An Italian minute can be anything from 60 seconds to many months.
It’s the same measurement of time used during a night out, right after announcing you’ll be leaving. Obviously, saying those words out loud must make them true, yet somehow another drink has already found its way into your hands.
This is why I’m exercising my right both as an Italian – and someone with terrible time management – to excuse the last Project 360 update. I had every intention of doing a ‘big reveal’ shortly after that post, but here we are, 10 months later. That’s bad even by my standards.
I had some good excuses lined up, mainly to entertain one Australian individual who rages in the comments section at every project update. But for their sake and mine, we’ll keep this one entirely positive.
Because even the really bad bits of Ferrari 360 ownership should only ever be met with the term ‘cry me a river’. It’s a bright red Ferrari race car; what are you moaning about? Practicality? Costs? Awkwardness?
Positive vibes only, even if both Kevlar-cased endurance fuel tanks need replacing and re-foaming. They’re supposed to be changed every five years, and these still have stamps from 1999. But I promise you that’s not me complaining; custom tanks can be made even if they are quite expensive. So cry me a river, Ferrari boy.
Right, back to what actually matters…
Since I last misled you on a far-fetched timeline, I’ve (obviously) had the Yokohama Advan A052 tyres fitted to the RAYS Volk Racing TE37s, and it looks completely wild.
It’s not going to be to everyone’s taste – personally I think I’ve cocked up the front tyre fitment slightly and need to come down a profile – but those were the ideal size for the increased width, and it’s exactly the kind of Japanese ‘Tsukuba monster’ look I was after.
And if we’re throwing in some more first world problems, there’s always this spare set of BBS RE700/701 wheels to run.
What the car has been plagued with for a while is an odd fuel cut/surge under hard acceleration which throws the engine into limp mode. Through much driving and science – which involved filling either tank in between runs – it seems to only happen when using the right-hand fuel tank.
For those unfamiliar with the fuel setup on Ferrari 360 Challenge race cars, there’s two 50-litre fuel bags encased in Kevlar tanks, one on each side of the engine. These are then joined in the middle with a balancer pipe allowing fuel to move freely between the two.
However, unlike normal fuel tanks, these are crammed full of foam inserts designed to stop the fuel from sloshing around under hard acceleration and cornering, avoiding surge even when the fuel level is decreasing.
Foam from the late 1990s is very different to the foam being used in race cars today, and over time the old stuff degrades and breaks down into many little pieces. The result? Foam getting everywhere you don’t want it – filters, pumps and every pipe in between.
After that very scientific research documented earlier, there’s a good chance that balancer pipe connecting the two tanks is jammed full of old foam. The ‘main’ fuel pump feeds from the left-hand tank too, which could also explain why – when the left tank is empty and the right one is full – the surge issue appears again.
That’s why both tanks and all the associated fuelling components are being removed, then cleaned or replaced by Paul at ICS Motorsport in the coming weeks. It’s a big job and it’s not going to be cheap, but this isn’t your typical road-going car after all.
Swapping out the fuel pump might seem excessive, but the last thing I’d want is that to fail once it’s all bolted back together. Because to remove both those fuel tanks requires disassembling most of the engine bay plastics, shielding and even the exhaust manifolds.
That last bit gave me an idea…
The stock 360 Challenge (race) exhaust isn’t stock anymore. It’s running a set of aftermarket manifolds feeding to a token back box which doesn’t appear to have any form of silencing or baffles inside. It’s one of the loudest and most obnoxious cars I’ve ever owned. Brilliant, isn’t it?
Well it was, until I realised I can’t actually get on any track day in the UK with a noise limit below 118db. And that’s most places in the UK. Bugger.
No limit days are an option, but there’s actually a bigger issue for me in the type of sound the current exhaust produces.
A 3.6-litre flat-plane V8 revving to 8,500rpm should fizz and zing. It should scream like an opera singer being kicked in the testes. But this particular Ferrari doesn’t; it’s rough, loud and almost American-like with its burble.
If you’ve ever listened to Cardi B speak, you’ll know that simply adding volume doesn’t equate to a better sound being produced. I don’t have the power to solve that issue – nor does anyone in the world – but for cars at least the solution is far simpler: an iPE exhaust system.
All road cars are subject to much compromise, and expensive supercars are no different. In the case of the Ferrari 360, they made roughly 15,000 examples over five years. That’s hardly VW levels of production, but any cost saving can still make a decent margin here. Especially on large, heavy items like the exhaust system.
When you throw all that compromise in the bin and build an exhaust with nothing but noise and performance in mind, you end up with something like the iPE (Innotech Performance Exhaust) system pictured here.
In terms of physical silencing there’s not a massive amount, but the shape and tube diameter are designed to refine that engine note as much as increase the volume.
Spend a few minutes on YouTube and you’ll be inundated with ‘F1-sounding’ supercars, all the result of fabricators like iPE cleverly manipulating exhaust flow to give that iconic high-pitched scream.
While the iPE name may be familiar already, what you may not know is just how long they’ve existed for. iPE started back in 1998 as the Jim Header Industrial Company, debuting at the Tokyo Auto Salon the same year. By 2010, company founder Gary Chien had decided to create his own brand known as Innotech Performance Exhaust with more focus on sports and supercars rather than OEM.
What drew me towards the iPE system – aside from the obvious F1-inspired sound – is their use of electronic and vacuum-controlled exhaust valves as an option on almost all of their systems.
The stock Ferrari 360 comes with a vacuum-operated exhaust valve; the 360 Challenge race cars, not so much. But I was reassured the system would come with all the relevant hoses and wiring required to make it work once again.
I’m 33 years old now; I have a young child and I live in an estate where neighbourhood watch is seen as an actual profession rather than being inherently nosey.
Understandably, a bright red Ferrari race car causes some complaints. So the option to keep noise reduced with a valve is exactly the kind of early midlife crisis I can get on board with.
Will it work? Of course not, these people are idiots. But it does mean I can get the car to more track days, and that’s absolutely worth getting glares from the 9:00am curtain twitchers.
I’ll go into more details on the iPE system during the actual fitting process, and I promise this will include actual videos of noise, fly-bys and persistent revving. Just give me a minute – or several months – to get all that together. It’ll be worth it.