Ferrari 360 Modena: Wine and Whisky
Some things are better as they age, bit only if kept in good condition.
'Modern classics' are likely to become an ever-growing segment in the coming decades with more production years squeezed into an ever-widening time period. Now, it is easier than ever to keep machines in top condition for longer, and with new combustion engine cars possibly disappearing a renaissance of car maintenance gains momentum. Plastic bubbles are keeping cars in cold countries safe from harsh conditions. Air Conditioned garages in desert countries are keeping cars cool, and out of the paint bleaching sunlight. Summer events are gaining a larger audience, and more cars are being bought as long-term investments as bank rates remain at fractions of a percent. People buying a car as an investment are sometimes maligned in the motoring press as disinterested and stopping a market from forming at a reasonable value. However, if someone has convinced themselves to put their money in supercars over stocks we shouldn’t begrudge them. Whatever we have to tell ourselves to make the maths work, ostensibly a lot of the ‘future classics’ just track inflation. The giant plus is that In twenty years when you are banned from buying anything that isn’t a close relative of a golf caddy these machines will still be in fine fettle, ready to be bought up and enjoyed.
An example at the more common end of the scale was a hot hatch from the early 2000s that I have recently spotted for sale. Worth mentioning, solely because I’ve owned two and loved the engine, was the EP3 Civic Type R. A 7,000-mile example was for sale a couple of thousand pounds less than its original sale price. Since many of these have been run up a tree, covered 170,000 miles, or fallen into the hands of people that enjoy the McDonald’s racetrack of roundabout, car park, and drive through combo, it’s good to see a few being kept for the days when we have all forgotten what a Sunday morning blast really means.
This takes us to the Ferrari 360 Modena. A car that was reasonably well-received at launch, then forgotten about once the 430 and 458 came along. Today though appreciation in both its Ferrari spirit and price track upwards. Power that you could use without two seconds later going into such a speed territory that the loss of license becomes guaranteed mixed with smooth lines that epitomise the word 'supercar'. The 430 will likely join this club in time. The beauty of a gated shift pattern between driver and passenger instilling something special about the manual versions. A budding marketplace for conversions from the automated F1 paddle shift is already gaining steam.
There is also another trick the 360 pulls, offering a feeling to the driver that it’s just you and me.
It’s been over a decade since I was fortunate enough to take a Ferrari 360 on a short jaunt. I can honestly remember thinking, why would you want anything more? That car did have an ‘F1’ gearbox so shifting was stuttered, but at the time you didn’t care. Comparisons to today's dual clutch are meaningless. The noise, the thrill of revs, revs, revs, and the feeling of a chassis that dared you to push to see if it would let go. Since then, speed has become an order of the day, if you can’t go from zero to sixty as fast as some utterly irrelevant all wheel drive launch box people look down on the engineers. Forgetting that they have not once in their life lined up on a runway with their current car to race the competition. It’s why drag races are fun to watch, but shouldn’t form any part of an opinion on how good a car is. A Honda NSX-R could be launched awfully and get stomped on a wet day in January. It doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be utterly glorious on a July afternoon on your nearest racetrack.
There is also another trick the 360 pulls, offering a feeling to the driver that it’s just you and me. There are a few electronic nannies, but you will be quickly humbled if you think that the inputs of a lumberjack won’t find you facing the way you came. Some may see this as a bad thing, the only way to detach from that mindset is to ask yourself. If you saw the neighbours attack dog, unshackled and staring at you through the fence, would your heart rate spike more than seeing old granny Sue’s Lhasa Apso barking at you through the window, yes, well do you buy a sports car for a rush, or for a sedate canter. The thrill of the 360 is that the prancing horse must be respected, treat it right, don’t be a fool and it will be your humble steed.
This takes us back to how these cars are kept, with many people piling into the market for investment opportunities’ there are lots of good examples being kept in climate-controlled barns and other received complete overhauls after careless owners. Hopefully, over the next decade or two, they will be released back to the market as prices begin to flatline. After all the hype has left the room there will likely only be a dedicated bunch that is in the market for this level of thirty-year-old supercar. Sadly, some won't make it that far, there is a number that has been badly modified, wrapped in orange, and covered big mileage without too much respect for the short service intervals, hopefully they will be saved, but if not we can take solace that it isn’t the majority that has been festooned with such treatment.
In the end, it’s wine and whisky, age it right, and it is something to savour.