Planning the car factory part of our Italy tour took a while. Lining up a visit of the local factories and museums was challenging, especially when the Italian labour force decided to have a strike on the second day, which caused the Lamborghini Factory to close (but not the other 2), and a bunch of trains to be cancelled.
Anyway, after arriving bright and early in Bologna and picking our rental car (it's a slightly longer drive than Maranello, but there are many more fast trains going to Bologna, so it was actually faster stopping there and getting a rental car).
The bull bar across the street is where the engineers eat and where you can rent cars for a fun drive.
We started with the factory tour, which was a bit rushed (busy day), but still quite interesting. The factory actually wasn't that big (I was surprised to see how much smaller Lamborghini was compared to Ferrari, the difference wasn't even funny). I did like the part where since they don't have their own racetrack, they just test drive their cars in the neighbouring streets with the police turning a blind eye of course, since it is Italy :)
I was nice to see a smaller factory though because you got to see the entire line, including the people who were processing cow leather, and trying to fit all the parts necessary for each car around the imperfections in each leather piece (10 cows for a car by the way).
They had two assembly lines, one for their "cheaper car", and one for the newer 700HP aventador. The newer car is actually sitting on a plate that is moved in the line using magnetic induction. They can get 3 cars out per day with 3 days for a car from beginning to end (not bad).
We then visited the fairly complete museum they have, nice collector pieces there.
this would fit nicely as a drop-in in a prelude, right? :)
3.5: 710HP V12 from 1991, impressive power for then
sucks when you get that one in your rear view mirror :)
that makes a nice wall ornament :)
they had some rare cars
I feel inadequate with my 300s when they have 335s :)
It was a nice visit, plenty of supercar p0rn and rare models that I never got to see elsewhere.
After the Lamborghini Factory, we headed to Maranello aka Ferrari-town. Boy, what a contrast it is in size. Ferrari is not a building down some road like Lamborghini, it is almost an entire town (at least city blocks' worth).
nice company car :)
The factory is not a couple of buildings, it's an entire city block. Then you have the store, the museum, and let's not forget the entire racetrack, and nearby racecar handling buildings and race team with huge semis that can take your very own racecar and crew anywhere you'd like to go (for a few dollars that is :)
Several places next to the museum rented ferraris for short drives:
We then went to the museum to sign in for and wait for our tours:
All the ferrari staff wears work uniforms, red for builders and white for engineers
Ferrari cafe has lambrusco you can buy
We were lucky to get a long tour of the Ferrari factory (something otherwise not open to the public), and while it was as thorough a tour as they could give us, I feel like there was so much we didn't see (including the then secret 458 spyder), merely because of how big the factory is. Of course, they have to weigh how much they can show us vs not losing company trade secrets.
We started by a guided tour of the museum:
the 458 has a beautiful mean look :)
Interesting factoids I learned at the factory: workers all wear the same red uniform and the engineers wear white. Each car is made on its own building/floor. Contrary to Lamborghini, you can only chose from a few approved colors (Lamborghini will paint it pink or hello kitty if you pay for it :).
I saw engine pieces being fit together with a robot that dipped metal pieces in liquid nitrogen to shrink them just a bit so that they fit nicely without a hammer :)
Once the long tour was over, we saw the race team and a lap of their track, of which I got a lap but unfortunately in a van that I wasn't driving :)
I want to get paid to do donuts on their skidpad :)
The next morning, on our way out of Maranello and Modena, I had made an appointment at the Pagani Factory. It was by far the smallest of the 3 of course, they hand build a few cars every year (to this date, only about 120 Zondas have been built, they take 9 months each, many parts each relying on a single person to get done).
They don't officially do tours, but I was able to get one through some sheer luck and asking. The receptionist (who is actually much more than that, she probably had 5 jobs combined and was a jack of all trades), gave us a very nice 1H presentation and history of the company, and backstage tour.
On top of obviously being cars with impressive performance, admittedly the fastest barely road legal car out there (around a track that is, it's not built for ultimate speed in a straight line), and they do have stunning looks, especially the blue titanium lined carbon fibre body.
nice reception, of course, it's better just behind you :)
blue and gold does it for me.
the lining is a beautiful work of art
the track only nurburing champion car
it means business :)
We caught a car outside, going for a test drive. It was idling outside with no one inside. Soooo tempting ;-)
Inside, we got to see how they were making their unique titanium laced carbon fibre. It is super strong and the entire frame of the car only weighs 200kg. That's super light for a car that size (it is no elise in size, even if it also only takes 2 people).
This was an awesome way to finish our visit of the area before leaving Bologna.
This was the day that wasn't meant to be more than once. First, I had gotten sick with a pretty bad cold and it didn't look like I was going to recover in time, then there wsa the issue of my car that was still being worked on since last track day (among other things, it had a cylinder 5 misfire which they couldn't figure out).
I wasn't quite sure if I'd be recovered enough from my cold that day, or rested enough, but in the end, against all odds, Ferrari SF fixed my engine that morning, shipped the car to Los Gatos where they put the last pieces together, and a coworker nicely drove it to TH that night. The next morning, I was feeling well enough (with a little help of caffeine) to fly to TH and do the track day.
My first student was a first timer, and hadn't quite grasped the fact that you had to brake before turns. I saw several turns where I felt "you're not going to make it", and sure enough he braked way too late and we were only saved by the traction control :)
My personal laps were ok, but not stellar, my new tires are just not worth the money and hassle, as my times have gone down despite better brakes and more consistent driving from me (best times were around 2:10 when I've done 2:08 before).
another coworker took his 360
and Andy's 430
The more fun part was at the end of the day when I coached Hugo in his borrowed 458, and was able to give him the one tip that unlocked more than 10 seconds per lap in the one session we did together: if your foot is not already on the gas by the turn cone, you braked too late and you'll be slower. That was easy for me since were driving pretty similar cars, and he became so much faster when applying this. At the same time, I was very impressed how we got down to 2:14 in just a few laps and he was driving the car in street mode and automatic mode (i.e. the car was doing gear shifts). The computer in that car is pretty impressive.
I then got to drive the 458 for the last session, and while I had already driven them on the track, I was just so wanting to know what lap time I'd do in it at TH. I started in the 2:09-2:08 range with traction control on street, and 2:05 (best of 3 laps) with traction control in race mode. I'm pretty sure I could have gone down to 2:04 or 2:03, especially with fresher tires. This is to say that the new car does a lot better than mine (5-6 seconds faster a lap, which is huge). Oh well...
It was fun, great times were had, especially for a day that I never thought would actually happen. Thanks Attila, Marcin, Dave, and everyone else!
Here's my session in the 458 (sorry, filming from inside works better in my car since it's convertible):
I had a coworker try to follow me (I didn't know at the time), and once I went from street mode to race mode, he couldn't keep up anymore, even though he was quite fast :)