Alice Glass is going back to This American Life with her brother, Ira.
The 911 with a stick accelerates from 0 to 60 in 4.6 seconds; with the PDK, that number is as low as 4.2 seconds (with the Sport Chrono package). A difference of four-tenths, officially! If you were a German transmission engineer and you were four-tenths of a second slower getting to the coffee pot in the morning they would bin you.
And yet there it is: I want, I would only have, the seven-speed manual transmission. First, because those few tenths at 100% throttle are not actually that important to me and I, personally, would never track my daily driver. Second, because Porsche’s seven-speed shifter is turned out so beautifully, with lustrous aluminum and taut leather, surrounded by a glove-soft leather gusset in the center console, almost steampunk in its elegant antiquation. Third, it’s a mechanical marvel: The weight, throw and uptake of the clutch pedal, the frictionless linkages, the gate-homing precision of the shifter, all impeccable, all to the sound of an upscale lumber mill.
To feather the clutch lightly up a hill, to rev impetuously and dump the clutch when the floodlights hit. Stop, thief! You’ve stolen our hearts.
But it’s mostly because when you’re good at something—a language, an instrument, or in my limited case, heel-and-toe downshifting—there’s joy in doing it. A couple of mornings I caught myself skipping out to the car.
The trouble is, Mr. Montezemolo has spent his career at Ferrari—every time I have ever talked to the man, as far back as 1993—arguing the opposite course. Sell, sell, sell, but restrain production, increase rarity and exclusivity, raise residuals and, above all, protect the brand, even if that means leaving money on the table. His near-term plan actually called for lowering production numbers. I guess he finally lost that argument. Ruthless capitalists would see nothing amiss here. “It’s the same for him as it is for me,” Mr. Marchionne said last week. “We serve the company. When the company has a change of plans, or if there is no longer a convergence of ideas, things change.”
Except that executives aren’t always interchangeable. This is what market materialists never get. Setting aside his record, Mr. Montezemolo represents an unbroken chain of succession from Enzo, the living embodiment, the patrimony. European manufacturing concerns, particularly Italian companies, are often cults of male personality. Mr. Montezemolo—vulpine, mahogany-skinned, elegant—played the role perfectly.
And not all brands are fungible. Indeed, a key part of Ferrari’s mythology has been its independence, its gallant disregard of best business practices in the name of global sport. From the earliest days under Enzo, the company spent more money on racing than American accountants would probably think wise. Ferrari does most of its design and manufacturing in-house, in Maranello. The efficiency experts in Turin will likely want to change some of that, too.
Mr. Montezemolo has loudly and repeatedly refused to consider a Ferrari sport-ute/crossover vehicle. Enzo would turn over in his grave, and so on. But what will tomorrow bring now that Mr. Marchionne has direct control? Will the Formula One pit crews be issued red sweaters?