Magazine article Management Today

MOTOR MOUTH: Twelve-Cylinder Blues

Magazine article Management Today

MOTOR MOUTH: Twelve-Cylinder Blues

Article excerpt

Now here's a question you don't hear very often. 'Exactly why would I want a Ferrari?' With the exception of the late middle-aged men in Tattersall check shirts and corduroy trousers whom you find at Eurotunnel driving vintage Ferraris to classic car meets in Rouen or Luxembourg, only a certain type of customer is attracted to this, the most evocative sports car of them all. And this type of customer is not a very attractive one.

Yet, for most people with even a passing interest in cars, just to whisper the word Ferrari is to engage in something extreme and sensual, to join an international community with a shared commitment to beautiful excess.

The Ferrari cult's article of faith is bella figura. And who could deny their allegiance to it? True believers, stop here. Apostates, read on.

My vision of the modern Ferrari customer was formed a few summers ago in East Hampton, the Long Island Manhattan-on-Sea where Wall Street's most florid and finest go to spend more time with their money. It was a Saturday morning, kickback time, and brokers and bankers in brand-new Ralph Lauren warm-up suits were gathered on the sidewalk outside The Barefoot Contessa, East Hampton's celebrity deli where, as I recall, a cappuccino cost about dollars 14.

One such braying specimen, styrofoam to hand, got into his car, a strident giallo Ferrari Modena. He started it up, then, having no clue how to drive this exigent and overbred machine, proceeded up Main Street in a succession of dramatic, lurching bunny hops, only ultimately to stall the thing 200 yards thence.

For the dreamer, Ferraris may be the ultimate mechanical romance, but the cruel fact is they tend to appeal to complete idiots. And just so you don't feel bad about being poor, let me explain what the Ferrari driver gets for his money.

I've been using a Ferrari 575 Maranello, a front-engined car with a classic V-12 engine. As a design it is bruta figura rather than delightfully beautiful.

The time when a road-going Ferrari was a consumerised evolution of a successful racing car has passed, as have the days when great coachbuilders practised their wonderful art on Ferrari chassis. In design terms, Ferrari and its long-term bodywork collaborator Pininfarina are struggling to find a relevant language. …

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