I have to be honest, farting in a Ferrari isn't all I thought it would be. It's cool, don't get me wrong. Way better than say, passing gas in a Firebird, but it just wasn't the life-altering experience I was expecting. I always thought such once-in-a-lifetime happenings, like farting in a Ferrari or dialing a wrong number and getting Pam Anderson's cell phone, change a man. Make him better, stronger, faster. Wiser. Doesn't seem to be. I just ripped a bute into the soft leather driver's seat of this 360 Modena. It sounded like Christiano DaMatta's Champ Car bouncing off its rev limiter before taking on the evils of the dreaded silent-but-violent variety. And yet, I feel unchanged. Unimproved.
My buddy, Bobby, isn't amused. The Ferrari's cabin is small, and Bobby ain't diggin' my aromatherapy. Without saying a word, Bobby D. (His real name is Robert Dinunzio, but we call him Bobby D. like Bobby DeNiro.) opens the car's windows and continues to fiddle with the radio, which has yet to utter a sound.
"Hey, don't blame me," I tell him. "Blame United Airlines and that puke they fed us in coach." I know Bobby. We went to grade school together; heck, we've shared women. He's not really annoyed with me, he's upset with himself. With the man's intense love for the gastrointestinal arts, he surely wanted to be the first to break biscuit inside the Ferrari.
The guy at the Budget Rent-A-Car in Beverly Hills, where we picked up the blue beast just minutes ago, said we need to travel west on Wilshire Boulevard about 10 miles to get from Beverly Hills to our hotel in Santa Monica, the Pacific Sands Motel. The joint sounds ritzy. It's on Ocean Avenue, right across the street from the beach, and a block or two up from the Santa Monica Pier. It's even got a heated pool. I like the sound of that.
The $125-a-night room charge was much more than we wanted to spend. The car, which we rented from Budget, would cost us a fortune-$1,800 a day plus $1.00 a mile. Plus gas. We'd have only pennies left for room and board, not to mention food, but the heated pool got us. I remember doing the math in my head as I gave the guy my credit card number over the phone: LA+Ferrari+heated pool=babes.
The plan is simple. We would pool our money, blow off work on Friday, fly to L.A. that morning and return Sunday night. If all went according to plan, we'd be back at the pizzeria Monday morning with tans and mischievous smiles. Happy as clams, as my Papa Antonio says.
Once in So. Cal., we'd cab over to the Budget office, pick up the Ferrari 360 Modena F1, a car Bobby said should get us more ass than a New York City subway seat, and begin our three glorious days of automotive bliss.
That was Bobby's idea. The guy watches TV like it's going out of style. Movies, too. His favorites are reruns of"Baywatch," "Beverly Hills 90210," and the Pamela and Tommy Lee video. He's also partial to the "Happy Days" episode when the gang goes to Hollywood and Fonzie jumps the shark. It was a two-parter.
Personally, I'm addicted to "CHiPs," "Starsky & Hutch" and "The Rockford Files," so L.A. was cool with me. Plus, I'm a freak for that Randy Newman song.
Anyway, the other day I caught Bobby D. making a list of all the places in he wants to visit. All the places he has seen on TV and in movies, the historic Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard, the Hollywood sign, Mulholland Drive, Beverly Hills and so on. Personally, I wanted to see only one thing: Madonna's house. What's so funny? I respect the way she pushes the boundaries of social morality and forces us as individuals to reevaluate our own decency. Plus, she's got nice cans.
Now, I know this all may sound a little weird, but you have to understand we've lived our entire lives in Jersey. Northeast Jersey. Exit 11. We've never seen a palm tree in person. Never driven a mountain road. Never known anyone named Dylan or Brandon. When we go to the race track, it isn't some fancy road course like we read about in the car magazines; it's Englishtown dragstrip, where the biggest smoky burnout gets you the girl.
In other words, this trip is a dream come true.
The Pacific Sands Motel, however, is not. It's a dump. The kind of place you expect to see Jane Pauley with a beaker and a black light. I've seen cleaner bathrooms on the bus to Atlantic City. But it's across the street from the beach and a block up from the Santa Monica Pier.
