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'Does Ferrari make the most reliable cars in the world? I think it might.'

Jethro ponders the notion that Ferraris might just be the most reliable cars in the world. Who'd have thought..?

Jethro opinion header

This might seem like an odd question, but I think it’s valid in 2022. Does Ferrari make the most reliable cars in the world? I think it might. Spend ten minutes on the internet and you’ll find dozens of ‘known issues’ discussed on owners’ forums about any car manufacturer you care to mention. And not just in the rarefied realm of supercars, either. Be it BMW, Nissan, Ford or SEAT, you’ll find a forum with common shared experiences of niggly little faults and even full-on mechanical maladies. Modern Ferraris? Nothing. Just happy customers. Myth, legend, icon and now, remarkably, paragon of reliability. 

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It was not always thus. I remember when I started at evo back in 2001 as a naïve and, of course, supercar-obsessed would-be writer and road tester. As I gradually built up my experience and drove as many cars as possible, it quickly became apparent that a car’s list price was inversely proportional to its quality. 

Basically, it boiled down to this: everything up to and including the Porsche 911 worked as you might hope and expect (with the odd notable exception, which is maybe a different column). Beyond that, things went downhill fast and the most exotic, rarefied stuff was often pretty awful. Trim fell off with amazing regularity. Heaters didn’t heat or demist. Suspension clunked and groaned. And so it went on. 

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Ferraris weren’t that bad. We didn’t have any ‘failures’ that I can remember. The sort that stop you at the side of the road. Yet this was the era of the relatively primitive F1 ’boxes and there was always a sense of nagging fragility. Neither did they stand up to track tests particularly well. Brakes would fade, gearboxes would start to grumble and they never quite seemed to deliver the performance promised. I remember getting a friendly call from the Ferrari PR asking what performance tests we had run with a recently returned F430. The answer was two launches and three laps of Bedford Autodrome. The diagnostics were saying the clutch was 75 per cent worn and the pads and carbon-ceramic discs were also on their last legs. 

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Ferraris of that time had a lot of surface appeal, but in terms of depth of engineering something was missing. And the interiors tended to disintegrate before your eyes. What felt like the most impossibly exciting new car when it was delivered on a Monday morning would always feel very second-hand by the time it went back a week later. I still loved supercars in general and Ferraris specifically, but the desire to own one waned. If they couldn’t hack one road test, how could they cope with real life? 

Fast forward to 2022 and the whole picture has changed. ‘I’ve had more problems with my Porsches,’ reports serial owner @nil_p1 on Instagram. ‘I do a lot of European road trips with friends and my 488 Pista has also done trackdays at Imola, Silverstone and so on. It’s coped with everything. My one and only problem with Ferraris is how mileage-sensitive they are (in terms of resale). It seems a huge shame as they’re completely reliable and so much fun.’ The mileage point is a valid one. It’s hard to commit to Ferraris being ultra-reliable when so few rack up significant mileages. Even so, trackdays and big drives across the continent are a bit like Nürburgring laps. Each mile is multiplied many times over. 

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Other owners only confirm @nil_p1’s story. @ParaboliqueUK on Twitter has recently had a V12-engined F12 and then a 488 GTB and F8 Tributo in quick succession. ‘They’ve all been completely reliable,’ he begins. ‘Certainly the most reliable cars I’ve owned. I did 12,000 miles across ten different countries in the F12, 6000 hard miles in the 488 and they’re racking up quickly in the F8 Tributo. They feel bulletproof.’ Furthermore, it seems Ferrari has cracked the ownership game, too. ‘Outsiders’ grumble about having to buy Car X in order to be considered for the real endgame of Car Y, but clearly the customers aren’t too vexed by it. ‘For me a huge part of buying the cars is becoming a part of this family, if you like,’ continues @ParaboliqueUK. 

@adgethebadge on Instagram, owner of a much-loved but fragile F355 and a series of new models since, is well placed to judge how Ferraris compare to the benchmark Porsches. He’s owned or owns several GT3s and RS models, too. ‘The big thing is that the old belief that a Ferrari’s flair or charisma means a compromise on quality is no longer true,’ he explains. ‘I think from the 458 onwards it just isn’t an issue. The real difference is that when you sit in a GT3 is doesn’t feel like it could ever go wrong. The environment is perfect. Ferraris don’t exude the same absolute integrity. But they do deliver.’ The moral of this story is that any manufacturer looking to take on Ferrari is in for a very hard time indeed. And that an 812 Superfast is nearly always the answer should you be looking for some new wheels. 

Jethro has been writing for evo for more than two decades and is a host on Top Gear America.

This opinion piece was first published in evo 295, for the latest issue or to subscibe, click here

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