All serviced and good to go

The F355 has returned from it’s annual service, all raring to go. With four new tyres, grip shouldn’t be an issue for a while. A broken water tank cap was also replaced along with some touch up for minor paint chips on the nose were also completed during it’s time away. News is that it’ll soon be needing a new clutch, which has been deferred until next year’s service, given that it is easier to access then when the engine is out. Hopefully, the current clutch will last another twelve months with careful driving.

So next year’s service is going to be a large one with an engine out, re-conditioned springs and a new clutch for starters. Time to start saving the pennies! All of these are not a surprise, given the age of the car and are simply components that require work over time. Doing them all when the engine is out makes the most sense as it makes them all easier to get to as well.

With the service complete I also took the opportunity to give the car a good wash and polish as I typically do around this time of the year. Doing so ensures that the paint and finish remain good for twelve months and any dirt normally just hoses off. Given the current summer heat, it is quite an arduous task to give the car a complete once over but in the end there is nothing more stratifying than to have a fully serviced and clean car now parked away.

Phew. So that is 2019 done and dusted. Roll on 2020.

Service time

So it is again time for the F355 to head over to Sal at Racing Red for the annual service. No belts this time, but there are few things that probably need doing.

The first is the annoying flakes that have started to appear at the front of car. I think that the whole bar needs to be removed and repainted as the flakes just seem to re-occur.

Another item is probably a complete set of new tyres. The rears have diminished tread and the fronts are getting a little old, so maybe now is a good time for a complete set?

As always, there is rego to do as well. So nothing major, just some tidy up before the New Year. The fun part is always mixing with the day time traffic but hopefully, that won’t be too bad. We’ll see.

Project 458 continues with biggest challenge being strangely, power. The issue is that where the F355 lives, there is currently no power point. For the F355 this really isn’t an issue but for a more modern car, this a big problem as it needs to be plugged it when stationery. The major reason for this, apparently, is that the battery is small to save weight. This means it doesn’t hold charge for long periods. This means it needs to be constantly trickle charged when stationery. This means it is a problem.

I have tried to find some sort of battery arrangement that I can charge elsewhere and then store in the car, but haven’t had much luck. If you know of something, let me know. This limitation therefore kind of rules out my current location for another car. The challenge then becomes where to storage it?

The further away I store another car the less likely I am to drive it. That would be rather a waste of money now wouldn’t it? Then there is also the additional cost of storage. This isn’t a deal breaker but it does start to add up. I also don’t like not having full control of the location where the car is stored. If that now means I need to buy something just to garage another car, that also seems like a waste of money.

Things to ponder.

Logistical challenges

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Lovely shiny F355 5.2 Motronic engine bay

The big question in regards to Project 458 is whether I would trade the F355 in for a 458? The current value of F355’s would go a long way towards a 458 (even a 488). Another school or thought also suggests that a 458 is a much more modern car with more creature comforts and therefore better. While all these arguments are true, I have decided that, unless I really have to, for a variety of reasons, I am not planning on selling the F355. Having a manual sports car just has a certain appeal to it and honestly the F355 has always been my dream car.

Ok, with that decision made, now come the logistical challenges. The first of which is that with having multiple “fun” cars, the question arises when do you enjoy them? My current regime is an early morning Sunday drive the F355 and generally back before mid morning. I know the F355 requires a good run at least once a week to keep it in condition and I have settled into a nice routine. However, add a second car and things start to become complicated.

Spending all that additional cash on yet another “weekend toy” means that you want to ensure you get the full enjoyment from it, right? So does that mean that immediately upon returning with the F355 I turn around and jump into another car and take it out for an extended run as well? As much as I would love to that, by that time of the day there are more cars, traffic, enforcement and so on. The downsides start to accumulate. It also means that instead of having most of Sunday to myself, half of it is consumed driving. I feel that may become somewhat of a chore after a while and that’s not value for money because then all the enjoyment has gone out of it.

So, let’s say that I retain the current F355 routine and perhaps take a second car out only occasionally? That’s a lot of money to pay for something that is only enjoyed fully every few weeks. Also, 458’s really do need to driven every week or hooked up to a trickle charger in the interim (which is another logistical challenge I’ll cover soon). Now a 458 is eminently more a car you can drive everyday but would you want to? It still kind of draws attention to itself. So, how does one reap the benefits from a second “weekend only” car?

Of course, these are all first world problems and there are argument for all points of view. It is clear that I know I’d regret selling or upgrading the F355 because every owner I know who has owned one has said that. So that means two cars. Two cars introduces many challenges and the first major one is logistical. The biggest questions is, would I get value from spending all that money on a car that I only drive occasionally? Would I feel the ‘obligation’ to drive it regularly and in doing so take the shine off ownership?

