While most people’s idea of brunch typically involves overpriced French Toast at the latest hip restaurant and binging on mimosas, the Ferrari Owner’s Club of Japan have a different idea of the concept. A much louder, much more expensive idea.
The first “Ferrari Brunch” was held in 1991 and renewed in 2014 after a break of several years. Since then, one of the largest Ferrari Owner’s clubs in the world have gathered their members at the foothills of Mount Fuji for their annual get-together.
Usually this event is reserved exclusively for members of the club and affiliates, but luckily a friend was able to pull some strings to let me get up close and personal with some of the cars there. The brunch itself is just that; an event where members of the club from around Japan gather on this one day and have a meal together. Afterwards, they head back home.
This year, despite the rain and wind, around 200 of Maranello’s finest exports made their way to Gotemba, Shizuoka, some 100 kilometers (62 miles) southwest of Tokyo. The cars came from all over Japan.
The 2017 brunch was also an opportunity for Yoshio Matsuda, the gentleman who owned the famed “Matsuda Collection,” to unveil his recently delivered LaFerrari Aperta. It’s one of the first 70th Anniversary models in Japan, with his car finished in Bianco Italia with black pinstripes.
Matsuda-san’s Ferrari collection was once the stuff of dreams. He famously owned three 250 GTOs at one point. Having encountered him once before at the Ferrari International Cavalcade in Kyoto last year, he came off as being a genuinely nice guy with a real passion for Ferraris.
He opened up an entire museum dedicated to Ferraris to display his collection to the public. Not many collectors do that. He sold off most of his collection a few years back due to his advancing age, but even a quick Google search of “Matsuda Ferrari Collection” will give you an idea of how influential this Matsuda-san is and how epic his collection was.
At the brunch, there were some booths and displays from various sponsors such as Ferrari dealers and specialists and luxury watches. Generally, this is more of a private and intimate gathering than a full on commercial event. Previous brunches were held on clearer days and Mount Fuji is visible from the garden, however on this day it was rain, rain, and even more rain.
As great as it was having some 200 Ferraris parked up outside, it was hard to fully enjoy the experience. With the rain coming in from every angle and the ground below becoming more swamp-like, there wasn’t much point in standing out in the garden for long.
When the cars eventually decided to leave, they did so rather gingerly. Ferraris aren’t generally renowned for their off-road ability so it was no surprise a few cars found themselves struggling on the wet grass. (I suppose they’re trying to leave the Mustang-style exits to the Americans.)
Once they got themselves off the grass, they started to make their way out one by one. The roads around Gotemba are narrow and rough. They’re not as smooth as Tokyo’s roads, certainly they weren’t designed with Ferraris in mind. To top it all off the rain and wind had picked up a lot by this point.
Still, that didn’t stop some of them from driving spiritedly back on to the motorway. It was an impressive sight to see so many Ferraris take on the weather; how many supercar owners hide their cars at the very sight of a single grey cloud in the sky?
That said, the weather did put off some owners from bringing their more special Ferraris out. There weren’t any Enzos, F50s or any of the 250 series. Instead, we had to “make do” with a lone 365GTB/4 Daytona, a complete hero in a F40, and a pair of LaFerraris. Sad, right?
While there were a large amount of Ferraris from the ‘80s and ‘90s, most of the cars present were their modern models. Ferrari celebrated its 50th anniversary in Japan last year and remains an important market for them. Japan is the third biggest market for Ferrari representing about 6 percent of all cars sold, with sales growing each year.
During Japan’s big economic boom, Ferrari was the de facto suparcar to buy for the nouveau riche. Most of those people who bought Ferraris then are still continuing to buy Ferraris today. Go to one of the more affluent areas of Tokyo and you’re almost bound to see at least one Ferrari, most likely a white California.
I should also add most of the Ferraris you’ll see in Japan, as with most exotics actually, are left-hand drive. People can option to have right-hand drive but generally most go for left because it’s seen as a “status symbol”. If you’re going to have a foreign car driving on the ‘foreign’ side really hits the point home to everyone else in their “normal” right-hand drive cars. Never mind the inconvenience.
Predictably, most of the cars were red but there was a large proportion of Ferraris painted in more interesting and unique colors. The 550 Maranello and 599 GTB finished in Grigio Ingrid, the champange silver color, was a few of my highlights.
The LaFerrari owned by Cornes, a Ferrari dealer, has a unique look with the blue and cream stripes. They’re certainly not to everyone’s taste but it’s different to say the least. Another unique looking example was the matte white 458 Speciale with yellow headlights and tire writing.
The locals around Gotemba must be used to seeing these guys every year but there’s still something incredibly special and exciting seeing those distinctive and unmistakable red (and other colored) shapes driving on rainy, rural roads. Say what you will about Ferrari, but the Ferrari Owner’s Club of Japan sure do know how to brunch properly. And if you go to watch, you’re in for a memorable experience.
Ken Saito is a writer based in Japan. A Car Nerd’s Guide To Japan is an ongoing Jalopnik series.