People often ask me how fast I've driven my Ferrari. And, just as often, they're disappointed by the answer. That's because I hadn't even cracked the 100 mph barrier until a few weeks ago, largely because I already pay roughly the same annual insurance premium as the White Star Line after the sinking of the Titanic.
But now, I'm pleased to report I have a new, and far more exciting, answer to the "how fast have you gone" question: I've hit 140 miles per hour, in a warehouse, behind a 1994 Buick Roadmaster.
For those of you who haven't seen the picture or read the headline (I call this group my special readers), my highly exciting top speed run took place at a dyno. You would already know this if you followed me on Twitter, where I posted a picture of my car on the dyno two weeks ago with the caption: "Any horsepower guesses?" Many of you made guesses, and I planned on revealing the answer right away, until I realized it would be an easy way to knock off a column. So, uh, thanks for your patience.
Anyway: before we get started with the numbers, I think it's time for a little background on precisely what a dyno is. Unfortunately, I have absolutely no idea. If someone out there in readerland would like to inform us, I think we would all benefit from that. What I do know is you drive your car up on to this little roller-thingy, and you go really fast for a few seconds, and then, at the end, using some highly advanced computer trickery, the dyno guy tells you how much horsepower you have. As you can see, I'm an expert on the subject.
I went to the dyno a few weeks ago with my friend Mark, who had recently modified his Miata in hopes of bringing out a few extra horsepower. Mark went first, which turned out to be a good thing, since it gave me a chance to observe dyno procedures. For those of you who haven't been before, here's approximately what happens:
1. You drive in, taking extreme care to place the car precisely straight on the roller, as indicated by a series of hand signals from the dyno guy. NOTE: Stopping the front wheels on the rollers, acting surprised, and saying: "You mean my car isn't front-wheel drive?!", as I did, is apparently not as funny as you think.
2. You wait inside the car while the dyno guy ties it extremely tightly to the floor, like some sort of automotive-themed BDSM photoshoot.
3. You begin driving along at around ten miles per hour, while simultaneously not moving, which is the single most disorienting feeling in the world.
4. You eventually reach 30 miles per hour. It's approximately this moment when you realize that, if you were to come off the rollers, you would crash into the back of a 1994 Buick Roadmaster.
5. You wonder what the Oldsmobile version of the Roadmaster was called.
6. Was it the Custom Cruiser?
7. Or was that only available a station wagon?
8. You eventually reach fourth gear, where you're told to step on it. You do so. This produces the loudest noise in the world; louder even than when you take your baby on a plane, and everyone is asleep, and then, without warning, he starts crying, and you realize that 200 people you've never even met before would gladly welcome a couple of Westboro Baptist Church members instead of you and your spawn, because at least then they'd get some sleep.
9. It's over. You're done. You then repeat the process two more times, including once with an enormous fan blowing in front of your vehicle as if you're a model going for a "windswept beach" look even though you're sitting in a dimly-lit studio in Tribeca.
So anyway, the dyno is a very interesting place to be, and if you're curious how I did… you'll have to watch the video.
HA HA! Just kidding. You're going to watch the video anyway, because it's filled with glorious noises of a Ferrari accelerating up to redline three different times. You will also watch because then you can make fun of my clothing.
If you're interested in how it did, the answer is: fairly well. In its best run, the Ferrari hit 337.3 wheel horsepower and 243.5 lb-ft of torque, as you can see in this graph. Factoring in a 15 percent drivetrain loss, that figure equates to around 390 brake horsepower — just 10 horses shy of the car's original rating when it left the factory in 2004.
But the numbers aren't as exciting as the car's wonderful sounds. So, for the rest of the story, here's the video:
@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars. He owned an E63 AMG wagon and once tried to evade police at the Tail of the Dragon using a pontoon boat. (It didn't work.) He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer, largely because it meant he no longer had to wear pants. Also, he wrote this entire bio himself in the third person.