By on May 13, 2013

Jeff Sanders, my best friend and reason for this series’ existence, once said “Ferrari’s are the tits” for all designers.  It’s true, as his immense skill received far more praise from the design boffins at the College for Creative Studies when he set his sights on a Ferrari instead of his beloved American brands.  But tits for all (so to speak) changed when a friend gave me her guest pass to the Ferrari Club of Houston’s monthly meeting. Arriving in appropriate style thanks to my brother’s Testarossa, I chilled out with my Ferrari lovin’ gal pal. I also prepped myself for the Pimp-Mobile Testarossa jokes, often rehearsed by heavily depreciated Ferrari 348/355/360 driving bon vivants. It was a CCS design review all over again, to a lesser extent.

Then I opened the showroom door and saw my first Ferrari FF.  Everything about this day changed. Won’t you join me for the rest of the story?

1Much like the Cheshire Cat’s mischievous grin compared to a normal feline, the FF takes what you know about Ferraris and makes them silly, overwrought and decidedly in need of anger management therapy.  Not that the FF’s predecessor, the 612 Scaglietti, was Enzo’s gift to rolling beauty…but it’s positively tame compared to the FF.

The grille, headlights and body are all way out of proportion.  If only the grille’s smile was more like a normal cat.

2Probably Definitely my favorite part of the FF. The grille to bumper ratio looks about right.  It’s easy to imagine this as a modernized Ferrari 250 GTO.  Hey, a wannabe-designer can dream, can’t he?

3But then you notice just how much real estate the Cheshire Cat grille truly occupies on the front bumper.  This is starting to get ridiculous.


4The headlights look sporty enough from this angle, the need for anger management isn’t obvious when taken out of context with the rest of the front fascia.  The black spot (for headlight washers?) is a buzz kill for a vehicle this expensive. Oh well.

What really kills me is how this angle looks like the perfect foundation for a proper successor for the F-body Camaro. Instead, we got that massive tribute to half-assed retro design…but I digress.

5The F-body references continue here.  Note the interesting mix of a hard bend in the hood’s cutline added to the subtle curves in the hood, highlighted by the twisted, dancing beams from the overhead lights. Being this low and sexy isn’t a bad thing, Chevrolet F-body or Ferrari.

7I know LED thingies are all the rage, but they need toning down.  This pulled back, mohawk-esque, headlight goes into territory that belongs to the fender. Boo.


8But they are mighty pretty!


9One fender, fighting for its precious real estate.  Nothing takes away from the flowing lines, grand touring proportions and cab-backward design of this fender more than ‘dat LED.


9_1And while I have a love and hate relationship with directional wheels, these are horrid.  Seemingly inspired by a plastic wheel cover on a Chinese home market sedan, these overstyled spokes are almost an insult to the brand. Maybe if the spokes were flatter, and didn’t extend into the natural space of the wheel lips/rims.


10Less whimsical wheels belong with a fender this tall and boxy.  Now, let’s be clear: the space between the wheel and the door (dash-to-axle ratio in Car Design speak) is a sight for sore eyes.  Our society killed other GT/luxury coupes with such design, so it’s important to recognize a beautiful form by itself.  Even if that cove and fender grille look a bit like an afterthought from here.


11The cove looks pretty damn logical and necessary from here.  Plus, the yellow Ferrari shield makes sense on a fender this T-A-L-L when residing in such a cove.


11_1Perhaps the cove is a complimentary form to the FF’s bizarre greenhouse. They certainly do make sense together.


12Even better, the dash-to-axle ratio ensures that the A-pillar and fender meet in a certain way.  What IS that way, you say?

In a way that ensures zero chance of DLO FAIL!  The mirror is mounted logically against the A-pillar, no black plastic triangle needed here.  Then again, clock the FF’s asking price. It better not have DLO FAIL!


12_1I was fixated on this mirror’s flat plane base, as it starts innocently enough at the door and cleverly slices through the dome of the mirror assembly.  Quite the slick piece, this mirror.  I wonder what the Ferrari Club of Houston was doing right about now?  Hmm!

Probably not enamored with side-view mirrors, that’s for damn sure!


13While I don’t know how/why the Corvette and modern Ferrari GT cars look so similar, the FF’s rocker panel, quarter panel and door could easily be associated with a C5 Corvette from this angle. At least the top is far more elegantly contoured (yet still overly voluptuous) than said Corvette.

If you don’t see what I mean, peep the flop between bright light and shadow at the top of the door.  You don’t get this subtle attention to detail in a Vette. Hence the Pininfarina badging, naturally.


14But this so isn’t a Vette. And yet it so isn’t a Ferrari. Then again, when your local Ferrari dealer has as many models as an Eisenhower-era Oldsmobile dealership, maybe the four-seat, boxy butt FF makes sense.  Maybe someone does need a Ferrari that looks like, umm, this.

