Ferrari's new supercar can be tailor-made 'like a Savile Row suit'
It may sound a bit cliché but Ferrari is perhaps the most emotional example of form following function.
In addition to the fact that the Maranello, Italy-based manufacturer is the most successful marque in the history of Formula 1 racing, it's both the sum of its parts and the individual details incorporated into each car that make Ferrari the greatest sporting automobile of them all.
The blistering speed, the handling, the agility, and that sound from its engine -- famously referred to as the "soundtrack" -- are legendary. Yet so too is the design that incorporates state-of-the-art technologies and traditional craftsmanship into a form whose lines, regardless of the model, is a standard of the bella figura.
Somehow the result is at once modern and classical, purposeful and stylish. It's an effect that is easily recognizable but difficult to define and that's precisely what helps give Ferrari its universal allure.
Testament to the skill of the company's engineers and designers, it's the continuous combination of extreme performance, timeless beauty and personal workmanship that elevates Ferrari. And today it's no different.
Flavio Manzoni is head designer of Ferrari and is responsible for many impressive models but perhaps none more so than the ground-breaking supercar La Ferrari. As the man who decides what will make the world gasp, Manzoni is a visionary.
At this year's IAA Frankfurt Motorshow, recognized as the most prestigious of them all, Manzoni has unveiled the highly anticipated 488 Spider.
This retractable hardtop convertible (a solution pioneered by Ferrari for mid-rear engined sports cars) is said to be, not surprisingly, the most potent, innovative and aerodynamically efficient Spider ever built by Maranello.
Boasting 660 horsepower and capable of going from 0-62 mph (0-100 km/h) in three seconds and reaching speeds in excess of 200 mph (325 km/h), it's more car than anyone could ever hope to use.
Not only that, but prospective buyers can make this limited production sports car -- and any new Ferrari for that matter -- even more special by having it customized to personal specification.
Despite the demands on his time, Manzoni spends an hour personally explaining to me what inspired his new 488 Spider and does so in the private chamber of the Ferrari Tailor Made Atelier.
Just like a bespoke suit from Savile Row, clients can have their car "fitted" through the Tailor Made program. From colors, fabrics, materials and finishes, there are innumerable options to choose from and all are presented in mood board-like format in the quiet, enclosed room in which we sit.
Adorning the walls and organized in cabinets and drawers -- much like a traditional tailor, swatches are grouped in various harmonies suggesting a dizzying array of possibilities.
Overwhelmed by the selection of just leather (different hides, grains, weights and colors), not to mention carpeting (cashmere or lambswool, long or shorn), let alone the type of thread (and there are many), I asked Manzoni if there is such a thing as too much choice.
Almost surprised but with a pleasant smile, he replies that there are skilled advisors appointed to assist clients if they desire.
Apparently, however, the two older suited gentlemen at a table in the corner busily looking through books of material need no such advisor. These customers, I'm told, seem to know exactly what they want.
Nevertheless, I have been assured that there have been customers that have simply brought in pictures of their homes as a reference of taste and assigned the task of selecting to a Tailor Made adviser.
In our world of mass-production, where products -- regardless of cost or purpose -- seem to lack the touch of the craftsman, it's somehow warmly reassuring to know that one of the most modern and technologically advanced cars on earth is still underscored by values of art and tradition and can be customized in old world fashion.
Before I leave I ask Manzoni why anyone should choose a Ferrari over a competitor's similarly powered or priced supercar. Again somewhat surprised but with a kind beam, he responds matter-of-factly, "Because it is a Ferrari."