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Offline Rickjames


  • Joined: Aug 2008

  • Location: Bathuuurst
Apologies if this this is a repost, but I haven't seen it on here.

I'm sure most of you have come across it on other forums but I'll put it up here in case you haven't.

This is from Chris Harris, one of the main writers for EVO magazine. Wasn't written for EVO though (as far as I know)

"How Ferrari spins
Chris Harris — I told the blokes here at Jalopnik I was pissed at Ferrari and wanted to tell a few people. They said I could do it here. Stay with me, this might take a while.

I think it started in 2007 when I heard that Ferrari wanted to know which test track we were going to use for Autocar's 599 GTB road test, but in reality the rot had set in many years earlier. Why would it want to know that? "Because," said the man from the Autocar office, "The factory now has to send a test team to the circuit we chose so that they can optimize the car to get the best performance from it." They duly went to the track, tested for a day, crashed the car, went back to the factory to mend the car, returned, tested and then invited us to drive this "standard" 599. They must have been having a laugh.

Sad to say it, but the ecstasy of driving a new Ferrari is now almost always eradicated by the pain of dealing with the organization. Why am I bothering to tell you this? Because I'm pissed with the whole thing now. It's gotten out of control; to the point that it will soon be pointless believing anything you read about its cars through the usual channels, because the only way you get access is playing by its rules.

Like anyone with half a brain, I've been willing to cut Ferrari some slack because it is, well, Ferrari –- the most famous fast car brand of all and the maker of cars that everyone wants to know about. Bang out a video of yourself drifting a new Jag XKR on YouTube and 17 people watch it; do the same in a 430 Scuderia and the audience is 500,000 strong. As a journalist, those numbers make you willing to accommodate truck-loads of bullshit, but I've had enough now. I couldn't care if I never drive a new Ferrari again, if it means I never have to deal with the insane communication machine and continue lying about the lengths to which Ferrari will bend any rule to get what it wants. Which is just as well, because I don't think I'm going to be invited back to Maranello any time soon. Shame, the food's bloody marvelous.

How bad has it been? I honestly don't know where to start. Perhaps the 360 Modena press car that was two seconds faster to 100mph than the customer car we also tested. You allow some leeway for "factory fresh" machines, but this thing was ludicrously quick and sounded more like Schumacher's weekend wheels than a street car. Ferrari will never admit that its press cars are tuned, but has the gall to turn up at any of the big European magazines' end-of-year-shindig-tests with two cars. One for straight line work, the other for handling exercises. Because that's what happens when you buy a 458: they deliver two for just those eventualities. The whole thing stinks. In any other industry it wouldn't be allowed to happen. It's dishonest, but all the mags take it between the cheeks because they're too scared of not being invited to drive the next new Ferrari.

Remember the awesome 430 Scuderia? What a car that was, and still is. One English magazine went along with all the cheating-bullshit because the cars did seem to be representative of what a customer might get to drive, but then during the dyno session, the "standard" tires stuck themselves to the rollers.

And this is the nub: how fucking paranoid do you have to be to put even stickier rubber on a Scuderia? It's like John Holmes having an extra two inches grafted onto his dick. I mean it's not as if, according to your own communication, you're not a clear market leader and maker of the best sports cars in the world now, is it?

What Ferrari plainly cannot see is that its strategy to win every test at any cost is completely counter-productive. First, it completely undermines the amazing work of its own engineers. What does it say about a 458 if the only way its maker is willing to loan it to a magazine is if a laptop can be plugged in after every journey and a dedicated team needs to spend several days at the chosen test track to set-up the car? It says they're completely nuts –- behavior that looks even worse when rival brands just hand over their car with nothing more than a polite suggestion that you should avoid crashing it too heavily, and then return a week later.

Point two: the internet is good for three things: free porn, Jalopnik and spreading information. Fifteen years ago, if your 355 wasn't as fast as the maker claimed you could give the supplying dealer a headache, whine at the local owners club and not much besides. Nowadays you spray your message around the globe and every bugger knows about it in minutes. So, when we used an owner's 430 Scud because Ferrari wouldn't lend us the test car, it was obliterated in a straight line by a GT2 and a Lambo LP 560-4, despite all the "official" road test figures suggesting it was faster than Halley's Comet. The forums went nuts and some Scud owners rightly felt they hadn't been delivered the car they'd read about in all the buff books. Talk about karma slapping you in the face.

It's the level of control that's so profoundly irritating and I think damaging to the brand. Once you know that it takes a full support crew and two 458s to supply those amazing stats, it then takes the shine off the car. The simple message from Ferrari is that unless you play exactly by the laws they lay down, you're off the list.

What are those laws? Apart from the laughable track test stuff, as a journalist you are expressly forbidden from driving any current Ferrari road car without permission from the factory. So if I want to drive my mate's 458 tomorrow, I have to ask the factory. Will it allow me to drive the car? No: because it is of "unknown provenance," i.e. not tuned. I'm almost tempted to buy a 458, just for the joy of phoning Maranello every morning and asking if its OK if I take my kid to school.

