Three years after its Geneva introduction, the 599 GTB Fiorano is in bloom with a track special and a performance upgrade. We are happy to report its most graceful piece of aerodynamics remains unchanged.
As purely bullying as they can be in person, Lamborghinis are easy cars to like. Four decades ago, having achieved automotive perfection with the Miura, designer Marcello Gandini decided to leave cars behind and design a proper space vehicle for an age when men were regularly sent to the Moon. Ever since his Countach LP500 concept had its first outing at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show, Lamborghinis have looked exactly the same. Company owners and aerodynamic bits have come and gone but the essential shape is still the unbroken Countach wedge. Show your mom a Countach and the Murciélago LP670-4 SuperVeloce introduced 38 years later at the same show yesterday and she will nod in comfort and recognition.
Ferrari doesn't do that. Which is remarkable when you consider that if there was one company which could actually afford to sink into stylistic complacence and keep rehashing its old models, Ferrari would be it. Would someone complain if you could, akin to a Se7en, buy yourself a brand new retro 250 GT SWB with working brakes?
New Ferraris almost always clearly break with their predecessors. All they retain are subtle touches, like the tiny circular rear lights or the hood scoops. This design language has the effect of making new Ferraris frequently appear particularly alienating. Can you still remember the shock of first seeing the Enzo in 2002? Instead of the curvaceous, understated design of its contemporaries, the car was a dramatic jet fighter of sharp angles. People actively hated it: yet has it not become one of the icons of the decade? The same happened again three years ago when the 599 GTB replaced the aging 575 Maranello.
The 599 is a classic berlinetta in silhouette, yes, but the details were alien, jarring. All it took, of course, was some getting used to, and the car made everything else look dated, and that was even before you heard that front-mid-mounted V12 scream bloody murder and break all your ribs at the slightest blip of the throttle.
But the most graceful detail of the 599 was not up front with the engine but back above the rear haunches. It took quite a while to spot the incredible fact that the C-pillars were not mere pillars but flying buttresses more common on Gothic cathedrals than supercars. This solution created an elegant yet perfectly serviceable way to apply downforce on the rear wheels without tacking a rear wing on the trunk and breaking up the lines. It's hard to appreciate the sheer beauty of the arch on pictures. It's really something you have to see in person, because, although it's concealed on most photographs, Black Francis of the Pixies often makes his home beneath a 599's C-pillar.
So take another look. I think you may be able to spot Mr. Francis singing the chorus of Alec Eiffel, the third song on the band's fourth and final studio album, Trompe le Monde:
Now look again at the 599XX and the 599 GTB Fiorano HGTE and rejoice. The 70s may have had disco science and Daytonas but we also live in interesting times.
Photo Credit: Balázs Fenyő (Ferrari 599 GTB gallery), freschwill (Black Francis)
Peter Orosz, the editor of Hyperleggera, a website he fervently claims is not a car blog (although it really is, we don't care what he says - Ed.), pens Jalopnik's newest feature dubbed "Crazy Euro Car Boy." It's a series all about one Hungarian sometimes-motoring journalist's obsession with the cult of cars.