2/1 F – Giovanni The Bomb

Horsing around.

Image: breakinglatest.news

In a world already awash with noise, the fabled prancing horse of Maranello has seemingly been directly connected to a mains-wired megaphone, a matter which you may or may not believe went practically unnoticed to these ears (and eyes) until fairly recently. But to make up for this deficiency, it has reached my attention that the Ferrari online store has lately been selling £600 Ferrari-branded trainers guilefully entitled Rosso Lamina Liquida, which we are reliably informed come “with a bold look that echoes the appearance of the Ferrari bodywork“. Marvellous.

It should not therefore surprise you, dear reader to learn that my perception of Ferrari can be classified as ambivalent. Mind you, this might be too soft a description, something of an understatement. Ignored better fits the description.

No doubt, more engineering focused readers will roll their eyes faster than this new car’s digital speedometer to learn that luddite as I am, an 800+ bhp capability, the deletion of two cylinders, nor even the fact that this bolide can waft electronically for a dozen or so miles before burning fossil fuel up 200+ mph leaves me unimpressed. This being a modern Ferrari, I expect a technological tour de force. 

Image: ferrarichat

Your expectations may lean toward a more typically angry looking beast, but thankfully centro stilo Ferrari under the long time leadership of Flávio Manzoni, has instead created a blissfully subdued cavalino rampante in the shape of new for 2022, Ferrari 296 GTB.

Should your fiscal problems prove non-existent, you can purchase Ferraris more lascivious in colour, more prodigious in output or more extravagant in looks. For your €260k outlay however, this compact Berlinetta ticks a surprisingly large number of boxes. They’ll sell them faster than the 15:10 favourite at Newton Abbot.

Clean and spare” are Manzoni’s words regarding the 296’s frontal aspect and who are we to argue? Bereft of aerodynamic addenda, the 296 historical nutant leanings remain undeniably Ferrari, yet emphatically modern, pleasingly Arcadian. Dedicated air channels (to cool the brakes) are subtly incorporated into the “modern teardrop” headlamps which cleave almost no bodywork allowing for curvature where such a car needs it and hampers looks not one jot. The car’s nose offers a calm rather than ostentatious manner. Remove the badging and you wouldn’t misconstrue the 296 for anything but a Maranello stablemate. No technical drawing set Lamborghini or sanguinary Woking resident here.

Image: uncrate

But the part which first caught my eye was the visor-like canopy glass. Sleek as a racing helmet, the look suggests a seamless entity, sans A-pillar; freer, more carefree and certainly in keeping with these compact dimensions. Approaching this machine should make one feel Leclerc or Sainz-esque without the necessity to don a lid – heavens, with all that gadgetry lurking beneath this muscularity, one may even approach their level, but let’s eschew tarmac-tearing and examine the remaining architecture.

The dropping shoulder line, catches the light but initially appears a little incongruous. Follow the lines however, towards those all important engine air intakes and suddenly the haunch makes sense. Pairing seamlessly into the power zone, nothing here is stressed other than the prodigious might contained therein. Curves are smooth, surfaces sophisticated and undeceiving. Even the fuel filler cap on the captain’s side makes an unhurried entrance for the buttresses; the drinker’s side free of such essential adornment yet it remains as purposeful as it is distinctive.

As we head to the rear, those material buttresses blend with melted sand, uniformly flowing and luring the senses into perhaps the car’s busiest but not necessarily inconclusive area. The floating element that covers the engine bay is a rich extravagance, one which heightens the intensity of pent up energy but also a stylistic highlight. When viewed from above, this almost horseshoe shaped area transmits anyone back to school age feelings when magazines would reveal such exoticism; a visual mechanical treat topped by an appropriate chapeau – ipnottizante.

Ferrari 296 GTB. Image: Autocar

That rear glass is vertical, as is the slender trick spoiler, vertically ascending when the stop pedal is trodden upon loud enough, a pleasant and typically Italian flourish that detracts nothing from the overall effect. More bruising to the senses, the air diffusers, an area where the aesthete must capitulate to the engineer’s demands. Required (or otherwise?), it is not necessary to devote any more time upon them since other demands are made on our senses.

Containing a whisper of a spoiler, this car’s prow contains yet more generous curves and playful angles. They’ve even remembered to leave room for a registration plate. Has Manzoni and his team thought of everything? If I may offer a counterpoint here, the rear lights are too small and not reminiscent enough of Ferrari’s past but this is but a stray blade in an otherwise beautiful hay bale.

Viewed on Ferrari’s website, the ubiquitous fast paced video was eschewed for the configurator. Inviting though it is to remain in traditional but somewhat one dimensional Rosso Imola, heading to the Asseto Fiorano table opens up not only a two-tone world but one where the 296 positively leaps out from the screen. Shade this track weapon anything other than giallo and that front end receives a yellow coat to emphasise those glorious frontal (and some rearward) curves. Choosing anything grigio lends this quietest of Ferrari’s a honed stance worthy of anything emanating from a skilled farriers workshop. Should your preferred hue be different, fear not. This mechanical horse looks great in any colour.

Image: auto360.de

One distinctly hopes that if seen in the metal the effect remains as convincing. But with chances of viewing one up close and personal as slim as they would be of actually driving an example, we’ll have to leave it to the journalistic brigade, intent of wringing every last ounce of performance, and stumbling over references to historical weaponry to decide. How galling that such riders are allowed to sully thoroughbreds. One should be satisfied enough observing such a creature in a paddock or field.

