As we round the corner on three months of coronavirus quarantine, the tension between my shoulders has gone from doughy discomfort to a hardened callus. If not for ritualistic, face-covered jogs every morning, there would be a me-shaped cutout in our living room wall – the remnant of my complete breakdown.
Alas, no amount of responsible outdoor exercise can completely rid the sense of restraint. Even as gyms and beaches begin to reopen in southern California, restaurants, movie theaters, and hotels have yet to welcome guests. There’s no denying the need for these precautions and (as we’ve seen from recent events) the dangers of relaxing them too soon, but – if we can be honest with ourselves – the holding pattern sucks.
But there’s hope on the horizon for this lucky car writer, because he and his wife have a date with Ferrari’s all-new F8 Tributo Spider in Malibu.
Taut and lean, the F8 Spider at first glance appears without luggage accommodations, but within the front cavity we each fit a soft-sided duffle with room to spare. The cabin is equally remarkable. A pair of race-inspired carbon fiber bucket seats have no business being this ergonomic and supple, while Apple CarPlay and a JBL sound system ensure entertainment beyond the driving experience – which never really needs the assist.
Our introduction to the F8 Spider’s 710-horsepower, twin-turbocharged V8 is characterized by shortness of breath. With each shift of the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, the F8 enters a time warp. One click: 60 mph. Two clicks: “slow down” (my wife chiming in). It takes every bit of willpower to wrench myself from the spell cast by the oversized tachometer and dancing shift lights. “One more launch?” I plead. She negotiates a massage before agreeing.
Back in the realm of sane motoring, the F8 Spider is astonishingly comfortable. Adaptive dampers, which can instantly be firmed up for cornering, just as readily quell road bumps. Cruising up PCH, we calibrate the level of wind noise and force via a rear glass pane and side windows; with everything deployed, we needn’t raise our voices to remark on the car’s apparent popularity.
Yellow, topless, and sonorous, the F8 Spider is a magnet for praise and jealousy. We can’t admonish either reaction: Aerodynamically sculpted with a prowling stance and exquisite accents like ornate silver wheels and Scuderia crests, this supercar is simply stunning. The view from inside isn’t too shabby, either. Glossy carbon fiber adorns the steering wheel, dashboard, and a center spire of drive selections. Navy leather (a personal favorite) is contrasted by paint-matching Gallo Modena stitching. And while thoroughly driver-focused, the cockpit includes a digital monitor for passengers to criticize speeding or change your playlist (just some examples).
Our fun in the sun continues even after we arrive at our Malibu lodging. Light pours into the white-walled, open-design residence as we enter through an expansive glass door. Colorful, locally sourced artwork is sprinkled throughout living, eating, and bedrooms. The kitchen, balcony, and upstairs bedroom offer a spectacular view of the Malibu coast. French doors open to a backyard oasis. Lush, manicured landscaping tells the story of overworked gardeners.
Needing no further invitation, we drop our bags in the master (with a brief pause to admire the floor-to-ceiling marble bathroom), pop open a bottle of Chianti, and spread out lavishly on the patio furniture. Munching on a handful of local snacks and rocking my feet beneath the surface of the heated swimming pool, I can feel the tension easing.
Months of accumulated worry and frustration melt from my shoulders as I wonder whether I should have re-applied sunscreen an hour ago and whether it’s too early to eat the chocolate mousse I discovered in the fridge. I’ve missed these kinds of decisions.