A Ferrari station wagon: someone out there is lusting for it.


15As far as Kammback designs go, this one is a treat.  The C-pillar flows back to the rear elegantly enough and the rear glass fills the void without being anything other than a logical extension of the C-pillar’s lines.


17The cutline at the rear is elegant enough, even if I wish it tucked in (toward the center-line of the car) instead of bulging out to the corners. The round tail lights, seemingly slapped in, remind me of a Terminator-esque cyborg that lost its cosmetic façade while hunting down John Connor. This exposed plastic lens thing doesn’t work with a vehicle so expensive, so exclusive.  It looks…cheap.

More to the point, I’m gonna get you John Connor even if it’s the last thing I’ll do!

18I don’t know why there’s a misplaced eyebrow growing from the FF’s bumper corners.  Perhaps it wouldn’t suck so hard if the rectangular reflector light below didn’t fight ‘dat flow.  The light must empathize with this eyebrow, matching flow and location from start to finish.

The template is set: much like the marker/signal lights that occupy the same space as the fender flare. Take the C7 Corvette, for example. Please.



HASTA LA VISTA, GOOD TASTE! Exposed plastic eyeballs are a sin against automotive design. At least the quad exhaust tips look interesting!

20Little vortex-looking things inside the exhaust? Yup, this must be an exotic car.  A proper exotic, a proper Ferrari.  If only I didn’t have to get up and look at the rest of the FF!


21Unlike the exposed taillight eyeballs, these Euro-Foglight-American-Whatever lights have an elegant plastic housing around them. It looks suitably expensive.  Or suitable for one of those disturbingly well-designed Kias made these days. Hmm!

The lower airfoil thing is quite cool too.  No doubt it makes the FF do something faster and better, because the wind tunnel says so!


22The FF is surprisingly “joyful” here.  The negative area containing the license plate is quite the happy fellow. The cutlines for the trunk give the bumper’s corners a cheeky and jolly presence.  It would be quite silly, but the black trim in the lower bumper (and that cool airfoil) adds a sinister touch.  It waters down the overtly joyous portion that’s painted body color.


23Or maybe not?  This is quite a silly smile on a short (length-wise), tall (height) and flat (facade-wise) buffalo butt.  Then again, your butt would look this goofy too…if you wore the same Cheshire Cat grin as the FF’s front end.



(Put another way, on a vehicle this large and tall, please integrate round lighting forms. This isn’t a pleasant design!)


25And, perched atop the rear glass, here’s the obligatory bump for some sort of in-car entertainment or navigation.  Did you really think they’d give me the keys to look inside and find out?

26The Kammback Ferrari is a bit upsetting, but not without its charms.  Note how different sources of light (natural from the left, artificial from the right) dance on the subtle creases and bends on the FF’s quarter panel.

While my friend Jeff was right about Ferraris being “the tits” for everyone, not all Ferraris are created equal.  I just wonder how the lovers/haters ratio stacks up for the FF.

Thank you all for reading, I hope you have a great week!


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23 Comments on “Vellum Venom: 2012 Ferrari FF...”

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    “At least the quad exhaust tips look interesting!”

    They should look even better spewing flames while being run on the rollers ;)

  • avatar

    I think this is just a case of the styling having to give way to complicated aerodynamics. It’s not great to look at, but it’s all functional.

  • avatar

    The headlights and grille aren’t really shaped by aerodynamic considerations, as the headlights are blended into the fender.

    And there are no excuses for the goofy shutlines of that rear hatch. A drunk teen with a Sawzall could have cut a nicer line.

    The FF could have been done elegantly, but the design isn’t nearly as cohesive as it could be.

  • avatar

    “In a way that ensures zero chance of DLO FAIL! The mirror is mounted logically against the A-pillar, no black plastic triangle needed here.”

    This text is below a picture that clearly shows the mirror attached to a black plastic triangle.

    Looking at this and the Testarossa it’s amazing how much better flat black painted/anodized aluminum on the Testarossa looks than flat black plastic on the FF.

    • 0 avatar

      Being attached to a black plastic triangle is not DLO FAIL. That happens when there’s a black plastic triangle on the A-pillar to logically extend the lines of the greenhouse to make the car look sleeker.

      I wrote this late last night, so I was sloppy in my DLO FAIL definition reiteration.

      • 0 avatar

        The black plastic triangle could be glass, with the mirror mounted to the door or to
        the A pillar. Using black plastic instead of glass is DLO fail. Look at how this is
        handled on an NC Miata:

        Or, as you point out, an early Testarossa:

        Or, if you really want to talk exotic cars, a Nissan Versa hatch (by the way, zero
        DLO fail on a Versa hatch):

        The Ferrari FF mirror mounting is probably the most common DLO fail (it’s the one
        DLO fail my current car has) but it is a DLO fail. The FF is still awesome – it is a
        Ferrari shooting brake for f*cks sake – but it has DLO fail. Ferrari really should have
        gone with A pillar mounted mirrors like the original Testarossa.

