Home » I Let A Famous YouTuber Drive My Ferrari (And He Let Me Drive His)

I Let A Famous YouTuber Drive My Ferrari (And He Let Me Drive His)

Ferrari Swap
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If I was asked to succinctly sum up the classic Ferrari ownership experience, I wouldn’t be lying if I said it was life-affirming. Each journey, no matter how local, is an event. Every time I get in it I have to metaphorically pinch myself because a black-clad weirdo from the ass end of London has his own Ferrari Mondial QV, all bought and paid for. It doesn’t matter to me it’s the cheap one with a bad reputation among thumb-headed philistines–the official car of we have a 308 at home. Because every cliché about these cars is one hundred percent true. The heritage. The tactility. The sense of occasion. The noise. It’s not fast – sixty arrives in seven seconds or so – but as the motor howls past seven thousand and the unassisted steering unwinds out of a bend, I’m Gilles fucking Villeneuve.

The main thing the Mondial gives me is possibilities. It gets my boney ass off the couch at the weekend and makes me go out into the big wide world. Go to a show. See cool cars. Meet new people. I’m not precious about it – I’m quite happy to let kids (and their parents) sit in it and take photos, or for my local car wash guys post it on their social media pages. I mean I even let Torch have a drive. Ferrari ownership is a constant source of joy for me and other people. After twelve months of getting my eye in, reliability-wise, I was ready to trust it on a road trip across Europe to the hallowed grounds of both Monza and Maranello, and over 2,500 miles it performed faultlessly.

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The laws of inevitability dictate life with a forty-year-old Ferrari won’t all be plain sailing. I didn’t buy it with content in mind, but blog the misery is the Autopian motto and I’ve been able to share the exasperating and expensive downs here so you chucklefucks can enjoy my misfortune (stay tuned to this station for another episode of Maranello misery coming soon…). Laugh it up all you want, but I still have a Ferrari. I even shot a few videos of it, but I’ve barely got to grips with writing let alone filming anything that isn’t a load of rambling British-accented nonsense. So I had been thinking for a while about turning it over to someone who knows what the bloody hell they are doing.

An Introduction To JayEmm

In a previous life, James Martin was a professional cameraman – he now has one of the UK’s most successful automotive YouTube channels – JayEmm on Cars. More importantly, in a sea of terrible online car video content, it’s one of the very few I can bear to watch. Amongst other things, he also owns a Ferrari – a 1999 550 Maranello (in fact he has three – an F12 and a 430 Scuderia also part of his fleet – I swear to god I’m in the wrong job). I met James at Rustival back in March, and floated the idea of what I believe the kids call a collaboration. Ever gracious James loved the idea and agreed. Before I tell you what I thought of his, watch the video above so James can tell you what he thought of mine.

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Bring On The Dancing Horses

Swap10Unlike say McLaren, who have for years somehow managed to convince people each of their cars is different despite them all being fundamentally the same underneath, the majority of Ferraris old and new come in one of two classic layouts: smaller mid-engined V8 sports cars or honking great front-engine V12 GT cars. With its 2+2 seating, the Mondial sits somewhat uncomfortably in the former category, whereas the 550 Maranello is a paragon of the latter. I have experienced a V12 Ferrari before. As part of an eclectic fleet that includes a Bentley Continental GT, Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder and errrr a C4 Corvette and a Transit van, my best friend also has a 456GT. It’s totally the wrong color for one of those – resale red, has a black and red quilted suede interior and a horrible aftermarket steering wheel mounted on the wrong side of the cabin. That all sounds terrible but it is of course completely magnificent. Despite its numerous niggly faults I love driving it. It is viciously fast and sounds incredible. Even though it’s a big GT the tight control responses shrink the car around you. Somewhere deep in the file system of my brain these recordings undoubtedly factored into my Mondial buying decision.

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Because I love irony I’ve got to be perfectly honest –  the 550 Maranello has never quite done it for me visually the way the slightly under-wheeled 456 has. Something about the way the softer biological feel of the lights and vents mixes a bit uncomfortably with the crisper nineties surfacing and the shallowness of the nose would be better served with pop-up headlights. Still in typical lady-of-dubious virtue red, it cuts a massive dash in the sleepy village pub car park near Silverstone where I met up with James a couple of weeks ago.

I hadn’t realized beforehand the 550 is a strict two-seater. Whereas the Mondial manages to squeeze two useless seats – or as I call them padded luggage space – behind the front chairs, the Maranello has a large, beautifully carpeted expanse of nothing complete with rich Italian leather bondage straps. At least that’s what I think they were. It’s worth noting though that because the 550 uses updated mechanicals from the 456 it has a transaxle – coupled with a 4” wheelbase reduction over the earlier car this means there isn’t room for additional seating anyway.

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Despite their shared layout and underwear, the 550 wasn’t a replacement for the 456 at all. The 456 was actually replaced by another slightly gawky Ferrari – the 612 Scaglietti. The 550 was a reintroduction of the Daytona idea – a more agile grand tourer with a continent-crushing motor in a more driver-friendly position up front, instead of the twitchy and compromised mid-mounted flat twelve Testarossa-based cars. Those had been lingering like undercooked pasta since 1984, culminating in the horrifically ugly F512M. After the death of Il Commendatore in 1988, Ferrari had become a floundering unprofitable mess, and new chairman Luca di Montezemolo was determined to sort shit out in the showrooms to see off a resurgent Lamborghini, and in F1 where Ferrari had not won a world championship since 1979.

Part of the effort to get back to the pointy end of Grand Prix racing involved parking a camion full of money and currywurst outside reigning F1 champion Michael Schumacher’s haus. Things got so German over in Maranello the 550 was revealed to the press at the Nürburgring of all places, in 1996. The Old Man must have been spinning in his grave like the crank of one of his beloved V12s. The 5.5 liter (hence the nomenclature) motor in the 550 is an updated version of the one in the 456 but adds a trick variable length intake system. It also features dry sump lubrication and titanium alloy con rods for a total of 485 bhp (remember Italian horses are stronger) at a giddy 7000 rpm, with 419 lb. ft at 5000 rpm.

Keeping it rubber side down are double wishbones at each corner with a rudimentary computer-controlled two-stage damping system wired into a traction control system, because that is a lot of power for 295-section nineties tires. Hook it up, don’t fluff your changes through the classic Ferrari gated gear shift and sixty should be yours in 4.4 seconds on the way to a top speed of nearly two hundred. James’ 550 wouldn’t be the most powerful or fastest thing I’ve ever driven – that would be besties Continental GT, an altogether weightier and more secure proposition. It’s one thing driving a car of someone you’ve known for thirty years on roads you know. Driving the 200 mph pride and joy of someone you’ve only just met on roads you don’t know is slightly more terrifying.

A Faster And More Expensive Ferrari Than I’m Used To

Driving someone else’s car can sometimes be a bit like using their laptop or taking their partner out for a platonic dinner – simultaneously intrusive and uncomfortable even though you’ve got permission. Luckily, like me, James enjoys a certain loftiness of stature so I didn’t need to muck about making sure I fit in and could see everything I was supposed to. I don’t like cocking about with other peoples’ seat and mirror settings unnecessarily because it bugs the ever-loving shit out of me when people do it in my car – looking at you local garage. It never feels quite right afterward.

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Inside the 550 is a riot of softly padded leather interior trim, deep carpets and comprehensive gauges. The transmission tunnel (even though it doesn’t contain an actual gearbox) splits the passenger cabin like the Hoover dam, which moves the metal shifter up to an extremely convenient position close to the wheel. With all that engine the 550 is refreshingly long-legged compared to the Mondial, but as usual there’s no second gear until the box is warmed up – they all do that sir. Does Ferrari deliberately engineer this feature-not-a-bug in? The gate is a normal H pattern with six speeds. Shift slickness and speed will depend on whether the gearbox is in a good mood or not.

The engine, mounted well behind the front axle, is a masterpiece. How do the engineers make them so smooth yet simultaneously so mechanical? Is there a stained glass window in the Ferrari engine shop featuring the Italian patron saint of powerplants? It doesn’t falter, stutter or stumble. It simply pulls in any gear in direct relation to proximity of sneaker to carpet. There’s subtle induction roar gently layered over a wonderful exhaust note and the operatic fury of twelve cylinders and 48 valves – and when your ears tell you it might be time to think about changing up, a glance at the rev counter informs you there’s still two thousand revs left to go. It’s incredibly linear and wiggle your toes responsive but builds progressively. No multivalve peakiness or sudden spikes in the delivery here. Despite those headline numbers being a big-lunged V12 you don’t have to wind it up, but half the fun of a Ferrari is doing exactly that. You can really only do this in the bottom gears though, because by the time you hit fourth you are seriously getting a move on.

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The nature of their construction means no Ferrari has ever really been known for being particularly slimline – the Mondial is about 3000 lbs. (1400 kg) and the 550 is a chunky 3725 lbs. (1690 kg). By the way it responds you’d never guess. Speed-dependent power assistance means the 550 doesn’t hesitate to get its nose into a bend – it pulls the same trick the 456 and does exactly what you want when you want it. Inch perfect, not an inch more and you can feel the road through the wheel. At 179” (4.5 meters) long and 76” (1.9 meters) wide it’s by no means a boat so doesn’t heave and pitch like one. The computer-controlled shocks and sumptuous seats keep it all tied down and in place without cracking your ass bones. With its legs and comfort, you wouldn’t hesitate to point it towards Italy. If my Mondial is capable of it, the 550 definitely is.

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Despite the sixteen-year gap between the releases of our two cars and the respective gulf in their capabilities, it’s strange how familiar the 550 feels. Maybe after two years of Ferrari ownership, I’m just getting a taste for the finer things. Those traits I mentioned at the start of the article–heritage, tactility, sense of occasion, noise – are still abundantly present. Objectively you know the 550 was built in a modern factory using state-of-the-art production techniques – but it still manages to feel lovingly assembled by artisans in brown coats, slowly turning individual components out by hand. Of course, James has had his issues with the car, but like me he’s not precious about using it – Ferraris need to be driven regularly to be at their very best. A later V12 model is a big step up in terms of purchase price and maintenance costs from my modest Mondial – beyond my means but it’s nice to know that besides outright performance and modern conveniences, I’m still getting the authentic Ferrari ownership experience. Including reassuringly expensive breakdowns.

I want to thank James for agreeing to this collaboration. James’ channel is JayEmm on Cars. He has lots of fantastic videos, which because of his professional background and training are extremely well filmed and presented, so give him a watch and subscribe. He wasn’t really convinced by the Capri 2.8 injection (the world’s greatest car) but he’s a lovely guy so I can’t really hold that against him. Not too much anyway. And James when you read this, I know I still owe you lunch.

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Jdoubledub
Jdoubledub
30 days ago

The world needs more gated shifters.

Arthur Flax
Arthur Flax
30 days ago

“If the lowly Italians, the lamest, silliest, least stable of our NATO allies, could build a V12 like this 25 years ago, just think what it is that we can do.” Imagine what it must be like to stealthily survey our enemies, or one of those friendly communist European countries with national health care, in an F35, pushed along at Mach 1.6 by a single 140,000 hp Pratt and Whitney jet engine. Why there is nothing we can’t do! I feel so patriotic…

Can’t help it. Whenever I read about Furraries, I think about the late, great P.J. O’Rourke and the greatest magazine article ever written, “Ferrari Reinvents Manifest Destiny.” (I updated the text, but you should get the gist.) Google will send you directly to the full article.

Thank you Adrian and James.

SAABstory
SAABstory
30 days ago

Honestly I’ve always liked the design. Then again I still think the classic pre-GM Saab 900 2 door with the giant ass hatch is one of the best designs ever, so take that for what it’s worth.

Seriously, kudos to Adrian for giving us all a view of the Mondial in all it’s Autopian-stickered glory.

Mr E
Mr E
30 days ago

The 550 has a much fatter arse, a huge overbite and a much more generic 90s econobox interior, but I suppose those straps would come in handy if one were into that sort of thing.

Oh, and the V12.

I think I’d still prefer the Mondial.

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
30 days ago

My god that sound, that alone justifies a few spendy trips to the mechanic. How are the electricals on an ’80s Ferrari, as I’ve been trying in vain to sort out various electrical gremlins in my ’83 BMW can’t help but think the Ferrari might have some uh, quirks.

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
30 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Ah same on the BMW actually, the fuse box is weak, mine partially melted at one point which a previous owner had receipts that claimed it was refurbished but I have my doubts. Honestly probably actually helps your car was driven so much, many of the sins I’m finding on the 533i I attribute at least in part to likely having sat with a bad engine for a number of years before being brought back to life.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
30 days ago

That’s definitely an enthusiast’s car: sounds great, nice driving dynamics, and it’s special enough to make every drive an event. And the gated dogleg shifter, well, that’s all kids of fizzy.

Hoonicus
Hoonicus
30 days ago

Ferrari swapping! Oh the depravity!

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
30 days ago
Reply to  Hoonicus

This is a Key Party of a different sort…

EXL500
EXL500
30 days ago

The 550 is the one I’d love to have. I’ve seen a few when I lived in New York, and photos do absolutely no justice.

Then again, the 330 GTC was the first Ferrari I saw in a magazine, and the first one live. This eleven year old yelled at the top of my lungs! I’d love one of these for sure.

EXL500
EXL500
30 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Another beauty.

США! США! США!
США! США! США!
30 days ago

Love that the Autopian and Jayemm did a crossover!
I generally only watch 2 YouTube channels regularly. Jayemm and Harry’s Garage so love that Jayemm is getting a mention on here.

Usernametaken
Usernametaken
1 month ago

Seeing as how this is a UK cross channel article it seems like the best place to deposit this thought.

I desperately want Adrian to interview Wheely Yellow.

…Unless he is Wheely Yellow, in which case we’re going to need some van updates.

Usernametaken
Usernametaken
1 month ago
Reply to  Usernametaken

For those whose don’t know, be prepared to waste up to 30 minutes.

https://youtube.com/@wheelieyellow?si=IHdaYb_-qiYYETgK

Also, I surely am a right knob for misspelling Wheelie

Joshua Christian
Joshua Christian
30 days ago
Reply to  Usernametaken

This was a brilliant little thing to discover!

Strangek
Strangek
1 month ago

That’s a nice car you’ve got there! Cheers!

AlfaWhiz
AlfaWhiz
1 month ago

Yes JayEmm! Perfect crossover which we didn’t know we needed, I’m impressed! More collabs please!

Also, I’m not really a Ferrari guy (that’s what you say when you’re poor, right?) but I dig older ones, especially from the 90’s.

Also also, is it just me, or is the Mondial starting to become coll? WHAT HAVE YOU DONE ADRIAN?!?!

Taco Shackleford
Taco Shackleford
1 month ago

I used to be of the opinion the Mondial was the poor man’s Ferrari, and was total junk. Since Adrian’s first article about his, I have been changing my opinion, and learning much more about them. I have changed so much, that when I used to see them I would make a comment that it wasn’t even worth gassing up, and now its totally different. Saw one driving with the kids the other day, and made sure they saw it, and knew everything I know about them. Now they think it’s the best Ferrari ever (even though we drive by a Ferrari dealership at least 3 times, with all the newest offering, and stuff like F40s in the maintenance bays.

Adrian has official made Mondial fans out of 2 random kids living in a totally different country.

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
1 month ago

Random thoughts in no particular order:

  • I’ve never been a huge fan of these, but then again I’m not really into most Ferraris. After watching the video, I will say that it looks like the right SIZE; too many modern cars are becoming gigantic, and it makes beautiful noises, which is the main point of any of these old sports cars.
  • The running joke I have about these, and the 308, is that the owner is usually easy to spot at a car show, because they’re almost always decked out with ferrari swag, to let everyone know they own a ferrari. One time I saw a guy with a hat, shirt, SHOES, and a key lanyard, all with the ferrari script. I love how you’re the exact opposite of that.
  • Maybe I’m old, or maybe just tired of being forced to donate to the Fun Nazis (police), but I much prefer slower cars I can wind out and drive hard, compared to crazier/faster stuff that I have to drive at 2/10ths. I appreciate fast cars, but after a few decades of driving and paying thousands in speeding tickets, man… I just like driving my old Hondas now. They sing at high RPM and I’m not going that fast, so it’s a win. How are the police over there? Can you even enjoy something like a 550 or is it just sort of a switch between boring and anxious/stress that you’ll get a ticket?
  • Lower it and throw upsized BBS RSs on it, cmon… it’ll be closer to the original design intent! If you could find any original sketches for this thing, I’d love to see them.
Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
1 month ago

Nice. Now see if you can find a friend with a 250 GT Berlinetta who’ll let you drive it. That’s the only Ferrari I ever loved. Sat in one once, but never got to drive one. And never will. Have to settle for vicarious thrills.

Dave Edgar
Dave Edgar
28 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

I dunno – YOU own a Ferrari, you just did this article doing a swap with a dude who owns THREE of them, and your best friend owns one PLUS a Lambo PLUS a freakin’ Conti GT – what kind of circles do YOU think we think you move in?

Mercedes Streeter
Mercedes Streeter
1 month ago

A JayEmm & Autopian crossover is something I’ve been dreaming about for a while. Now we need to get him over to America to drive our other piles of junk great cars.

Detroit Lightning
Detroit Lightning
1 month ago

Oh, please make this series happen – I 100% need to see a bunch of people used to driving high end supercars working their way through the autopian crew’s fleet of…vehicles.

Mercedes Streeter
Mercedes Streeter
30 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Eh, you fit in a suitcase, right? Checked baggage is the new first class! 😛

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
1 month ago

I never noticed the grill badge on Adrian’s – that’s just outstanding, esp. since when I usually think British and grill badge, I think tweedy old MG or probably a Morgan.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
30 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Yes. I still haven’t figured a good way to put mine on

IRegertNothing, Esq.
IRegertNothing, Esq.
1 month ago

A cheap Ferrari is still a Ferrari. It just means you got the experience for a bargain.

Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman
1 month ago

It’s only cheap up-front. The maintenance costs don’t go down. But as long as you know that going in and plan for it, it’s worth it.

Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman
1 month ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Heh. Yeah, your car seems to be the exception. My 612 isn’t cheap. And I have one of those piles of Jeep rust, too, it’s worth its weight in – uh, rust, I guess.

Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman
30 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Heh. Nope. A lot of people say the 612 looks odd. But *I* like it. And it certainly looks better than its replacement.

Taco Shackleford
Taco Shackleford
30 days ago
Reply to  Jack Beckman

Of all the V12s mentioned in the article the 612 is my favorite as well. However I have no personal experience with any of them, simply based on looks.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
30 days ago
Reply to  Jack Beckman

It looks like an axolotl.

Chronometric
Chronometric
1 month ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Yes but every 12 articles earns you a bonus kitten.

Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman
1 month ago

I saw the initial drive-away in Jay’s video, noticed the Autopian sticker, and immediately thought, “that’s gotta be Adrian’s Ferrari.”

I don’t know why he (and others) don’t like the looks. True, I don’t think it’s the best-looking Ferrari ever, but it’s not a bad-looking car at all to me. I would certainly have one.

Who cares if it’s not the fastest car on the road? You can’t do 200 on any public road except the autobahn, and I don’t live in Germany. As long as it can get out of its own way, and is fun to drive, that’s all that matters.

And the thing about Ferrari ownership is spot on. Nobody waves at you in a 911, but when you drive a Ferrari they do.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
30 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Your Ferrari is badass, and it looks great.

AssMatt
AssMatt
1 month ago

Thanks Adrian for a great intro; the thought that this is mine brings a smile to my face no matter whether I’m driving it to the beach or the mechanic, and it’s always a joy to share because it’s waaaaay past concourse at 120K miles. I’m looking forward to getting my eye in and trusting it on a road trip.

Arrest-me Red
Arrest-me Red
1 month ago

We have the same idea at car shows. I let kids and parent sit in the car, start it, and take pictures. That is the point of these. I have seen people at shows that do not want you look at their car due to eye wear and tear.

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
1 month ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

I spontaneously combusted with laughter.

Last edited 1 month ago by Rad Barchetta
Arrest-me Red
Arrest-me Red
1 month ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Is that your actual skeleton on that shirt?

Chronometric
Chronometric
1 month ago
Reply to  Arrest-me Red

I once had 14 elementary students in my 1917 Stephens touring car. I think they wore out the A-oooga horn.

Arrest-me Red
Arrest-me Red
30 days ago
Reply to  Chronometric

It was worth it though I expect to see the looks on the kids faces

Chronometric
Chronometric
30 days ago
Reply to  Arrest-me Red

A moment (and photos) that they will keep for a while.
And a memory when I started it with the hand crank!

Fatallightning
Fatallightning
1 month ago

I’m a big fan of Jay, his tastes and views seem to closely align with mine. Most specifically, loving little Lotus cars and pissing on modern Porsches. Also, adoring the St205.

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