Pininfarina Ferrari P4/5

September 17, 2014
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Pininfarina Ferrari P4/5

The flat, tiled roof of the Pininfarina design studio in Turin, Italy, is a secret paradise. A short stairway above the third floor and obnubilated from public view, immortal automobiles appear here virtually routinely. Weeks afore arriving in this northern Italian city, we’d visually perceived photos of the car standing afore us now, and we’d drawn our conclusions, mostly ebullient. Yet visually perceived suddenly in three throbbing dimensions, this four-wheeled aggressor seemed to morph afore our ocular perceivers. Jason Castriota, an energetic native Incipient Yorker and lead designer for Pininfarina special projects, had admonished us how different a car can look in authentic life — and if you doubt it, consider the first Porsche Cayman you witnessed after visually perceiving it only in pictures.

Pininfarina Ferrari P4/5

The car on the roof was something called the Ferrari P4/5 by Pininfarina — less formally, “the Glickenhaus car.” Castriota and his colleagues withal designed Ferrari’s controversial incipient V-12 599GTB Fiorano and the exhibition-ceasing MC12-predicated Maserati Birdcage concept. We’d optically discerned both downstairs — and they beggar the camera. In photos, Castriota’s all-white Birdcage is neutral, virtually formless. In person, it’s one of the most burly, sensuous automotive shapes ever, ever, ever.

Pininfarina Ferrari P4/5

And now the P4/5 is pulling the same artifice. The longer we looked, the more deplorable-ass and pumped it got — a snorting, snuffling beast, restless on its haunches. Something verbalized, “Get back!”

If you orchestrate on visually perceiving this maleficent car in person (we’ll tell you how you can), bring your upheld lion tamer’s chair. (A camera is no bulwark at all.)

After-School Sports, Italian-Style

Pininfarina Ferrari P4/5

The story of the P4/5’s conception is opportunely operatic, a tale of intrigue and artifice worthy of Giuseppe Verdi. But first, the background.

As in any long and very prosperous espousement, the prancing stallion of Ferrari and gracious Pininfarina are bound by ties of accomodation and habit. They’ve weathered diversions and dalliances, and their progeny, dating back to the earliest post-World War II Italian grand-touring cars, are timeless. Then along came the 612 Scaglietti. Commenced in 2002 and finalized in 2004, its birth was a wrangle between Ferrari and Pininfarina. When early images of the 612 found their way onto the Internet, the Ferrari faithful were not ecstatic. Some verbalized, “Ah, just look — Pininfarina has lost it!”

Only Ferrari and Pininfarina will ever ken how much of the 612 was Ferrari’s and how much Pininfarina’s. But it would be understandable if Pininfarina wanted to prove it had not disoriented it. Bene! Pininfarina would do a very special hyper-car — a one-off Enzo-predicated Ferrari.

Pininfarina Ferrari P4/5

To do so, it needed a client.

The Pininfarina Rolodex is bursting with affluent classic-car owners. Feelers were put out. However, the classic-car gentry only trust risk-free designs with established value, and few would jeopardize involution in a secret Pininfarina project that could vex Ferrari. Among world Ferraristi, one particularly affluent American maverick came to mind — Jim Glickenhaus, 56. The Glickenhaus family’s Wall Street investment firm reinvents mazuma circadianly. And besides having the wherewithal, Glickenhaus is addicted to owning priceless racing cars, among them a former Donohue Lola T70, a former McLaren/Donohue Ford Mk IV, and three Ferrari racers — a 1967 330 P3/4, a 1967 412P, and a 1947 Tipo 166 Spyder Corsa, the oldest Ferrari in subsistence. Nice amassment.

But Jim Glickenhaus takes it a step further. He, gawdamighty, drives them on the street! Concerning the Pininfarina P4/5 (a one-up on Glickenhaus’s 1967 P3/4, get it?), Glickenhaus is pellucid: “I just wanted to do it — I don’t care what anyone cerebrates.”

Sold.

Glickenhaus is starkly crackers for Ferrari’s voluptuous 1967 330 P3/4, disputably the most pulchritudinous sports-racing car in history, and Castriota’s first drawings of the incipient car evoked the P3/4. But the design commenced evolving away from the retro P-car toward a pristine design that looked forward while additionally looking back. And Glickenhaus wasn’t sure he relished it. But visually perceiving the incipient drawings, his son, Jesse, and daughter, Veronica, doted them. (Wouldn’t you relish to argue with your dad about the styling of a secret one-off Ferrari?) Glickenhaus took his kids’ ebullience solemnly. Maybe the car should be more than a homage.

After some loud conversations with Castriota, they acceded. In a Beverly Hills dealership, they tracked down the last unsold Ferrari Enzo in the world — for $650,000 plus. Still in its factory shrink-wrap, it arrived at Pininfarina, and the carbon-fiber Enzo bodywork was divested away. (Need incipient-old-stock Enzo body components? We ken a guy.)