All very good questions that I have not fully come to a decision on as yet. In short, it’s a lot of money to pay for something that appears will only be used occasionally. Could I live with that?

Ferrari Classiche Open Day

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One of the services that Ferrari offers is Classiche, where they will get you car back to original as possible and then provide you certification of that. This is aimed at those who want to win shows and increase the value of their car. The good news is that a Classiche workshop is now available at Ferrari North Shore and yesterday was the open day to announce this.

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Lots of amazing cars on display including an F40

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and some amazing F355’s

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Don;t know if I’d be looking to send my car through the program, but it is good to know that it is now available locally.

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Project 458 has commenced

Ever since I was lucky enough to get behind the wheel during Targa Tasmania a while back I’ve become keener and keener on the idea of owning a 458.

In fact I have had my eye on the 458 market for a while now but of late the 488 market has also come down dramatically. This is probably due to the flood of new cars that are coming onto the market. As I write there are currently 26 x 488s on the market and only 12 x 458s. That means that potentially you could pick up a 488 pretty cheap. Yes, it would be more expensive than a 458, but it is a more modern car, faster, better over performance and so on. There is also a good chance that you could also pick one up that still has the factory warranty included. Still having a factory warranty certainly provides some piece of mind against unexpected maintenance costs.

I have been lucky enough to drive the 488 in anger around Fiorano. That experience taught me that the 488 is a magnificent car that one could user every day and that’s were some of the doubt started to creep in for me. Yes, the 488 is an amazing car and wickedly fast but the 458 is just that bit rawer and the 458 is also the very last of the normally aspirated V8’s from Ferrari it would seem. Apart from the performance issues, a 458 is generally always going to be cheaper than a 458 and in Ferrari money, that can be a significant chunk of change.

At this stage I’m not going to completely rule out 488 ownership but I think a 458 ticks more the boxes that I’m after and I also feel that the 458 will be more valuable over time being the last of the non-turbo V8’s.

With the model now set, now it’s time to track down a good deal!

The seven year anniversary

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Here’s the summary of another year’s ownership of a F355. You may want to catch up on previous episodes:

One Year Anniversary

Two Year Anniversary

Three Year Anniversary

Four Year Anniversary

Five Year Anniversary

Sixth year Anniversary

The seventh year they say is woollen

I am happy to say that this year there has been no major issues at all. The biggest one was the replacement of the intermittent wiper timer, which was taken car of at the annual service. A very trouble free year indeed.

Costs

Total expenses for the car this year were around the $8,500 mark. The majority of that cost is the comprehensive insurance, which again was around the $3,000 mark.

The car is due for an engine out service in December 2020 (i.e. not this year), so it is time to start saving because I’ll probably take the chance then to get the springs re-conditioned and the geometry reset. At this year’s service I’ll need to address the recent pain flakes that have started to occur at the front of the car. That will probably mean removing the front car and getting the whole thing resprayed. We’ll see.

Travel

The car has just crossed the 80,000 kilometre mark and is now heading towards 90,000. I have enjoyed some really great runs this year including to Bathurst and Mudgee.

Low Points

As I was returning home from a drive and making the turn off the main road I noticed some large obstruction on the road. In retrospect (which is always great eh?), I should have kept going straight on, made a left and come back around avoiding the object totally. I didn’t however and the object turned out to be a block of course concrete, which I only identified as the car was passing over it. Due to it’s size and low clearance of the nose I heard a loud scrape as I passed over it. The good news is that it didn’t do any other damage to the under side of the car or the mechanics (which it could have) but it did leave a very nasty gouge under the nose. The good thing is that you really couldn’t see the mark. The problem is, it was quite large and I knew it was there.

A few months later I finally got around to at least painting over the mark so it won’t annoy me as much and one day I’m going to need to get the whole bumper re-sprayed. However, until then, the patching is fine.

High Points

The car has performed pretty much faultlessly this year. It has been a joy to drive at all time, especially on country roads. I always look forward to driving it.

Value

The value of F355’s has come off a little in the last 12 months but still remains around the $260K – $280K mark, depending on the model. I expect it to continue to stay around that mark.

Summary

Another magic year with the F355. It is magic to drive every time and I’ve been lucky enough to do some great drives this year. There are few maintenance issues on the horizon, with an engine out service being the main one in about 15 months. I wonder whether I’ll cross the 100,000 kilometre mark by this time next year? Time will tell!

Annoying paint chips

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An annoying item I noted on the front of the car recently was a paint chip, just where the bonnet meets the bumper. It wasn’t really a chip, more like a flake that had broken off exposing the metal. Really annoying.

