Sebastian Vettel raced a Ferrari against an ambulance a few years ago. But what happens when the Ferrari is an ambulance?
I leave the party with my friend Dan after midnight, on a perfect evening. His wife and baby daughter have ducked out hours ago so we can huddle around a backyard fire with a couple of our best friends. I tap into first gear and his chest tightens. It's not the tingle people feel when they first ride in a supercar. Dan's throat is closing. His inhaler is back at home. So is the EpiPen. We have to get there-now.
Damn those Italian cookies. We'd both chowed them down while waving goodbye, minutes before interrupting the neighborhood with a raspy cold start, except Dan's cookie most certainly was laced with peanut dust. That's all the permission I need to warp across our empty town. Gearchange-bang!-another gearchange, back on the gas, go, brake-all clear?-go.
Whenever there's a Ferrari speeding on deserted streets with a mission, an Amazon film crew and an Instagram post generally follow, so won't you please tune in on Saturday. But this is not fun. Should the police notice, I've decided I will not stop.
We whip through the final intersection, I squeeze the carbon brakes in a last-second turn onto his street, and there they are, a half-dozen speed bumps the condo association thought were a super idea. Finally, the front door. Dan's inhaler in the upstairs bathroom is expired. The Benadryl isn't kicking in. So off we race again, pulling up to the emergency room like it's a nightclub, in a 2016 Ferrari 488 Spider.
"I just wanted to ride in the Ferrari," Dan jokes on the hospital bed, his face red, an IV in one arm. He hadn't suffered that serious an allergic reaction in years, and I'd never been a wheelman when it really counted. On that night, a $350,000 Ferrari convertible became his easiest, cheapest, and God-almighty fastest ride to the ER.
The 488 is a testament to how far automotive engineering has taken us. Twenty years ago, a twin-turbocharged car with rear-wheel drive and 661 horsepower behind your head felt like the equivalent of Dan visiting the Planters factory. Today, relatively speaking, it's a quiet cruiser that can catapult to the next corner and claw out before anyone in the car realizes what happened. There's so much torque from this 3.9-liter V-8-561 lb-ft at 3000 rpm-that the transmission is happiest in seventh gear, the turbos whooshing and the engine near silent like an electric motor. When I first drove the 488, the muted volume was a downer. Yet we're doing extralegal speeds without waking up a soul in town. This sort of thing you can't gather during a lap at Fiorano.
Two summers ago, I visited Herb Chambers at his Connecticut home. Chambers is one of the most successful car dealers in the nation and was about to sell his McLaren F1 for $16 million. He told me he needs supercars that are comfortable and won't break the bank-it's all relative-so he ordered a 488 Spider. The F1 became too valuable to move.
That I know. I should have driven Dan to the hospital in his Ford Escape. But you do the best with what's in front of you, and a Ferrari was blocking his car.
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