Editorial: Mike’s new Ferrari

Column By Mike Bibb

A while back, I wrote a story about how an Italian race car driver was forced into having his Ferrari engine repaired during a Mexico car race — “Ferrari, and a bar of soap,” Gila Herald, Jan. 6, 2023.

Seems the engine developed a leak in the oil pan, compelling him to pull into a local repair shop to see if the mechanic could fix it.

Renato Martinez, owner and operator of “El Milagro,” used a few tools and a large bar of soap to resolve the problem. 

Ferrari driver, Umberto Maglioli, went on to come in first place in the 1950, 2100-mile race.  Renato later received a personal letter from Enzo Ferrari, thanking him for his assistance in repairing the car and being largely responsible for his company eventually winning the race.

Seventy+ years later, I don’t anticipate my imaginary Ferrari Purosangue (Thoroughbred) will be entered in any Mexico long-distance Pan American road races. 

But, you never know. 

If I decided to go racing, I’ll have to wait until after 2026.  That’s how long the waiting period and backlog list are on the new SUV model.

Italian car maker Ferrari, a legendary name in the automobile industry, recently announced a 27% increase in its 2023 first-quarter profits.  Second-quarter earnings are anticipated to be equally impressive.

According to Thompson/Reuters News Agency, orders for the four-door, four-seater, V-12 gasoline-powered Purosangue had previously been suspended for the 2026 models due to overwhelming demand.  

I would imagine a car company’s problems of not having sufficient production capacity to fill orders of its $430,000 (390,000 Euros) sport utility vehicle would be a welcomed headache.

The hefty price includes a $5,000 destination charge, but not an unspecified “gas guzzler tax.”  I guess climate alarmists haven’t decided how much damage to the environment – if any – a 0-62 mph in 3.3 seconds Ferrari SUV will cause. 

As a result, Ferrari’s stock shares have risen to new highs on the Milan exchange.

By comparison, when was the last time Ford or GM experienced similar issues?

To be fair, owning an expensive Ferrari, or any costly vehicle, appeals to a limited clientele.  An average 8-5 working individual does not normally have the means or ability to afford one.

When taxes, registration, and insurance are added to the bottom line, a nearly half-million-dollar car can easily become a half-million-dollar car.

This is why my new Ferrari is only available in late evening dreams, and quickly vanishes upon waking in the morning.

Just as well.  A Ferrari dealer probably wouldn’t have given much trade-in on my lightly used, good condition, 386,571 original miles, 1975 AMC Gremlin.  Its tiny 4-cylinder engine could only produce about 90 hp and reach 0-60 mph in less than 15 seconds.  The little car ran fairly well considering it burned two quarts of oil between Safford and Willcox.  Another two quarts to return home.

If I planned a trip to Tucson, I always made sure I tossed a case of 40-60w in the back seat.

1975 AMC Gremlin

Also, leaving early and returning late was expected.  It takes a while to stop and pour a dozen quarts of Pennzoil into the crankcase.

On the positive side, there were few mosquitoes buzzing around my home in the summer.    

Ironically, with its sleek lines and prancing horse looks, some thought of it as the Ferrari of the Gila Valley.

Since I’m a Safford resident, motor vehicle tailpipe emissions were not a concern at the time. 

However, like Ferrari, I thought I was already paying a gas guzzler tax every time I visited a Chevron station. 

Best of all, there were no waiting lists or backlogs to contend with.  Actually, 20-25% markdowns were common as dealers hustled to move them off sales lots.

Think I paid about $2,000 for one; around $428,000 less than a new Purosangue.

2024 Ferrari Purosangue

Of course, Ferrari and AMC Gremlins didn’t attract the same customer interest.

Sensing a coming change in the automobile market, I sold my yellow Gremlin to a struggling mine worker with four or five kids and a live-in mother-in-law for less than $720.

I forgot to mention to him it would take four quarts of oil – and, gas – to commute to Morenci and back.

 “Caveat emptor” – Buyer beware – as they say.

He later told me the oil-swigging compact was the best thing that ever happened to him.

Helen, his mother-in-law, thought she’d drive it to Mesa to attend an “AARP for Democrats” rally, but forgot to periodically add a quart or two of oil.  

2024 Ferrari Purosangue engine

Somewhere between Bylas and Peridot, the motor seized and shoved a piston rod out the side of the engine.

The next day, she called to inform her daughter and son-in-law she wouldn’t be returning to Safford.  The tow truck driver made her a better offer — He would haul the car away for free if she would stay with him and become an Evan Mecham recall booster.

Apparently, everything worked out for everyone – except Ev.

American Motors Corporation eventually went out of business around 1987/88.  About the same time Arizona Republican Governor Evan Mecham was impeached.

The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author.