What's With All the Ferrari Fires?!

There you are, in your Ferrari, which you’ve bought with the money saved up for the last several years. You’ve purchased the 458 Italia, the coupe not the convertible because you think you have good taste. What’s more, it’s not red or yellow because that would bring with it throwing of rotten eggs at you as you’re driving around town. No, after spending countless hours with the official Ferrari website, which by the way runs slowly, you’ve chosen one of the retro colors, like Celeste or Avio, because let’s face it - you’re old and don’t want to stand out that much. Either that or you’re from Dubai, and it took your father 5 minutes to decide what to get for you 18th birthday!
You might have the most impressive V8 or V12 engine, with variable valve timing on each of the five cams and a steering wheel that nobody can understand, but your Ferrari is going to ruin your life when it catches fire. The 458 Italia, the FF, the 599 GTB Fiorano, the old 360 and especially the F430, they’ve all caught fire in recent years. And I’m sorry but this can’t possibly be a coincidence!

If I were a Ferrari owner right now, I would have constant nightmares that my six-figure investment is going to go up in smoke. And I’s not as if this is expected. Lambos are supposed to be a bit crazy, so it will not surprise anybody if you stick one into a ditch. But a Ferrari is supposed to be the epitome, the pinnacle, the creme de la creme and all that jazz!

And it probably is, but it’s like a racing hound or horse that can run so fast that its lungs can explode. How humiliating would that be if your prized animal that you payed millions for (yes, horses can cost that much) just had a heart attack and died underneath you, breaking one of your legs in the fall. If people knew, I was good at making investments and my Ferrari turned into ash one day, why, I would even contemplate suicide.

All my friends would start laughing at my, and the whole local community will spread rumors about how much of an idiot with a bank account I am. My kids will even ask their mother to drive them in the nice, safe Mercedes ML to school. No more cool dad with a supercar!

It seems that even though the heavy gearboxes have been replaced by comfortable flappy paddles, and the one-piece torture seats are now comfy pieces of cow bottom, backed by ergonomic mattresses, Ferraris still can’t be everyday cars. Because the violent nature of a track car ca not be switched off my a manettino and some electronics. And being scared your car will catch on fire is no way to enjoy it every day.

And I know that every time you look at the picture of a Ferrari, you start to stop caring about the flaws underneath. But that’s a bit like saying you don’t care that a six-foot Nigerian girl will stab you and sell your heart on the black market.

Let’s stop for a second from making fun of Ferrari and come up with some factual information, so as not to bring upon us the wrath of their fans. In August 2010, media reports started focusing on the Ferrari 458 Italia fires and crashes. Ferrari themselves later stated that they were aware and were looking into the problem. The official recall came the next month, in September.

No less than 1,248 Maranello Marvels, all that had been sold up to that date, in fact, had to be recalled. The brand and the supercar’s proper name survived, so what was the problem?

The first thing that came in everyone’s mind was that the mighty 4.5-liter V8 engine was to blame, that somehow maybe petrol was sprayed all over it, and it caught fire spontaneously. Instead, the fires were caused by the adhesive used to hold the vehicle's inner protection of the fenders in place. This is flammable and sits too close to the exhaust system. When the supercar is driven hard or for a long period, it results in you being forever scared of driving a Ferrari.

I could live with my car catching fire if it was hand-built by 10 Germans and one Dutch, but Ferrari will probably make about 25,000 units of the 458 in over about five years or so. If you’ve ever thought it’s supposed to have a few quirks because it’s a rare Italian job, let me tell you it is not so!

Last year, they sold 7,195 cars and had a revenue of €2.251 billion with a ‘B’. While most major European automaker struggle to make a profit, they brought in €312 million, which is an impressive return they can only achieve by playing the luxury pond. If I tell you they made about 14 percent return per each one of those really expensive cars, will you agree that “driver error” can’t be spoken of in these fires? If they make that sort of money, they had better make sure the FF, the 599 and even your old 430 don’t catch fire for whatever reason.

Am I exaggerating? Is just a dozen or so cases every year cause for concern? Does that fact that only a few humans are attacked by great white sharks per year mean that I can ride on the back of one safely?

At least another guy with a lot of money will see smoke and fire coming out of his engine compartment next month, I’m sure of it. And I won’t feel sorry for him at all because he bought a Ferrari. But it’s surely not OK for amazing supercars to end of in a pile of ash and not have a reasonable explanation.
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About the author: Mihnea Radu
Mihnea Radu profile photo

Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
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