F355 Update, May 11, 2000
"We Can't Live Without The F355"
(As long as you can adjust your expectations....)
F355 heading for its bi-monthly trip to the dealer
Wayne and I are still driving the F355's around town like a bunch of maniacs. They are our daily drivers. When they work. Here's the story of what is new since the last update on the F355's……..
Wayne and I crack up about each other's misfortunes with the F355. It is like having a wife who is a bi-polar, psychotic, nymphomaniac Victoria Secret lingerie model, in a drug rehab program, with multiple personalities, that you happen to fall in love with. Meaning that it can be a tremendous pain in the ass at times, but you know you can't live without it. So you just deal with the various wacked out incidents that happen. When we talk about the F355 problems, it is like going to an AA meeting for friends and family of alcoholics. We sympathize with each other, we are our own support group.
New Support Group That Wayne and I are starting
In early April, it seems that Wayne's car started to overheat a bit, and one of the warning lights was lighting up on the dash. Since he has another month or so left on his two year warranty, he takes it immediately into the dealer to get fixed. The dealer checks it out and determines that it is one of the cooling fans that is not coming on, which seems to be the cause of the warning light. The dealer also notices that a small amount of oil is leaking from the motor onto some of the belts. The dealer want to make sure everything is okay in the engine, and this oil leak is from a suspicious place. Which means they have to pull the motor out of the car. His car has only 14,000 miles on it. He has never taken it to the racetrack. The dealer checks everything out, and also does Wayne a favor by doing the 30,000 mile service at the same time for a greatly reduced cost, since the motor is out. A 30,000 mile checkup normally means they change the timing belt. So I guess this means that a 30,000 mile service is $5000 or so. But instead of crying tears over the car, we crackup laughing about it. Remember, we both "married" the same type of lingerie model described above. We are used to it, we expected it, we live with it. We have conditioned ourselves to not get upset about the maintenance on these cars. We support each other in our co-dependencies with these cars. It is the price you pay for a good time.
My car went in for the 15,000 mile checkup. Cost for this check up is $1500. Ouch! Wayne was driving my car around before the checkup, and he noticed a slight "clunking" sound that you can hear when you turn the wheel from left to right, and the car is stationary. He is worried about this, since we drive these cars within an inch of their lives, and if the steering rack should somehow fail, we would be in deep shit. The Ferrari dealer checked it out, and concurred that something didn't seem quite right. So they graciously replaced the rack under warranty. Whew, I would hate to see how much that would have cost. Wayne cracks up about this. I laugh about it to. We are expect weird stuff to happen.
Would you get rid of her if she goes psycho and autistic now and then? I doubt it.
I drive my car around for a bit. Then, I notice that it is way too quiet. I mean WAY too quiet. It sounds like….a stock Japanese supercar, if you know what I mean. The awesome F1 sound isn't happening anymore. I take it back to Ferrari, and tell them that something is wrong, my car is way too quiet. It is so quiet, that I don't want to even drive it around town, as when you accelerate, it no longer makes your adrenaline flow. Instead, your heart rate goes up, you get stressed out, and you keep thinking, "What the hell happened to the sound." I take it back to the dealer. The Ferrari guys think I am wacked out, but after poking around, they discover that the hose that opens up the exhaust at 5500 RPMs isn't connected. Since the exhaust doesn't get opened up fully, performance is down, and it no longer makes that awesome sound. They tighten it up, and off I go, ripping through the underpasses of the freeway, thinking I am at Monaco racing through the tunnel. Later that day, no sound again. The hose came off again. I look at the hose, and it is held by the tiniest, cheapest, hose clamp that I have ever seen. I put it back on, and drive around, and I experience "the sound" again. Next day, driving to the shop, I get no sound. At the shop, Brent cuts the hose end to see if we can get better grip, and retightens the itty bitty hose clamp. Hopefully, this will secure it so it will stay. I get the sound back, and life is good again. Without the sound, this car goes from being $140,000 car to being only worth about $70,000. Whoever is the "sound" engineer at Ferrari that tunes the exhaust/headers should get a huge contract like Michael Schumacher, as that sound engineer makes magic happen with these cars.
