Auto blogSun, 12 Oct 2014 18:17:00 EST
Unless you own a very special Ferrari, the only way you were going to park on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills today was to walk there and sit down on a bench. Otherwise, occupying the length of the plutomaniac's thoroughfare was everything from a 1948 166 MM Barchetta, the very first Ferrari imported to the United States, to the brand new 458 Speciale A, introduced at the Paris Motor Show earlier this month. A collection of 60 significant Ferraris were on display to celebrate the marque's 60th anniversary as a US citizen, and it was the most impressive gathering of Italian metal we've seen since the company threw its 50th anniversary event at Pebble Beach a decade ago. How about a Le Mans class-winning 250 GTO, the 1954 375 MM Scaglietti Coupe that won best of show at Pebble Beach back in August, or one of the stunning 330 P4 race cars that was part of the 1-2-3 finish at Daytona in 1967? All parked on Rodeo Drive.
The special-est of them all received an introduction from new company chairman Sergio Marchionne, that being the F60 America. Only for the US, with all ten of them already sold for a reported $2.5M each, the F60 America reaches back to early America-branded offerings like the 340 and 375, and US-focused convertibles like the 1967 275 NART Spider, 1969 365 GTS4 Daytona Spider and 2005 575 Superamerica.
Unlike those Spiders, however, the F60 America is a voluptuous departure from the F12 Berlinetta it's based on, with the subtracted top opening up the flex of its hips, pairing nicely with the swell over the front fenders. As we told our photographer Drew Phillips, we're looking at the future of Pebble Beach, and you can enjoy it in the photos above or the rest of the Ferraris on display in the gallery below.
Ferrari is observing its 60th anniversary in North America this year, and to celebrate, it's given us this: the F60 America, an incredibly exclusive supercar based on the already outrageous F12 Berlinetta. Want one? Too bad. Production has been limited to just 10 examples, and according to Ferrari, "the wonderfully elegant and unique F60 America has entranced US collectors and all 10 examples are already spoken for."
Entranced, indeed. It's a slick-looking machine, with clear revisions over the F12's already svelte bodywork. The F60 America takes the form of a roadster, with carbon fiber-trimmed flying buttresses that stretch from behind the cabin to the rear of the car. There's no power soft- or hardtop available - instead, Ferrari says the car can be closed off with a light fabric top that's usable at speeds of up to about 75 miles per hour.
The F60 is painted in the classic North American Racing Team livery, with a unique 60th anniversary Prancing Horse on the wheel arches and transmission tunnel inside the cabin. That NART tribute explains the car's seriously limited production run, as well. The 1967 Ferrari 275 GTS4 NART Spider - a car importer Luigi Chinetti specifically requested from Enzo Ferrari for US customers - was also capped at just 10 units.
There's going to be a little bit more Prancing Horse in some future BMWs because the Bavarian brand is hiring Ferrari chief engineer Roberto Fedeli to join the company in November. Fedeli's new position is still somewhat of a mystery though, and he reportedly might be lending his talents to the high performance M division or possibly even Rolls-Royce. When asked by Automotive News Europe, BMW said that it "currently can't say what his role will be."
Regardless of his new job, Fedeli was a big get for BMW because of his strong résumé. He has been with Ferrari since 1988 and led the engineering for the famous Italian automaker's vehicles since 2007. Fedeli tendered his resignation in September at around the same time that chairman Luca di Montezemolo announced his decision to leave the company. However, Ferrari told ANE that there was no connection between the two events.
When we read reports that Ferrari had applied for a patent on a V-twin engine design, our first thought was to check the date: this says the first of October, right... not April? And so here we are, entertaining the notion that Ferrari could be developing a motorcycle engine.
The report comes from Autocar, which claims to have dug up the application to patent the design for an "internal combustion engine having two cylinders, which are arranged in a 'V' configuration." In other words, a motorcycle engine. The application reportedly goes on to describe a balancing shafts to reduce vibration. Our own research did not lead us to find the application in question, so we'll have to take it with a grain of salt for the moment. But supposing it's all on the up and up, and that Ferrari was actually developing a motorcycle engine. Would that be so out of the ordinary?
Well, yes and no. Parent company Fiat, which is taking increased direct control of Ferrari, is undoubtedly looking at rival Volkswagen and its recent acquisition of Ducati (putting it in close proximity to Lamborghini) and would be keen to get in on that action. However tenuous the relationship, Lotus has also recently authorized a motorcycle bearing its name. And of course automakers like BMW and Honda, with which Ferrari has competed on and off the race track, also make motorcycles.
