefully, that will pan out in the morning and the afternoon I’ll take in something like Maserati. Unfortunately, Pagini is close during my time.

The final appointment for that day should be dinner with all the other Corsa Pilota attendees. Then it’ll be to be bed for a good night’s sleep and then two days of high speed driving and instruction at Fiorano.

Hopefully, I’ll have internet access and the energy to post my experiences from these days in Maranello and Modena, so stay tuned for updates. It’s going to be fun!

Weekly Price Guide–12 June 2016

F355 models (all models)

Average = $169,175.00

Change = -$6,425.00

360 (all models)

Average = $139,028.30

Change = -$725.00

F430 (all models)

Average = $235,717.00

Change = -$4,767.70

458 Italia

Average = $418,652.20

Change = $6,900.20

458 Spider

Average = $469,444.50

Change = $4,114.50

Value = (Avg price / cars)

458 Spider = $78,240.75

458 Italia = $38,059.29

F355 = $33,835.00

F430 = $15.714.47

360 = $6,319.51

Brand value

Ferrari = $34,350.37

Change = -$2,916.57 (-7.81%)

What to do on a rainy Saturday

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On a rain soaked afternoon there is no better place to head than to the local Ferrari dealer for some coffee and cars, specifically the new GTC4Lusso.

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This model is the replacement to the ground breaking FF which combines a clever all wheel drive system with a V12 like that from the F12.

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The GT4Lusso has the front styling from an F12 but seats four as well as having ‘boot storage’ via a hatchback in the rear.

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Personally, I really like the internal styling where the passenger gets their own display readout.

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The driving position is a comfortable place to be.

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The rear is also quite luxurious however probably doesn’t have the leg room of a more ‘traditional’ hatchback. However, there is plenty of room to move the front seats forward and allow two adults to fit in the back.

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The wheel is a bit more ‘condensed’ from other models but still contains all the major controls you’ll need to pilot it.

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The info-tainment system has had a major upgrade and includes a much larger screen and additional functionality. The styling accommodates it nicely between driver and passenger.

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Personally, I really like the interior styling, especially the seats. The cabin is certainly a very nice place to be.

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The key element of the GTC4Lusson and the FF before it, is that it can function as a ‘normal’ car allowing luggage to be easily loaded into the back. The aim of this car is to make it more an every day or touring car rather than a freeway barnstormer Although with its V12 it can also easily be that).

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You can certainly fit plenty of travelling bags or even luggage for a trip in the rear, which you can’t with most other models.

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Up front of course you get the V12 power plant and performance you’d expect from a Ferrari, which no doubt makes driving it something special.

Although the GTC4Lusso is not the most ‘beautiful’ Ferrari, and divides many purists when it comes to looks, it is perhaps the most practical to run as an everyday car or a car for long trips where you need to take more than your wallet. You get the blistering performance of that V12 with all the refinement and practically of an upmarket tourer.

So, if you want a Ferrari you can drive everyday and use as your daily drive, the GTC4Lusso is probably it!

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Of course the GTC4Lusso was not the only piece of eye candy that was on offer. A La Ferrari also graced the showroom floor,

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along with a 488GTB, which the car I’ll soon be behind at Maranello on the Corso Pilota. Can’t wait!