Ferrari is not a company that gives up its secrets readily. So credit to Blackbird Films for persuading the Prancing Horse to let some light in on one of the most closely guarded areas of Ferrari’s business: the Special Projects division.
It’s tracked the four-year design and development of the latest SP car, said to be number 36, and called simply Prototipo. Have a look at the teaser above; although it doesn’t give much away there’s enough here to prompt one major thought – could this be the first SP car to be based on a Ferrari competition car? The clues are all there: the ‘no step’ graphic, the quick release wheels, the stripped-out cabin, steering wheel and instrument read-out, but most of all the war cry the thing emits as it thunders round Fiorano. Come to think of it, what sort of one-off merits a full shakedown at Ferrari’s test track?
The SP programme has come a long way since Japanese collector Junichiro Hiramatsu collected the first in the official series back in 2008. Ferrari had grown weary of clients commissioning external one-offs – Jim Glickenhaus’s 2006 P4/5 arguably the final straw – and clearly recognised a revenue opportunity, while the clients cushioned the inevitable financial blow with the knowledge that the factory’s official seal of approval would bulletproof the car’s value.
Hiramatsu’s entry was an F430 rebodied under the watchful eye of long-standing Pininfarina design boss Leonardo Fioravanti. Others have included 2009’s P540 Superfast Aperta, commissioned by US client Ed Walson who took his inspiration from a ghostly gold Ferrari 330 LM driven by Terence Stamp in a 1968 cinema curio called Histoires Extraordinaires directed by Federico Fellini. Manhattan-based property magnate Peter Kalikow’s 2011 Superamerica 45 reworked the 599 in a manner that riffed off the earlier 575M Superamerica; Kalikow’s thing was open Ferraris. Eric Clapton’s 2012 SP12 EC was inspired by another Fioravanti design, the 512 BB, but used a 458 Italia as its base.
With Ferrari’s design now concentrated in Maranello under the command of Flavio Manzoni at the Centro Stile, the SP cars have become bolder – 2014’s F12 TRS and 2018’s SP 38 Deborah pushing the aesthetic boundaries ever further. Now we’re about to find out not just how far the Prototipo has gone, but also how Manzoni and his team, as well as the engineers, actually go about creating these Ferrari unicorns. This latest entry is likely to be the most highly evolved yet, not least because it’s thought to be the brainchild of enigmatic Hong Kong media baron, car collector and Ferrari expert, TK Mak.
We’ll know more when the full film goes live on Ferrari’s Facebook page, at 3pm CET today.