Wayne gets his car back. It is running strong, and he is happy. My only problem with my F355 is the irritating hand brake light that comes on whenever I do my normal two G late braking maneuver before every streetlight and stop sign. But hey, I can live with that. It is like having a supermodel forgetting to flush the toilet.......every damn time she uses it. You learn to live with it
Luckily, the dealership is only about 10 miles away from the shop
For the first time in what seems like months, we both have our F355's up and running great. For about a day. I pull into our shop to pick some stuff up, and then I hop back into the car. Since I have the F1 tranny, you have to go through an elaborate sequence of events to start the car. This makes it so that it is also impossible to steal and impossible for a valet to park the car. One of the sequences of events is to pull back on both the paddle shifters to get the car into neutral before you can start. Except my car seems to be stuck in 1st gear, according to the LED light on the dash. It won't go into any other gear, including reverse. It is almost 5 p.m., and the Ferrari dealer will close very soon, so there is no time to tow the car there. Besides, since the car is stuck in first gear, the wheels won't move, and it will require that the tow truck driver to "drag" the car up onto the flatbed. The car is parked in an industrial area (where our shop is) , so I don't want to leave it out overnight as it will be unsafe, and I don't want to have to hire a security guard to watch it overnight. We decided that it might be electrical, so we decide to disconnect the battery and then reconnect it, kinda like rebooting your computer. Which means you have to pull off the right front tire, as the battery is in the front fender. We go through all these steps, but the car still won't move from 1st gear. I call the Ferrari dealer, and their service guy says that I need to come pickup a special tool that has a quick disconnect cylinder fitting that I can splice into the F1 tranny hydraulic line. Then, using a wrench, I turn the nut on the cylinder, which in turns simulates the hydraulic pump of the F1 shifter to pump fluid through the hose to push the clutch in. Once the clutch is in, then we can push the car inside the shop until the morning, when we can have a tow truck tow the car. If this car was built by the Japanese, they would have included this handy little tool in the tool kit of the car. I decide to buy one of these tools to keep in the trunk of the F355, just in case I break down in a bad area of town and I need to get the car towed quickly before it gets stripped. Cost for this gizmo tool? About $600.......
Note: Remember that the F355 F1 tranny is not a TipTronic, or slush-o-matic shifter that is on all other cars that have a paddle shifter/button/stick. The F355 still has a clutch like the regular manual Ferrari transmission, and has six gears, just like a regular manual Ferrari transmission. The difference is that when you pull the paddle shifter, it fires an electrical signal to the computer to determine if you can engage the gear you want without blowing up the engine, then signals the hydraulic pump to push the clutch in and engages the gear you requested and then releases the clutch faster than you can say "It's broke again".
Note: To be fair, we do probably drive these cars harder than anyone except for the people racing in the F355 Challenge Series. So these problems that we are having quite possibly will never happen to you, especially if you baby your cars and only drive them on the weekend around town. We take our cars to the redline on just about every shift when accelerating to hear the sound the engine makes. We throw the car into on ramps and offramps. We brake in the last 20 feet for every stoplight in town to feel the one g of deceleration, instead of braking 150 feet before the stoplight like normal people. We drive them at least 1500 miles a MONTH. But when we die, we won't have any regrets.....
So the next day I get the car towed to the shop. I take one last look at the car, and then I also notice that the blowoff hose for the exhaust is cracking. I think it is the probably about the 7th or 8th time at the shop in 15 months. But hey, it's a Ferrari. You learn to overlook problems like this, just like you would overlook the fact that your bi-polar, psychotic, nymphomaniac Victoria Secret lingerie model accidentally shot off a 9mm round into the ceiling. "Hey, I thought I saw a bug on the ceiling, I didn't hit anyone, what are you complaining about?", she innocently asks you while she is stretched out in bed, doe-eyed, dressed in the skimpiest underwear you have ever seen. Because for the moments when everything is working great, the F355 driving experience cannot be surpassed, and you can forgive it for all the problems it gave you last week, and the week before that, and the month before that. I've driven Vipers and Diablos and Porsche 911 Twin Turbos, but it those cars don't give the feeling like you are an F1 driver. The F355 does. Wayne and I are hooked, we will always try figure out a way to support the Ferrari habit, just like you could figure out a way to support your high maintenance supermodel girlfriend that you are in love with. We ain't ever gonna buy a German supercar or Japanese supercar, unless they can match the looks and the thrill of driving a Ferrari through a tunnel.