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After a good clean I was able to dab some paint over the offending mark to at least protect it before taking the car for it’s normal repair. However, almost immediately after patching the original spot, another another appeared in the same area, just a few centimetres away. Annoying. Easy enough to cover up with paint on the next wash but it kind of seems like the whole area on the front there needs to be taken off and resprayed.

For now, I’m adding that to the list of items to attend to during the nest major service.

Normal transmission to resume

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It’s been a long while between posts here. That in part has been due some technical frustrations with the previous blogging platform. That has facilitated a migration of the content now to WordPress, which should hopefully provide a better and easier platform going forward.

It is about time for me to an annual ownership update as well as bring you up to date as to what has been happening since the last post. Hopefully, the technical demons have been slayed and I can get on with all the latest plus my new exciting focus! Project 458!

Annual service time

It is the time of the year when the F355 needs to go off to Sal at Racing Red for its annual service and registration check.

Luckily there wasn’t a huge amount that I could think of that needed attention. However, as always there were a few things.

The first issue was the oil pressure readings. A while back they had started to bounce around, sometimes getting up to the maximum of 10 which is always cause for concern. Normally, this is an indication that the actual connection to the gauge is loose. However, after checking no fault was found.

Next up was the decision to change the battery. Having owned the F355 now going on six and half years it was probably a good opportunity to get a new battery. Even though the current battery had never failed to do it’s job, generally best practice is to change the battery every three years. So, now the F355 has a new battery and wow! Does it start quickly now.

There is still an issue with the ride height on the right side. It is more evident on the front drivers side than at the rear. The car still drives fine but it is definitely lower on that side of the car. This is more than likely because I’m the only one riding in it! The sagging issue can only really be fixed by getting the suspension springs ‘re-conditioned’. The best time to address that is probably at the next engine out.

During the last engine out, last year, it was noted that the catalytic converter linings are cracking and will start to dislodge. This will cause the exhaust to ‘rattle’ and indicate that new converters will be required. Having not happened as yet, that will be left until the ‘rattling’ starts to occur.

The most annoying thing that wasn’t working was the intermittent windscreen wiper. I honestly, thought that it was something that I was not doing but as it turned out Part #153095 Windshield wiper motor intermitter had failed. It happens on a 20+ year old car.

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This part is located on a panel, right in front drivers nose of the car. A bit of a pain to get to. A brand new version of this would cost around $600 but I got a re-conditioned module for significantly less.

So that was everything I wanted looked at it, however while the car was on the hoist the following was discovered:

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Basically, the left hand front sway drop link had come loose from the suspension fork. You can see it here:

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The fitting just screws into the lower fork and now a spring washer was also fitted to prevent the same thing happening again in the future. Having this loose affected the ride of the car, with it tending to roll in corners more than it should. Can’t say that I really noticed it but now that I think about it didn’t seem quite as flat during some recent runs.

To fix all of that only took Sal just over a day and I was able to pick the car up with the complete cost being around $1,600 for the lot. A bargain!

As always, there will be things that needs doing down the track but they are not urgent. The most noticeable change now means that the car starts in a blink of an eye now it has a new battery and new starter motor after a previous replacement.

Once again, big thanks to Sal from Racing Red for keeping the car in such good nick. It is very comforting to have such an experience hand to look after stuff that I can’t do.

Looking forward to another year of driving.

The six year anniversary

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Another year of ownership of the F355 has come and gone. It’s therefore time to do an update on what happened in this past year. But before we do that here’s all the previous updates for context:

One Year Anniversary

Two Year Anniversary

Three Year Anniversary

Four Year Anniversary

Five Year Anniversary

The sixth year they say is sugar.

So when we left last year’s update the F355 had decided that it no longer wanted to start. Basically, I’d turn they key, the dashboard would light up but no crank. Thought that it was either the alarm playing up or the starter motor.

As per usual, I contacted al DiMauro from Racing Red to get this thoughts and he suggested that it was most likely the starter motor. Now because the car was beached where it was he paid me a visit and removed the starter motor, took that away and had it reconditioned. Thoughts were that after all these years, a good clean up is what it really needed.

After a week or two Sal was back with the reconditioned unit and I was away again. Unfortunately, a few weeks later the same problem began to emerge. Not quite as major, but starting the car was still not as reliable as it could be. By then the car’s annual service wasn’t far away so I delivered it to Sal for him to work his magic.

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It was also time for my second major service where the belts have to be changed. This process requires the engine to be dropped out of the car to allow access.

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One of the things that Sal noted was that the existing ceramic catalytic converters were beginning to crack and would need replacing soon.

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This is simply because of their age (going on 22 years now). It wasn’t something that required immediate attention but would do somewhere down the track. I might look at doing the replacement of these at next year’s service. The cost for two new converters is going to be around the $3,000 mark.

