So against better judgement — I decided to open up the garage, check the water level (looks good), check the oil level (in line), check for leaks (none), visual inspection of the engine/bay (everything looks in order)….
So I pull the baby out — took a few spins around town – did a couple loops around Stanford….seems to be performing well – no issues – power is back – not a single puff of smoke – this is with about an hour of driving as well!
The only thing that seems to be a bit off – is the muffler sounds a bit odd (like a exhaust leak or something)
The previous owner was pretty shoddy in all his “upgrades” – could the smoke/etc been caused by something that broke along the exhaust system? (I’ll find out tomorrow as I’m taking her in to a personal shop for a quick inspection)
So when I got my car, it came with this ill-fitting (though good quality) wooden shift knob – it was made for levers that were supposed to be much thicker. My mechanic had put this really ugly FIAT shift knob that was super loose (but butter then the wooden one)Shopping around eBay – I didn’t really see anything that I liked – Ricambi America to the rescue – I bought their Hill Engineering gear shift knob – I am very pleased – was about $80
Fits really snugly and has a nice feel/look to it.
So took the horsey up a popular road in the Bay Area in Woodside (Woodside/La Honda Road) and I came to wide open stretch of road. I’ve been driving pretty conservatively so I felt the car was ready to stretch its legs a bit. Floored it in 3rd gear around 6-7K and about 5 seconds I feel a noticeable loss of power and I start pluming a huge cloud of white smoke. (Insert all the worst fears of Ferrari ownership here)
I see that the oil pressure gauge goes down and I step off the gas and coast a bit. I am still pluming white smoke like that car in Spy Hunter. I pull off to the side of the road and turn off the car. I exit the car and white smoke is billowing from the engine compartment, with the familiar smell of burning oil. At this point I’m looking for my cell phone expecting to call AAA to tow back to the repair show. I wait about 5 minutes, say a little prayer, and turn the key. The car starts right up, but no more smoke. I turn around and (all the while praying) hope to get home.
The strange thing is – no more smoke, but I notice the engine sounds different (a lot less loud) and it feels noticeably weaker.
I’m going to be calling up Brian Crall a very highly recommended Ferrari Mechanic in San Ramon.
These old Ferrari have electrical gremlins everywhere.
1) Headlights will open/close spontaneously
2) Tach is slow
3) Side Marker lights won’t work
4) Radio stopped working
5) Antenna won’t go up and down
6) Fog Lights won’t work
Other than these problems – everything is working great (so far)
I bought a bunch of relays and fuses on Amazon, I’m hoping it fixes some of these issues…
So – they fixed the seat belt mice, the side vent, gave me a free fiat shifter, fixed the hood latch!
But in the process they broke the parking lights (not working, and the Radio)
I plan on upgrading the radio anyway so that’s fine! I noticed while driving the light housings will open and close by themselves…(more electrical gremlins) – Still need to fix Antenna and lap belts – re-paint some poorly done interior “refreshing” done by the previous owner!
The car is exhilerating to drive though – especially after driving more modern and very insulated vehicles.
I love that aspect of this car – the two other cars that come close are
1) Porsche 911 (rear engined, not mid)
2) Lotus Evora (there has been talk about a convertible – but nothing so far)
So the Porsche is still the closest car out there that pretty much matches the Ferrari. So why didn’t I go with the Porsche? I saw about 4 911s on my 1 hour drive around town – how many Ferrari did I see? Just mine.
So I’m quickly becoming friends with “Danny” are really friendly mechanic at Dino Motors. He’s been doing the bulk of the work on my car. He said he was able to get to red-line with no problem – so not sure if the problem is a bad tach or perhaps intermittant – he suggested that Johannes take a spin. One of the things I requested was that they get rid of the “clear bra” that was on my car. It was installed from what I gathered a long time ago – and it was well past it’s expiration date with crazy stains and marks on it. He said they were able to take it off and the car looked great!