Where I've personally run into trouble is by using owners' cars for comparison tests. Ferrari absolutely hates this; even if you say unremittingly nice things about its cars, it goes ape shit. But you want to see a 458 against a GT3 RS so I'm going to deliver that story and that video. Likewise the 599 GTO and the GT2 RS. Ferrari honestly believes it can control every aspect of the media — it has actively intervened several times when I've asked to borrow owners' cars.

The control freakery is getting worse: for the FF launch in March journalists have to say which outlets they are writing it for and those have to be approved by Maranello. Honestly, we're perilously close to having the words and verdicts vetted by the Ferrari press office before they're released, which of course has always been the way in some markets.

Should I give a shit about this stuff? Probably not. It's not like it's a life-and-death situation; supercars are pretty unserious tackle. But the best thing about car nuts is that they let you drive their cars, and Ferrari has absolutely no chance stopping people like me driving what they want to drive. Of course their attempts to stop me makes it an even better sport and merely hardens my resolve, but the sad thing is its cars are so good it doesn't need all this shite. I'll repeat that for the benefit of any vestige of a chance I might have of ever driving a Ferrari press car ever again (which is virtually none). "Its cars are so good it doesn't need this shite."

None of this will make any difference to Ferrari. I'm just an irrelevant Limey who doesn't really matter. But I've had enough of concealing what goes on, to the point that I no longer want to be a Ferrari owner, a de-facto member of its bullshit-control-edifice. I sold my 575 before Christmas. As pathetic protests go, you have to agree it's high quality.

Jesus, this is now sounding like a properly depressing rant. I'll leave it there. Just remember all this stuff then next time you read a magazine group test with a prancing stallion in it."



Offline maccattack


  • Joined: Jul 2009

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Offline dkabab

Not surprised at all, they have a brand name to protect.... But if they put that energy into building the best car, they wouldn't need to worry as much



Offline AdminAG

  • All the news that fits to pixels

  • Joined: Jun 2006

  • Drives: Traffic
  • Location: Interwebs
Ferrari accused of 'hotting-up' press cars

by Joshua Dowling

McLaren, Porsche and Lamborghini won't comment on Ferrari's predicament, but say they are squeaky-clean

Source: http://www.carsales.com.au/news/2011/prestige-and-luxury/ferrari/ferrari-accused-of-hottingup-press-cars-23700

Italian sportscar maker Ferrari has so far refused to respond to accusations this week that it builds special hotted-up cars for media evaluation -- but in wake of the controversy, three of the biggest names in the supercar world have defended the integrity and performance of their vehicles.

UK-based freelance motoring writer Chris Harris, formerly of respected industry journal Autocar magazine, wrote a column that spilled the beans on a widely known industry secret.

In a lengthy comment piece entitled 'How Ferrari Spins', published by the oddball but widely-read US-based motoring website Jalopnik, Harris outlined numerous instances where Ferrari had supplied two cars for magazines to test -- one for straight-line performance and another for track use -- and how adjustments were made to vehicles between timed runs.

He also told of instances where customer cars were curiously slower than those supplied by Ferrari -- and that Ferrari regularly intervened when journalists attempted to borrow customer cars for road tests. The imputation was that Ferrari would not supply vehicles for comparison tests if there was a risk it would not be deemed the superior vehicle in the outcome of the story.
 
In part, Harris wrote: "The whole thing stinks. In any other industry it wouldn't be allowed to happen. It's dishonest, but all the mags take it between the cheeks because they're too scared of not being invited to drive the next new Ferrari."

It may sound like sour grapes but Harris, who is wealthy from several successful business exploits -- not motoring journalism -- is one of the few writers in his field to have owned more than a dozen supercars, including a number of Ferraris and Porsches and at least one Lamborghini.

Harris continued: "What Ferrari plainly cannot see is that its strategy to win every test at any cost is completely counter-productive. First, it completely undermines the amazing work of its own engineers. What does it say about a [Ferrari] 458 if the only way its maker is willing to loan it to a magazine is if a laptop can be plugged in after every journey and a dedicated team needs to spend several days at the chosen test track to set-up the car? It says they're completely nuts -- behaviour that looks even worse when rival brands just hand over their car with nothing more than a polite suggestion that you should avoid crashing it too heavily, and then return a week later."

The spokesman for Ferrari in Australia told the Carsales Network he was not permitted to comment on the story.

But other supercar brands, while not wanting to comment on the allegations leveled at Ferrari, have sought to clarify their press car policies in case they are tarred with the same brush.

The spokesman for Porsche in Australia, Paul Ellis, told the Carsales Network: "The cars we provide journalists and the cars we provide customers have identical performance. Cars we provide journalists are not fettled to provide superior performance over a car that we would supply to a customer.

"We are very conservative when it comes to quoting acceleration and performance figures and, in our experience journalists are easily able to match or beat the official performance claims we make -- without any supervision or assistance."

The Australian distributor of Lamborghini cars in Australia, Andrew Smith, told the Carsales Network: "I am 100 per cent confident in the performance and consistency of our vehicles. I'm happy for anyone to pick a car at random and test it. The cars we supply to the media are identical to cars off the showroom floor -- because they come off our showroom floor."

