Ferrari 599 SA Aperta: Design Has Its Privileges

September 27th, 2010

Ferrari SA Aperta

Ferrari is going to display the roadster edition of its 599 Fiorano at the Paris Motor Show, and it will be a showstopper. Called the SA Aperta (meaning “open”), the car is simply gorgeous. It is also expensive (reportedly around the $500K mark) and already sold out.

Eighty cars are being made to honor the 80th anniversary of the Pininfarina design house, and at the recent Pebble Beach Concours, all were scooped up at a private viewing. Exclusivity and insider trading have always gone hand in hand, you know.

The Aperta has the Fiorano’s 661-hp V12, with a specially stiffened chassis, customized interior, etc., and so forth—state-of-the-art performance to match that of the company’s flagship car.

But what I want to talk about is the styling. Some may quibble, but I have not seen a more beautiful roadster design ever.

2011 Porsche SpeedsterLast week we had some harsh things to say about the new Porsche 911 Speedster and in particular its bulbous back end. Those plastic humps hide a soft folding top. The Aperta has, per the press release, “a light soft top designed to be resorted to only if the weather gets particularly bad,” and this is hidden without bumps or bulges.

The Aperta has integrated two rollbars behind the headrests and added so-called “aerodynamic fins” behind those: a nice marriage of form and function.

2010 Corvette Grand SportThe Speedster looks just out of proportion; the Aperta has all its major elements in careful and logical relationships, as in the best of Pininfarina’s designs over the years. From the side, the car looks somewhat like the Corvette (right), which similarity testifies to the Corvette’s good basic design.

Price of course influences design, but only in the details. The basic Grand Sport convertible lists at around $60K; the Speedster, probably somewhere north of $204K; the Aperta, well, no more are for sale.

Design is a subjective matter, according to some, but I think there are principles that all good industrial designs have in common. You can see these at work in the Aperta, which combines outstanding design with superb mechanics. That’s what makes a Ferrari.

Getting the details right in a design is what makes cars expensive. Do you agree?

—jgoods

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