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A new whine for the 1%: My Ferrari is broken!

May 21, 2012|By Paul Whitefield
  • The Ferrari California is expensive and fast but, as some owners just found out, it can be temperamental.
The Ferrari California is expensive and fast but, as some owners just found… (Ferrari )

So, you think the 1% don’t have problems?  You think life is easy on Easy Street?

Well let me set you straight, you Occupy Whiner you: 

“Ferrari recalls California, Italia models for faulty crankshafts.”

That’s right:  Somewhere out there, 74 Ferrari owners are feeling a little, well, Toyota-ish this afternoon.

It’s fitting somehow that the two models are the California (isn’t everything about California broken these days?) and the 458 Italia (Italy isn’t in such great shape either).

Just like California is blowing a gasket, the fancy Ferrari is living up to its namesake state: The crankshaft problem can cause the engine to seize, presumably spewing expensive parts of the $200,000-plus car all over the pot-holed pavement of PCH.

And how do you mess up an exotic car’s engine? Easily, it seems:

Ferrari said that after launching an investigation in March, it learned that the crankshafts of the F136 engines in the vehicles were machined incorrectly. It turns out that the crankshaft-grinding machine was incorrectly set up. The company has since reprogrammed the machine. 

It’s not as if Ferrari wasn’t warned.  Way back in 2009, Dan Neil, then The Time’s auto writer, had this to say about how the California was being built:

And what about the mystique of the handcrafted Ferrari? I've been to the new assembly line in Maranello, Italy, where the California is being built. Yes, there's a lot of handwork and guys in blue overalls. But there's also a surprising amount of -- gasp! -- automation. I want my Ferrari to be built by a little Italian guy with a white mustache and leather apron, preferably named Geppetto.

Bash the UAW all you want, but apparently Geppetto has trouble programming crankshaft lathes.

However, don’t despair. These are 1 percenters we’re talking about. Standard auto repair rules don’t apply. Instead, they have choices:

Owners of the vehicles have the option of having a new crankshaft and bearings installed by their dealer, having the engine removed from the car and the repair work done by Ferrari North America, or having a new, correctly machined Ferrari engine installed in the car at the dealership.

What I’m hoping, though, is that this little episode will teach us all a lesson about tolerance.  It’s time to end the class warfare.  Let’s ban the bomb-throwing about who pays what in taxes, or who’s a “vulture capitalist.”

Because when it comes to our wheels, it seems, we’re all in the same, uh, boat.

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