  • avatar

    I just wonder how many people that buy Ferraris really give the car this much of a prostate exam? It’s an exotic with the prancing horse for Pete’s sake, it’s the hey yall, I have made it statement, and 99.99% of the world would see this and agree. In the small town I live in, some guy parked his Ferrari at the local ice crean shop to get his toddler a treat, everybody, even grandpa and the save the whatever of the moment croud came out from all the other fast food joints to take a look, a picture and mention to anyone close – wow! What other brand can do that?

  • avatar

    This is my favorite Ferrari design available now, and happens to be the ONLY shooting brake on the market (I can’t afford it anyway).

    I happened to see one in white roll by in Austin, TX while down there for the F1 USGP, and it was gorgeous. The nits being picked here aren’t enough to keep me from choosing this one for when I hit the lottery!

  • avatar

    I thought it was pretty too when i saw one.

  • avatar

    I’m sorry, but I absolutely despise this thing.
    FF = “F***ing Forgettable”.
    I know there’s a sub-group who think “clown shoes” or “shooting brakes” are just the coolest designs EVAH, and while I do see the appeal and the practicality of such a car, it has no place on a Ferrari. Can’t believe the design house that gave us Thomas Magnum’s 308GTSi came up with this. Ferrarispeed3 is what this looks like.

    • 0 avatar
      word is bond

      Ahh – well. Count me among those who think that shooting brakes and clown shoes have their own cool about them. Funny how despite some dated aesthetics the theme of the 308gtsi feels so much like Pininfarina’s Sergio concept. I love them both.

  • avatar

    If I had the cash this is one of the few ferraris I would buy. Im a sucker for a different car(I have owned a few odd balls including a xr4ti). While it might not be the most i.teresting looking different car I like from the u toob videos Ive seen it looks to be a bunch of fun in the snow.

  • avatar
    word is bond

    I love the discussion of details, but I would love it if you also spoke about a car’s more general theme and proportions in this series. How about a pure profile shot to speak to the proportions? Then you can discuss the Dash to Axle, DLO, etc.. Most of these shot are so closely cropped that I don’t get a sense of the car’s presence.

  • avatar

    I want to hate this car, I hate how it looks, I think it should never have been created, but then I realize it in all reality should be the Ferrari that you should buy. It has AWD, so you can drive it year round, You can actually carry people, and stuff, has a V12. It is kind of like a minivan, I would never buy one, but damn if they are not great to ride in and drive and take on trips.

  • avatar

    This Ferrari is almost a shooting brake. Really it should have no back seats as that space is for the guns and dogs but at least it is closer than the Mercedes CLS Shooting Brake, a moniker they use because they are afraid of calling it what it is – a station wagon. It has four doors for goodness sake!

  • avatar

    As chance has it, I saw one of these today on my way to work. Painted in a dark red that suited the car well.
    Still, I don’t care for this style. As most more recent Ferraris, styling is grotesque and this particular model also is huge (almost five meters long). I prefer the Testarossa any day of the week.

  • avatar

    at last somebody critisize Ferrari for their last “nothing special designs” ! ..[at least before handsome 458 Italia and F12 .. because this new LaFerrari design is .. rather lame :]

    FF looks better than Por$che “$ellout” Panameira … but still…

    .. and lets better not mention “ferrari inspired” Corvettes … :)

  • avatar

    I agree with almost everything you’ve said. I do like how Ferrari went with something different with this model, and for the most part, there’s something about it that I really like. But somehow, and this seems to be happening more often, Pininfarina has flubbed a lot of the details. The front grille is just too much, and I think out back they just went with something that looked different, new and fresh, even if it really doesn’t work that well, or look all that pretty.

    I’m not sure you can call the mirror mounting a DLO failure. As you pointed out, the window line doesn’t extend beyond the door shut line, which is usually the worst DLO failure. But mirror mountings generally come two ways – door mounted, in which case there should be no need for a black plastic triangle, or mounted in the corner of the glass, on one of these black plastic triangles. I could be wrong, but I think it was Mercedes that started the “corner-mounted” mirror back in the early ’70s, and it spread from there. It was a clean solution and nice alternative to the door mounted mirror, which obviously left a nice clean door. The Testarossa’s mounting was probably the best solution, and I’m not sure why we haven’t seen it again, on anything (at least anything that I can think of, although there may be a few exotics with something similar).

  • avatar

    I thought Troy was your best friend?

  • avatar

    The area around the tail light is the worst. Basically a bunch of lines and angles coming together at a ‘what now?’. So they squished a stop light in and left in time to beat traffic.

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