Countless hours of development, design and construction. Exacting details wrought in boardboardrooms and wind tunnels. Exotic materials, experimental engine designs, hand crafted bodies. The goal?
Simple. Make the fastest car in the world.
But even if a designer or firm achieves that goal, they don’t necessarily have a winner on their hands. Even when the facts and figures support one supercar design over another, intangibles often decide which one will be a success.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some superlative automobiles over a few decades and see how fate played out.
Though it may seem hard to believe, we’re only a month away from celebrating the 50th anniversary of the start of the Wedge Era in automotive designs.
To those of us who still think of the Countach as a sharp enough design to be considered cutting edge, this is a sad reality. Yet the prototype of what would become the 1980s poster child was first shown in a hard-to-conceptualize 1971.
The influence of the angle extended far beyond the Countach in the 1980s. It also started before the scissored doors opened on the stand in Geneva in 1971 and was seen in many more marques than just those wearing the Raging Bull. Even more impressive than its age is the reach of these designs, some of which are still being refined today. So, let’s take a look at some of the interesting and influential doorstop shapes and where they later found a home.
While in recent months TTAC has reported on the declining popularity of the four door, there are still a plethora of fast sedans in the marketplace.
In fact, the performance extracted from them was unfathomable even a generation ago. How did we end up at a 500-horsepower Audi, a 640-horsepower Cadillac and 707-horse Dodge? What were once numbers reserved for otherworldly exotics now are found in a pedestrian nameplate.
But this is no new trend, for while the current power war we’re experiencing has generated outlandish performance numbers for a mere average Joe, the recipe of sticking the most punch possible into a sedan for the masses goes back a long way.
Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne — who’s also the CEO of some other company — says the Italian automaker’s stable will be full of hybrid technology in three short years.
This isn’t an initiative designed to take Ferrari from red to green. Rather, it’s the only way it can boost sales without running afoul of the law. There’s cash to be made, and Sergio’s on the case.
By all accounts, the Ferrari 488GTB is an incredible machine. Twin turbos coax 661 horsepower from V8 displacing a scant 3.9 litres (my own 3.9-litre V8 cannot accomplish this feat), hustling its 3,362 pounds to felonious speeds in under four seconds. Slick aero and really weird door handles contribute to the 488GTB having 50-percent less drag and 50-percent more downforce than its predecessor.
Like the Porsche we examined a few weeks back, Ferrari has perfected the art of making doryloads of money on each transaction. Buyers can spend upwards of $100,000 on superfluous options that don’t make the quarter-million dollar supercar go any faster. A zero-option Ferrari exists only in the realm of unicorns and healthy fast food. But what would the 1 percent find in their driveway if they custom ordered such a machine? Let’s find out.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Ferrari has officially added its name to the list of automakers that will no longer offer a manual transmission.
The company’s chief technology officer, Michael Hugo Leiters, explained the decision at the Paris Auto Show last week, citing performance and technology as the motivating factors.
Goodbye, gate. (Read More…)
Sergio Marchionne added another CEO title to his résumé yesterday, taking control of Ferrari, where the Fiat-Chrysler head already served as chairman.
He replaces former CEO Amedeo Felisa, who retired after 26 years with the company. Felisa remains on the independent automaker’s board of directors, where he will serve as a technical advisor.
Marchionne now has full control of the company he spun off from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles at the beginning of the year. Two years ago, he succeeded former chairman Luca di Montezemolo, who stepped down in protest of Marchionne’s plans for the brand’s future. (Read More…)
Sergio Marchionne, wearer of many hats, appears poised to don yet another cappello.
Following the departure of former Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo, who high-tailed it in 2014 due to clashes with Marchionne over company strategy, Bloomberg is reporting that current Ferrari CEO Amedeo Felisa is planning to retire after the nomination of a new board of directors, expected sometime this week.
Felisa does plan to stay as a board member, but this change will leave the role of CEO vacant … and we all know how much Sergio loves to be the Big Boss of Things. (Read More…)
As a proud member of the Brown Car Appreciation Society, I had to share this magnificent example of Italian history. Sure, Ferrari may call the color “Prugna Metallica” — or metallic purple for us Anglos — but it’s brown to my eyes (and that of the dealers’ camera).
This is perhaps the only way to fly under the radar in a Ferrari.
During the last week, much has been written about the “Driven By Disruption” auction Dec. 10 by RM Auction/Sotheby’s.
Most of that reporting was about Janis Joplin’s Porsche, which sold for a mildly outrageous sum of $1.6 million (plus fees), which beat the estimate about 2.5 times. Other top-dollar cars were mentioned as well, especially the first Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato sold in almost a decade, or the Ferrari 290 MM that was driven by the famous Juan Manuel Fangio in the Mille Miglia. Both cars brought even more eye-watering amounts of money – $13 million for the Aston, $25.5 million for the Ferrari. The Aston even set a historical record for the most expensive British car ever sold at auction.
The message is clear: The collector car market is not only alive and well, it’s thriving. Cars sell for ever-higher sums and they are a marvelous investment value. After all, they aren’t making any more classic Ferraris and Astons, are they? So the value can only go up, right? (Read More…)