Ferrari’s been in Japan for 50 years now, and they decided to give the country a little surprise gift: a Ferrari 488 Spider with an all-new body and an extra 20 horsepower, just because. They’re only building 10 examples of the J50 (J for Japan, 50 for the 50 years—I get it!) but I suspect the new front-end design may be a clue to Ferrari’s design future.
Here’s how Ferrari describes the new body styling:
The Ferrari J50 is a two-seater, mid-rear-engined roadster that marks a return to the targa body style evocative of several well-loved Ferrari road cars of the 1970s and 1980s.
Created by Ferrari’s Special Projects department and designed by the Ferrari Styling Centre team in Maranello, just 10 examples of the J50 will be built and, in the spirit of Ferrari’s fuori serie tradition, each one will be tailored specifically to the customer’s requirements.
The design language is said to “herald” a “radically futuristic design language,” which seems to suggest the J50 as a sort of design test bed.
There’s a number of interesting traits here: perhaps most notably is the headlight treatment, which, unlike the very vertical lights of the 488 and other recent Ferraris, is quite horizontal and narrow in a very determined way.
This allows the front face of the car to be low and pointy, with an almost serpentine affect. A black beltline forms a sort of evil smile at the front (all air intakes are below this line, and de-emphasized visually), and then continues at an upward angle through the front wheelarch and into the main air intake at the car’s haunches.
This, along with the pronounced fender arcs and the Lancia Stratos-like ‘helmet visor’ wraparound window treatment make for a really striking-looking car.
If this suggests the future direction of Ferrari design, we have cause to be very optimistic.
Around back we find quad round taillights that we haven’t seen on a Ferrari since, what, the F430 that ended production back in 2009 (someone did mention the GTC4 Lusso has dual round lights, too, just siamesed a bit.) The engine that now makes 680 HP is under a smoked polycarbonate cover, so you can touch yourself while looking at it without having to open a hood.
It’s not been tested yet, but the J50 should be a bit quicker than the 488, which is important to ten lucky, insanely wealthy bastards who may want to buy one. It’s not clear yet if these lucky, wealthy bastards will have to all be in Japan, or if the J50 is available to the global population of wealthy bastards.
I guess we’ll find out soon. In the meantime, for the rest of us, at least it’s a great thing to look at.