Sunday, 15 December 2013

I bought a Ferrari the other day...

Like many men of un certain âge, I have a passing interest in fast cars (1), and so read one or two car magazines now and again.  Something that I find strange, and indeed mildly amusing (as it’s never likely to affect me directly), is that when you start talking about real exotica - the limited edition stuff, ‘Only 249 to be built.’ etc, they’re quite difficult to get hold of.  And this is not wholly down to the astronomical price tags that these cars can command (the Bugatti Veyron was one of the first to break the £1m barrier if memory serves correctly, but since then, there have been several in that £1m+ bracket).  

It’s the fact that in many cases, you have to be invited to buy the car.  Just having the money isn’t enough.  You have to qualify!

With some of the rarer Ferrari’s, like the FXX, they were only offered to people who already had a Ferrari-buying history.  And not just ‘a rusty old 308 GTB like Magnum used to drive’. (2) You had to have bought the good stuff.  And plenty of it.

So I was amused when Shell (3) announced that they were going to be running a promotion in association with Ferrari and Lego.  They would have a set of polybags comprising of five cars, a truck and a set of minifigs available.  

But they weren’t giving them away, oh no.  You had to buy them.

But in order to be allowed to buy them, you had to purchase £30 of their fuel.  And not the ordinary fuel.  The good stuff.  The premium stuff.

The expensive stuff.

And then, when you’d bought the petrol, could you buy the polys?


Poly.  Singular.  At £1.49 each.

So in order to collect the set of vehicles, assuming your petrol pump skills were good enough to stop the counter on £30.00 exactly, you would have to spend £188.94.

And what of the minifigs?

Yes, they were another £1.49.  But to get them, you had to buy a carton of oil, the cheapest of which appears to be abour £11.00.

So all in, a shade over £200 to complete the set.


Ok, to be fair, for that money you are getting £180 worth of fuel, which you’re almost certainly going to use (4), and some oil which you may also use.

It so happens that I’d already tried the premium Shell petrol (5) and now use it as a matter of course (6), so when the promo was announced, I thought I’d pick up some models.

It was discussed at length on the forum over at Brickset, and once the campaign kicked off, it became immediately apparent that the communication coming out from Shell headquarters to their filling stations was wildly inconsistent.  People were reporting that some filling stations knew nothing about it, others were sticking rigidly to the ‘one bag per £30 fill up’, while a few were happily selling you whatever you wanted to buy. 

I have a Shell garage around the corner from me, so early one Sunday morning, went in, bought my £30 of petrol (rather than filling the car up as I’d normally do), and went in to pay.  

The lady behind the counter was baffled when I started talking about Lego, but when I pointed to a) the leaflet on the counter, and b) the box of polys on the wall behind her, she seemed to get it.  Then instead of asking which set I wanted, she reached back, grabbed a minifig set, scanned it and handed it over.

I should really have told her that I was only allowed to have this set if I’d bought some oil that I didn’t need, but shamefully, I kept my mouth shut and waltzed out with my minifig set.

That evening, I went back to put another £30 in.  This time, the guy behind the counter  did ask me which one I wanted.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained…

“Well actually I’m after the complete set.  Don’t suppose I’m allowed to buy them all, am I?” I said, feigning ignorance.

“Don’t see why not.” said the nice man, and proceeded to scan all six vehicles through the till.
What a nice man.  What a nice garage!

Since then, some clarification has clearly been sent out, and now they only let me have one at a time, although they recognise me now, and have got to the point where they know which ones I still need.  They’re also good enough to go rummaging through the stock room for me if the model I need isn’t in the box.

Due to various long distance trips to visit family and friends in the run up to Christmas, we’re going through petrol a bit quicker than we normally would, which means that thus far I’ve managed to pick up two complete sets, and I’m two cars into my third set.

The first set I’m going to squirrel away unopened.  The second set is going to be a prize in SirKevBags annual Brickset charity raffle, while the current set I’m actually going to build.

So are they any good?

Well I’m not sure, not having opened any of the bags yet!  I’m going to wait until I’ve got the (third) set, and then build them all at once.

We do have some pictures though…

Ferrari 150 Italia

Scuderia Ferrari Truck

Ferrari F40

Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta

Ferrari 458 Italia

Ferrari FXX

Ferrari Pit Crew

(All images courtesy of

I shall report back after another tankful!

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(1) However, after a visit to a software conference held at Mercedes Benz World at Brooklands a couple of years ago, where I ‘won’ a ride in a 6.3 litre AMG estate, going round the handling track for 6 laps, I have rather less inclination to actually buy a fast car.

I have never felt so ill in all my life.

(2) I’m not saying that Magnum drove a rusty 308 - he didn’t.  As far as I know, it was a very nice car.  I’m just saying that these days, 308’s tend to be in less than stellar condition unless you can find a beautifully cared for example.

(3) Other petrol retailers are available.

(4) If you’re spending £180 on petrol or diesel and you don’t drive, then you’re probably taking this hobby a little too seriously.

(5) It’s called V-Power, which sounds like it’ll make your car go at 200mph even with the engine switched off.

(6) I am in no way affiliated with Shell.  I’ve used the stuff and I think it does a good job.  It keeps the engine slightly cleaner, and because of the extra oomph it gives you, you don’t have to accelerate so hard.  The upshot is, it’s a few pounds extra to fill the car up, but I usually get enough ‘extra’ miles out of a tank to more than offset the cost.  I can’t guarantee it’ll make any difference to you, but it works for me.

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