View Full Version : Mario149 - F355 spider

Club Scuderia
10-01-2011, 05:00 PM
Over last 10 months
Mileage: 5,930 miles

Faults: Faulty seat potentiometer
Loose oil pressure gauge connection
Bypass valve not opening fully
Immobiliser fault
Blowing manifold
Slow puncture
Temperamental starter
Broken headlight adjuster screw (my fault!)

Servicing/Maintenance: £1,566 (Fix bypass valve issue
Breakdown recovery
Refurbed manifold
Refurbed starter
Slow puncture fixed
Clutch lube
Replace headlight screw)

Upgrades: £3,703 (Momo Race steering wheel and associated bits
Capristo Exhaust
Immobiliser upgrade
Challenge Grill
Tubi test pipes)

She's arrived! After much waiting (there were delays getting the fuel system recall done at Maranello's), I finally picked up the car from Mike Wheeler and Mike Lester at Rardley Motors, only 4 months after I started looking. It's a manual 1996 F355 Spider in Le Mans Blu/Crema previously owned by a Ferrari collector who had 2 other F355s(!) and 10 other Fcars apart from that....lucky man! Mike Wheeler has been very helpful throughout the buying process and had clearly spent a significant amount of time tracing the car's owner history through the DVLA to ensure it was as complete as possible. The few odds and sods highlighted by the PDI I had done (by Mike at QV) were quickly sorted. The only slight downer to the pick up experience was the fact that the hood decided to stop working the moment I arrived (actually, it only stopped in one direction!)....the Mikes both looked a somewhat embarrassed. After trying in vain to sort out the issue, they showed me how to trigger the roof manually and made arrangements for the car to be plugged into a diagnostic machine and be fixed soonest (turned out to be an unusually weird seat potentiometer issue)
Anyway, the drive back home up the A3 in the evening sunshine with the roof down was gorgeous, couldn't have been better and parking the car up at home, knowing she was all mine was an epic feeling :) I've decided to name her Francesca btw. It may seem a little odd but I have a history of naming all my cars - Sabine the Porsche 996 C4S, Michela the Maser 4200, Sally the Honda S2000, Veronica the Renault Clio 172 Cup....the list goes on....!
So just to clarify, she is going to be used! She is my only car and hence my daily driver....it should make the monthly tinned goods run to Asda interesting ;)

Just got back from a 700 mile Easter road trip, car performed awesomely :) Even managed to average 21mpg despite good amounts of hoonage. A few minor issues have come to light including a few drips from the windows around the seals at the front (now strategically fixed with silicon) and the silly Italian driving position (being solved with new steering wheel when it arrives in the next day or so)

I've had the car a couple of months now and nearly completed 2k almost faultless miles (oil pressure gauge insisted on registering well over the maximum pressure, turned out to be a loose connection in the dash) all done with a big smile on my face :) I managed to fit the steering wheel fine, it's significantly smaller than the original so the steering is nicely heavier at higher speeds. In town it's a tad too heavy I'd say, but I much prefer it this way and the higher speed stuff is what's important.
An issue also appeared that the exhaust bypass valve seemed not to be opening. I took it back to the dealer who had a check and a fiddle, and it definitely now is. I thought the on/off difference would be greater, but it appears that all these cars sound different, oh well! In the next few weeks another enthusiast has offered to help me check that all my vacuum lines are in good nick as this could potentially stop the valve opening fully if there's even the slightest leak.

Okay, I finally caved to the peer pressure and had the old girl fitted with a Step 1 Capristo :) Epic fun so far, needs to bed in a bit, so hopefully the sound will get even better. Got to be careful with the right foot now so that I don't accidentally pedestrians in town a heart attack! Looking forward to trying it out in the alpine passes and tunnels on the summer road trip

First update in 3 months, and what a pain in the backside they've been – nothing to do with the car itself mind, more insurance companies and an incompetent garage general manager. Oh, an an annoying immobiliser inflicted "breakdown" when trying to retrieve the car from Cannes in the Cote d'Azur....all will become clear in a sec. Anyway, to cut a very long and p!ss boiling story short, an 18 year old kid in France decided to remodel my rear bumper using his mate's Peugeot 206 near Cannes (while I was on a road trip) at the end of July. While I was stationary. It's taken 3 months to get the car repaired and back to Blighty, overwhelmingly due to an incompetence shown by my insurance company (PM me for the name) not seen since the charge of the Light Brigade was green-lighted. Anyway, the silver lining is that since the claim was no fault on my part, I told the Ferrari main dealer to go to town on the, really pretty minor, repairs – the end result being brand spanking new paintwork/panels on the back of the car, a Challenge Grill (for the princely sum of 230 European notes!) and an upgrade to a Step 2 Capristo :D They also fitted new wipers to boot as the ones I dropped it off with were definitely very streaky :) Just on paint work alone I reckon I'm up by £3k or so. Now if I get the front done to match, it'll look like it's just rolled out of the factory. Better go and shake the piggy bank to see what's available.
The other silver lining of this episode is that I got to drive the Route Napoleon with a friend while bringing Francesca home. The weather was fantastic there, and all up through France so roof down all the way. We even made a side trip to the Circuit de Gueux for some flyby videos :D If you want to have a look, they're on You Tube – I'm user Mario149149. We completed 900+ miles from Cannes to London in less than 36 hours, awesome.

