Owners of classic Ferraris eagerly await the warm season to reawaken their ‘sleeping beauties’ from the long winter slumber. But caution: 'Even though we are all eager to hear the roar of our engines, it is important to resist the temptation to just turn the key,' Ferrari Classiche head Andrea Modena explains. 'You need to approach the reawakening process more with your head than your heart.'
Many of the most prized and victorious cars in Prancing Horse history have passed through the hands of Ferrari Classiche experts. Some beauties have even had to be gradually coaxed back to life, after many years spent languishing in less than idyllic conditions. In short, the Ferrari Classiche team know what they are talking about.
'The first thing to do is take a walk around the car and look for any signs of leaks, big or small. Anything from a drop to a puddle, as these can indicate where there may be an issue,' Modena explains. You need to examine the ground under the engine, gearbox, radiator, and near the wheels and brakes. Pay particular attention to the cooling circuit: tiny, harmless-looking cracks that initially only drip a few drops of coolant can make older radiators leak like sieves when the circuit is up to temperature and pressure.
Inspecting the tyres is very important, too. Both their pressure and their physical state need to be checked: small cracks on the shoulder can indicate that the rubber is getting old. If pressures weren't increased by one bar before parking the car, you may notice that the contact patch – the place where the rubber rests on the ground – looks flatter than the rest of the tyre. This is what’s known as flat-spotting, and can prove permanent on older tyres which may even need replacement. On more recent rubber, the tyre will start rolling normally again once it gets up to temperature after a bit of unevenness.
Next open the bonnet. First and foremost check on the battery, particularly if it hasn’t been kept charged, something that should always be done. After the battery, it is time to take a look at fluid levels, starting with coolant, followed by the brake fluid – which tends to be overlooked somewhat despite being essential to safe driving – and the engine oil. 'Engine oil needs to be changed every two to three years at most even if you aren’t using the car,' stresses Modena. 'This is because the oil degrades and loses its original lubricant qualities, which can result in serious damage to the running gear when the car is moving.'
Ferrari Classiche recommends owners bring their cars to its service centres where the oil will be replaced with products specifically developed by Ferrari to meet the needs of every engine and based on the technologies available in the year of the car’s production.
Next: if you have a 1950s or '60s car, try to get the fuel pump going and then wait until the ticking sound stops as this indicates the carburettor is ready for the engine to be turned on. Now you can finally turn the key in the ignition. Once the engine is running, you need to immediately check that the oil pressure rises properly and rapidly.
Finally, when you take the car out of the garage, get a fresh tank of petrol and take your car for a short test-drive, to make sure everything works as it should. By the time you get back, the car’s cooling and lubrication systems should be up to the normal running temperatures and pressures. However, even if everything has gone smoothly, don’t forget to check the garage floor again after a few days to make sure there are no leaks.
Now – with all these checks completed – your beauty is once again ready for the road. Enjoy the ride!