There is no way to get used to the size of Ferrari’s 612 Scaglietti. While most Ferraris—indeed, most supercars—tend to be larger in life than imagined, the Scag is a monster. Longer than a Mercedes-Benz E-Class and wider than an S-Class, it is the size and shape of a ballistic missile, especially in dark gray.
The size is a direct consequence of the car’s dual functions of high-speed handling and four-person capacity. Inside are four bucket seats intended to carry in comfort four actual people with eight lower extremities. This is unlike most 2+2’s where the comfortable ratio of humans and legs tends to be an unevenly distributed one to one. And while—unlike the Espada’s very comfortable rear seats—I have never had the opportunity to actually sit in a 612, those who have describe the rear seats as up to the task.
The other factor in the 612’s immense length is the engine, which is mid-mounted. But unlike with the traditional mid-engined layout—where the engine is between the cabin and the rear axle—the Scag’s 5.7-liter V12 sits low behind the front axle, similar to the supercharged V8 in the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. And like the SLR, the 612 has a nose—or substitute your favorite metaphor based on human anatomy—any self-respecting Frenchman would be proud of.
Mounting an engine midships is done to reduce weight in a car’s extremities, lowering its moment of inertia. This comes in handy when you take a corner fast, so I called Nino Karotta, the only person I know who has actually driven a 612 Scaglietti (if you’ll remember, Nino was the guy who showed us how to become a Formula One driver in one day).
The 612 he drove was in an environment rather alien to a leviathan GT—the Hungaroring, a racetrack in a dusty valley on the outskirts of Budapest, home to the Hungarian Grand Prix. He described the experience as similar to what happens when you take any very powerful but heavy car to a track. That while it’s very fast, capable of huge powerslides and much better composed than, say, a large V12 Benz, it is ultimately too soft and too heavy for proper track work. Unlike, he said, the Ferrari 599 GTB, which he drove on the same day and described as a sharp, violent track animal.
We had better find a more suitable environment for the 612 then. And remember: we’re looking for family use here. So let’s head to Regent’s Park, 487 acres of Central London flanked by white stucco houses where rich people live and exercise.
While Central London is perhaps not the perfect location to strecth a 550 HP grand tourer’s legs, nothing beats it when it comes to arriving home. The car is understated, elegant, majestic, no Italian waving of hands apparent in its flowing lines, inspired by a one-off Ferrari 375 MM its namesake Sergio Scaglietti created in 1954 for Italian neorealist film director Roberto Rossellini’s wife Ingrid Bergman.
An elderly couple then arrive in a Citroën C3—this is a very small French car—and maneuver into the space in front of the Ferrari.
They turn out to be the parents of the Ferrari’s owner, a dapper man who has by this time emerged from his house. My mate Máté and I are soon in the midst of a family cavalcade, admiring the lovely Ferrari.
Also in tow is a young girl, Orelia by name, who climbs down from her grandmother’s neck. This is it then: a real, live kid who actually rides in the back of a Ferrari! Our conversation as I remember it:
“Hi Orelia, my name is Peter.”
“So how is it riding in a Ferrari’s back seats?”
“It’s great. I sit there with my two sisters.”
“And when you go for a ride, do you go real fast?”
Substituting for words, she offers a huge, jubilant nod. We wave our goodbyes. A few steps later, her father reaches down to pick a white strand of thread out of the Pininfarina logo on the left fender.
Gentlemen, a Jalopnik midlife plan is emerging here. Make a quarter million bucks, get a Scaglietti and a fine woman, sire children, then transport them in style and at speed.
And if you have dogs (or elephant guns), go get that Maserati Quattroporte wagon.