My decision to buy a Ferrari 458 worked out pretty well, except for the torn hamstring

Robert Farago

God is punishing me for buying a Ferrari. Two days after signing the bottom line on a 458 Spider, He Who Must Be Obeyed rent asunder my right hamstring. To be fair, I ripped the semi-membranous portion of my right hamstring tendon at Orange Theory Fitness. I made the decision to press “8” on the treadmill when the twenty-something instructor told her class of twenty-somethings to do sixty seconds at maximum effort.

The fact that I’m sixty-something is, of course, irrelevant. Clearly, my injury was punishment for past automotive sins. And punishment it is: driving a Ferrari 458 Spider with a 40 percent torn hamstring is a Sisiphyian combination of Heaven and Hell.

All hail the Italian exotic’s sport seat. The 458 Spider’s cushion is a cushion in name only; as soft and supportive as a church pew. Let me put it this way: I sit on a plastic chair on my 33rd floor balcony overlooking downtown Austin. Resting there for ten minutes sends shooting pains up and down my thigh—survivable only in the sense that not sitting and smoking a cigar is not an option.

Driving the 458 does the same thing and makes my right knee feel like it’s on fire and makes my hamstring sing the body electric. If that’s not bad enough, and trust me, it is, the Ferrari’s throttle is pure agony.

Robert Farago

To say the Ferrari 458 Spider’s gas pedal is an on/off switch is like saying death is binary. Either you’re dead or you’re not. Either the 458 is feeding high octane dead dinosaur to the 570-hp V-8 crouching behind the driver or it’s not. Mostly, more or less exclusively, it is.

Thanks to that touchy throttle, driving the 458 Spider requires supernatural ankle flexing skill—a practice best mastered by people who don’t get a finger-in-the-socket jolt of pain with each and every toe flex.

But how could I resist the slings and arrows of outrageous Italian engineering? Unlike every other sports car I’ve ever driven, the Ferrari 458 was engineered for one mode and one mode only: FULL SPEED AHEAD! If a 458 doesn’t seduce you into driving like your hair’s on fire, you don’t have … Hair? Balls? Ovaries? A pulse? Something.

To wit: a Cuban-born Porsche-driving cigar amigo slid behind the wheel and promised to take it easy. “I don’t like driving other people’s cars fast,” he averred. Five minutes later Lenny’s head was pinned to the headrest. He ignored the lights on the steering wheel signaling the fast-approaching 9000 rpm red line. “If there’s a gap in the traffic I’m taking it,” he yelled over the engine’s screams.

That’s the heavenly part of the 40-percent-torn-hamstring-Ferrari-driving equation, and it’s just as powerful as its antithesis. Hearing the Ferrari’s 4.5-liter engine rip the sticky-button cockpit’s air into small pieces, feeling the mid-engined marvel lunge towards the horizon, laughing maniacally at approaching corners, traversing them with Kansas-flat body control, is cargasmic.

All of which delivers unto me a form of S&M you can’t buy from even the most experienced dominatrix. Whereas whip-wielding sex workers sell pain AS pleasure, driving the 458 Spider in my current condition gives me pain AND pleasure. Sometimes at the same time, sometimes sequentially. Worse, it’s completely unavoidable.

Robert Farago

There’s one surefire way to kill a Ferrari (other than smashing the thing into a solid object). Leave it alone. If you don’t drive a Ferrari regularly, if you don’t circulate fluids through its 4.5-liter motor and exercise its ancillary bits, the car rots only slightly slower than a head of lettuce left in the summer sun. There’s a Zen expression: that which you own owns you. Like that.

Oh sure. My “modern” Ferrari 458 was delivered unto the world in 2014, just after the condescending Italian brand realized that regular engine-out servicing was a bit ridiculous. After some bright spark in Ferrari’s marketing department decided that Porsche shouldn’t stand alone in the “everyday supercar” space. Before Ferrari figured out how to turn that aspiration into a practical reality. Assuming they have.

As Warren Zevon lamented: poor poor pitiful me. Right? Right! I’m sure there are plenty of over-ambitious, over-the-hill fitness seekers with a torn hamstring muscle who’d be happy to be in my shoes. After all, it’ll only be a few months before my body repairs itself to the point where I can drive my Ferrari 458 without emerging with a telltale limp and a child-scaring grimace. A few months of torture and I’ll be laughing.

Until I’m not, thanks to some mechanical, electrical or structural issue waiting to rear its prancing horse head. Hey, it’s a Ferrari. Just as God intended.

Robert Farago
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