Il Mio Primo Amore | Hot Wheels Ferrari 458 Italia | Diecast Diaries
Ever believed in love at first sight? I do.
[Originally published on Kinja 18 January, 2016 at 10:44AM . As part of a massive week-long initiative to bring my most significant LaLD posts to Drivetribe in the wake of Kinja's demise, I present my greatest hits: every feature and review I've written that's worth reading about, revised for more discerning audiences.]
It all started on my 12th birthday, when I saw a yellow Ferrari and a burly police car side by side on the Hot Wheels stall in the toys section. As I made a search, I did not find the same model in red, but incredibly, I wasn’t disappointed, not like when I lucked out of a red FXX and got a yellow one instead. Since my dad had enough money and I wanted some competition, I bought the police car, which was a Dodge Charger SRT8.
[Full disclosure: this feature is two months (!!!) overdue, what with college and the holiday rush getting in the way, but I’ve been itching to tell the story of my oldest surviving example of my idol car—now beat-up and in desperate need of a restoration and FTE wheels as you can see—for a long time. All photos are taken by an iPhone 4S, so now I apologize.]
If it isn't apparent already, these were shot well over three years ago at a time when I was still groping around with taking shots of toy cars. Over time, compression took its toll.
There’s good reason why I didn’t have beef with the yellow 458. The yellow, for one, wasn’t just striking, it was smashing, and complemented the svelte lines of the car. For one, the wheels were perfectly-designed, and the bigger rear wheels actually made the model look sportier. I intentionally rubbed the chrome off the wheels to complete the look. It helps that the tint of the windows isn’t too dark, so I can see the engine at the back even in low light (even today, and that’s with scratched glass!).
It rolls as fast as a Ferrari should.
And the best part? It’s a Ferrari. I’ve been a fan since I first saw Michael Schumacher win a race in 2004, so pretty much any Ferrari that becomes a toy car becomes the first one on my wishlist.
I had opened both models while in the big food court below the shops, as most kids would do, then chucked the card and went home with the two castings in both of my pockets. Play continued on, and I enjoyed every second of it.
The highest point of the time I had with the car was when Top Gear’s review of the car came up. Sure, I had a twinge of sadness about the fact that my toy car was yellow while Jeremy’s was red, but the review was excellent, and I play-hooned my toy the entire way, trying to emulate the film and making whooping noises as Clarkson lauded the car over and over, and kept at it for a good two weeks after.
Before I got a Tomica R35 GT-R (which I sacrificed during New Year revelries) and Speed Machines Gallardo Superleggera (which I traded to my best friend for some chibi race cars that I lost in a Bermuda Triangle), this 458 was my everyday pocket carry, and I took it every time the family goes on an out-of-town trip to our home province of Quezon, whose roads, while fairly pimpled, are magnificent, with corners that a 458—my 458—can take on with grace and poise and gusto.
With time, the car was put through its paces, getting scratches and paint chips over time. Amazingly, the rate of decay is quite long, as the paint held well to the bumps and crashes the car went through.
But as time went by, life and school caught up, and I didn’t have time to hoon the car. I forgot about it when the 458 fell on a once-unreachable nook in the bedroom, and eventually other cars took over. Somehow, I kept remembering about the car, and kept wishing that every visit to the mall there was a Ferrari I can take home so the 458 has some to play with.
Somehow, during my entire 4 years in high school, I never quite got a Ferrari I can take home, play, watch Top Gear with, and imagine I drive through the provincial roads our family take every year in Quezon Province and Laguna., Philippines.
It’s why I often commented that I weep whenever I see a LaFerrari or F12 on this site (the old one). It’s in jest, for the most part, but there is good weight to it. This generation of Ferraris were my poster cars, the ones I sought for the most, and seeing none of them in my slowly-expanding garage is nothing less than disheartening. Every other car looked great, but they simply weren't Ferraris.
Here it is, parked in its resplendently barren state. Good thing the running gear is still in tip-top shape.
And then I found it, miraculously, while I was in 2nd year high, during the monthly general house cleaning. It was nothing less than love at second sight. Sure, the paint had since disfigured the car (and even the spots that I thought would hold up have chapped away), the headlight tampos were gone, the cockpit glass had dimmed and scratched, the axles have gotten negative camber, and the A-pillars have bent and gotten dents, but the silhouette is unmistakable and still sensual as ever. Multiple supercars have come and passed, and I have bought some to be its competition, but in my play-dates, I still made the 458 win.
The 458 always won, everytime.
Today it resides with multiple new arrivals, along with other cars I got as time went by, in a glass case that serves as a garage, along with cars that have, in one way or another, seen their own paint come right off them. They can learn a lot from this veteran, which I imagined has been gutted of its innards and replaced with 458 Speciale parts that has been stretched to as far as the powerplant can go, with the result being a 619 hp, 555 lb-ft (and no more, said those who worked on it) screamer, capable of 0-60 in 2.7 seconds and a top speed of 208 mph. Yes, the entire chassis and body is still more or less the same, but after deploying other race-optimized weight savings, my car is now 180 kilograms lighter than the Speciale. In my lucid dreams, of course, but then, what's the use of imagination if it isn't put to work?
Maybe, after some time saving money and finding a connection, I can arrange a deal that will help restore this car to its former glory, but until then, I will keep it as it is.
My 458 is the oldest surviving Hot Wheels casting. It's the final vestige of a childhood long since passed, a tangible capsule of memories. Let me keep it for as long as I live.