Ferrari does what it wants, man

Why Would a Car Company Wait 50 Years to Release a Convertible This Perfect?


September 10, 2019 Cars By
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Maranello, Italy, was abuzz this week, as the home of Ferrari was still coming down from celebrating its first hometown Formula 1 win in nearly a decade after Charles LeClerc took the checkered flag at Monza. The good times would continue to roll into the workweek, as Ferrari’s production car side unveiled two new convertibles — the 12-cylinder 812 GTS and the V8-powered F8 Spider — as part of Universo Ferrari, a new three-week program that invites clients and fans alike to the supercar maker’s factory for an intimate experience.

A Ferrari needs to exude a few qualities in order to ever leave the drafting board: Wild power, great performance and uncompromised passion must be obvious, as per the marketing jargon in the media presentation. Spiders, as Ferrari calls its roadsters, must go even further; they need to make you want to feel “wind-in-your-hair-delight,” said chief marketing officer Enrico Galliera.

A new €750 million investment to redesign Ferrari’s product range and architecture is underway, he said, focusing on three pillars: unpredictability, exclusivity and developing new technologies. One concept that fit neatly at the intersection of those values had been kicking around Maranello for a while but is only now seeing the light of day: a new V12 roadster, the 812 GTS.

The last drop-top front-engined V12 Ferrari offered was the 365 Daytona GTS/4, revealed 50 years ago. In the decades since, the market (including Ferrari’s top clients) begged for a new iteration. Ferrari acknowledged the demands and did…nothing.

A key reason for the company’s success, said Galliera, is letting whoever wants to own a Ferrari “wait and dream for it. It makes the emotions at delivery higher.” He smiled, revealing that this belief is one derived from Enzo himself. Let the masses shout; Ferrari will answer when it’s ready.

Which, apparently, is now. The 812 Superfast has the first chassis in the current product range capable of basing a V12 spider on, to hear Ferrari tell it. Head of design Flavio Manzoni illuminated the details that make a berlinetta — a front-engined convertible, in Ferrari parlance — visually appealing: an elongated hood that demonstrates the size of the lurking V12, a cabin moved back for a fastback feel. Manzoni knew these had to remain for the 812 GTS.

“The 275 Spider, the 330 GTS; these coupes seemingly had the right overall silhouettes, but the roof was just removed and you’re left with a cabriolet,” Manzoni said. “We wanted much more for the 812 GTS.”

While it may look eerily similar to the coupe with the top up, a solid chunk of the 812 GTS is comprised of new body panels. The rear fenders, rear bumper, trunk and other back-end bits had to be redesigned to accommodate the removable roof — which drops in 14 seconds, at speeds up to 28 miles an hour. A new color called Grigio GTS and three new forged wheels help accentuate the shape of the 812 GTS.

“We also added winglets behind the seats to help with wind buffeting,” Manzoni said. “There was discomfort generated by the airflow due to the geometry of the windscreen that we had to solve, and it took many months of failed suggestions before we arrived at this solution.”

Naturally, Ferrari had to bring the firepower under the hood. The 6.5-liter V-12 (unchanged from the 812 Superfast) generates a whopping 789 horsepower and 530 lb-ft of torque—80 percent of which is already hammering you by 3,500 rpm. With those 789 ponies underfoot, the 812 GTS wins the power war when stacked against the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 Convertible (755 hp) and the Lamborghini Aventador SVJ Roadster (759 hp).

This mill will propel Maranello’s beautiful brute from zero to 60 miles per hour in less than three seconds, one-tenth of a second slower than its hard-topped brethren due to the 165-pound increase of the roof mechanism. And it’ll rocket from zero to 124 mph in 8.3 seconds, only 0.4 seconds behind the coupe.

Prospective owners will need a bare minimum of €336,000 — and will have to wait until next summer for delivery. And if you’re just reading about the 812 GTS now, there’s pretty much no chance you’ll ever buy a new one. Given that Galliera kept mentioning “exclusivity,” we asked how many of those demanding customers are going to be disappointed.

“The number will remain low because we will just produce this car for a limited amount of time. It’s coming after three years of making the 812 Superfast, so this will be produced for fewer years, and the number of pre-orders already has fulfilled the whole production line.” (Galliera declined to give a specific production number.)

What happens to all the people who are out of luck? “They can hope someone [in line for an 812 GTS] gives up the spot. Or look at the rest of the range, which is very nice,” Galliera smirked.

Also unveiled at the same event was the F8 Spider, featuring Ferrari’s four-time award-winning 3.9-liter turbocharged V-8 mill. On offer are 710 horses and an accompanying 568 lb-ft of twist. Chief technology officer Michael Leiters promises it has all the power of a turbo engine and all the emotions of a naturally-aspirated engine, thanks to zero turbo-lag.

“We put a speed sensor on the turbocharger to know what the rev of the charger is at every moment in order to utilize the maximum power of the turbocharger,” he said.

The F8 Spider is 44 pounds lighter than the 488 Spider, and only 44 pounds heavier than the track monster called the 488 Pista. Weight reduction and power increases came from parts plucked from the 488 Challenge car, including Inconel exhaust pipes, new intake lines, titanium conrods, and a lightened crankshaft. Like the 812 GTS, the F8’s roof whips up and down in 14 seconds at up to 28 mph.

With the additional oomph of 50 horsepower and seven lb-ft over its predecessor, the F8 Spider will tear from 0 to 60 in 2.9 seconds, a tenth of a second quicker than its predecessor; it’ll arrive at 124 mph in 8.2 seconds, half a second sooner. The so-called S-Duct in the nose, plucked from the F1 car, helps bolster downforce by 10 percent, and a new sideslip control function called Ferrari Dynamic Enhancer now works when the manettino drive mode control is switched to Race — a feature Leiters calls “fun control” that allows you to keep the car on the limit longer. The F8 Spider starts at €262,000, and also deliveries also begin next summer.

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