Checked in to room 19, we light up a couple of Marlboro reds and bust out Bobby D's list. It's 6 p.m. We figure we can hit a few places tonight, starting with the pier, grab a bite and hopefully, pick up a couple of Betties.
Masud at the front desk says we should check out the pier and then take a drive up Highway 1, otherwise known as Pacific Coast Highway, otherwise known as PCH. He says through the 1-inch thick protective glass that PCH will take us up into Malibu where we can check out the sunset. I'm not sure, but I think Masud thinks Bobby D. and I are, well, you know, together. We ain't.
With Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer" cranked, we cruise the pier. It's cool. Neon. People. There's even a Ferris wheel. We're the kings of the world in the Ferrari, which idles like a freakin' racecar. Everyone is checking us out, including a couple of broads who are walking this way. The one on the left, a blond, is wearing a half shirt and a belly chain, and the other has harnessed a set of double Ds into a red bikini top.
They like the car. I rev the engine a bit, like I do in my IROC back home. But they just giggle, and say we both look like Ray Romano.
It wouldn't be the last time we'd hear that one. Apparently, nobody in L.A. loves ol' Ray. After the pier, we take Masud's advice and drive north on PCH, just as the sun sets over the Pacific. Freakin' beautiful, really.
Highway 1 has to be one of the greatest roads on the planet. It's flat, smooth and wide, like the Jersey Turnpike, but it follows the beach, whereas the Turnpike follows the oil refineries. We didn't want to go too far; remember $1 a mile, so we stop about 25 miles up at a place called Neptune's Net. Bobby D. says he's seen it in the movies. He says it's where Keanu meets the girl in "Point Break," and it's in that "Fast and the Furious" flick.
Anyway, we stop, have a burger and watch the sun go down. Cool place.
On Saturday morning, it occurs to me. It may be $1 a mile, but smoky burnouts and 9000 rpm gear changes are free. So we spend the day kicking the crap out of the Ferrari, beating on its steering column-mounted paddle shifters like Michael Schumacher and hitting as many landmarks as possible along the way.
First of all, great car. Fast. Comfortable. And it handles like nothing else. The faster you go, the better it feels. You'd have to be 20 Coronas deep to drive this car off the road. It's that steady. And its brakes? Fahgedabowdit. They feel like they could halt the Earth's rotation.
First stop? Beverly Hills, home of Kelly Taylor, Steve Sanders and the gang. We see Rodeo Drive, the hotel from "Pretty Woman," lots of pretty women and the Beverly Hills Hotel, which we understand is owned by the Sultan of Brunei, whoever that is.
At the recommendation of Masud, we take Sunset Boulevard to BH, as it's called locally, and check out the road's famous curves, which include the dreaded Dead Man's Curve made famous by Jan and Dean. We even stop to buy a map to the star's homes.
After the blast down Sunset and an hour or two in BH, we continue to drive east to Hollywood, which to our surprise, is an armpit. Truly disgusting. It looks like Newark. But we check out the Hollywood sign, which is cool, the Chinese theater, which is even cooler, and the Walk of Fame, where we look for but never find Burt Reynolds' star.
Then Bobby talks me into the Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum to see the giant hairball and the actual underwear worn by Madonna in the "Like a Virgin" video. Autographed no less.
For lunch we decide to look for one of these In-N-Out burgers I've heard about. My cousin Al visited L.A. once, and said In-N-Out Burger was fantastic. He called it the White Castle of the West. In our search, however, Bobby and I stumbled upon something even better. Bobby eyeballed the sign--Matteo's A Little Taste of Hoboken. Bada bing. Sold.
Inside Mateo's is a tribute to the great town of Hoboken, N.J., birthplace of baseball and Frank Sinatra. Two beautiful meatball parmesan sandwiches later and we're back on the road. First, we check out Mulholland Drive, which has more bends and twists than a WWE storyline. It's a road we've always wanted to run. After all, it's in the movies "No Man's Land" and "King of the Mountain," two of the best. Great road. First I drive, then Bobby.
