The Ferrari Companion Reader

MMR Book Review

By Dom Miliano, Editor
MMR Newsletter

The Ferrari Companion Reader, by Gerald Roush

Just about everyone who has a Ferrari or is contemplating buying one has heard of The Ferrari Market Letter. This “every-two-week” periodical has, over the years, become the bible of the Ferrari buyer (and seller). Its publisher, Gerald Roush, was recognized as one of the most knowledgeable, if not THE most knowledgeable, Ferrari historian in the world. When he passed away in 2010, much of that collected wisdom — i.e., his encyclopedic knowledge of years, serial numbers, model ephemera, and fact-based opinion — was thought to be lost to us forever. Of course, there are back issues of the publication to consult, but gone is the ability to contact Mr. Roush directly and get the benefit of his experience first hand. Last spring at a Ferrari Concours, I shared a lunch table with his daughter Cathy. She told me that they had the same thoughts and that they were in the process of publishing the “Collected Wisdom” of her father in a new book. She generously offered MMR an evaluation copy and we’re happy to share our review here.

A quick look-see at the contents pages shows that just about anything you could want to know about buying, owning, selling and, more important, driving a Ferrari is contained between the covers. With chapters titled: “So you want to buy a Ferrari? Understand the market first” — “Ferrari numbers, names and other nomenclature” — “Fakes, scams and other tricks in the Ferrari market” and my personal favorite chapter – “Please, drive your Ferrari” all go together to create a great reference book for anyone considering taking the Ferrari plunge.

Gerald Roush’s son, Chris, opens the book with a passionate remembrance of his father and a fascinating retelling of how his dad grew into the world’s go-to Ferrari expert. He even mentioned how the celebrated Marcel Massini — himself known as a Ferrari expert — described Roush as his “mentor”. That is high praise indeed.

From there, we are treated to page after page of selected lead articles from the Ferrari Market Letter, arranged in chapters, all with a common theme. Because of the book’s unique design, I read the sections out of “order” — selecting a topic that caught my eye; diving to scratch a particular Ferrari itch. Since it’s not a novel that has a timeline or chronology, that approach should work for any reader with a specific interest. For example, so many of my friends who own these cars actually drive them and, bless their hearts, quite often, take me along for the ride. That’s why I started with the “Please, drive your Ferrari” chapter. I wanted to hear from the great man his insights on the subject since we all know there are a lot of “garage queens” in the Ferrari world. Right away, in the second paragraph, he warns about treating your Ferrari like a “static piece of sculpture”. He then goes on to describe a 1,000-mile drive he had in a Dino 246 GTS saying it was “... without incident” and it was experienced “... in complete comfort.” The rest of the chapter is peppered with fun tales of driving in events like the Mille Miglia and the Colorado Grand. To my personal delight, he gives his expert opinion on what it’s like behind the wheel of a new 355 F1 Berlinetta since that was the first Ferrari I ever drove! The piece wraps up with his thoughts on long distance travel in all manner of Ferraris — old, new, and in-between — all quite enjoyable and eye opening.

Another chapter I enjoyed was one entitled, “They’re not all great classics”. While not a damning essay on certain models, it is an eye opener to learn that even someone so passionate about the marque has a realistic opinion about some of the cars from Maranello. For example, he described the 348 as “dated” and “ergonomically unfriendly” and that the handling was “suspect”. He even quotes an observer who described the rear suspension as, “independent to the point of defiance.”

Also in that chapter is a must-read piece called “The Three Ferrari Eras”. If you want to sound smart when talking with your Ferrari friends, it pays to know that there are distinct points in time that mark changes in the marque’s history. They are — The Enzo Era, The Ferrari/FIAT Era and the “FIAT era”. Roush pulls no punches explaining the good, bad, and ugly of each — neither betraying loyalty to his readers nor his love for Ferrari. A fascinating read, for sure.

The Ferrari Companion Reader, open pages, by Gerald Roush

This over 300-page book reads like Gerald Roush is next to you at a dinner party, telling you all about the greatness and near-greatness of his favorite car maker. He tells his stories in plain words with a bit of humor spicing up the prose. Of course, there are charts, graphs and pictures galore making this both a fun read and an in-depth Ferrari encyclopedia. Worth mentioning is that, while the stories are from years past, the opinions and recommendations ring as true today as they did when first penned by Gerald Roush.

Love Ferraris? Considering buying or selling a Ferrari? Want to read an expert’s opinion on the ups and downs of the collector car hobby? You need to read this book and then keep it in your personal library for future reference.

Available at: www.ferrarimarketletter.com/home.