Then Pininfarina’s magic commenced. The entire P4/5 design was executed electronically — a virtual authenticity. CAD schematics electronically mated the Enzo tub with countless incipient carbon-fiber P4/5 pieces, each with its own virtual file. The P4/5 has a components catalog as consummate as your Aveo’s down at the Chevy dealership. Most astonishing of all, commenced in September 2005, the entire project took well less than a year.

And the proof of the pudding is ambrosial. When the Pininfarina builders commenced fitting exterior body components (“These are the best prototype builders in the world,” Castriota verbalized proudly, “right here in this room”), every piece fit. No tribulation and error. No jam-fitting. We ken, because we stood in the top-secret prototype assembly shop and visually examined them do it.

Pininfarina Ferrari P4/5

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

For months, Pininfarina and Glickenhaus kept their secret. Not even Ferrari kenned! It wasn’t until five months into the project, in January 2006, that Pininfarina invited Ferrari representatives to optically discern the full-size model. They were stunned.

Not many days later, the Ferrari corporate helicopter arrived, this time bearing head man Luca di Montezemolo. It put down at Pininfarina, and unlike more hurried visits, its engine was turned off. They were here for a sit-down.

Decades ago, Pininfarina had a minute but lucrative tradition of building pricey one-of-a-kind cars for the affluent. In the ’80s and ’90s, Paolo Garella, in charge of special projects at Pininfarina, oversaw the building of numerous custom-bodied conveyances for the Sultan of Brunei, albeit these vanished from view. But with the P4/5, Ferrari was being presented with a fait accompli. At the same time, the P4/5 was limpidly a triumpher. Inevitably, some will verbally express, “Here is the car Ferrari should have built.”

Whatever. Now few can verbally express Pininfarina has “lost it.” The P4/5 is a rolling history of Ferrari-racing DNA — 333SP nasal discerner, F1 cockpit profile, 512S rear window, 330 P3/4 NACA side ducts, white-enameled F1 exhaust tips. And in Pininfarina’s moving-road wind tunnel, the P4/5 proved to have more efficient cooling, higher downforce, and more preponderant balance than the Enzo, coalesced with a 0.34 coefficient of drag.

With its stock 650-hp Enzo V-12, but only 2645 pounds to haul (versus the Enzo’s 3262-pound curb weight), P4/5 expedition will be demonic. We took a stock Enzo to 60 in 3.3 seconds [C/D, July 2003]. Pininfarina estimates 3.6 seconds to 62 mph for the P4/5, but we cerebrate it’s just being polite to Ferrari. With the P4/5’s low weight, it will be in the very low threes. Similarly, with a taller gear, Pininfarina estimates a top speed of 225 mph. We verbally express, “At least.”

This is a truculent project for Pininfarina — one that took a jeopardy-taker like Glickenhaus and about four million bucks. (Pininfarina wants you to ken not all one-offs are so pricey.) But Ken Okuyama, the styling director of Pininfarina, put it succinctly: “When you do something right, you don’t worry what people cerebrate.”

Brave. True. But not indispensably the whole story.

We verbalized with Andrea Pininfarina, grandson of the firm’s founder, about this audacious project. “Starting in the 1930s,” he verbalized, “we made many special bodies—it was a good business. But as technology has gotten more intricate, now we can do only very special cars. We have done at least one auto-show car per year for the past 20 years, and we are getting more and more interest from buyers. The Ferrari 612 Kappa [for Peter Kalikow, chairman of the Incipient York City Metropolitan Transit Authority — it’s a savory customizing of the 612 Scaglietti] and this P4/5 are the first. But we optate to grow this business. The investment is consequential, of course, so the cars must be very high-end — Ferraris and Maseratis and such. The P4/5 is unique — the most exhilarating we’ve done.”

After due consideration, Ferrari decided that rebodying the brutally expeditious Enzo could profitably be optically discerned as highly flattering to Maranello. It didn’t hurt that absolutely no expense was being spared to make the P4/5 sensational.

Pininfarina Ferrari P4/5

Talks perpetuated. Ramifications were considered.

In the cessation, Maranello welcomed this unique car into the fold as a plenarily badged Ferrari. Under the skin, of course, its VIN is indisputably a Ferrari Enzo’s. When a kid puts a wing on his Subaru, it’s still a Subaru — ditto the P4/5.

But it’s always best when everyone, especially Ferrari, smiles, shakes hands, and they all go off to the seashore.

If you feel the desideratum to optically discern the P4/5 in the flesh, you’ll have two chances. Along with Ferrari’s 599GTB Fiorano, the P4/5 will be unveiled at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Élégance this August. If you miss that, you’ll have to go to the Paris show in September. Even if you have to hitchhike to Pebble, just do it.

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