The one thing that I decided to have done during this service was to get the rear bumper fixed. A few years ago I carelessly reversed into a street sign. I then tried to repair the damage myself and I thought I did a fair job, but what started happening over time was the paint I applied started to age and change colour and the repairs became quite noticeable. It eventually annoyed me enough that I polished it back and simply left it until the next major service to repair. The repaired result was immaculate, you can’t even notice it!

Sal couldn’t fault the starter motor and with the service complete and two new rear tyres, I was back on the road again.

All proceeded well for another three months or so and the starter motor began to play up again. I’d turn the key and again I’d get no crank. My biggest concern was stopping the car out somewhere, say getting fuel, and then it wouldn’t start. This didn’t seem too likely as the issues seemed to only appear on a cold start, but you never know.

After another month or two of this happening off and I on I decided that changing the starter motor was the next step in trying to resolve the issue. I therefore took the car over to Sal (luckily it started) and he changed out the starter motor there and then with a new unit.

Since then, the F355 has had an issues. So it turns out that it was the starter motor (most likely the solenoid) that was my problem.

Thanks to Sal DiMauro from Racing Red again for this assistance with resolving the issue and servicing the car again and keeping it such great shape for me to enjoy.

Costs

This year was always going to be more expensive because of the belt change service, two new rear tyres plus rear bumper repairs. Additional costs were also incurred by the initial attempt at refurbishing the starter motor and then replacing it entirely. This meant that repair costs were twice what the annual average would normally be but most of that was expected in necessary repairs. If I look back to year three of the car’s history when I had the last major service, the annual costs are about the same.

Total costs for the car including fuel, repairs, maintenance, rego, insurance came to about $14,500 for the year. As I said, if you take out the major service then it is about average. Outside the major service, the majority of the cost for the year is comprehensive insurance coming in at around $3,000.

Travel

Interestingly, even with the time the car spent off the road due to start motor issues I have travelled more distance than ever before, over 10,000 kms this year in fact! That is about a 40% increase in travel distance from the previous year. The car is fast approaching the 78,000 kilometre total distance travelled representing about 45,000 of distance that I have put on the car in the six years now that I have had it.

I went to the Bathurst 12 Hours this year and drove to and from the track a few times and I have been on a number of nice long runs as well which explains the additional distance.

This year’s learnings

1. As always, a good mechanic is worth their weight in gold. Sal DiMauro from Racing Red has always solved any issue that has cropped up with the car, and how well it is running is testament to his professionalism. I couldn’t enjoy the car as much as I do without his help.

2. Life is so much better when you get the ding fixed that you put in the car.

Low points

Obviously the issues with the starter motor not allowing the car to start. The initial issues were worse because the car failed to even crank but once the problem became obvious it was just a matter of eliminating the issues. IN the end, as typically it does, it took a few goes to isolate the problems but now with a new starter motor everything is back to normal.

High points

The car has run remarkably well. This year I’ve really felt that it is purring along when I drive it. That probably explains all those kilometres that I have put on it this year.

Apart from driving the car the highlight this year for me was being part of Targa Tasmania. I details my experiences here:

Targa Tasmania 2018 – Arrival

Targa Tasmania 2018 – Day 1

Targa Tasmania 2018 – Day 2

Targa Tasmania 2018 – Day 3

Targa Tasmania 2018 – Day 4

During this time I was lucky enough to be co-pilot on a 458 Italia and came away thinking that I should probably get one to add to the stable. Thus, the search is on.

Value

I’ve given up closely watching prices on cars but it is remarkable to see that F355’s are now selling for the $300,000 mark. I saw one go for $360,000 a while back. It is also remarkable that these prices are currently being maintained. Of course, there is plenty of variation in the asking price of cars but the current value is more than doubt what I paid for my car back six years ago!

I’m not worried that my car has probably more kilometres on it than most F355’s. I know that what really matters is the service history, which is good. However, there is bias here in Australia for low kilometre cars and that may affect the value but a real enthusiast I figure will appreciate that a car driven regularly is worth more and is unlikely to have as many problems as a ‘garage queen’.

I’m not interesting in selling the F355 and I also believe that in the long run the asking price for these cars will continue to climb. Let’s see what another 12 months brings on this front.

Summary

Another great year with the F355. Once the starter motor issue was sorted things have been grand. I am also happy that the rear bumper is now repaired and I don’t to look at it every time I get into the car. I can’t tell you how annoying that blemish was and how often it reminded me of my stupidity. Now, no more.

I’m also happy that the value of the car continues top rise, which confirms my initial belief that this was the car to buy.

I enjoyed some great events like the F1 Grand Prix in Melbourne as well as Targa Tasmania, which has convinced me that I need to get a 458 Italia. Now that’s a project I can sink my teeth into for the coming year.