Thursday, March 8, 2012

The low mileage myth: Opening the gearbox for inspection

It seems as though many Ferrari owners and buyers believe the myth of low mileage as the sole factor of judgement with their cars. You often hear of people touting an odometer reading of a few hundred or thousand miles in a car that is 30 or 40 years old without knowing that mileage is essential to maintaining the mechanical parts of these machines.

Almost 10 years ago we bought a Ferrari 308 (Dino's younger brother in an older post) that the previous owner had bought 3 years earlier with 10K miles on the odometer. He naively thought that with such low mileage he was buying a near new car he proceeded to spend some $36K in service during his tenure. This was all documented in a large pile of receipts that we received when purchasing the car with 18K miles. Still low by any metric but the last 8K had been driven recently and in almost a decade of ownership the car has cost us little more than an annual oil change in service.

The low mileage myth was further proven with the dis-assembly of 01464's gearbox. Getting help from our experienced friend Jamie, we set about stripping the unit for inspection. Again recent mileage prior to purchase (coupled to the fact that the joker who built the engine never touched it) paid dividends as the condition of the internals were outstanding. The bearings looked as though they had been installed yesterday and there was no visible wear on any of the gears. The only thing to address were lightly worn synchronizer rings that will be replaced as a matter of course. Jamie had recently worked on a 'garage queen' low mileage Dino that required all new bearings as they were rusted and pitted due to lack of use.

The moral of the story is to ignore the odometer and judge both the condition of a car and how recently it has been used prior to purchase. These are much better indicators that the numbers on an easy to disconnect instrument.

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