Ferrari has been selling cars in America for 60 years, and to celebrate they decided to have a great big party in -- where else -- but Beverly Hills. Not only does Southern California remain the largest single Ferrari market in the world, but Beverly Hills has a higher concentration of prancing horses than practically anywhere on the planet. Maybe the highest. Regardless, Ferrari shut down a few blocks of Rodeo Drive and selected 60 of their rarest and most interesting cars from the past six decades. They called it “Race Through the Decades: 1954-2014.” Ferrari also invited any and everyone with a Ferrari to come on down and participate in a parade. The last official number I heard was 762 Ferraris! More amazingly/importantly, that number was going up! Counting the cars on display and the others we saw parked in and around the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, I would not be shocked if there were 1000 Ferraris on hand. UPDATE: At 4:30 PM the final tally was 952 Ferrari parade cars, pushing the total to well over 1000 Ferraris. Close enough at any rate, and if you’re a car person, straight up bonkers. The 12-year-old in all of us was going nuts. The final huzzah of the event was the first public unveiling of the F60 America.
Performed by none other than Sergio Marchionne himself, the president and CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Ferrari, the F60 America is a curious machine. First of all, yes, it’s essentially an F12 Berlinetta with the roof hacked off. There’s something different about the engine and transmission, but since no one’s saying what’s different, and since the engine’s still rated at 730 hp, I’m assuming the tweaks are software stuff: mapping and throttle programming, plus shift points. Ferrari is only making 10 F60 Americas, the car is only on offer in the USA, they cost about $2.5 million a pop, and they’ve all already been sold.
What you’re witnessing is Ferrari’s transition away from an automaker and into a commodity producer. It’s a bit like Scotch whisky. Extremely aged bottles sell for stratospheric prices -- I just had a teensy sip of a 50-year-old from The Balvennie that sold for an eye-watering $38,000 a bottle. Guess what? It tasted like acetone. However, should you buy the bottle and resell it, you’ll get more than the $38K you spent on it. It’s an investment. That’s where Ferrari’s headed. Not just because of car’s like the 250 GTO which are worth between $40-$50M a piece, but because one of the 10 N.A.R.T. Spyders (essentially a 275 GTB with the roof hacked off) sold for a still inexplicable $27 million at last year’s Pebble Beach Gooding auction. Therefore the F60 America is a thinly veiled tribute to/knockoff of the N.A.R.T. Spyder. Essentially, the F60’s a roofless, leathered up special edition of a $320,000 F12 marked up 8 times! Crazy, right? Well, people are paying this much because Ferraris are appreciating at around 10% a month, making them one of the best investments around. As Angus MacKenzie has been saying, “Ferrari or Rembrandt?” While $2.5 million feels unconscionable for at least a couple reasons, I say cars are worth that much if people are willing to pay the price. Remember, these cars were all sold before a test drive was even theoretically possible. Here’s hoping the new owners bother to drive them.
The other tiny bit of news is that this was supposed to be Luca di Montezemolo’s final Ferrari event. However, the former chairman was a no-show. As in he was supposed be not only at the Rodeo Drive event, but be the center of attention at the previous evening’s gala party. But Luca never made an appearance. If you’ve been following di Montezemolo’s departure story, you know there’s no love lost between him and Signore Marchionne. Honestly, if I’d just been forced to resign the chairmanship of the company I’d worked at most of my life I don’t think I’d show up to a massive festival celebrating the company that just canned me. Though if I had Luca’s $35M golden parachute, that might change things.
Back to the cars. Picking a best of show at this show is damn near impossible. Every Ferrari on display was special, and played a key part in Ferrari’s history in this country. Like the 166 MM Barchetta, serial number 00002, the first Ferrari ever imported to the States. Then there’s the 1954 375 MM with coachwork by Scaglietti that just became the first Ferrari to ever win Best of Show at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. My personal vote is split three ways, between the 288 GTO, the 340 Mexico (12 feet of hood on a 15-foot car) and the yellow, red-striped 1958 Testarossa that I thought was a better Ferrari than the Pebble Winner when both were on the lawn a few months back. I honestly can’t decide/it’s totally the 288 GTO. Thing is, ask any car nut in attendance and they’ll have their own favorite Ferraris. If there’s one thing I learned, it’s that at the 60th Anniversary of Ferrari in America car show, it’s hard to choose wrong.
Photo Credit: Robin Trajano