ROSSOautomobili is proud to introduce a new section on our website. Driving the Dream is a blog category where Ferrari drivers talk about their experiences with the brand, how they got into Ferrari and their current cars.
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We’re starting off with Ed, some of you may know him as @lionworks on Instagram. Ed is an American Ferrari driver who currently owns a 2001 Ferrari 456M GT and a 1997 Ferrari F355 Spider. Both are equipped with that lovely gated-shifter and the three pedals that go with it. Photos used in this interview are by Mark Matheny.
Do you also drive the dream? Get in touch to share your story!
What’s the first Ferrari experience you can remember?
I was born in NYC but grew up in the mountains of Idaho - in a tiny, mile high town named McCall, with a glacier lake, huge pine forests, and an amazing dry powder ski mountain - like an Aspen, (parents were escaping the city, as ‘bohemians’ or so they thought). So, in the 70’s, the prospect of seeing any exotic cars there outside of wall posters and magazines was nearly impossible.
But I was lucky, as my dad, while educated as a writer, also had an import car shop below our house to make a living (we were right on the main drag leading into town). The shop was named Lionworks Auto.
So I was moulded growing up around early air-cooled Porsches, Ferraris, Audis, Saabs, Volvos, Subarus, Fiats, Mercedes’, VW Bugs, 4 panel Vans, and more. Tourists would bring them to us, keeping me fed a weekly diet of analogue design, naturally aspirated motors, and manual gearboxes. If only I paid more attention to how they were actually put together…
My most memorable Ferrari experience as a kid - and definitely the one that planted the ‘want’ inside my soul - was when the owner of the steakhouse across the street bought a brand new Ferrari Mondial QV Coupe and asked my dad to provide some service (yeah, it was new, but, you know, Ferrari).
I had just gotten my license (age 14 in Idaho) and my dad took me out on the test drive. Sitting in the Daytona seat, touching the leather wrapped center console, the analogue switches, staring at the Cavallino on the wheel, pulling the black shifter ‘down’ into dog leg first, and revving that V8 behind me was like sex before I understood sex. Then proceeding to fail and sputter and stall it over and over again. I just couldn’t get it right. I was brand new to cars and the gearbox with my bad coordination was relentless. I never got it above 30 even with all my dad’s speed shifting coaxing. I was at the same time thrilled and devastated (my first loss of virginity!).
When did you decide you wanted to own a Ferrari?
From that moment on, there was a want planted inside for analogue, three-pedal, gated Ferrari cars. I wasn’t going to let it win and I desperately wanted another chance to get it right, to drive one properly. I had a taste that had become a yearning.
When did you acquire your first Ferrari? What was the experience like?
My car career kind of sucks - given I pulled over after college and lived in NY where I didn't need to own one for 18 years. Finally, seven years ago, when I took a promotion and moved my family to the home office location out of the city, we needed to buy cars. A dear mentor sent me a link for one of the most beautiful cars I had ever seen and I couldn’t believe it was only $50k at the time: a 2001 Grigio Ingrid Ferrari 456M GT. A three-pedal, gated V12 with perfect aftermarket Novitec rims. And it had seats for my 2 small boys. I became transfixed.
It was for sale by a consigner out of Virginia about 700 miles away and I bought it sight unseen after I tracked down the owner before the current seller (who hadn’t driven it at all) and was able to get a sense of its pedigree and care through him and hundreds of FerrariChat-posts he made. That’s the true power of that forum - at least when we’re nice to each other occasionally. It arrived to our new house on a trailer before we were even there - our GC took possession of the car, blocking traffic with a semi-truck in front of all our future neighbours in the rain. We set an obnoxious first impression.
When I finally sat in it, and tried to start it, I thought the battery was dead as no turn over. 40 minutes later I learned about the awful immobilizer Ferrari built into the key fob. Two beeps later and the V12 roared to life. And I began the soul resuscitating process of feeding that yearn that had started 29 years prior in the steakhouse Mondial. I now have over 63,000 miles, with thousands of perfectly timed shifts, pedal drops and custom-built straight pipes to ensure you know you’re alive.
What’s one thing that’s surprised you most about Ferrari ownership?
It teaches you the power of a meaningful and authentic story. A true emotional brand. It connects everyone across politics and economics and backgrounds. People just like to talk about their experience, good and bad, around these design beauties. Both men and women. Old and young. Poor and rich. Conservative and progressive.
Whether you like it or not, everyone becomes outspoken with an opinion, tale or moment in their lives that matter to them and how these machines touched their lives. I’ve learned that, ironically, it’s not about the car anymore but about us and our connectivity to one another. They act as bellwethers for our experiences. This is the most nourishing aspect for me - given I try to recreate the same in the work I do in design - telling purposeful stories through the built environment.
I’ve also learned that most Ferrari owners don’t properly use them. I’m the opposite. I’ll be proud when both of mine pass 100.000 miles each. Drive them!
What’s your favourite memory with your Ferrari?
I’m very spoiled and was able to add a 1997 Ferrari F355 Spider about 5 years ago - so now I own 2 of the most gorgeous vehicles ever made. The cars have always been about two things: the experience of driving them like they were designed to be driven and the connections and social world they open for me. Therefore combining those two, I am most happy allowing others to drive them - especially as I can’t drive both of them at once, and so I have a network of stunt drivers, great friends, that go with me to meets, cruises, photo shoots or just a bourbon.
I am grateful for the excitement of my friends making their own connections in them. The cars have become merely a means to an end, and I suppose you might say a connection to my dad who died unexpectedly just four years after my failure with the Mondial. He is always with me, in that passenger seat, still teaching me to speed pedal, me, now finally hard shifting perfectly.
If you could have any Ferrari next, what would it be?
I’m a sucker for a V12 front engines classic wedge. But I’m also clearly addicted to naturally aspirated, three-pedal gated. Save the manuals!
So if someone knows how to convert a Ferrari F12 into a three-pedal - I’m your man! I might add a Mondial after writing this! And for certain my two boys will be learning on a three-pedal - so they can’t text and drive. What’s a good car for them?
Besides Ferrari, what hobbies/interests are you passionate about?
Photography and design go hand in hand with these cars. And I’m a fiend for both - so there are a lot of pictures, hard driving and Instagram posts happening. I’m also convinced the sound of oil exploding in a tiny metal chamber is the politically incorrect music of the soul. Please see the video that accompanies these words and thank you for this opportunity to share my experience.
We’d like to thank Ed for taking his time to answer our questions about his experiences. Ed often shares videos of his cars for your viewing (and hearing) pleasure on his Instagram.