Well, the car spent its Christmas at my mechanic's garage having Tubi test pipes fitted and a few other odds and sods dealt with including a refurbed manifold and starter – all for an incredibly reasonable price I might add. It's amazing, even having the car gone for 3 weeks in the middle of winter when I couldn't even drive it had me missing it! Anyway, based on the 10 mile schlep back across town in traffic, I can report that despite now running test pipes (so volume has increased slightly) and a step 2 Capristo, the car is not offensively loud from inside the cabin. I was a bit worried I was taking a gamble with the pipes, but it's all good so far. Now I just need to get it out over the weekend and see if there is any improved throttle response and maybe a bit more (imagined?! :p) oomph. I'm guessing if I'm going to feel anything it'll be in the mid range before the bypass valve opens, but we'll see. I think I'll need to take a friend along in a chase car behind me: I'm now hoping for some exhaust flame action ;)
So the car is due a annual plus 50k big service in March. I think that at the same time I'm going to have the headlights upgraded to xenons as I'm getting quite annoyed when driving it in the dark. I'm also contemplating having the seats re-trimmed and maybe a few other interior bits re-trimmed/reconnolised. Problem is I don't want to have the car off the road for 2-3 weeks in summer. I might try and get it done while I'm abroad for a few weeks in July/August.

First day home after picking her up!

Wales Easter road trip

New steering wheel, I cannot recommend it enough

Weekend hoon with friends after Supercar Breakfast Club

London FGear meet

London FGear meet

Summer road/camping trip (Calais)

Summer road/camping trip (Le Mans)

Alps between Nice and Monaco

France on way home after picking Francesca up after summer incident (somewhere near Dijon I think)

France on way home after picking Francesca up (Circuit de Gueux)

France on way home after picking Francesca up (final leg home, my mate in photo)

Club Scuderia
02-02-2011, 07:16 PM
January 2011

Mileage: 802 miles this month - http://www.pistonheads.com/members/showcar.asp?carId=106790
Faults: Wobbly drivers seat, Car not starting
Servicing/Maintenance: £396 2 x Pirelli PZero Assimetrico tyres

Okay, so this month has mainly been about me enjoying having the car back after her absence over the Christmas period :) Step 2 Capristo and test pipes are sounding fantastic, only downside is that it encourages a heavy right foot which is now exacerbated by the sharp increase in fuel prices! I went for a spin up to St Albans with a couple of friends to meet Tom W and his yellow 355 for lunch, which was great.

2 new rear tyres were needed and I was pointed in the direction of Wembley Tyres who did them for a very good price. However, on closer inspection a week or so later, I've noticed that there is some damage to the lacquer on the some of the spokes on the rear wheels (but not on the front) that wasn't there before and couldn't have been caused by kerbing. I think it's too much of a coincidence so shall be calling them shortly.

I've been collating quotes for my 50k service in a few months time which is all good. Looks like I also need an engine mount replaced so will get that (well, probably the pair) done then too.

I think I might have the driver's seat out in the next couple of weeks to see if I can fix its wobblyness. Apparently there are 3 screws that can work loose and just need to be tightened - I took the cover off the seat mechanism, found what I thought were the screws but they didn't seem loose so it looks like I'll need to have a closer look with the seat out.

Most recently I had an issue where the car wouldn't start due to a problem with the fuse board, more detail can be read here to save me repeating myself(!): http://www.clubscuderia.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?t=41779. It was all sorted in under 48 hours, so not too bad considering!

Meeting Tom W in St Albans

Okay, so for reasons that never really became apparent, my friend keeps a little camp fluffy horse in his Z4M, which somehow made into onto my car for some photo ops while I was paying for fuel at a petrol station.....!