Modifications to the F355
(uh oh...it has started...)
The Gruppe M F355 intake. Looks oddly sexual, doesn't it?
I have been holding off on mods to my car. One of the problems about doing modifications to your car, is that once you start, you can't stop putting new go-fast stuff on your car. However, Wayne has been chomping at the bit to do some modifications to his car in order to make it go faster and sound better. He has been trying to convince me to buy a Tubi exhaust, so he can order two of them and possibly get a deal on the exhaust. I have heard the Tubi, and I am not completely convinced that the sound is worth the money ($3500 or so). I like the shrill sound of the stock F355 exhaust. Most people are split between the Tubi and the stock exhaust, with more people favoring the Tubi.
Close-up view of the intake that is now on Wayne's car.
We had an NSX Dyno day a couple of months ago. Wayne's F355 was in the shop, but Alex (lives locally) and Mr. O. (from Gruppe M in Japan) came down with a new hi tech, carbon fiber, dual K&N, super flow intake kit made exclusively for the F355. Now this thing is a piece of art. Since Wayne's car was broken at the time, we put the intake on my car. We dynoed before and after, and it showed a 10 hp increase at the rear wheel. Not too bad. Except that the retail price is $3000. But it looks good, you can seem to feel the response, and it does dyno well. Wayne snaps one up. Kinda like how you would buy jewelry for your supermodel to keep them happy and purring.
Stock intake vs. Gruppe M intake. Bigger = more air = more HP.
So now he is searching for some type of exhaust. Ferrari of Beverly Hills had a Mille Miglia exhaust in stock, that they said sounded real good. Cost is around $3000. So Wayne gets it installed, and he is ecstatic with it. I am not totally convinced, but I am starting to lean his way. His car is much louder than mine now, it is still a bit on the shrill side, which is good. Just about everyone that hears his exhaust vs. my stock exhaust agree that his sounds much better. But we are talking $6000 bucks here for that sound. Wayne says his exhaust now "burbles" on his manual downshifts, much the the F1 tranny burbles when you downshift at low speeds, which sounds really cool. He never got that before with the stock exhaust.
What the Gruppe M intake looks like when it is installed in the F355
One of the guys from Ogner Motorsports (another authorized Ferrari Dealer) takes a look at the exhaust and intake. Wayne revs the car up, and the guy agrees with Wayne in that it seems to be the best sounding setup for an F355. He takes down the info about the setup, as he feels he has many customers that will be interested.
Wayne's Mille Miglia exhaust pipes fill up the rear of the F355 better, and look more aggressive
May 12, 2000
8 days after I drop off the car, I get the car back. It is Friday afternoon, 80 degrees, and I am ripping down Pacific Coast Highway following Wayne in his F355. Life is good again.......well at least for a couple of days. Wayne's idiot light comes back on......so he has another appointment at the dealer on Tuesday. But he looks at the positive side, "Wow, I got to drive it for two weeks before it had to back to the dealer. It was an awesome two weeks!" He is not disappointed.....we have reset our expectations successfully, so now we don't get stressed out anymore.
Yeah, so our Ferraris are a pain the ass to live with. But we gotta have them. Life isn't worth living without hearing that sound everyday. If a semi-truck were to hit our parked Ferraris and total them, as soon as we got the insurance money, we would run out and buy another F355 GTS in a heartbeat....that is how awesome these cars are!
Side note: Wayne's warranty runs out next month. Mine runs out in 9 months. We will keep you posted on our "out of pocket" expenses......