Archive for August, 2012

Just the name of Ferrari’s in-house creator of specialty order projects sounds tantalizingly vague. Maybe MI6 enlists Ferrari Special Projects to whip up something bespoke for Mr. Bond while he’s on a secret mission in Italy or perhaps Tony Stark decides to ditch his Lamborghini and get a bad-ass Ferrari for his next mission as Iron Man. Your imagination bursts with possibilities.

The difference between Ferrari Special Projects (FSP) and other in-house creators of one-off vehicles or concept cars is that customers, not corporate overlords, create the cars along with in-house engineers and designers, including outside design houses like Pininfarina, Fioravanti and Bertone. It’s even more intriguing because allegedly you can’t just sign a blank check to get a bespoke Ferrari delivered to your palace in Dubai.

Ferrari has to invite you to this private party or you don’t get past the hermetically-sealed secret doors at Ferrari’s Maranello HQ offices. The invitation list is so short that maybe only eleven or twelve lucky humans have been invited to work with FSP on their own creations and only four of the cars have been publicly revealed.

Ferrari has some basic rules for Special Projects. All the “hard points” are maintained to avoid the expensive and time-consuming process of re-homologation – the certification of a product or specification to indicate that it meets regulatory standards – and safety testing. The bodywork and interior coachwork can be as personalized. And the owner gets to keep the tooling to ensure that it remains a unique creation.

The first car, the SP1, was delivered in November of 2008, to businessman and past president of the Ferrari Club in Japan, Junichiro Hiramatsu. Mechanically it’s identical to the Ferrari F430 with a 4.3L 90-degree 32-valve V8 that powers the 3,000 pound SP1 with 490 hp.

The Ferrari F430 is the donor car for the SP1.

The Ferrari SP1 in 2008 with its owners.

The Ferrari SP1 at its gala debut party. Everyone was interested in this car.

The rear of the Ferrari SP1 based on the F430.

The bodywork of the SP1 was designed by Leonardo Fioravanti, the penman for many other Ferrari models. It has customized front and rear fascia, a carbon fiber front splitter, sills and a rear diffuser. The glass-look top “visually lightens” the car and provides contrast to the stunning Ferrari Red paint. It was first shown in the United States at the 2010 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

The North American unveiling of the Ferrari SP1 at Pebble Beach in 2010:

In 2009, the Ferrari P450 Superfast Aptera was delivered to super-tycoon Edward Walson, heir to a cable television fortune. The Superfast Aptera, based on the Ferrari 599, is powered by Ferrari’s Tipo F140c 5.99L V12 with 620 hp and 448 lb-ft of torque. The Tipo F140c is mated to Ferrari’s 6-speed F1 transmission.

The Ferrari 599. This particular example is the 599 GBT Fiorano. It’s the basis for the P450 Superfast Aptera.

Ferraro P450 Superfast Aptera front quarter

The P450 was the first open-top 599. To open the Targa-style roof and retain structural rigidity, Ferrari had to reinforce the chassis with carbon fiber. Pininfarina penned the gorgeous design. Ferrari lifted much of the P450’s roof design to create the production open-top SA Aptera the following year.

This rear shot of the P450 Superfast Aptera shows the Targa-style top removed.

This video is really just still shots stitched together, but you get the idea (turn down the volume as the soundtrack is annoying).

In 2011, New York Ferrari collector and real estate mogul Peter Kalikow took delivery of his Pininfarina-designed Superamerica 45 to celebrate the 45thanniversary of his first Ferrari purchase. They say money can’t buy happiness, but I’m sure Mr. Kalikow was pretty happy with his “anniversary” present.

The Ferrari Superamerica 45. Happy Anniversary!

The Superamerica 45 is based on the SA Aptera and is inspired by the 575M Superamerica. Mr. Kalikow’s car, like the P450 Superfast Aptera (above), is based on the Ferrari 599 mechanicals and body. No details were announced about the engine; however, it’s likely to have the same 5.99L V12 with the same power ratings as the Superfast Aptera.

This is the production Ferrari SA Aptera – an open-top 599. Slick stuff!

Instead of the fabric roof of the “stock” SA Aptera, the Superamerica 45 is endowed with a one-piece rotating carbon fiber roof that gently rests, upside down, on a carbon fiber trunk lid. It has a bespoke chrome grille and aluminum A-pillars. The interior sports a “carefully selected combination of Cuoio leather trim and Blu Scuro carbon fibre details and a latest-generation touch-screen infotainment system.”

The Ferrari Superamerica 45 from the rear.

Mr. Kalikow got super-matchy for his Superamerica 45’s color. The striking Blu Antille paint exactly matches his 1960 Ferrari 400 Superamerica Cabriolet – his first Ferrari. I’m sure both cars look stunning sitting in a gigantic secure garage in some secret, undisclosed location.

Watch the Superamerica 45’s carbon fiber top rotate down:

Watch and listen to the Superamerica 45 start and drive away. It looks like a swanky party in the Hamptons, right?

The most recent project (that we know about), SP12, is for music legend and Slowhand Guitar God, Eric Clapton. Based on the Ferrari F450 Italia, the SP12 EC (not a very original name) takes its inspiration from a vintage Ferrari 512 BB, a mid-engine flat-12 supercar from the 1970s/early 1980s. Mr. Clapton must have an affinity with these cars as he’s owned three.

A Ferrari 512 BB, the inspiration for Eric Clapton’s SP12 EC.

The Ferrari F458 Italia is the base car for Mr. Clapton’s SP12.

According to the Official Ferrari Magazine, Mr. Clapton had wanted a V12 engine; however, he was “persuaded” that the Italia’s 4.5L V8 (naturally-aspirated, direct-inject making 562 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque mated to a Getrag dual-clutch 7-speed gearbox) was more “practical.” As with some other SP-invitees, Mr. Clapton worked with Pininfarina to style the car. A fun detail is that the headlights were lifted from the Enzo and certainly change the look of the car.

Eric Clapton with his bespoke Ferrari F12 EC.

The front of the Ferrari SP12 EC. Check out the headlights from the Ferrari Enzo supercar.

The side and rear view of the Ferrari SP12 EC.

This video of Mr. Clapton’s Ferrari SP 12 EC is shaky, but you get the aural delight and a shot of those vanity plates. It drives from the Ferrari show room directly into a trailer for transport.

Mr. Clapton took delivery of his right-hand drive Ferrari SP12 EC at the beginning of 2012 but waited until March to register it so he could have the vanity registration plate “SP12 EPC” (Patrick is Mr. Clapton’s middle name). We should all have such problems.

I can’t wait to see future Special Projects. It’s always nice to dream about what I’d like to do for my own bespoke Ferrari.