Get under the skin of Ferrari at the London Design Museum

'Ferrari: Under the Skin' now open at the Design Museum — Picture courtesy of Luke Hayes for the Design Museum
'Ferrari: Under the Skin' now open at the Design Museum — Picture courtesy of Luke Hayes for the Design Museum

LONDON, Nov 18 — A painstakingly curated exhibition featuring one of the biggest collection of Ferraris and Ferrari memorabilia ever bought together under one roof outside of Maranello, Italy, opened its doors this week.

To mark the marque’s 70th anniversary, “Ferrari: Under the Skin,” which opens to the public this weekend, will feature a collection of 70 classic and contemporary Ferraris with a combined value of £140 million (RM770 million) including an exact replica of the very first Ferrari ever made, the 1947 125 S, alongside original sketches and correspondence.  

There are collections of handwritten letters from Enzo Ferrari himself, plus his driving licence, as well as a collection of trophies won by the company across numerous racing disciplines. In fact, the depth, quality and rarity of the cars and automotive artefacts on show is so great that the collection is equal only to the exhibit in Ferrari’s own museum.  

Other extraordinary cars on display include the 166MM, the car that won the Mille Miglia and Le Mans in 1949; the 1962 250 GTO — considered the holy grail of classic Ferraris and a car that changes hands in private sales and at auction for upwards of US$30 million (RM125 million); plus the only ever factory-built Ferrari Testarossa Spider (convertible), commissioned by Fiat chief Gianni Agnelli.  

The exhibition, which runs until April 2018, also charts the company’s success as an endurance and F1 team with several major racing cars on show; visitors will get a chance to get up close to Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari F1-2000 in which he won the 2000 F1 driver’s championship and the 250 GT Berlinetta passo corto (SWB) in which Sir Sterling Moss won the 1960 Tourist Trophy.  

“I think I speak on behalf of millions of ambitious people of all ages that we have all at some point had delicious dreams of owning a Ferrari,” said Sir Terence Conran, founder of the Design Museum of the exhibition. “The brand itself has become a worldwide symbol of design success, whether it is their road models or Grand Prix cars.” 

This too is an ongoing theme within the show. A host of the vehicles on show belong to the rich and famous. Pink Floyd drummer and avid classic Ferrari racer Nick Mason has donated his own F40 for the duration of the show and celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey is loaning the Design Museum his personal Ferrari LaFerrari Aperta — currently the company’s most technically advanced and rarefied machine.  

Alongside celebrity cars, celebrity client correspondence and photographs from Miles Davis, Clint Eastwood, Peter Sellers, Sammy Davis Jr and Brigitte Bardot among others will also be on display.  

But as well as celebrating brand power, this exhibition is a serious attempt to understand what makes a Ferrari special from a design perspective. Therefore, the Design Museum has managed to get a hold of a number of official clay and wind tunnel models used to develop some of the company’s most striking road cars, plus wooden master models over which body panels would have been meticulously hand-formed.

When displayed alongside initial sketches and correspondence, the idea is to show a design roadmap from initial concept to finished car and to explore how the company has changed its approach over the years to building dream machines.

“Ferrari represents an ideal case study in design and development,” said co-curator Andrew Nahum. “Ferrari uses the subtle and often unseen techniques of automobile design, but with the utmost care and precision. The exhibition provides an insight into the history and practice of the whole private world of automotive design.”

Sir Terence Conran added: “The Ferrari story is truly one of the great adventure stories of the industrial age and I am very proud we are able to tell it at the Design Museum.” — AFP-Relaxnews

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