A spring in the step of the Prancing Horse

Ferrari goes from strength to strength

The UK may have entered a double dip recession but that doesn’t seem to have impeded the spring in the step of the Prancing Horse.

While the rest of us are counting the pennies and praying the motor gets through its next MoT, luxury car brand Ferrari goes from strength to strength.

Perhaps the super rich, put off philanthropy by the Government’s tax shenanigans, have decided to splash out on 200 grand sports cars instead.

Ferrari grew UK sales by 31 per cent in the first quarter of the year with 177 models delivered to customers. This performance outstripped encouraging results in other markets, which saw sales rise 16 per cent in the USA, 24 per cent in Germany and 23 per cent in the Middle East.

Overall, revenues were up 13 per cent to 556m Euro with net profit leaping 17 per cent to 42m Euro.

Ferrari said the success resulted from enthusiasm for the 12-cylinder FF, the continuing popularity of the 8-cylinder California, its top selling GT, and demand for the coupe and spider versions of the 458 sports car. Ferrari pointed out that the F12 Berlinetta, its most powerful ever model and the first in a new generation of V12s made no contribution to the first quarter results as deliveries do not start until the second half of the year.

In its native Italy however, the Fiat-owned marque suffered a downturn, selling 121 cars – a drop of 34 per cent compared to thefirst quarter of 2011.

Ferrari blamed this on the economic situation and "the local government’s recent financial initiatives". A clampdown on tax fraud coupled with a hike in car taxes have curbed the traditional Italian enthusiasm for high performance sports cars.

Ferrari has expanded its retail network in the UK with prestige car dealers JCT600 and HR Owen opening new showrooms this year.

James Dallas is deputy editor of What Van?

Photograph: Getty Images

James Dallas is deputy editor of What Van?

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The writer who never met his deadlines - but would always swear blind he had

My colleague Susan – tougher than me – said I should just drop him. And then, one day, the matter came to a head.

For this story, I intend to take you back 25 years, to the days when no one in the world had email. It’s quite important that you can picture the primitive scene: we are in the dusty and characterless offices of a small-circulation weekly magazine, staffed by care-worn editors and sub-editors, all old before their time. The prevailing smell is cup-a-soup.

There being no computers or internet, the all-important contributions arrive sometimes by fax machine, sometimes by hand, mostly by post. For me, as literary editor on the second floor, the least effective form of delivery is, oddly, fax. This is because the person who sits beside the fax machine (downstairs) makes it a rule never to inform colleagues when a fax has come for them.

Now, at this time I had a particular contributor who suffered from a strange and infuriating complex, by which he a) was incapable of meeting any deadline but b) always swore blind that he had.

“Where is your book review, Geoffrey?” I asked, routinely, on the phone.

“What?” he said, in mock disbelief. “Isn’t it there? I posted it two days ago/popped it through the letter box myself!”

But then he would seem to remember something.

“What’s your address again? Well, this explains why you didn’t receive it. I got the address wrong. Tell you what, I’ll type it out again tonight!”

I knew he was lying, of course. “Just send me the carbon copy,” I would say. But what do you know? In a freak outbreak of tidiness, he had always thrown the carbon away, or he’d simply forgotten to make one.

“Why don’t you take photocopies, Geoffrey?” I would say. “I hate to think of you typing it all again.” “I WILL TYPE IT AGAIN TONIGHT, LYNNE,” he would insist. And the next day, the piece would duly turn up, and it would be fine.

But how I railed. Why did I have to go along with this charade? My colleague Susan – tougher than me – said I should just drop him. And then, one day, the matter came to a head.

A review was late again. I sent a message via a third party: I wanted his review, but I did not want to hear he had already sent it. Half an hour later, however, there was a message for me that he’d already sent it, actually, but would retype it tonight. Fuming, I burst into Susan’s office. “He’s done it again!” I cried. “He says he already sent it, and I’m so sick of this every time, so sick of all the lies, lies, lies!” At which she said the most wonderful five words of my working life: “Tell him you got it.”

In a million years, I would never have come up with this solution by myself. I sent him a fax, saying: “Sorry, Geoffrey, you were right, I found it on my desk! Great piece. Well done.” And it felt absolutely fantastic.

Next week: David Quantick

This article first appeared in the 11 February 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The legacy of Europe's worst battle