A couple of years ago, at the monthly meeting of the infamous West-Toronto Audi Fans, one of our more well-to-do members showed up in a car that I had fantasized about since I was a teenager, likely because it came out around the same time as I got my licence: The Ferrari 550 Maranello. His was an early car with the gated manual, and when he rocked up in it, I stopped him before he had a chance to sit down in the pub and stated, “you have to give me a ride in that!”

“No, I don’t,” he said, and then tossed me the keys. “Go for it.”

Now, this isn’t the first time this sort of thing has happened (I’ve had several friends over the years with nice cars), but I had never taken any of them up on their offers, because my personal rule has always been that if I can’t afford to replace it, I shouldn’t drive it.

But, just this once, I broke my rule.

The first thing I remember was how much smaller the car was in person than it looked in pictures. The interior was tight, the fit and finish awful, the clutch and steering heavy, the shifter couldn’t be hurried, the gauges were illegible, and the brakes were touchy. By every quantifiable measure, it was actually not a very good car to drive.

And I loved every second of it.

It was during that 20 minute drive that I realized why people buy these things: It has nothing to do with the numbers. Doesn’t matter how much power that big V12 makes, or how fast it will run to sixty, or what it will top out at. Every twist of the key is a full-orchestra adventure. Every blip of the throttle floods the air with emotion. I’ve never driven anything that was more dramatic.

They say you should never meet your heroes, but I did, and I’m glad for it.