I’m still waiting to hear in addition to the red-line issue the following
1) Hood Latch
2) Antenna Stuck
3) Seat Belts
4) Broken Driver side vent
5) Replace the shifter
I think the car will be in great shape after I address these few things…
Okay, so Dino Motors knows their stuff, but a warning to others – they are sloooowwwww. I have to chalk it up to that fact that they have a ton of cars in there and I think many of them are of much higher “premium” – so when they are prioritizing: they probably have to address the million dollar Muira in there before mine. I don’t take this personally – basic law of supply and demand.
So the engine was only firing on half the cylinders because of bad relays – during this investigation – they found a bad water hose (replaced.) The headlights were permanently on. (fixed that) They also fixed the Seat Belts – the previous owners really committed all the horror stories you hear about Ferrari’s – Some examples? The steering wheel was backwards, various installs electronic nonsense. The car had a pretty slip-shod state for all the interior bits which were misaligned and generally blocking things. Dead pedal was installed wrong so it had the potential to block clutch – general crazy stuff like that
Some folks should just not own Ferraris – basically too many folks that go into it half-cocked and end up messing up a masterpiece up…sad really.
What can I say? I’m a masochist, and I’ve been enjoying ‘righting’ the wrongs of previous owners. I mean a hobby is as good as the challenge it presents to you – and I’m for it short of catastrophic failure that results in a parts car.
So I took the car for a spin and it was a lot of fun – sounded and drove great – gets lot of attention. Still need to work on the following however.
1) Hood Latch
2) Antenna doesn’t work
3) Cheese grater has missing “teeth” on driver’s side
4) Lap belts won’t retract
5) Exhaust leak somewhere….
More updates to come!
So one of the many things I’ve been learning about Ferrari ownership is the different paradigms about practically everything. Case in point, the length of time one would expect for work to be done on the car. Since these are exotics, everything takes 10 times as long and unfortunately, things of course cost 10 times as much as other cars. Just one of the things about these hand built masterpieces to know.
Johannes at Dino Motors has been working on my car, and he has been really cool. He’s one of the most sought after Ferrari/Italian independent shops in the San Francisco bay area so he’s always in demand. His shop is full of different Ferraris of varying vintage and he and his trusted partner, Danny – are always swamped.
It’s been about a month since I’ve dropped off my car and he’s been fixing a bunch of few things…thankfully nothing has broken the bank (yet.)
So far the culprit of the engine stall was electrical – (Fixed)
While fixing that – the water pipe busted (Fixed)
They replaced the Transmission fluid as what was in there was pretty old.
They checked the belts and they are cool
The fuse box is in good shape.
Spark Plugs, Fuel/Air Filter are okay.
Some things that they are checking out now is:
Broken hood latch
Broken Antenna motor (won’t go up/down)
Seat belts are stuck
Missing screws in the interior
I’m hoping to get the car back soon
So I got a call from Dino motors and they said that half the engine banks are not firing – that’s what’s causing the funky engine performance. He hasn’t pinpointed the exact problem, although it sounds very similar to what some people have suggested previously…bad ignition system, bad fuel system….hopefully the pain won’t be too bad…
The closest shop to me that I’ve always seen was Dino Motors. I gave them a call a couple weeks ago and was greeted by the friendly owner, Johannes Huwyler. I had scheduled to have the car dropped today, and I was looking forward to meeting him in person and checking out the shop.
Dino Motors was amazing. While small and cramped – it felt I was in the halls of an automotive temple. Everything was nicely laid out and right in front of me was a Lamborghini Miura! I just finished watching Jerry’s Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars getting Coffee” with Chris Rock and this car last week – so it was cool to see it first-hand.
Joahannes was the consummate professional – very friendly, and he took all the time to explain to me amazing things about the car. He gave me a full tour of the shop and it was awesome to get a first-hand commentary on different Ferrari. Saw beautiful 330s, Daytonas, 308/328s, even a 400. I’ll report back on what is ultimately wrong with the car, but so far based on my experience – I feel fortunate to have such a shop close by my home.
1321 S. Railroad Ave
San Mateo, CA 94402
Here is the original window sticker for the car – I thought the $3,000 Gas Guzzler Tax was interesting.
So this was $109,950 in 1991 Dollars – With tax (about 8.5% in California) We’re looking at $119,295 in 1991 Dollars – If this was adjusted for inflation – we’re looking at roughly $200,000 in 2013 dollars. Crazy