Taking time out from our hectic lives seems to be the ultimate challenge in our modern, busy world.
Finding a gap between work, family, errands and random ‘jobs’ for just a bit of self-time is getting harder and harder. For mine, that gap is always going to be at the extremes of the day – first thing in the morning, or last thing at night, and whether it is a run, a ride, or a blast through the hills, making the effort to find that time is worth it.
Over the recent public holiday long weekend, Melbourne’s usually clogged road-network loosens up somewhat, and the still single-digit hours, with family and pets still asleep, seemed the perfect chance to clear the cobwebs for an early drive. It didn’t hurt that the 2016 Ferrari California T was in the CarAdvice garage at the time.
If making time for yourself is good, getting a friend to tag along makes it even better.
A quick text to a mate who keeps a lovely 2002 Ferrari 575M up his sleeve for just such an occasion, and the ‘7-11 coffee-run’ was on.
Leave at 7 and be back by 11 are the constraints of my early-morning adventures – time enough to have some fun and be home to make breakfast for the family horde.
You don’t always have to go far to enjoy a drive, the Dandenong Ranges are just 35km due East of central Melbourne.
Empty roads make the normally dull suburban cross effortless, as the pair of prancing-horses cruised along Canterbury Road and out through to Bayswater. Both red, but the 575 in traditional Rosso Corsa, the California in a spectacular three-layer Rosso Fucco, a staggering $35,500 option.
Single-digit time meant single-digit temperatures, but having the heated seats on and windows up made the California’s cabin snug and comfortable despite having the roof down.
The turbo-Cali is a quieter car that you would expect, but it’s not without character. A distinctive growl, combined with a whistle from the twin-turbochargers meets a lovely ‘crack’ and ‘whoosh’ on shifts, from the exhaust and blow-off valve respectively. It’s not as brutal and high-pitched as Ferrari’s other V8 sports cars, nor as sweet as the V12 in the Maranello, but is still very ‘Ferrari’.
Leaving Boronia on Mountain Highway, and the four-lane A-road changes to a tight, twisty hill-climb – perfect for Ferraris and, as it happened, scores of energetic cyclists.
At around 10km long, the climb up the mountain is ideal for a morning-drive like this. The road is more enjoyable than outright challenging, and chasing the 575 through the corners and around the cyclists, with the only the noise of 20-cylinders and short ‘toots’ of the classic twin-tone airhorn to break the mountain silence… it was sublime.
The sun is still rising at this time of day, creating dappled light patterns through the trees, the big V12 blowing a path through dropped leaves and bark as we ascend to the intersection of Mount Dandenong Tourist Road, and make a right to find a stop for coffee amidst the quaint Devonshire tea houses and antique stores of Olinda village.
Caffiene sorted, I lead the way in the California as we wind on to through Monbulk, Emerald and onto Gembrook.
The giant nostril of the 575 looks amazing in the rear view mirror, but the 412kW California has the legs over its 379kW older sibling, proving again that technology is a replacement for displacement. That said, at ‘Victorian’ speeds, the big V12 loses no ground on the younger turbo cruiser, its low and very wide stance showing remarkable grip through the bends.
Gembrook is known for a cracking chocolate milkshake, but we neglect the opportunity for more coffee in the aim for meeting that 11am return time limit.
Down the hill now, 575M again leading the way, effortlessly overtaking slower vehicles as we link turn after turn, past the sign for the ‘most Australian town name ever’, Pakenham Upper and back to houses, shops and the relaxed cruise home along the M1 freeway.
We part ways here, the air-horn toot a salute from the Maranello as it peels off the highway, leaving the California to cruise back to town and me back to a normal day. The 7-11 run so stealthy, the family had barely noticed I was gone.
The run on my own would have been fun, but there is something about chasing, and running with a friend in another car that makes a short blast so much more enjoyable. Greater than the sum of its parts as they say.
You don’t need close to $1-million worth of Italian supercars to have a good time (although, it doesn’t hurt) and when you consider the overall minimal expense of time, fuel and coffee of a short, sharp morning run, it makes it one of the best ways to get out, clear your head and enjoy the drive and the quality friendship time that life is all about.
What is your favourite ‘7-11’ loop? Let us know and perhaps we’ll see you for coffee one morning soon!
Click on the Photos tab for more images by James Ward and Tom Fraser.