Tough Choices

Nigel, who lives in Gosforth, realised a more grown-up dream of owning a Ferrari 430 Spider last year – we asked him to compare and contrast that car with the ‘entry-level’ Ferrari California.

A case of mixing business with pleasure.

It’s perhaps surprising to think of Nigel McMinn as a reluctant Ferrari driver.

Yet that’s how he saw himself. A bit mistrustful of the ‘shouty’ signature red Ferrari yet at the same time lured by the throaty rasping sound so unique to the Italian brand.

750400_0011_toughchoices2Thereby hangs a dilemma.

“I always had loved the Aston Martin”, says Nigel.

“I thought the Ferrari was too brash, too bright red”, he laughs.

That was before he was ensconced in the business of cars.

“Working in the industry, I realised that Ferrari has a kind of magic that no other car make has – an emotion that you don’t get with anything else.

“Nothing makes the same sound as a Ferrari – the perfect high-pitched whine at 4,000 revs!”.

Nigel’s head was turned by a sleek gunmetal grey ten-year-old Ferrari F430 Spider convertible, which he bought a year ago and pictured above.

“I had to look twice to see it was a Ferrari – it was an understated car which said to me; ‘I could have a Ferrari that looks like that’.

“Part of me secretly wanted to see what it was like to live with it. I love it.

“I’ve got a natural affinity for all things Italian and love the mystique and the magic of Enzo Ferrari.

Ferrari has a kind of magic that no other car make has – an emotion that you don’t get with anything else

“I love having this car in the garage – even though that means I have to put the roof down and crawl out of it to actually get it in the garage!”

The Ferrari California (below) that Nigel deftly manoeuvres into the courtyard at The Coach House at Middleton Lodge is a different car again.

750400_0010_toughchoices3It doesn’t immediately scream Ferrari. You can put kids in the back, golf clubs in the boot and even fit your Waitrose bag for life in there.

“It is entry-level Ferrari,” says Nigel. If your entry-level budget is circa £180k.

“It is practical. Engine is at the front so there is sensible boot space, back seats and extra luggage space. You could use it every day and that is the idea – to think differently about a Ferrari. This is one you could take on holiday.

“I had it for the weekend and took a sales colleague to visit his parents in Alnwick, next day I took the family to Close House for Sunday lunch and went on the driving range (clubs in the car).

“I drove it to our VW dealership in Teesside in normal traffic.

“I normally drive a Range Rover Sport and it takes a lot of beating but they are tasty money too – this Ferrari is the cheapest of the range and it is £180k – in truth, a Range Rover with top spec is in excess of £100k.”

The California wins points for its retractable hard top and also it has to be able to tick the fuel emission boxes.

“This is the first turbo powered engine since the F40.

“The 3.9 V8 engine with twin turbo generates 560 bhp, which is 70 bhp more than the previous California and does 0-60 in 3.6 seconds with a top speed of 196, so it’s a ‘proper’ Ferrari in terms of its performance, but with lower emissions”, says Nigel.

What Ferrari have done with the California is create a car that you can use every day, not just a sports car.

“I appreciate the California and my F430 for different reasons, but I might actually prefer to live with the California because it is far lower maintenance!”

luxe laps >>

Nigel McMinn takes us on his life’s motoring journey so far…

Childhood car crush
Aston Martin. I’m another boy blinded by James Bond!

Whats in the garage now
Range Rover Sport SVR, VW Golf R and a Ferrari F430 Spider

If you could own any car
Ferrari La Ferrari.

Captain slow or Jeremy

Who should present top gear
It’s too late now as they have been chosen, but I would have liked to see Suzie Wolf and Jason Plato.

Tracks of your tyres
Maroon 5.

Dream road trip
Mille Miglia.

Who with
My son, Joseph.

Memorable car moments
Taking my dad on a golfing weekend in Scotland in the Aston Martin DB9 and driving the F430 back from Belfast with my son.

What’s in the glove box
Chewing gum.

How clean is your car
I generally have lots of help to keep them clean!

Scary moments
Crashing my mum’s car outside the girls’ school when I was 17 and being driven fast round Croft Circuit in a Ferrari 458 Speciale.