The Camp Horse on the Prancing Horse

Club Scuderia
13-05-2011, 09:41 AM
Since 1/2/2011, today is 5/5/2011

Mileage: 1,469 miles
Odometer: 49,395

Small coolant leak
Rough idle / misfire
Weeping camcover oil seal
Worn N/S rear upper wishbone bushes

Servicing/Maintenance: £1,837.98
Carry Out 50k service as per Manufacturer specification, including….
Replace x2 engine mountings
Investigate/fix coolant leak
Investigate/fix rough idle / misfire
Replace camcover oil seal O/S
Replace N/S rear upper wishbone bushes
Carry out repair / tidy to fuse board
Refurbish rear wheels (Magnesium)
Carry out Pre / MOT inspection
Re-align Bonnet / Boot
Brake fluid change
Re attach interior trim
Supply & fit x2 Pirelli 215/45/18 Direzonale
Full valet inc engine compartment / claybar / wax

Upgrades: £220
Supply & Fit HID Kit

Full servicing details etc here: http://www.pistonheads.com/members/showcar.asp?carId=106790

Well, I rolled over 1 year’s worth of ownership at the beginning of March, so I guess I’d better give my thoughts on newbie Fcar ownership! In one word overall? Amazing. I’ll get the negative bits out the way first. In all honesty has it cost me more to run than I would have liked? Maybe a little (call it £4.2k in servicing/maintenance/consumables). Has it cost me more to run than I expected. No, not really. Memories? Priceless. I have to say at this point that a large proportion of the costs have been due to me making a rod for my own back. I’ve had elective work done that wasn’t strictly necessary and I’ve had £4k’s worth of upgrades done which technically weren’t either, but really, you only live once., so b*ll*cks to it. Oh, and 8k miles worth of fuel at 16.5mpg doesn’t help! :laugh: In 14 months of ownership, the car has died on me twice: once was, ironically, a new Thatcham immobilizer I had fitted that was faulty. Which leaves just once that the car (and all its “well renowned” Italian engineering) let me down. If we put that in perspective with the mileage I’ve done, I can honestly say that it is damn good going for a highly strung, hand-built supercar that is 15+ years old. If someone can show me another car of the same vintage that isn’t Japanese that has done as well, I’m all ears.

Now for the positives. In the last few years, I have changed cars on average every 10 months or so, and have had the privilege of owning some great motors (some more expensive than others). Yet nothing, nothing has captured my heart like Francesca has (yes, I name my cars, I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned that in a previous report already so stop judging :p). I do occasionally catch myself wavering: 328s are achingly beautiful and by all accounts are cheaper to run. And 550s, well, a little bit more cash gives you uber performance and again, by all accounts, bomb-proof mechanical reliability (which is where it really counts with Fcars, cosmetic/minor stuff is not where it gets expensive), what’s not to like? Except that, for better or worse, I think I’m a Spider man. I’ve cruised the French Riviera in summer with the top down (with my utterly gorgeous, now ex unfortunately!, gf in the passenger seat making me look good :p Being shallow for a sec, it really is fun batting above your average :laugh: ), I’ve ripped the arse out of the Route Napoleon in sunny autumn with the roof down in the company of a true petrolhead mate, been to Bruges and pulled up outside the hostel (yes, hostel!) we were staying at with people staring incredulously, and driven out on numerous country hoons with other enthusiasts in the rain/sunshine and night/day, with roof down all the way (remember, more gas = less wet ;) ). The memories from the past year are epic, and having a convertible has only made them more so. Who gives a stuff about the odd bit of scuttleshake and 0.5 secs round a track now, honestly?

Oh, and the noise! Enough to make your presence known and generally entertain passers-by when pottering along. More than enough F1 wail to give people a heart attack when flooring it and the valve opens….aural ecstasy. On the way to my 50k service, I gave the car a 2 sec squirt up the road in London when I was near the garage. My mechanic heard me while he was at his sis’s house having coffee, and knew it was time to leave for work. He was half a mile away, indoors at the time :D I’m going to blatantly rip off a CS member’s signature now, but it is so apt – “Capristo: spreading more Italian love than Silvio Berlusconi”. It’s not big, it’s not clever, but it is an awful lot of fun. Well, that’s about it from me for the moment I guess. I’m looking forward to Cliveden House this weekend and a picnic with other enthusiats. And also particularly to doing the Help a Hero afternoon in a week or so, followed by Dad’s Day Out. Being able to give something back to others who have not been as fortunate as I will truly be the icing on the cake of my ownership so far – being able to share my experiences and joy, if only for a short time, with or for people who have had a sh*tty hand dealt to them in life makes me feel truly humble.

In short, to plagiarise yet another “person”, Ferris Bueller in this case, I leave you with this:

“It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.”

Thanks for reading 

Club Scuderia
15-11-2011, 03:23 PM
Mileage: 2,185 miles
Odometer: 52,120

Rough idle (again!) / rev chasing

Servicing/Maintenance: £625
Diagnose rev sensor problem, reconnect sensor plug
Adjust passenger door which was catching on bodywork slightly
Supply and fit O/S rear inner CV boot
Supply and fit new battery
Check battery charge rate
Check/sort alternator wiring and connections

Upgrades: £0

Full servicing details etc here: http://www.pistonheads.com/members/s...p?carId=106790

Okay, so once again it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted! I’ve not done as many miles as I hoped this summer for a couple of reasons: firstly, I’ve away quite a lot – the rally drive from London to Mongolia (http://www.theadventurists.com/the-adventures/mongol-rally) took me out for a month followed shortly after by a couple of weeks in the US visiting a friend and partaking of Petrolhead Nirvana’s awesome American Dream Tour. Secondly, just before I went abroad for the former, I managed to let the battery go flat and combination of busy new job plus abroadness meant it was 2 months or so before I could get it sorted, but more on that later.