Things are going to look very different in the Formula 1 paddock come 2015. Official word came down from Infiniti Red Bull Racing that Sebastian Vettel, who won four driver's titles while with the energy-infused fizzy drink and marketing company, will be leaving the team after the 2014 season comes to an end. Taking Vettel's well-worn seat at Red Bull will be Daniil Kvyat, who will join Daniel Ricciardo for 2015. Feel free to read that official announcement below.
While no official announcement has yet been made, rumors swirl that Sebastian Vettel will drive for Ferrari in 2015, taking the place of Fernando Alonso, who many believe will end up at McLaren, which itself is in line for a major driver and team shakeup next year as it switches to Honda power. It's not clear where the rest of the current crop of F1 drivers will land, but as this first blockbuster domino falls into place, expect the rest to fall in line in the coming weeks and months.
Thu, 25 Sep 2014 11:15:00 EST
Don't let the shiny objects detract from the serious side of the show. Sales, fuel economy and regulations are part of the conversation.
The Paris Motor Show is one of the glitziest events on the automotive calendar. Yes, it helps that it's in the City of Light, but the glamorous surroundings only enhance the spectacular wares that automakers bring to the show. This is where Europeans debut their best new cars for the coming year, both as eye-catching concepts and in production trim.
Let all of the speculation finally end because the convertible version of the Ferrari 458 Speciale is here. However, the Prancing Horse isn't calling it a spider; instead it's dubbed the 458 Speciale A, which stands for Aperta or "open" in English. It's also limited to a scant 499 cars, a few more than the 458 first rumored.
Regardless of its name or production numbers, what really matters is Ferrari's claim that this is its the most powerful droptop production model ever. That is thanks to the same 4.5-liter V8 from the hardtop Speciale, with 597 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque.
The aluminum-retracting top doesn't change performance much, while letting the wind blow through the owner's hair at ludicrous speeds. Ferrari claims the setup adds about 110 pounds (50 kilograms) to the overall weight and can open or close within 14 seconds. Acceleration to 62 miles per hour is reported at 3.0 seconds, about a tenth slower than the coupe, and the Aperta can hustle to 124 mph in 9.5 seconds.
Ferrari is recalling 3,000 458 Italia and Spider models and, believe it or not, it's not because they may catch fire. Nope, instead, the issue focuses on anyone that's unfortunate enough to become trapped in the Ferrari's perilously small frunk (front-mounted trunk).
Apparently, should someone find themselves trapped in the car's nose, the interior release handle only lets loose one of frunk's latches. That means that while anyone held captive by the V8-powered supercar won't be in danger of suffocating and will still be able to call for help, the cars are still ultimately in violation of federal safety mandates.
According to Uncle Sam, should someone become trapped in a trunk, like a child, they must be able to open the trunk from the inside and escape. That can't happen in the 458.
To paraphrase Guy Fawkes, 'Remember, remember the twenty-first of September.' That's the day the 2014 Formula One Championship took another big turn - and at one of the year's least interesting races, traditionally - putting Lewis Hamilton back at the top of the standings. Not only that, it did so by borrowing the template from the British Grand Prix this year: put Hamilton in front, retire Nico Rosberg.
It was close until then, though, Hamilton lining up on pole for Mercedes AMG Petronas just seven thousandths of a second ahead of Rosberg. Daniel Ricciardo, the year's greatest opportunist, took third ahead of his teammate Sebastian Vettel in the Infiniti Red Bull Racing, followed by Fernando Alonso in fifth for Ferrari. The Williams' looked like they'd be in trouble on Friday, but as usual they dredged up some pace on Saturday, Felipe Massa taking sixth ahead of Kimi Räikkönen in the second Ferrari, the second Williams of Valtteri Bottas in eighth. Kevin Magnussen saved a little bit of face for McLaren in ninth, and Daniil Kvyat did another solid job to line up tenth in his Toro Rosso.
Before it even started, the race wouldn't look the same.
The news out of Ferrari is coming nearly as fast as its wonderful sports cars, as of late, with CEO Luca di Montezemolo stepping down and a special model for America upcoming. Now, it's looking increasingly likely that the 458 Speciale Spider is making its world debut at the 2014 Paris Motor Show in early October, confirming earlier rumors.
Di Montezemolo had already confirmed that the Prancing Horse would unveil a new car in Paris, but exactly which model it would be had been a mystery. However, an unnamed Ferrari insider has recently confirmed to 4WheelNews that it would be the droptop Speciale.
As the name suggests, the special model takes the sonorous 4.5-liter V8 engine from the 458 Speciale with 597 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque and drops it into the convertible hardtop from the Spider. According to the source, the special Ferrari is also getting new wheels, stripes and seats, but the folding top might mean losing the coupe's transparent engine cover.