Kids create their own universes of what’s possible and what’s reasonable. You can break out the hard numbers and explain why Santa Claus can’t possibly visit the roughly 1.2 billion homes on earth in a single night while still resembling a rotund old man (he’d look more like pink goo at that rate of speed), but a kid will easily brush all evidence aside because it’s just more fun to believe the fantasy.
When I was young, I didn’t afford precious mental real estate to Santa’s magic – at age six, I bluntly asked my parents if they were posing as the North Pole’s most famous resident – and rather filled my internal library with automotive stats and features. At the time, I didn’t realize I should be admiring the men and women who designed and engineered these vehicles, so I let the cars themselves become heroes. Sure, at Halloween I’d dress up as Batman, but that’s only because I wouldn’t make it very far around the neighborhood crawling on all four “wheels” in my car costume. A test run the night before let the proverbial air out of my tires.
As I grew, I welcomed the brands and their talented staff into the sacred corner of my mind (space did eventually free up for school and other “required knowledge”), but the vehicles themselves – notably Ferraris of various generations – still felt timeless and perfect in ways I couldn’t articulate. When, eventually, I could express my enthusiasm for these automotive marvels, I found it more natural than most endeavors. So I kept doing it.
Several years into my career as an automotive journalist, I drove my first Ferrari – a Portofino. After so long anticipating the experience, I feared it wouldn’t live up to my expectations. The car dazzled me with its effortless performance and interior artistry. I needed more.
Later, I found my way behind the wheel of the F8 Spider. With less apprehension, I was consumed by the F8’s athleticism and confidence. As a grandchild of the F355, the F8 was closer to the models I’d dreamt of as a kid, but so vastly re-engineered that my curiosity remained unsatisfied.
The Ferrari 812 Superfast may not be the 550 Maranello of my childhood reverie, but it’s as close a reincarnation as I can imagine. Front engine, rear-drive, naturally aspirated V12-powered, and with a fastback silhouette as provocative as any contemporary two-door – this is my Santa Claus (it can probably deliver more presents than the old man, too).
No matter how many times I hear the scream of a Ferrari V12 through speakers or headphones, the acoustic ecstasy is only a whisper of the in-person thrill. Every climb to the Superfast’s 9,000-rpm redline is a private concert in my mind’s automotive sanctuary. Play it again.
A full prod of the throttle sends all 789 horses stampeding out the rear tires with only the traction control system and a set of carbon ceramic brakes to rein them in. Flicking the aluminum column-mounted paddles rips through the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission as my neck strains against the force of acceleration. Manipulating the gorgeous carbon fiber steering wheel slips the 812 Superfast through curves as precisely as driver skill allows.
When, finally, my heartbeat returns from the realm of mid-trail Olympians, I conclude that my estimation of the 812 Superfast and its predecessors has always been inadequate. I envisioned greatness, but the reality is a revelation.
While feeling inspired, I settle on something else as well: if, one day, my daughter declares that a ladybug is her hero, I’ll get right on board. After all, mine is still a car.