Firstly, we’ll get the negative bits out the way first. After my last update, the car had developed a funny idle thing going on. A quick trip to Autofficina and a plug into their equipment diagnosed it as a loose connection of the rev sensor. That was quickly dealt with by Peter along with adjusting the air intake panel on my passenger door which had moved slightly and was catching on the bodywork at the front. Apparently the Ferrari main dealer that had redone the paint on my car the last summer had forgotten to fit a couple of washers that are required as spacers

After visiting HR Owen West London for its annual “pitch up, get free car inspection, free alignment check, consume loads of free food, look at many pretty cars well out of budget, then test drive some of the aforementioned cars (GranCabrio & 458 for me :D 599 HGTE the previous year!)” event – thanks again to Angelis – it transpired that one of my CV boots needed replacing. Cue a short notice trip to Paul Coster who sorted it (with the aid of Cactussed who happened to be there working on his Skyline there) in time for me to go away the following weekend to the Spa Classic (more on that later as well).

Finally, as previously mentioned, my battery went flat. Once again, Paul Coster came to the rescue (while I was out of the country) with Cactussed aiding him and also kindly letting him into my car park in my absence. I swear Drew’s now done more work on my car than I have! Only downside was that there was an issue with the alternator that wasn’t apparent at that point, so while it ran well for them, when I got back, the battery was once again dead shortly after I got it started with the aid of some AA-a-likes – the car literally conked out at the start of Wandsworth Bridge, in rush hour, somewhat embarrassing! Cue a low-loader trip to Autofficina arriving at 2000hrs on a Fri night with the expectation of some expensive bills involving a new alternator, not good! Anyway, a few days later Autofficina confirmed that the alternator was fine (official Fcar ones are about £800!!), some connections just needed cleaning up and a new battery fitting. During both these episodes Paul and Autofficina confirmed that the car idled fine despite it playing up with me….typical!

Funny idle was finally sorted the other day when, on the advice of a CS member, I checked the MAF connections. Lo and behold, one was a bit loose, so I pushed it back in and the problem disappeared instantly….I don’t know whether to feel happy or somewhat foolish for not checking it unprompted!

Anyway, onto the fun stuff! I’ve mentioned already that HR Owen’s open day was an absolute hoot this year again. Driving a 458 was truly special and I’m still in awe of the gearbox, this coming from someone who really doesn’t get on with flappy paddles.

A short time later it was off to the Spa Classic which was an absolutely awesome weekend. I highly recommend it to everyone. Everything from 1950s Fcars and Masers, to 70s Le Mans cars and modern BOSS GP cars flogging it round Spa in multiple races per day. All for the princely some of 20 Euro notes per day for entry to the track. Amazing. Plus I got to do my favourite thing of going on a camping trip in the Ferrari, always amusing to see people’s reactions!

After that was a lull due to travelling, followed by meeting up for a Sunday drive out in vaguely Goodwood direction with a mate who had acquired a 355 for the weekend. The highlight of which was going through the new Hindhead tunnel with Capristo screaming and ears bleeding. It has to be said that while I immensely enjoyed the Corvette on my US trip, getting back into Francesca for that weekend was truly special and in a different league. That said, if I could afford and justify running two convertibles, I would buy a UK spec C6 without hesitation, they are brilliant bits of kit.

And so to my most recent jaunt in France – an annual weekend road trip organized by one of my mates. It was a good showing that included a 996 Turbo, a Z4M Coupe, an Exige Club racer, an RS4 and also a 1973 MBG Roadster amongst other metal. Loads of fun was had at broadly sensible speeds and Francesca completed 700 faultless miles after my engineering, ehem, brilliance, of pushing a plug back in.

Well, that’s it really. It’s now getting to that time of year where I’m contemplating my early spring service again. Cambelts will need doing and I’m toying with getting the seats recovered and possibly a front end respray, the former being higher on the agenda as I’m not massively concerned about a few stone chips. I suspect it’ll largely come down to seeing what extra mechanical work comes to light during the service and how much it’ll cost.

Here endeth the lesson! Except for a few gratuitous photos….!

Having the geo checked

458 drive!

Interview with Fgear…I swear I’ve done about 3 of these now and they never use the footage! :P

Spa camping!

Little Ferraris for little Ferraristi!

6.2 litres, 430 bhp and 430 lbft of American goodness!


Beauty and the beast!