In 2002, Canadian-born Jason followed his heart – and fiancé – to her native Austria, which might just be the perfect place to own two manual Ferraris…
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What’s the first Ferrari experience you can remember?
The first Ferrari experience I can remember was in 1978. Gilles Villeneuve was in an American Express TV commercial explaining how he never left home without his Amex card as he hopped in and drove off in his red Ferrari 308 GTS.
That same year, Gilles celebrated his first Formula 1 victory for Scuderia Ferrari at the inaugural Montreal Grand Prix, which I also watched on TV. As a fellow Canadian, those experiences left a massive impression on me with Ferrari, Formula 1 – and of course with Gilles – that would last a lifetime.
When did you decide you wanted to own a Ferrari?
It was a lovely summer day in August of 1987, and I had the surprise opportunity to be a passenger in a white 1984 Ferrari Testarossa (Monospecchio) with a tan/brown leather interior.
17-year-old Jason with a Ferrari 328 GTS on the same day he co-drove the white Testarossa.
As long as I live, I will never forget the day a friend and I happened across the shiny, white flagship of Maranello while driving around Toronto in search of Ferraris in Canada’s largest city. I would go on to spend well over an hour taking in the beauty of the amazing two-seater before the owner showed up.
Seeing just how taken I was by his car, the owner – Angelo - very graciously offered to take me for a ride. I couldn’t believe it. I was on cloud nine. I vividly recall reaching down to the iconic side straked door intake, knowing exactly where to find that latch, and then lowering myself slowly into my dream car. I was 17, a massive fan of Miami Vice, and here I was driving down Toronto’s Yonge Street in my dream car.
When I came back from that spin around the block, I remember distinctly saying to my patiently waiting friend: “I will have a Ferrari”.
When did you acquire your first Ferrari? What was the experience like?
In 2015, I bought the first of two Ferraris – a 1986 328 GTS in Rosso Corsa with Nero leather – after a year of researching what to look out for with such a car. I have collected hundreds of magazines and books on Ferrari since the late 1970s, so with that knowledge – plus online help and expertise from other owners on FerrariChat – I knew what model made sense for my budget. It took me five months to find my car on Mobile.de, have it thoroughly checked out, and close the deal.
It’s quite a surreal moment, when you finally find yourself sitting in the car you have dreamed about for so long, and you’re ready to make it your own – a feeling any lifelong Ferrari fan should experience.
The only part that was difficult was the very long three-month wait until I finally took possession of the car. It was the first of May, as winters tend to last long in the Austrian Alps. But it was worth waiting every second of those three months.
What’s one thing that’s surprised you most about Ferrari ownership?
It surprised me just how enamoured many people are with cars from Maranello. It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, man or women, these cars have the ability to stop people in their tracks. For some reason, I thought that was my quirk, but I’m not so unique, apparently. You really can’t ‘drive under the radar’ in a Ferrari – especially not a red one. They draw so much attention. I wasn’t prepared for that.
One of the best parts of ownership has been all the new friends I have made along the way. One might expect it to be a ‘snobby fraternity’, but I have been pleasantly surprised to learn that the majority of owners are still very much kids on the inside who still love playing with cars.
What’s your favourite memory with your Ferrari?
I am very fortunate to live in a place where the roads and scenery are not only perfect for postcards, but they’re simply the best for enjoying a Ferrari. Where is such a place you ask? The mountains of Salzburg (Austria) no less. Now, that piece of geography may confuse you, as my first two experiences revolve around growing up in Canada, but the story is that I am a transplanted Canadian that followed his heart (and his fiancé) to her native town in Austria.
Not only do I live in the heart of ski country (arguably my biggest passion), but this place is ideal if you are a fan of great driving roads. I have one road and two directions to initially to choose from as I leave my tiny village of 3500 people, but within 15 seconds of turning right or left, I’m on the most amazing, winding mountain road. The beautiful symphony from my 328 or 550 is amplified by the natural surrounding walls as I work my up and down the classic gated gearbox. That means every drive is a truly memorable experience. That’s no exaggeration.
If I had to pick one experience that tops them all, it would be last summer’s morning trip in my 328 up the Größglockner – Austria’s highest mountain road pass at 2,576 meters (8,451 ft.), with more than 36 switchbacks. This is a true driver’s experience and one I look to do again this summer with my Ferrari 550 Maranello.
If you could have any Ferrari next, what would it be?
There is a reason behind my choice that surprisingly has nothing to do with my dream car’s insane value, should I ever happen across a wish-granting Genie in a bottle.
As a massive fan of Ferrari car racing and preferably those with no driver aids, I have always preferred the golden era of GT racing, when gentlemen drivers drove to the track and back home again – ideally with the winner’s trophy in tow. To win with cars of this generation required immense skill, and it didn’t hurt to have a big set of ball bearings either. And only one car is on my podium for such a task: the original 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO. Everything about this car speaks to me in a way no other car can or will.
Be it the amazing, voluptuous Bizzarrini design, the glorious 3.0-L Colombo V12 engine or the to-die-for five-speed gated shifter. This is a car that demands to be driven very hard and would often reward the lucky racer with the top spot of the podium during its competitive period from 1962 to 1965.
Sadly, there is a better chance of flying to Mars then owning such a car. But I’m not disappointed in the least, as my 550 Maranello happens to share a few of the iconic elements that made the Ferrari 250 GTO what it was, in a package that I absolutely love. So, in reality, I got my dream car after all.
Besides Ferrari, what hobbies/interests are you passionate about?
Outside of my family and enjoying Ferraris on the best roads in Europe, my other passions are track days with my kids in my 125 cc DR shifter kart, hiking in the mountains of Salzburg, working out and playing Les Pauls.
My wife, my lifelong passion for downhill (DH) skiing and my career in the ski industry brought me to Austria, so when car hibernation kicks in with winter, I am more than happy to swap car keys for very fast pairs of DH and touring skis for six months of the year!
We’d like to thank Jason for participating in our new column ‘Driving the Dream’! Follow Jason on Instagram to keep up to date with all of his adventures.