Spied: Custom-built F430-based Ferrari

Last week's shock sighting at Maranello was this Ferrari 430-based sportscar. Although first though to be the predecessor to the current F430, it has been revealed that the car picture here is probably related to Ferrari's recently announced coachbuilding service.

However, Ferrari has a strict rule when it comes to keeping undercover design details secret. It thus came as a surprise to the photographer when this completely undisguised sports car was spotted prowling within the factory boundaries. Not to be mistaken for one of the F430 successor's prototypes, which remain clad in thick dark plastic, this car is a product of the latest coachbuilding program launched by Ferrari with the official rights being extended to a handful of companies. Maranello's embracing of the historic coachbuilding tradition follows the widespread acceptance of several recent one-off works such as Pininfarina's P4/5, Giugiaro's GG50 and Zagato's 575 GTZ.

With a check-book capable of covering two million euros, and a design idea, Ferrari will offer the client the choice of three cars, the F430, 612 Scaglietti and Enzo, as a starting point, from which a unique "special" can be created. Certain hard points must remain, however, including the front windscreen and the fundamental crumple zone structure. In the case of the car pictured, the well designed original F430 lighting units have also been retained.

Whereas Pininfarina lent their hand and experience with the design of the original F430, this special Prancing Horse design closely bears the signature of the Fioravanti design house, a company now celebrating its 20th anniversary. The design of the side profile is typical of Fioravanti, with the use of sleek and dynamic sweeping lines, extending from the front bumper to the rear of the car. Simultaneously, the lines divide the aluminum coachwork into separate planes, which in turn have been fashioned to create a high degree of sculpture. In comparison to the heavily detailed front end, which has been relatively lightly modified from the base F430, the rear of this one-off remains refined. Single circular lighting units, sourced from the Ferrari 599, have been installed on either side of the mesh cooling grille, creating an understated elegance. Meanwhile, in harmony with the fluid form language, shallow flying buttresses have been added, a design element accredited to Pininfarina.

Perhaps the bravest feature of the coachwork of this car, which is destined for an Asian collector, lies in the application of carbon fiber as a finish for the side skirts, mirrors, roof, and front lower spoiler. Weight saving was clearly one of the goals of the project creator. It is probable that the interior will continue the carbon fiber theme further. From an engineering perspective, the engine cooling has been improved through the presence of large vents located in the rear wheel arches, although Ferrari stipulates that the drivetrain must remain unaltered.

August 4th, 2008