Afterward, we need a Coke, and I know just the place. In the movie "King of the Mountain," Harry Hamlin takes a girl to Carney's after a night of racing on Mulholland. It's a diner I remember, made from two railroad cars. Easy to find, too. Right there on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. Cool place, been there since the 1960s.
After Carney's we cruise the strip, check out the Viper Room, Whiskey A-Go-Go and the Roxy. We hit on a few women, they tell us we look like Raymond and we move on.
Back to Matteo's for dinner, where we sample its sausage and potato sandwich, and then over to Deja Vu Showgirl's for a little entertainment. But the babe giving me the table dance makes a Raymond comment, and nobody wants to go outside to check out our Ferrari, which is one of four in the parking lot. One dancer, believe it or not, wants to know why we didn't get the 550 Maranello. Welcome to L.A.
With the car due back at 1 p.m. and our flight out at 3 p.m., Sunday morning is a grind. Still not having seen the heated pool, we check out, say good-bye to Masud and drive into Venice, which is just down the street.
Venice is cool. Freaks everywhere, but the vibe is right. It's a little bizarre seeing grown men on rollerskates, which in Jersey could get you knocked around, but we stumble upon a absolutely huge mural of Jim Morrison, which hits me in the gut, if you know what I mean. We even get to see Muscle Beach.
After Venice, we figure we'll hit as many stars' homes as we can.
According to the map to the stars homes, which we bought on Sunset Boulevard for $7, Madonna lives in Hollywood at 4519 CockerHam Drive. On the way over there we check out the homes of Henry Winkler (the Fonz), Steve McQueen, who we're pretty sure doesn't live there anymore, Monica Lewinsky, Tori Spelling and Eddie Van Halen. They all have really nice hedges, fences and gates. Madonna does, too. Her place is like a fortress. There's less security at the Alamo Labs.
Whatever. We leave the Material Girl two long black strips of Goodyear rubber to remember us by, and head back to BH to return the car.
It's 11 a.m. Traffic is getting thick, but we're ahead of schedule. We decide to hit Matteo's one last time, reverting back to the meatball parm, extra cheese.
The guy at Budget is glad to get his car back in one piece. The odometer says we traveled 539 miles crisscrossing the city. The total bill is $5,939. Add in the $100 or so we spent on gas, the $250 we blew on the hotel and the C-note we spent at Mateo's, and this was not a cheap weekend. I mean, I could've bought a used Trans Am for that.
But it was well worth it. It would have been nice to have bagged a babe or two, or three, but we had fun, made friends (Masud may come to Jersey for a visit) and even got to cut cheese in a Ferrari.
I think we'll do it again. Just as soon as we pay off the Visa bill from this trip, which should be around June 2022.
Estimated Price: $19,850
Engine Type: Inline four, iron block, aluminum head, supercharged and intercooled
Valvetrain: SOHC, four valves per cylinder
Bore x Stroke: 85.8mm x 77.0mm
Compression Ratio: 8.3:1
Claimed Crank Hp: 163 hp @ 6000 rpm
Claimed Crank Torque: 155 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
Drivetrain Layout: Transverse front engine, front-wheel drive
Transmission: Getrag dual layshaft six-speed manual
Gear Ratios Overall Ratio
1 : 11.40:1
2 : 7.10:1
3 : 5.30:1
4 : 4.40:1
5 : 3.60:1
6 : 2.90:1
Final drive: Not published
Differential : Open
Chassis Exterior Dimensions Curb Weight: 2,678 lbs
Weight Distribution F/R: 63/37
Overall Length: 143.9 in.
Wheelbase : 97.1 in.
Overall Width: 66.5 in.
Track F/R: 57.2 in./57.5 in.
Height: 56.2 in.
Front: MacPherson Strut Rear: Multi-link: trailing arm with integral hub plus upper and lower semi-trailing lateral links Brakes Front: 10.9-inch vented discs, single-piston sliding calipers Rear: 10.2-inch solid discs, single-piston sliding calipers
Wheels and Tires
Wheels: 16-inch aluminum, 17-inch aluminum optional Tires: 195/55R-16, 205/45R-17 optional