Flipping through c&d before bed. Supercars are irrelevant but it’s interesting to note how much prettier is the new ferrari f12 berlinetta than the outgoing 599gtb. But doing an image search of the preceding 575m and 550 maranello shows a shape that seems delicate and modest.
Amusing, because when the 550 came out, I remember it being a criticized for being a busy, unspecial shape with arbitratry details. That’s especially funny to consider now, since the car it replaced was the F512m, the last and fussiest version of the even-then desperately-out-of-date Testarossa. I think the 550’s standout lasting styling was down to being the only recent ferrari in this line which was largely free from aerodynamic features.
The testarossa-(512TR)- f512m were dominated by the large side intakes with feet-long strakes, purportedly to mitigate turbulence. The 599 (“599 gtb Fiorano”) carried Ferrari’s gigantic intake, pointed front bumper, an obvious front-mid-engine layout now-awkward-appearing wedged main body profile ( like the production version of the Mercedes McLaren SLR), prominent rear diffuser, tapered, high tail, teardrop greenhouse, and most eyecatching, the buttresses positioned to resemble c-pillars that act as air-turning fins to drive passing air over the rear deck and spoiler, to decrease lift and thereby attain the effect of an even more aggressive diffuser. I do not think history will be kind to the 599. (*ironically, while the 599 was legitimately headlining model during its run, the 612 Scaglietti, the gigantic four-passenger coupe, I believe will age well, despite it repeatedly being called ugly in the press. As “unferrari” as a four-passengered GT is considered by many, especially following the gorgeous 456GT, the Scaglietti has subtle details, with symmetry and stylistically tension-suggested creases. Aerodynamics were clearly a secondary concern.)
The latest two seat v12 car, the new F12 berlinetta, manages a more conventional shape by giving in to fitting a gigantic rear diffuser, allowing a lower rear deckfacilitating a less wedgy profile, allowing a large grill to at least incorporate something resembling a smile. The car also has a single-shape cabin, re-including the c-pillars, and instead allowing the aero gimmicks, the “aero bridges” to be visible only when the car is viewed tangentially from odd angles. Like standing on the hood or laying under the car. They apparently siphon the hood approaching the car and stagnating at the cowl to be pulled downward around the side of the car by the rush of the air along the side of the car. Maybe it works. If it does, it probably only allows for decreased drag. Because it pulls air downward, I can only assume the feature generates some lift. Maybe that is adequately countered by the hood vent that pulls air out from the back of the radiator over the middle of the hood by a similar application of the Bernoulli effect. Allowing that air to avoid collecting at the firewall or under the hood likely decreases lift at that point. Since the front vent is located ahead of the front wheels, while the aero bridges are behind the front wheels, the longer distance to the hood vent from the vehicle’s center of gravity (or rear wheels, however you prefer to calculate the moments), may allow mitigation of the lift potentially caused by the aero bridges, even if it has the effect of pulling a somewhat larger volume of air.
But, none of these cars seems to have lasting beauty, merely clear designation as being the king of the hill model. That seems confirmed by the year on year specification inflation. The testarossa had 380 hp, 512tr 412, f512m (440?) the 550 had 485, the 575m 508hp, the 599gtb…. 612 horsepower… And now, the F12… 730 hp. Careful, Ferrari. The market for frivolous baubles for the rich is booming, as is the competition. But
the brand only survives deep fiscal surprises by heartstrings, not specification.