From Ferrari design simplicity to overstyling in 60 years.
I have been shocked by the images of the spectacular Ferrari F60America from its unveiling at the celebrations in Beverly Hills the past week-end. Many questions have come to my mind through the past two days and night. What is it going on at Ferrari, the most celebrated temple of speed and beauty? If I look at the chronicle of past month I see speed only in the firing of scion and prince Luca Cordero (is it pure coincidence that cordero is Spanish for Lamb, Agnello in Italian?) and to see beauty I have to look at some of the vintage Ferrari on parade at Beverly Hills, or to the Ferrari 375 MM Scaglietti built in 1954 for film director Roberto Rossellini, hand crafted precisely 60 years ago.
The comparison of that Ferrari 375 MM Coupé (originally a barchetta dressed up by Vignale for the 1953 Mille Miglia winner raced by Conte Marzotto and re-tailored by Giancarlo Guerra at the modest Scaglietti shops in 1954) and the ultimate F60America delivered by the most powerful Ferrari ever where a team of thirty designers and specialists work under the leadership of design director Flavio Manzoni is troublesome.
I have the impression that something is moving in the wrong direction at Ferrari design.
I do not think that the designer who delivered such a long series of lovely and beautiful cars, on top of which I place the sweet 2003 Lancia Fulvia Coupé Concept, or his designers, are to be blamed for the overstylish F60America.
I suspect that it is the market, the buyer to be blamed, and with them the so-called marketing geniuses at Ferrari. Those who keep wanting more and more and those willing to satisfy their uneducated ego or greed.
To be part of the creation of a beautiful Ferrari, one that will be regarded as a masterpiece in one or one hundred years from now, money is not enough. Even if you sign a check for 3 million dollars. A lot of "sensual" and stylish shapes, lines, shadows and lights are not enough, even when it is too much. There is a need of respect for the history and the story that the new car is going to tell. The culture and mental approach beyond it, the personality of those who create it and of a personality mastering the project.
Being part of the process is a unique experience certainly worth the investment but a special, bespoke or limited production Ferrari must have the light elegance of a sport car, the beauty of a natural, yet refined simplicity. It needs not to be an example of perfection but it must show it has been created with passion and love. Not with the aim of collecting ten 3-million-dollars checks in few weeks.
Most likely a highly respected design critic could explain every single line of the FerrariF60America, the semantic message of many styling elements, the rational of the aerodynamic efficiency or the compromise accepted for the sake of customer satisfaction.
Nevertheless, I would not trade three of the ten F60America roadsters being delivered, for the 60 years old 375 MM Coupé by Scaglietti, even though the same design critic could write that its flowing lines and spontaneous shapes lack the discipline of perfection.
What I hear from the body language of the Scaglietti is the whisper of harmony, of the air flowing over its shape (no matter what the aerodynamic efficiency is) the feeling of Guerra's big hand caressing the metal being shaped then, and by its owner when taking the pleasure of hand-washing it these days.
On the contrary, what I hear from the F60America is many voices shouting, wanting to be noticed in a growing crowd of "nouvaux …. collectors". People investing in a Ferrari as they would with painting just because a famous artist signs it, not because that painting stimulates their emotions.
May I say …. that Italian design simplicity (with some concession to beauty and elegance) will continue to win the current (and excessive) wave of overdesign and overstyling? A close look to the Miura-inspired Lamborghini Asterion may, by the end of the day, point in a new design direction. That of a return to simplicity.
If design is communication, a simple message will live long in our memory.
Ferrari 60 Anniversary in USA - Photo Gallery (click on any image to start)