Monday, June 4, 2012

The Last Manual Ferrari

When I think of Ferrari, a handful of vivid and indelible images spring immediately to mind.  These signature elements are so evocative that they seem inseparable from the idea of what a Ferrari is: red valve covers, elegant Pininfarina designs, wailing V12s, aromatic Schedoni leather, motorsport history, the Cavallino Rampante.  Above all these wonderful things, though, one stands out to me more strongly than the rest – a slender chromed lever, topped with a perfectly-sized polished ball sprouting from an open, gated shift.  Pure tactile artistry.

I won’t question the efficacy of modern Ferrari’s dual-clutch, paddle shift transmissions – the hard data shows indisputable gains in shift speed and corresponding drops in lap times, and after all, race-bred technology has always been fundamental to the concept of Ferrari road cars.  Progress is progress, and hoping against it in the name of nostalgia is retrograde thinking at its worst – but that’s me, I’m a big, soft, sentimental and counter-evolutionist baby.  The complex crescendo of an exotic, purebred motor nearing redline, interrupted by the sound of a thin, shiny lever click-clacking around an exposed metal gate was one of cardom's last truly unique experiences, now lost to history.  This makes me a bit sad.

With all that in mind, here’s the very last manual Ferrari ever built.  This particular car may not be the last three-pedaled Ferrari, but it does represent the last model ever available with the option of a self-shift.  Furthermore, manual-equipped 599 GTB Fioranos are incredibly rare, to my understanding only built to order for a short time near the beginning of the car’s production life.  To me, the traditional shift almost looks out of place among the 21st century Ferrari cabin architecture, and I don’t think this is simply down to preconceptions – it just looks like an afterthought.  Still, the idea of stirring that big, vocal, high-tech Enzo-based twelve with an old-fashioned stick seems awesomely backwards, a brilliant incongruity.  If had anywhere near the means, I'd buy this car, and I'm not a fan of red nor tan.

Here's a link to the ad.

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