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.
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.
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.
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.
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 …
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.
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).
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!
From the store I headed back to the museum, passing a F355 baking the sun. How could you be so cruel?
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’
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.
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!
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.
The rest of the floor is pretty much dedicated to F1 cars.
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.
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.
The shuttle bus takes about 30 minutes to travel back to Modena and also stops at the railway station before the Enzo Ferrari museum.
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.
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).
The premier model is of course the F355 (well, that’s what I think and whom do you think is writing this after all!).
There is also a regular multimedia summary of Enzo’s story that is projected onto a large screen so everyone inside can see.
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.
Here’s the F355 engine on display.
With hunger beginning to set in it was time to find a place to eat.
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.