Richard found a love of Ferrari during a visit to the Earl's Court Motor Show back in 1976. Now the owner of a GT4, it's a love that's spawned an event which has snowballed into one of the best supercar days of the year.
Richard Davis is part of the core team at the heart of The Supercar Event, an extravaganza that has now supported The Children’s Trust for over ten years, raising money to support the Charity.
“Owning this car is the reason the whole event has kicked off.
We’ve managed to raise half a million quid in total!”
The Supercar Event started after a friend’s daughter needed help following a severe brain injury. The Children’s Trust gave the life-changing care she needed. “They taught her to walk, talk and feed herself: the skills she had lost from the coma.” As a way of offering something to the children at the trust: “we decided to go out there and take the kids out for a ride.” The idea proved fun and the following September (in 2007) Richard decided it might be possible to get local people to donate a bit of money for a ride in various cars up and down the A217.
“The trouble was 40mph speed limits and Ferrari don’t really go hand in hand - we thought ‘we’re all gonna get nicked if we do it again’ so one of the fundraisers from The Children’s Trust said ‘let's try and get the Top Gear track” and in 2009, they did. Now one of the best events on the supercar calendar, The Supercar Event has boomed into a real success story, one that supports The Children’s Trust and the vital work they do, this year (2016) raising over £100,000.
The V8 certainly delivers - especially when Richard takes it on the track. “It handles so well, it actually handles better than a 308 GTB or GTS because it’s a longer wheelbase for effectively the same length car. You’ve also still got a decent boot you can fit two sets of golf clubs in. It’s actually a really practical sports car.”
This GT4 is a supremely clean example with limited mileage and stunning paint. The unique thing about this car is, it gets used. “Unless you use them every couple of weeks, they almost go into a sort of hibernation. You need to get everything moving, they’re supposed to be driven. Some cars are just destined to sit in people's garages, which is fine, but when you don’t drive them you think ‘oh God I hate this’ [the way it drives] and it just sits there.”
The fact is, as perfect as it looks, committing to taking it out means the GT4's performance matches the perfection in its appearance. In the cabin, you can sense the craftsmanship that would have impressed a first-time buyer. Every bit of chrome catches the light, the carpets and leather are rich. You feel rude not taking your shoes off. The beautiful interior is no excuse to get comfortable though. Push this car and it will snap back with an assertive power. The engine screams away behind you, it's easy to picture just how cool you look driving along.
“I’ve never not used this car for reasons of mileage, I could jump in it now and drive to Scotland, it’s pretty reliable, reasonably comfortable and doesn’t cause too much noise on a run. It’s a bit more of an event, in a good and a bad way.” Starting the car is a little more complicated that turning a key. After switching it on and waiting for the fuel pump to tick over for about twenty seconds, you pump the throttle twice and it might fire, but only initially on six or seven cylinders. When it’s hot the car requires a flat foot on the throttle, essentially forcing it to start. “It’s not quite a starting handle in the front! It’s important though or you’ll flood it, or it just won't start and it’ll just cough and fart.” Perhaps this kind of process is what gives a classic Ferrari a sense of personality. It seems efficiency and speed don’t apply to the pomp and circumstance needed to get the thing going. But that’s okay.
Coming to own this car for Richard was about finding the right Ferrari. “I wanted one that was a two-plus-two so I could take the kids in the back. They were only four or five then; now they won't fit!” Struck by the low mileage and number of owners (which is usually astronomical on a Ferrari) Richard had to have this GT4. The previous owner had owned the car for 21 years but only done seven thousand miles. “That’s like 300 a year? It’s absolutely nothing!” Safe to say Richard could tell from the way it drove.
Richard has had a myriad of classic cars. Before the Ferrari came a Series 1 Land Rover. What a feeling it must have been getting into an Italian V8 after plodding around in something shaped like a brick. Now Richard has owned this car for 11 years and has seen it appreciate handsomely. For him, it’s time to move on.
Using the GT4 on the track is getting tough for Richard - it doesn’t seem right to treat such a beautiful classic like this. Though it’s got the grunt and it’s certainly got the grip with those slightly bigger wheels, “It’s probably unfair to treat the car like that, poor old girl.”
Often in our articles was talk about the unique bond between man and machine. It’s a symbiotic relationship that has existed for decades. Owning a classic Ferrari and spawning an entire event through sharing the love of driving it definitely tops any show 'n' shine.
Go to The Supercar Event. Go and ride in something that you’ve been longing to experience, safe in the knowledge that 100% of the profits go directly to The Children's Trust. Chat to the people there. It’s a real chance to feel good in more ways than one. We’ll be sad to see Richard’s Ferrari go, but the legacy it leaves behind is certainly bigger than anything it came with from the factory.