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Friday, March 30, 2012

Ferrari Design Overtones: Going, Going, Gone Asian? Part 2

Seeing Red
(Continued from part 1) And from the same site,, the modern Breadvan-esque/station wagon/"shooting brake" FF is a clear Asiatic success story: 
"The FF conquers Asia. Ferrari’s new four-seater four-wheel drive car unveiled at the Shanghai Show by Ferrari CEO Amedeo Felisa and Felipe Massa.
"Shanghai, 19 April, 2011 – The FF is enjoying huge success on the Asian market having already won over a plethora of clients in the Far East. The new car made its official debut in the Asia-Pacific region today at the Shanghai Show where it was unveiled by Prancing Horse CEO Amedeo Felisa and Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro driver Felipe Massa. The latter couldn’t hide his delight with Maranello’s latest creation: 'I’m very pleased to be here in Shanghai for the presentation of the FF,' he told journalists.
“It’s a car I like very much indeed: the perfect combination of performance and usability. I have a son who’s just over a year old now, and this is a Ferrari that you can use with the family without having to compromise on the driving pleasure that only our cars can deliver.' Massa also went on to emphasise the very special relationship between Ferrari and China: 'I was very impressed by the warmth and passion that the Chinese have for the Ferrari brand –that’s also something I’ve seen every time we come here to race, in fact.' 

"For his part, Amedeo Felisa spoke about the growing importance of the Chinese market to Ferrari: 'Last year, we broke all previous records by reaching the 300-car mark,' he said of the company’s sales there. 'In 2011, we intend to continue to grow by at least 30% and exceed the 400-car threshold. I am convinced that the Greater China area will be our second largest market by the end of this year.” 

And initially panned by Ferrari fans as a "woman's car" (which it may be), the so-called F149, aka, Ferrari California, with its contemporary 458 Italia and FF companions, are apparently hot topics in the land of the red: 
"Ferrari’s Chinese market has been growing strongly since 2004. Sales have been excellent across the entire range, but the 8-cylinder Ferrari California and the 458 Italia have performed particularly well. In previews, our Chinese clients were greatly impressed by the technological innovations offered by the FF as well as the generous size of its four comfortable seats and roomy boot (the capacity of the latter can extended up to 800 litres)."
Ferrari F12 Nissan GT-R
For me the F12 reveals a generally pleasing form with more than quite a few moments of gorgeous design throughout the body. It carries the elegance and poise that a Ferrari V12 GT berlinetta should. There is a lushness there with just enough edginess. On that point, at first glance, I don't want to think about Japan when enjoying highbrow Italian cuisine. And I certainly don't want to think about Chinese takeout and volume selling. Although each cultural texture has its place, I want the bottle of fine Italian wine to go to my head, to imbue me with passion. At such a price point, too, a Ferrari V12 GT should produce this intoxicating effect immediately. And the first impression of the F12 nearly does. 
Initially, the unveiling of F12's front end appointments appeared a little strange. But, as was the case with the 458 Italia (and Nissan GT-R), eventually the new child-of-the-wind-tunnel design idiom began growing on me. The contemporary Ferrari face with the elongated "bioluminescent," deep-sea-creature-like headlamps, running up the top sides of the car, and the "Chevron Cars" cartoonish grille --have presented themselves as decadal identifiers. Hence, this is what Ferrari looks like today. 
And as with the severe Ferrari Enzo (and in some of the aforementioned newer Ferraris), the Nissan GT-R can elicit a polarizing effect upon the beholder: It is either hideous or brutishly attractive, at very least an acquired taste for the enthusiast not already well-adapted to Japanese tuner culture. Form following function doesn't have to be ugly but in some cases it is. 
When a car can slice through the air, shift, corner, in fractions of a second quicker than a competitor, engineering will begin to dictate what beauty and "passion" are allowed to be. It is evident, too, that when such results render less-than-attractive design cues, then the policy is to feature such appointments. Why try to hide them when they can be exaggerated and passed off as being state-of-the-art?  
Familiar with Japanese tuner/enthusiast culture myself, I could not help but to see the Nissan GT-R discreetly whispering over the form of the F12. Certainly, Ken Okuyama has been long gone from the midst of Pininfarina's corridors of power and had nothing to do with GT-R development. So is this mere coincidence or is there an airborne Asian car virus sprinkling dust over Maranello?

part 3 here:

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