I met Dan (@dnm814) on Instagram. After a few weeks of me pestering him, he agreed to meet up for a ride and some car talk. His South Beach condo’s parking garage is filled with prancing horses, raging bulls and other high-end rides. We rolled up to Dan’s spot and he tugged the corner of a silky red car cover to reveal his prized 2002 Ferrari 575M Maranello.

Photography: Christian Cipriani

For his first Ferrari, Dan spent quite a while tracking down the perfect spec: F1 transmission (the first to appear in a V12 Ferrari), rosso corsa paint, beige interior with red leather inserts, Tubi exhaust and an x-pipe. He even bought luggage to strap onto the shelf behind the seats.

Just a hair over 2,000 575Ms left Maranello, but fewer than 600 made it to North America and only a few of those were red. When it debuted, it was the ultimate front-engine tourer – a car designed to plow through mountain tunnels and downshift into hairpin turns on its way to a ski chalet in the Swiss alps.

The 575M: Fast, loud and luxurious

I haven’t ridden in “old” Ferraris for over a decade, back when they were…well, new…and it was interesting to see the 575M show her age: A few wrinkles here and there. Simple interior tech. Steering wheel free of buttons and dials. This was the end of an analog generation swiftly replaced by manettino dials, digital displays and other user-friendly advancements.

With the engine now warm, Dan pulled away from South Beach and hit the causeway toward Downtown Miami as we traded memories about how exciting it was to grow up in a house with a Ferrari. We crossed Biscayne Bay, dropped a gear and opened it up. Each bump rippled through the car’s stiff frame, but every tap on the accelerator unleashed a distinctive howl through the V12’s Tubi exhaust.

Dan said he put about 2,800 miles on the car in one year, during which time it broke down three times. Part of why I wanted to meet up was because I kept seeing his car on Instagram being hauled onto a tow truck. I wanted to hear all the maintenance drama – and boy did he have it.

Gentlemen, start your checkbooks

What’s it like to own a classic Ferrari? In a word: Expensive. In another: Unpredictable. Great adjectives for an exciting woman, but that can be nerve-wracking for a car-owner.

Dan bought his 575M with around 19,000 miles from a dealer in Naples, Florida. He drove it back to Miami in sixth gear and awoke the next day to an odd whistling sound. He consulted an independent Ferrari technician – the best in Miami – who explained that the car wasn’t correctly serviced. He would need a new sixth gear.

To make a long story short, the seller agreed to fix the car for free, but it took eight weeks. The new gear got stuck at customs after its flight from Italy.

Part of what can make owning an exotic complicated is that you can’t just grab parts at NAPA. Dan said he once had to replace the spark plugs on his SLR McLaren and the bill was – wait for it – $21,000. Let that sink in. Aside from questionable service records, expensive repairs are the bane of second-hand exotic ownership.

Another thing: they’re hard to insure. Dan’s secure condo garage – the one teeming with six-figure autos – isn’t safe enough for most insurance companies. He jumped through hoops for two weeks to land a policy from a specialty insurer and paid dearly for the honor.

A labor of love or just labor?

As we made our way east again and hit the crest of the Julia Tuttle Causeway, Biscayne Bay and Miami Beach spread out before us like an infinite, shimmering paradise.

While I’m obviously a Ferrari diehard, Dan turned out to be a little more cynical about the brand. He laments the way Ferrari shuts out new buyers and allocates cars to collectors who don’t even drive them. The brand’s unique ability to make people feel like second-class citizens is well-documented, and they’ve lost powerful buyers because of it.

Ferrari’s stock has doubled in the past five years but they may need some fresh ideas to support another 70 years of success. My vote is for an entry-level car that encourages young people to embrace the brand, the same way you can start with a $50,000 Porsche Boxster and work your way up to a 918.

Ultimately, Dan taught me that owning a classic Ferrari is a bit like marriage: It’s a labor of love. Treat it right and the rewards are manifold – passion and excitement like you’ve never known. But if you get lazy with the upkeep or hit a patch of bad luck, you might lose your shirt and your spouse.

%d bloggers like this: