Auto shows aren’t all a grind of bad food, bad lighting, and too much coffee. Sometimes, one gets to have a little fun.
In this case, I got an email from Hagerty, the insurance company/automotive media publisher, asking if I’d like to drive either a 1989 Toyota Land Cruiser or a 1994 Ferrari 348, I said yes. Well, OK, at first I ignored the email — we got a lot of requests during show media days that we don’t have time to pursue. But then I thought it over. I’ve only driven a Ferrari once before, and that one had paddle shifters — the 1994 had the iconic gated manual.
Yeah, you bet I was gonna drive this baby.
I was in for a few surprises. For one, I didn’t realize this car didn’t have power steering until I started to ease out of the parking spot. It’s been a few years since I’ve used “Armstrong” steering.
The clutch also shocked me. At the first few lights, I forgot to put the car in neutral and just kept the clutch depressed, and the clutch almost “pushed back”. My left foot got sore from holding it down. The Hagerty handler riding shotgun told me that’s just how this particular clutch is. I did find its take up to also be a bit tricky — I could launch smoothly, but slowly. At least I didn’t stall.
The shifter itself was easy to use — I never missed a gate, and only once did it refuse entry. Still, the RPMs had a tendency to drop enough that if you don’t bilp the throttle before releasing the clutch, you lurch forward and/or chirp the tires. If you’re new to driving this car, you better hope your passenger isn’t prone to seasickness.
I didn’t go very fast — too much traffic, too many curious LAPD around — but I did let the engine sing a bit. Watch for the sound, stay to the end of the second video to watch me totally goof up an upshift.
*A special thanks to the gentleman from Hagerty, whose name I am blanking on, for using my phone to shoot the video.
[Image, video © 2022 Tim Healey/TTAC]
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