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Story by Jack Baruth, photos by Sydney Davis Photography/MSR Houston

Three hundred thousand dollars’ worth of damage. Imagine owning a car so valuable, so difficult to fix, so chock-full of unobtanium parts that it’s possible to cause three hundred G’s worth of damage simply by running it at low speed into a Jersey barrier. Hard to believe – and yet that’s exactly what happened to movie producer Daniel Sadek when comedian Eddie Griffin borrowed his Ferrari Enzo and understeered straight into the concrete during a promotional event.

With Enzo values hovering in the million-and-a-half-dollar range, a $300K hit wasn’t enough to total the car, but it was enough to raise doubts as to whether the car could ever be repaired well enough to satisfy a potential buyer. What happened next has quickly become an Internet legend: Exotic-car dealer Matt Groner bought Sadek’s Enzo, purchased over $91,000 of authentic Ferrari parts, and invested an undisclosed but presumably massive amount of labor to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. It’s now up for sale on Ebay with a starting bid of $1,200,000. The winner of the auction is unlikely to be disappointed; Groner was painstaking in his efforts, modestly allowing that the paintjob just might be better than Ferrari’s notoriously sloppy original work.

Still, consider the fact that this is one of fewer than four hundred Enzos in the world. It’s a car that can be six-figure damaged by having an autocross accident. A crunch that wouldn’t cost ten grand to fix on a Mustang. A “crash” that, at the very worst, probably happened at thirty miles per hour.

Did you hear that?

That’s the sound of Michael Mills blowing by at one fifty.

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Matt Groner’s a no-BS type of guy. He believes Ferraris should be driven, and driven hard. Enter our pal Michael Mills, whom you may remember from our Viper vs. R8 Supercar Saturday Test. Fresh from his podium at the NASA National Championships, Mills would have the chance to run the Enzo against the clock around the MSR Houston road course. Naturally, there were a couple of caveats. The high cost of consumables meant that every lap would be a “demonstration lap” with VIP passengers aboard. The track had to be cleared of all other traffic to remove the possibility that some Spec Miata driver taking an evening test lap would find Ferrari’s fastest supercar in his mirrors. Last but not least, Mills was firmly reminded that this car is worth more than One. Million. Dollars.

With the eyes of Texas upon him, Mills grabbed his helmet and started the clock. How would the Enzo fare? Before we get to the times, it’s worth reviewing Mills’ notes from behind the wheel:

“Don’t think of the Enzo as a hopped-up street car; it isn’t. I’d been expecting a Rosso Corsa Viper – a viciously fast but unrefined sled – but the Enzo has the neutral balance, communicative controls, and electric-motor engine response of the very best sedan racers. There’s no body roll to speak of. The interior has the feel, look, and smell of a prototype, but the visibility’s excellent – as long as you’re looking forward, because it’s impossible to see behind.

“We started the session with the TC turned on, and I didn’t like the idea of turning it off. After all, it is a million-dollar car, and there was a worrying disconnected feel in the way the Enzo picked up out of corners. But there was no way I was going to miss the chance to run the car at the limit, so I flipped the traction control to ‘off’… and the car started to really shine. It’s got mild understeer on corner entry, but the total lack of flywheel effect, combined with the five-pound-per-horsepower power-to-weight ratio, means that you can instantly adjust the car with the throttle. Any corner, any time, any speed. There’s always enough power to put the Enzo sideways.

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“I keep coming back to the true race-car feel of this super-Ferrari; it’s closer in behavior and execution to my GTS-class racer than any street car. Having just driven an F430 Spyder here at MSR, I expected the same experience in fast-forward – but if it’s close to any F430, it’s more like an F430 Challenge. It’s video-game perfect: fast, tractable, perfectly balanced. It meets every expectation. Plain and simple.”

So Mills is a fan. What does the stopwatch say? Let’s put it in perspective. Around MSR, the fast street cars – think BMW M3 or M5 – turn 1:50 or thereabouts. We saw a 1:48 in our Audi R8 tester and 1:46 in the new six-hundred-horsepower SRT-10 Viper. A Ferrari F430 Scuderia is slightly faster but can’t break 1:46 under normal conditions. That’s the most you’ll get with a license plate on the back.

Ferrari claims the F430 Scuderia is just as fast as the Enzo – at their test track, under their conditions. Here at MSR, the Enzo simply dominates the Scud. With a passenger in the car, with the prospect of a seven-figure payback dancing in his head, Mills puts the hammer down and slams the Enzo past 1:43 easily. Fresh tires and an empty seat? 1:41 wouldn’t be a problem. To come up with competition for this carbon-fiber missile, we have to look down the paddock, at the race cars. The F430 Challenge racer is too quick – it uses slick tires and a close-ratio gearbox to stop the clock at 1:36 – but its predecessor, the F360 Challenge, would find this street Ferrari to be too much to handle.

So there you have it. In a world of “supercars” which wilt at the first sign of a hot lap and over-hyped limited-production wannabes which are more comfortable on Rodeo Drive than around MSR’s “Diamond’s Edge”, the Enzo stands out. It’s as spectacular now as it was five years ago. Fast, outrageous-looking, possessed of true race-car balance and power. Is it worth $1.2 million? Given that kind of cheddar, we’d probably try to finesse our way into a Daytona Prototype, but for the lucky man or woman who takes delivery of Groner’s rebuilt-to-perfection Enzo, it’s hard to consider that million-plus as being anything less than money well spent.

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Jack Baruth

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