When you buy a Ferrari you assume the position of an artist as you’re not creating a personal interpretation of a sports car, you’re creating art.
We paid a visit to Ferrari Johannesburg, the Italian marque’s flagship South African store, to experience what it’s like to build your own piece of automotive excellence.
Starts with a cappuccino
As a customer, arriving at Ferrari Johannesburg you are met with a friendly face behind a big Rosso Corsa (Ferrari red) reception desk, ready to help you with whatever you may need and to ensure you have a cappuccino – or other beverage of your choice – in the hand.
You are then guided to an upmarket seating area overlooking gorgeous Ferrari memorabilia while behind the Rosso Corsa bar the talented barista prepares your drink.
A salesman appears promptly, and so the journey of building your sculpture begins.
If you know what you want, the process can be quick and easy as the experienced salesman said there have previously been customers who were in and out of the store in 15 minutes, and when they left they had purchased a new Ferrari exactly to their desired spec.
However, if you are still unsure, there is a world of choices lying ahead and it could take weeks, even months to settle on a final configuration.
The perfect fit
To find the perfect Ferrari that fits you, the salesman first establishes what makes you tick through casual conversation.
As you get into the groove of building your new supercar the discussion moves to the showroom floor, where a full line-up of colourful Ferraris stands in waiting.
By this point in time, your budget and the models that suit you best will have already been determined, and 600-horsepower test drives are in order to figure out exactly which one you really want.
Once you have found the Ferrari that will one day grace your garage, the personalisation atelier is the next step.
Specific options are necessary to select to help the sports car retain as much residual value as possible, said Ferrari South Africa, such as a front-axle lift, carbon fibre steering wheel with LEDs, and optional alloy wheels.
There is also a vast selection of paints, leathers, carpets, stitchings, badges, steering wheels, seatbelts, alloys, hubcaps, brake calipers, and equipment to choose from, and as a result, it is not uncommon to spend hours in between the atelier and showroom floor while crafting your vehicle’s unique look.
More often than not, multiple prolonged visits are required to settle on a final specification as hundreds of interior colour combinations, over 50 exterior hues, dozens of features, six steering wheel designs, and much more are at your fingertips.
If this is not enough and you want to further customise your desired vehicle in the most personalised manner possible, a tailor-made experience at Ferrari’s headquarters in Maranello is also offered.
The lengthy specification approach is needed as it only takes one small shade of colour in the wrong place to completely throw off the harmony of the design.
Therefore, before you attempt to build your Ferrari you should first decide if the focal point must be the exterior, the smaller highlights, or the luxurious cabin – and expand around that.
Ferrari South Africa said it recommends you stick to a maximum of three colours inside and out, as well as fit the optional carbon fibre steering wheel and Scuderia Ferrari side shields as these are the perfect additions for completing the iconic Ferrari look.
If you’re satisfied with the final configuration, the contract is signed and the vehicle specification sheet is sent to the factory and falls in line to be built.
On Ferrari’s local systems your car’s production status is then marked with a W for waiting. Once it reaches assembly stage the factory notifies Ferrari South Africa and it will call you a final time for one last chance to change your mind.
When the call ends, your new Ferrari goes into production and its status is marked as “00”.
When it reaches “70” the car is on the water and making its way to the country, and when it’s on “100” you have the keys in your hand to a new Maranello-made prancing horse.
It doesn’t end there
The Ferrari buying experience does not stop the moment you get your supercar, as the premium automaker takes care of its customers equally as well as the customers take care of it.
As such, you are invited to model-specific events that are themed according to your car’s personality, which can be anything from hardcore track days to tasteful cocktail parties.
You are also put on the list to be invited to Ferrari’s “loyalty events” where it partners with establishments such as the Rovos Rail and Kruger Park to spoil its customers with the best attractions the country has to offer.
But only the most loyal of customers, those with multiple Ferraris in their name, are called upon when a new limited-edition model is introduced.
These unofficial brand ambassadors are afforded the honour of getting first choice when Ferrari builds a new special edition, and we were informed that only on the rarest of occasions do they refuse to take up the offer.