Author: Andrew Miles

Beyond hope there lie dreams; after those, custard creams?

19 thoughts on “2/1 F – Giovanni The Bomb”

  1. Good morning, Andrew. I don’t consider myself as a Ferrari person, but the Roma and 296 are to my liking. I’m not that fond of the engine cover of the 296, but other than that I haven’t that much to complain about. On the inside I could do without the button fest on the steering wheel or the touch controls.

    Other than that I’d like one in azurro California with cuio interior. It looks good on the configurator as far as I’m concerned.

  2. That rear threequarter has shades of early Ford GT40, with the air scoop and the wheelarch curve.
    It’s hard to believe that was an accident.

    1. Hi David

      Rear haunches hark back to Ferrari 250 GTO or Ferrari 250 LM. It seems that 296 is echoing some of its manufacturer’s rich history.

    2. The low engine cover with body coloured insert remind me more of Ferraris of yesterday like 308

      or 355

      than of the GT40 with its large rear screen.

  3. I’m not a particular Ferrari fan but at least most of them looked attractive as long as they were styled by Pininfarina.
    Following a series of manga-monster like horrors after the divorce from their long standing designer this is the first post-Pininfarina Ferrari that doesn’t immediately induce eye cancer. It still isn’t my kettle of fish and with its large air intakes it reminds me of an A-10 aircraft

  4. Good morning Andrew and thanks for bringing us a really rather lovely Ferrari today. Like you, I tend to ignore Maranello’s output, regarding them as just “too much” and pretty irrelevant these days, but the 296 GTB is delightfully clean and understated. I’m pleased go see that its numerical designation begins with a ‘2’ as well, a reminder of an era when Ferrari’s cars were smaller and prettier. The styling is credited to Flavio Manzoni at Centro Stile Ferrari, so well done that man.

    Sadly, the 296 GTB is still 157mm (6″) wider than my Boxster, so I won’t be putting in my order anytime soon (as if! 😁)

    1. It’s a lot longer too, but the width is probably more annoying to deal with. 157 mm of road less to drive on and all that. I’d rather have a Boxster and the extra cash still in my pocket.

    2. Hi Freerk. Yes, width is critical where I live. I would be terrified driving the Ferrari on any of the twisting country B roads around me and those ‘kerbfinder’ alloy wheels would be a nightmare to live with in the narrow streets of our town.

  5. I saw a Roma in the metal the other day … it’s gorgeous and I’d argue it’s the most beautiful car on sale at the moment. I am less keen on this.

  6. There have been some beautiful Ferraris in recent years. While I’m shape-spotting, this looks a bit like a Lancia Stratos from the side, in the penultimate photo – the window shape.

    While I think that Ferraris are beautiful, they are irrelevant to me. I think owning one could be inconvenient and a bit embarrassing (although I’d love the chance to find out). Wasn’t there a Ferrari which you could buy, but not own – you had to leave it with them and drive it on a track, which seems a bit much.

    I looked at Flavio Manzoni’s CV and it’s very impressive. It includes one of my all-time favourites, the Volkswagen BlueSport concept, as well as many others (Lancia Fulvia Coupé concept, Fiat 500, Volkswagen up!, etc).

    1. Hi Charles. Manzoni is clearly a talented individual. The Bluesport is a particular favourite of mine:

      I love the way, at both front and rear, the outer arcs of the wheel arches are visually continued downwards by the outer edge of the head and tail lights and the lower grilles, a really nice detail.

    2. The Bluesport is great. There was talk of Audi and Porsche variants too, but it never materialized. Probably the businesscase wasn’t there, but I probably would have owned one now if it had been put in production.

    3. Surely it’s still not too late for the Lancia Fulvia concept? It’s not quite been ten years and what could fit better with Lancia’s brand equity than a chic coupe?

    4. I have a list of concepts in my head all of which I would have assumed would need very little consideration before being approved for further development. It’s very frustrating, especially compared with some of the stuff that does make it to production.

  7. Fully agree, Andrew: it’s a handsome thing, only the rear lights are too small. Other than that, I simply do not much care about Ferrari, not in a derogatory way, but it just doesn’t register on my radar much. Oh God, does that mean I’m growing up!? 😱 There is always a whiff of adolescence about adoring supercars, which no doubt is part of the appeal.

    The yellow or otherwise contrasting accents (they do them in different colours) do nothing for me, however. Fortunately I’m not currently in the market…

    1. The contrasting colors, I’ve only seen yellow and silver are not to my liking either. It’s optional, so you don’t have to chose this.

  8. I did a bit of research and came across this video of Sig. Manzoni speaking about designing Ferraris from a few years ago. I found him interesting to listen to, probably helped by the fact that I think he’s very talented in the first place.

    His thoughts on retro design interested me in particular, as did his explanation of the need to include artistic considerations when designing. He seemed particularly keen that a design could hint at what lies under the bodywork – whether in reality or in one’s imagination. His line of ‘Form should follow function, but not in the German way’ got quite a big (unintentional) laugh from the audience.

    Having listened to what he said, he clearly cares about, and really enjoys and understands what he does. I think a lot of the bad and boring design we get these days may be explained by people being frightened of the future and not enjoying what they do, or at least having little freedom to do something better. As I think I’ve said before, we really do need another ‘Year 2000’ – another future to aim for.

    The BlueSport makes me smile each time I see it and I never get bored with it – that’s a big achievement.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: