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Ricci's Garage

Ricci's Garage: what’s the point in owning a Ferrari racecar that's road legal?

Mark’s counting the cost of owning a Ferrari racecar... and considering selling up

Published: 18 Jun 2024

Internationally renowned photographer Mark has been working with TG for many, many years. When not taking photos he’s buying inappropriate cars. Here he shares his addiction with the world

For nearly four years I've owned a road legal Ferrari 360 Challenge racecar, and for nearly three of those it’s been completely off any road. This is because of many reasons, the main being that racecars really don’t enjoy being used outside of racing. The ride is dreadful, the noise deafening and its turning circle on par with a vessel that reads ‘Maersk’ down the side. All quite entertaining in short bursts. Less so on a daily commute.

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But the biggest single issue is down to its maintenance. When I bought it from Japan in 2020, it came with very limited history. And given its intended use, you have to assume that nothing has been done for a long time. Annoyingly, Kwik Fit don’t list its service as a package deal, either.

Specialist cars require specialist maintenance. That often means travelling many miles to reach a very small team – or individual – huddled away on an industrial estate. These people are geniuses. But often their knowledge comes at the expense of time or business management, so pinning down a timeframe may as well be drawn from a tombola. Weeks? Months? A year? Spin the wheel, await much inhaling through gritted teeth and find out.

As of this moment, the Ferrari is fighting fit and ready for use – the first time since November 2021. Its fuel tanks have been overhauled with new foam and the two fuel pumps replaced to eliminate surge under hard cornering. This should be grounds to celebrate with a proper tear-up, however the weather means it now has to live in the shed for at least four months. Because no underseal and no rubber bushes means that salted, pothole-ridden roads are its kryptonite.

I adore the way it looks. The noise, the smell, the retro Magneti Marelli dash. In a normal environment, there’s very few cars that can match it for sheer stupidity and presence. Using it on the road feels a bit like one of those maniacs who try and hold onto a bull while it violently kicks about clearly not enjoying an American latched on its back. And just like a rodeo, you’d much sooner be the one watching than actually taking part.

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I’d rather not sell it, but it’s quite hard to justify without having much deeper pockets. I’ve also shamefully never taken it out on track... something my daily Merc has done more in the last few years. What’s the point in owning a Ferrari racecar which lives its life on the road? I may as well get it sponsored by SeaWorld at this point.

But if I’ve realised one thing over the past few months, it’s that I’m more addicted to the chase and build of a car. I have a Pajero Evo needing an exhaust. A GT3 RS triggering a major service (10 months into ownership) and an E63 on the drive with a flat tyre also needing a well-deserved service.

Then there’s my W126 Mercedes which is finally ready for paint. An R34 GT-R waiting on an engine from Australia, and an E24 M6 being reassembled which I’ve never driven despite owning for five years. That’s a pretty hefty workload for a competent garage to get through... let alone an idiot who’s allowed cars to become all-encompassing of his life.

And while selling the Ferrari would be filled with some regret, the excitement of filling its place with several cheaper snotters that aren’t weather sensitive feels even more exciting right now. And I’m not just saying that out of convenience; for some silly reason I’ve decided to buy another Pajero Wagon – a really early 1985 model no less. The catch? It’s currently stuck in Johannesburg, and I didn’t really look into shipping costs until after I bought it, which looks like it’s going to triple the price of the actual car. And that alone is exactly why I cannot be trusted with an expensive Ferrari racecar anymore.

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