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Friday, March 23, 2012

Ferrari Design Overtones: Going, Going, Gone Asian? Part 1

(photo illustration by Chad Glass)
With the demise of the traditional family-owned Italian cultural design mainstay Pininfarina, will Ferrari increasingly slide into the hands of Asian design aesthetics, blowing in the wind of market forces and banking dictates? Has the Ferrari/Fiat/Italian identity already been usurped by an increasing economic force guided by the likes of Japan and China? 

Rewind a decade to the Enzo supercar and Ken Okuyama, Pininfarina's chief designer at the time. In addition to designing for Porsche and Maserati, Okuyama's creative direction heralded a different direction in Ferrari aesthetic. Although brief in involvement with Pininfarina before being booted out, Okuyama's Enzo became the poster child "Lamborghini Countach" of its generation. For those so captivated then and today by the Enzo's Italian centerfold/fantasy dream car appearance, such affection and support exists for a Japanese-inspired form. Alas, the Land of the Rising Sun appears setting all over the carbon fiber, the Enzo a form following function. 

Your personal taste notwithstanding, the red car (including the 612 Scaglietti also designed by Okuyama) may be taking on a new meaning: Has Pininfarina's direction been forever infiltrated, skewed to Asian/global sensibilities, even if subconsciously? 

To illustrate the story further, here is an example of recent market conditions from, 27th July, 2011:

"Ferrari celebrates best six months in its history in terms of revenues (+19.6%) and cars delivered 3,577 (+11.8%). Net profits of 91.8 million Euros (+23.5%). Record industrial net cash of over 650 million Euros. Exceptional results in the USA (+23%) with China (+116%) now second largest market...

"With regard to sales, North America maintained its position as Ferrari's no. 1 market with 939 vehicles delivered during the six-month period, an unprecedented leap of 23.2% vs. 2010. Volumes were also higher in the Greater China region (Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan) with 378 vehicles delivered in the first six months (+116% vs. 2010). This performance means that the main Asian market is now Ferrari’s second largest worldwide, overtaking Germany where volumes remained the same as last year with 337 cars delivered."
(Continues in part 2)


  1. I started out Italian with a Fiat 124 Coupe saying one day I will own a prancing horse. Since then I have owned three Alfa Romeo's that I have loved owning and driving always saying one day, one day. Even with the hunting for parts. It was my Poor Dudes Ferrari (PDF). That day of owning a Ferrari never came and never will.

    Call me a purest but today's Ferrari are soulless. For me a Ferrari is supposed to be a well dressed, well mannered powerful respected thug. A brute to take on all comers and steal your heart with the twist of a key. Lust, lust, lust, oh where has the lust gone? Pre-seventy that's my ditch in the sand. If the Japan design language/influence is here to stay can you say Lexus?

    1. Well-stated: "...a Ferrari is supposed to be a well dressed, well mannered powerful respected thug."

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  4. thank you for your comments Anonymous. This post has 2 other parts:

    and here:

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