Price (as tested) 💲: $444,287
Powertrain ⚙️: 3.0-liter Twin-Turbocharged V6 + Electric Motor + 7 kWh battery
Output 💪: 819 hp/546 lb-ft of torque
Transmission 🕹: 8-Speed Dual-Clutch Automatic
0-60 MPH 🚦: 2.9 seconds
Top Speed 💥: 205 mph
MPG (as tested) ⛽️: 20 combined MPG / 47 combined MPGe + 8-mile electric range
Curb weight ⚖️: 3,700 lbs

 

Though my parents certainly had some cool cars during my childhood (including a Volvo 240 Turbo, Jaguar XJ6, and a couple Corvettes), my automotive passion was nurtured by a neighbor and his spectacular car collection.

At all hours during the day and night, Shane could be heard firing up and re-shuffling his Triumph TR3, 1967 Mustang, Porsche 928, and H1 Hummer. And every so often, he’d clear a runway to escort either his Ferrari 328 GTS or 1989 Testarossa out of their preferred garage spots. At such occasions, I’d pause whatever I was doing to watch the car purr its way out of view. Typically, I was well aware of either Ferrari’s planned departure, because Shane’s son, Stephen, and I would be ogling, washing, or even servicing one of the other cars at the time.

Since these formative years, Ferraris have claimed prime spots in my fantasy garage. Shane’s cars were not only well preserved, but enthusiastically driven. We made several runs to the Malibu canyons over the years, Stephen and I alternating shotgun in the Testarossa while Stephen’s mother drove the 328. I came to respect their agility and poise beyond even their captivating designs and rich leather scent.

My first drive in a Prancing Horse was mostly ceremonial. While on a post-grad Europe trip, I overpaid to drive a Ferrari 360 Modena around the streets of Monaco. At 18, I was too scared to give the car a good prodding, but the experience was memorable nonetheless. It would be 12 years before I’d have another attempt. This time, at the helm of an 812 Superfast, I didn’t leave much on the table. That V12 shrieked during every stint behind the wheel and my admiration for the Italian automaker extended deeper roots.

I’ve driven some breathtaking cars in the three years since, and Ferrari’s countenance has changed. The NA V12 lives on in the Purosangue, but other powertrains are downsizing and/or coupling with electrification. I was more than a little skeptical of the 296 GTB and its hybrid twin-turbo V6. Photos didn’t flatter certain angles of the exterior, and exhaust clips heard online didn’t flutter my heart.

In the metal, everything changed. The front and rear were still too experimental, but the profile brought in nostalgic 328 cues. Inside, the steering wheel had more functions than a recording studio, but piloting it through a series of curves showcased the 296 GTB ‘s brilliant dance moves. As the tach climbed toward its 8,000 rpm cutoff, the V6 note extracted the essence of V12 through exhaust outlets and the cabin’s “hot pipe.” That Ferrari flame burned brightly once more.

I never did get a chance to drive one of Shane’s stallions; He passed away at a relatively young age and his collection was dissolved. If ever I can afford it, I’d like to find his cars and make the owners an offer they can’t refuse. Until then, I’ll borrow time in modern marvels like the 296 GTB, wondering how much quicker Shane would have torn through the canyons if his 328 had been packing triple the power.