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FERRARIS PRANCE INTO TOWN

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, Dec 17, 2006

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

FERRARIS PRANCE INTO TOWN By Ian Mulvaney Ok, time for a little word association. Zero to sixty in fewer than four seconds. Off-road trails. 611 horsepower. Rural Central American jungles. F1 inspired sequential shift transmission. Daily driver. Electro-magnetic adjustable suspension. Rocks the size of your head. 13,000 foot elevations. Aluminum space frame. Thick, deep mud. Top speed of nearly 200 mph. 20,000 mile road trip. Six-figure MSRP. Four-year waiting list. 599GTB Fiorano.

Do all these concepts go together? Ferrari thinks so. As a means of promoting their newest creation the 599GTB Fiorano, Ferrari teamed up with Shell and recently completed a 20,000 mile, 16 country trek from Brazil to New York. Dubbed the Panamerican 20,000, two brand new 599 GTBs (one in Rosso Corsa red, the other in Tour de France blue) provided the transportation and made stops at 15 stages along the route, including Los Angeles. It was all very Gran Turisimo meets NHRA meets Baja 1000 meets Formula One. And it was an amazing undertaking when considering the car. Not many people would consider a $250,000, 611 horsepower supercar as a daily driver. Furthermore, there are likely few people on the waiting list that would consider using the car off the pavement. Also consider that it will take decades for many 599 GTB's to see 20,000 miles. The Panamerican route was completed in just 85 days. Looking at the 599GTB it is hard to imagine a machine of such beauty is up for the trip. Outside, sculpted, angular vents, fenders, and accents give way to beautifully melded flying buttresses. Inside, carbon fiber blends with supple leather. Mechanically, brute force is tamed with grace and composure in the form of Ferrari's advanced traction control that is adjusted via the small knob or manettino located on the steering wheel.

Whoever thought Ferrari wasn't offering all it could technically, whoever thought Pinninfarina was slacking on the design, lay off the criticism. In fact, no one said it better than Ferrari President and CEO, Luca di Montezemolo when he declared that this car is "the maximum Ferrari can do." Really, for any modern automobile manufacturer to undertake a 20,000 mile trek from Brazil to New York is a pure test of automotive confidence and testosterone. Clearly, Ferrari has these in spades. Though Ferrari didn't view this trip, a co-undertaking with Shell fuel, as a walk in the park. The all-new 599GTB has undergone serious R&D development at Fiorano and indeed, around the world. Yet, there is nothing like a 20,000 mile road test with real, live, subjective automotive journalists at the wheel to provide the type of criticism that it will take to develop the 599 into a car that is the very best it can be.

For that reason, during the Los Angeles stop, Ferrari admitted that the Panamerican 20,000 was a fantastic opportunity to further refine the 599GTB in situations that were not encountered during routine R&D work. A testament to the quality of development that went into the 599GTB is that one of the largest problems encountered were the number of flat tires due to the coarse roads the cars traveled. In the event a problem did occur, three Fiats were included in the convoy for the South and Central American legs of the trip for support purposes while Alfa Romeos were employed for the North American finale. Granted, there were some small modifications made to the two 599GTBs participating in this event. Rally-derived tires were used to enhance traction in off road conditions, skid plates were fitted to the undercarriage of the cars, and the ride height was increased slightly to provide more ground clearance when traversing uneven paths. Other than these sensible changes, the cars were of the same specification as those that will be delivered to customers.

It was quite a juxtaposition during the convoy's stop in Los Angeles, hosted by Ferrari of Beverly Hills, to see the cars that were completing such an arduous challenge in such a posh environment. The cars cleaned up nicely, having been treated to a much-deserved washing before being displayed in FoBH's showroom. But to think that these cars were fresh from the wilds of Central America and were now being admired between glasses of San Pellegrino, bites of delectable cookies, and sips of freshly brewed Italian espresso, was something to ponder. And really, that was the whole point. The Panamerican 20,000 was a fantastic display of what a modern Ferrari is capable of. In reality, it is more likely that most 599GTBs will be gently driven to the local country club than have to undergo a similar journey. But it's nice to know one could.

For more information on Ferrari products, go to ferrariusa.com For more on Ferrari of Beverly Hills: ferraribeverlyhills.com.

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