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At risk of losing his job, the rookie of the editorial team recounts a thrilling and, at one point, embarassing day at Singapore's official Ferrari dealership.

10 Nov 2021

Quietly tucked away on the second level of a showroom in Redhill is a car whose value could easily outstrip that of a penthouse in any of the surrounding condominiums. 

As we walk through a white door, there it is.

The resplendent, ferocious Ferrari F50
Against a black backdrop next to Ital Auto's servicing area, the unmistakeable, F1 car-inspired Ferrari F50 - one out of only 349 - stands silently in original, glistening majesty. We're told it's on loan from a private owner, and because it was only built in left-hand drive, it will never be driven here. 

Nearly 30 years after it was released, the F50's value has skyrocketed (back in 1995 it already cost a cool USD$475,000). A fellow attendee and I muse that this is a literal work of art, not dissimilar to what you'd find in a museum: Untouchable, both literally and financially. 

Silence and stillness are not your typical Ferrari attributes. Even so, the F50 is riveting; spine-tingling even when static, and shocking because I hadn't woken up in the morning expecting to see it. But as I learn through a private tour, Ital Auto - the official dealer appointed by the very folks at Maranello - has plenty more to offer than this single best-kept secret. 

Signed, sealed, delivered by the OG

Even the tools for alignment (pictured on the red box) are built specially for Ferraris alone
To say that heavy emphasis goes into maintaining quality and authenticity at Ital Auto would feel like an extreme understatement. As we're taken around the dealership, I start to lose track of how many times the term "original" pops up. 

As the appointed guardians of the Ferrari brand, the team at Ital Auto gets exclusive access to equipment from the folks at Maranello. For example, even the tools used for alignment are specifically built for Ferrari cars. Software updates, key to the seamless functioning of intricate electronics systems, are also only available here because they require Maranello's stamp of approval. Even the technicians at the service centre are said to be trained by the Italian facility. 

The displayed Portofino M looks like it's new, but actually belongs to Ital Auto's Ferrari Approved pool
Ferrari is proud of what it makes, no matter the year or decade, and it makes sure that its drivers know that too. As with other international official dealerships, pre-owned Ferraris are more than welcome at Ital Auto, but only after they've gone through a stringent assessment to verify their condition and provenance. (Since orders for new models tend to outpace deliveries, I'm told the pre-owned selection sometimes services those who need to own a Ferrari now.)

Naturally, even older models (or rather, older models especially) are not exempt from this careful attention. Classics like the aforementioned F50 fall under the Ferrari Classiche Program, which is dedicated to the certification, restoration and care of its older models. Only Ferraris that are 20-years old and above qualify for it. 

While such efforts underscore the Italian marque's attention to the needs of its clientele, they are emblematic of a quality perhaps more important: That Ferrari is hyper-aware of the value of its cars. It's clear that because there is an incredible level of detail invested by Maranello into building its cars, the same goes for maintaining them. And it is a vision it instils most fervently into its official dealerships.

Ownership made immersive and experiential 

The Ferrari Configurator offers more personalisation than your brain can conjure or fathom
Even amidst Ferrari's efforts to widen its customer base with "more accessible" models (we're talking the gorgeous $898,000 Portofino M and $888,000 Roma - before COE, although what's $80,000 really?), exclusivity never leaves the equation. 

While being introduced to the Ferrari Configurator, we're ushered into a room filled with a smattering of various different items - body panel cut-outs, steering wheels, even seats - mostly in various different colours. Mixing and matching for the actual cars is more high-tech - done virtually, with a 3D-rendering and a video of your new Ferrari rolling about Maranello to boot, before the order is made.

The list of options available is so towering that it momentarily thrusts me back into my JC days of learning P&C. "Calculate the probability of owning the exact same Ferrari as someone else in Singapore [2 marks], then in the whole world [3 marks]". Close to zero, probably. 

Not hard to figure out which section of the Configurator intrigued our writer the most
It's not just the colour of the paintwork, but of the brake calipers, the leather seats, and then the stitching (!) on said seats that you can choose. Then when you're done with the colours, you can even change the material of your exhaust pipes. 

But that's standard stuff. Ferrari's Tailor Made service caters to an even more rarefied group of drivers who need something properly special. For instance, customers can mix their own paintwork colours in a collaborative process with an in-house team, which can then be named and locked for personal use. (We're told only 10 per cent do this.) One such example is the Viola Hong Kong colour, undeniably arresting on this customer's 488 Pista

Still, such is the level of intimate involvement you're treated to if you can spare the cash.

The mighty 488 Evo Challenge is currently used as the car for Ferrari's motorsports events
Thanks to the Italian marque's long history with racing (the racetrack is where the first Ferraris were born after all), becoming an owner unlocks a vast universe of participation in its own motorsport experiences worldwide.

Singapore is no exception; the Ferrari Challenge was always one of the highlights during F1 Weekend, and will certainly return in due time. Although drivers have to buy a challenge car to participate in the race, the key points remain: Only they can gain access to an exclusive sport, and through Ferrarino lessthanks to the marque's certified racing dynasty and heritage. As part of the clientele, they can also do so as "gentlemen" drivers, rather than professionals. 

Before I dart off for another appointment, I'm treated to a few laps in the racing simulator - to experience the might of the 488 Challenge Evo at Italy's very own hallowed Monza circuit. 

Our writer fails miserably while on the driving simulator - but has a ton of fun doing so
As a non-gamer, and the scrub (self-appointed, I clarify) of the SGCM Editorial team, the experience overwhelms me. The array of buttons on the steering wheel is blinding; I fumble with the paddle shifters, take the straights too slowly, and then the corners too quickly. 

Unfortunately, there is no redemption story here. The room is largely empty but I can feel judgement searing into the back of my seat, and see the wincing and disappointed head shakes. 

But in the fleeting moments that I've found the right gears, the noise is absolutely glorious. 

The revs, transmitted hyper-realistically through the sound system, build ferociously to fever pitch as the needle nudges towards the red line, singing a song so sonorous it almost feels powerful enough to wash away the shame from my poor driving. Already thrilled by this small treat, I can't imagine what riding in - no, driving in a real-life Ferrari must be like. 

Rarefied and secure

Where the magic starts: Maranello's hallowed gates
It’s clear that in the realm of Ferrari, ownership isn't simply a one-time exchange of signed papers and keys. Rather, it is a long-term relationship; an enduring process, stretching back as much into the past as it promises to open up into the future. 

Like the cars that roll out of its gates, Maranello, as the source of all things Ferrari, is a talkative and engaged maker. It doesn't just want to put cars on the road, but also involve customers in the process of creation; to enthuse them about the brand's heritage and to make the exhilaration of speed and noise widespread and long-standing - whether you're the owner of a new Ferrari, an old Ferrari, a racing enthusiast, or all of the above. 

Having access to the source is key to the fullest experience of Ferrari ownership - well, lucky us
Losing access to the source as a Ferrari owner sounds… Painful. This gateway to Maranello is crucial - essential - to the fullest experience it has painstakingly crafted over decades. To not tap on it would feel wasteful, perhaps even cruel. 

Thankfully, we have that gateway here in Singapore. Nestled among the high-rise flats and condos in Redhill, behind the automatic sliding doors of 30 Leng Kee Road, the flag of the Prancing Horse continues to fly proudly.

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ferrari  maranello  portofino m  roma  ferrari challenge