McLaren's regional director for the Middle East, Africa and the Asia-Pacific, Ian Gorsuch, in Australia this week, told the Carsales Network: "We have complete trust and confidence in our car and the journalists we invite to test drive it. We believe in total transparency and honesty. People who buy these cars are savvy people. The experience they feel must be equal to what they were expecting, based on media reports. They will not settle for anything less."

He said the McLaren MP4-12C had undergone 1 million kilometres of real world testing, from the heat of Death Valley, to the humidity and dust of the Middle East, to below-freezing conditions in the arctic.

The warts-and-all comment piece, in which Harris assumes he will never be invited to Maranello again, concludes almost apologetically: "[Ferrari's] cars are so good it doesn't need [to doctor them]".

In Australia, media test drives of Ferraris are few and far between -- and usually come with restrictions on their use, and/or a companion representing the company.

Although I have driven four Ferraris in the past five years, in my experience Lamborghini and Porsche are more willing to make vehicles available for unrestricted and extended evaluation (ie: more than one day).

However, Ferraris have at least been more readily available to Australian media in the past five years since distribution was taken over by European Automotive Imports, a division of Ateco, the company that also imports Citroen, Fiat and Alfa Romeo cars.

Prior to that, under the previous distributor, Ferrari test drives in Australia were almost non-existent and seasoned journalists with decades of experience could count the number of their encounters on one hand -- or indeed had none at all.

Image

Hello :)



Offline AshSimmonds

  • Geekitecht

  • Joined: Feb 2006

  • Drives: GF's shitbox :(
  • Location: Adelayed
  • Name: Humble Narrator
  • www: AshSimmonds.com
Quote from: Marcus J
Quote
The Australian distributor of Lamborghini cars in Australia, Andrew Smith, told the Carsales Network: "I am 100 per cent confident in the performance and consistency of our vehicles. I'm happy for anyone to pick a car at random and test it."

I've just put my hand up.

:D


http://www.carsales.com.au/news/2011/prestige-and-luxury/ferrari/ferrari-accused-of-hottingup-press-cars-23700#comment-150615538



Offline tasgirevik


  • Joined: Aug 2009

  • Drives: classic 911 = DD

This is from Chris Harris, one of the main writers for EVO magazine. How Ferrari spins
I'm just an irrelevant Limey who doesn't really matter.

True , I can imagine the reaction : "Well gentlemen , it's a long way back to England , and it's thataway"

(From the original Italian Job flick )



Online allanuber


  • Joined: Aug 2007

  • Location: Sydney
  • Name: Al
Subversive marketing. Write a contentious article, end it by saying the product's actually awesome. Get insane news coverage from all media outlets. Neat.

Ferrari wins again!
C'mon, do it!



Offline Ferrari Fissatore

  • Soap Dodger

  • Joined: Jan 2007

  • Drives: its obsession
  • Location: under its skin
well, he's a bit wrong too....

the tyres stuck to the rollers because they're R spec rubber but with rain tread... meaning the blocks overheat on a loaded dyno pull (which adds camber and) makes the inside edges do all the work, which is too much for them, so they overheat, and melt.

it happens on track too... the tyres are just shit, full stop.

And the other reason ferrari involve themselves is because ferrari service quality is SO variable that no-one can be sure theyr'e getting a properly tuned car.

i see it very often, cars with bad cam timing (or other performance robbing problems) and poor service / prep... running well off their potential. And this can be scarily new cars too.. and dealer prep is no guarantee of correct prep... quite the opposite all too often.

So, YES, he has a point, but he's misunderstood and over reacted.




And anyway, we ALL know those Ferrari horsies are smaller than German ones.



Offline Ferrari Fissatore

  • Soap Dodger

  • Joined: Jan 2007

  • Drives: its obsession
  • Location: under its skin
Had a call from the dealer today....

Dealer. "we're conducting some market research into competitors and independents, and want to know your labour rate"

Me. "What's yours?"

D. $165/hr

M "I'm as little as $80 for resto work, up to $110 for schedule servicing, but you know the fact we exist is not anything to do with price, right??"

D. "What do you charge for a service"

M. "What kind of service?"

D. "errr... annual"

M " What model"

D. "errr, a 355, or a 360 or a 430"

M. "Well, which? And you know it's not about the price, right????"

D. "a 360, and what do you mean?"

M. "I don't do fixed price menu servicing, I inspect the car, and the history, and discuss with the owner what may or may not be the best service to perform, and I discuss repair options, and that answers both your questions."

M. "hello"

M." Hello"

M" HELLLOOOOO????"


Me   :D




Offline dodger

  • Tommy Gunna

  • Joined: Dec 2009

  • Location: Melbourne
For next time -

Had a call from the dealer today....

Dealer. "we're conducting some market research into competitors and independents, and want to know your labour rate"

Me.  "why don't you ask your clients there's one or two in my workshop now, would you like me to put one of them on?

Me   :D



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