Ferrari has become a legend inthis lifetime. Even thoughEnzo Ferrari was born in1898, it wasn't until 1947that Ferrari developed two 12-cylinderengine (V12) race cars. As onebiographer stated, "He had fallen inlove with the sound of a 12." Today,the following are the only two V12Ferraris available to the general public:the outrageous 599 GTB Fioranoand the classy 612 Scaglietti.
The Buzz of the 612
The 612 is a front mid-engine design,which boasts 5748 cc. The number 612comes from rounding off the engine sizeto 6 liters and 12 signifies the number ofcylinders. The coach of this Ferrari wasdesigned by Sergio Pininfarina's studio,but was named in honor of SergioScaglietti, a competitive stylist andcoach builder. Scaglietti styled some ofthe sexiest Ferraris half a century ago.
The 612 is a four-seat, two-doortouring car, yet it remains very sporty.The 612 has a fun weight distributionof 46% up front and 54% in the rear.By mounting the engine behind thefront wheel axle and moving the transmissionback to the rear axle, a uniquelevel of handling, performance, and feelis created. The balance and power aresuch that it is easy to push this car pastthe limits of adhesion on smooth,sweeping curves, yet enjoy thoroughcontrol. With an overall length of 193inches and a weight just over 2 tons, thishand-built touring car is grand innature. Passengers can certainly feel theheavy machine gathering velocity—fast.
Over 3 decades ago, auto writerMike Kettelwell penned, "Road-goingFerraris are more than mere status symbols,they exemplify perfection in metalfor the delight of their owners." Ferrarienthusiasts know that Enzo grew upnext to his father's metal workshop. Asa result, Ferrari's cars have always beenat the cutting edge of materials technologyto keep vehicles strong, light, andpowerful. This attention to qualitymaterials is appreciated by the kind ofperson who enjoys the fineness of aSwiss chronometer.
Like the beautiful British Jaguar XJor the lean German Audi A8, the speedyItalian Ferrari 612 Scaglietti is also anall Alcoa aluminum body—aluminumis more rigid and lighter than steel. Thealuminum skin is bonded with glue andriveted, and the space frame beneath theskin is all aluminum too.
True Sports Car Focus
The 612's larger size makes it a truefour-seater. The doors open wide, andwhile access to the back seats is simplerfor smaller persons traveling for shorterrides, the front seats are generous andcomfortable—as you might imagine,the driver sits in a traditional sports carcockpit. Because Ferrari focuses onsports cars, you won't find those entertaininggadgets that you might find onother cars. Heads up displays, navigationsystems, night vision, and remotestart are not standard factory optionson any Ferrari. A feature that is available,however, is the Formula One shiftsystem, which is popular on manysports cars today. Ferrari was first toperfect this system and, like most, usespaddle shift levers on the steering columnto give the driver the quickestresponse. But, you can't expect to be asmooth manual shifter during your testdrive. It takes some talent and practiceto manipulate the gear box and acceleratorfor the best shifts. Keep in mindthat you can still buy a traditional manualtransmission with a clutch pedal.
Buying a Ferrari is a ticket into a newlifestyle. You might say you are joiningClub Ferrari. Take a look at www.ferrariworld.com and www.ferrarichallenge.com, and compare the Web sitesto other automaker Web sites. BothWeb sites deal more with ownershipand entertainment, rather than pushinga sale. Before you go into the dealer fora test drive, go to the Web site and signup for Ferrari's newsletters. You'll lovethe travel and lifestyle information, inaddition to the car information.
Jean Swenson and Ashly Knapp are independent researchreporters and the founders of AutoAdvisor.com.