Since the days of the 308, the mid-engined 8-cylinder Ferraris have been everyone’s dream.
Certainly GTO, F40, Enzo and so on were more frequently hung on the walls, but the ‘entry-level’ Ferrari was the car that everyone, sooner or later, thought they would have owned (perhaps with the silent help of a lottery ticket…), or that a certain distant brother-in-law or cousin emigrated to Belgium owned…
For this reason, the passion for this segment of the Ferrari range has always been experienced without moderation or composure, like hoolingans..!
How outrageous were the two mouths of the 360’s…so smooth, almost feminine in its letting the air flow under the soft front slide…?
Even before, how polarised were opinions when in 1993, with the update of the unfortunate 348, instead of enjoying the 20 more horses, everyone got together discussing whether it would have been better to keep the black plastic lower profiles, as before the restyling, instead of having them painted in the same color?
And what more can we say about the 458’s “mustache”? For some it was a brilliant aerodynamic solution, while for others it was just a dubious tribute to Zorro?
It is this soccer-style support that has accompanied all the following launches of the compact coupes from Maranello, even in more recent years, years in which the signature in the lower right corner of the drawing sheet bears the name of Flavio Manzoni.
The 488 was a highly successful car, despite the adoption of the turbos that kept fans awake at night…
A car of perfect proportions, a gradual evolution of a layout refined over the years, the 488 had to respect and incorporate some design constraints inherited from the 458. Nevertheless, Flavio Manzoni and his team were able to create a perfectly tailored suit in balance between smoothness and muscularity.
The turbines’ hunger for oxygen was satisfied by introducing an air intake of unprecedented dimensions, very well integrated in an area of the side wall that in the 458 had beautifully taut and sinuous surfaces: one of the perhaps most successful parts of that car.
On the contrary, the front of the 488 is perhaps the portion that least convinced the public and myself: with its stiff design echoing the front of a Formula 1 car, it feels disconnected from the rest of the car, creating areas of uncertainty that clash with the masterpiece that, for example, is the rear.
After 488, the Ferrari Style Centre gave us many emotions, redefining the entire range, without forgetting the famous one-offs, which have become, as well as a lucrative business, a laboratory of stylistic experimentation, not unlike what happens with high fashion, if you can ever call an 812 a ready-to-wear garment…
Let’s make a leap forward and arrive in March 2018 in a strangely sunny Geneva.
Hordes of journalists chasing the last canapé and herds of cheeky men who flaunt unlikely kinship with Sergio Marchionne: all indiscriminately pulling their necks to better admire the latest addition, the Ferrari 488 Pista.
It’s a well-known fact that Ferrari does not limit itself to inflating wheel arches or adding a wing, as other car manufacturers do when they launch a ‘sporty’ version.
Having said that, if someone thinks that the “tdf” is only the sport variant of the F12, maybe that someone happened on the wrong site….
In my previous article I had not hidden myself behind half words of circumstance and I had openly indicated the 488 Pista as the queen of the Geneva Motor Show 2018 and now I going to explain why.
In an extreme synthesis, Flavio Manzoni and his team of “Harlem Globetrotters of the pencil”, have been able to take what was very successful in the 488 to bring it to a higher level, going masterfully not only to solve the parts that historically had convinced me less and less, but turning them into real strengths.
How they did it, I don’t know, but if you have the chance, try to go see it live and you will see it for yourself.
When it comes to cinema, the real masterpieces are movies that can be watched countless times and each new screening reveals a different passage, an unprecedented nuance, a dialogue that we had not previously fully grasped.
The same can be said for the masterpieces of literature.
The same feeling assails me in the presence of cars such as the tdf, the J50, the FXX-K and, of course, the Pista: cars that slowly reveal themselves without haste, each time with more depth and fascination.
I hungrily stare at the front of the car, trying to grasp how it was possible to transform it in this way.
Manzoni’s pen has reached such a tune with the laws of aerodynamics that it creates shapes honed by some sort of natural erosive phenomenon: just as water shapes the rocks of canyons extracting fluid shapes, so it seems that Manzoni has taken a 488, put it in the wind tunnel, added some fine abrasive dust, set the gallery fans at 300km/h and then left everything to “cook” for a few months…
The result? The mighty 488 Pista.
Even more ingenious is how the Centro Stile has introduced two levels of management of aerodynamic flows, a solution that also becomes a stylistic theme: there is a first level, or the geometry of the body itself, which begins to accompany and divert the air flows, which are taken, in finer veins, from a second level of surfaces, characterized by carbon fiber on sight. The result, in addition to producing a refined aerodynamic behavior, is extraordinary from the aesthetic point of view, with the body that seems to split up to give way to these black elements, functional and sculptural at the same time.
This happens both in the front area and in the section at the back, particularly around the rear lights, creating the situation described above, for which a quick look cannot be enough to fully understand the richness of this project.
The front end attachment profile has an almost sharp geometry, for some inspired by the J50, for others by the legendary Ferrari Modulo.
Personally, I find that the really admirable thing is the presence of a single thought, a single approach to the design of contemporary Ferrari cars, not a formal language, not a stylistic manifesto, but an almost scientific method for rigour and precision, through which in Maranello they solve the most complex equation in the world: to make a person fall in love in a visceral, deep and, why not, football way, with a piece of metal and carbon yarn impregnated with resin.
It is a non-Euclidean mathematics, but rigorous and selective, a science born in Maranello, whose knowledge is jealously guarded by the architect Manzoni and a group of talented and tireless.