Frank Stephenson: ‘How I designed the Ferrari F430’

Ferrari F430Frank Stephenson is one of the world’s foremost car designers, with a CV that ranges from the modern Mini and Fiat 500 to the McLaren P1. 

Now, Stephenson has shared some of his secrets in a new series on YouTube. The first episode covered the Mini Cooper, while the latest is about the Ferrari F430 – “one of my favourite projects,” recalls Frank.

Using his sketchpad, Stephenson gives a step-by-step guide to the design process. The result is a fascinating insight into the shaping of a supercar.

Cossie you’re worth it

Frank Stephenson

Frank is very much a citizen of the world. Born to a Spanish mother and American father, he spent his early years in Casablanca, Morocco, before moving to Istanbul, Turkey, and then Madrid, Spain, as a teenager.

After studying automotive design in California, his first job was with Ford in Cologne, Germany, where he sketched the double-deck rear spoiler on the Escort RS Cosworth. Stephenson then spent 11 years at BMW, where his work included the influential X5 SUV. 

After some years In Italy – where he oversaw the Ferrari FXX, Maserati GranSport, Fiat Punto and more – Stephenson then moved to McLaren, drawing the MP4-12C and evolving a new design language from scratch. 

‘Big boots to fill’

Ferrari F430

A new Ferrari is a dream job for any car designer, and Frank didn’t take the task lightly. “The brief was to do something based on the 360. In other words, take one of the more beautiful Ferraris and make it even nicer,” he explains. “Big boots to fill with that one.”

The F430 was launched in 2004, replacing the 360 Modena as Ferrari’s ‘junior’ supercar. As Stephenson suggests, it was a thorough rework of its predecessor, with more power and greater downforce. Its mid-mounted V8 produces 490hp for 0-60mph in 3.6 seconds.

“I always felt that the 360 was a bit soft, as if they’d left it in the oven too long. The F430 loses that friendliness,” says Frank.

Watch Frank Stephenson sketch a Ferrari F430

Frank is obsessed with the idea of ‘perfect’ car design, a theory he explains in the documentary film Chasing Perfect – available on Sky, iTunes, Amazon and Google Play.

“I am fortunate that I have worked with some the best design teams in the world and at the most interesting car companies. We made some amazing cars possible. Although we never quite achieved perfect there is a lot we can be proud of,” he says.

Achieving near-perfection with the F430 involved looking to the past, as Frank explains…

Jumping the shark

Ferrari F430

“To copy old solutions, that’s a sin in my book,” Frank notes. “But to be inspired by older designs – to use the genetic code to the past – is a great idea.”

With the F430, it was Ferrari’s rich heritage in Formula One that ignited a spark of inspiration. Look at the 156 F1 ‘Sharknose’ of 1961, as raced by Phil Hill, and you see genesis of the F430’s front air intakes.

“I reinterpreted the Sharknose and its nostrils in a much more modern way. When you saw it, you knew it was right,” says Frank proudly. And what looks dramatic on paper is downright ferocious in reality.

Sense and sensuality

Frank StephensonAir intakes are a subject Stephenson takes seriously: “I get upset when I see a vent that’s blocked off and has no purpose. I don’t understand that type of design.”

Nonetheless, a Ferrari isn’t entirely a case of function over form. “It’s not a McLaren, where everything is minimalised. You add a bit on Ferraris to get that sensuality.” The Enzo-style taillights, for example, “made it look like the car was bulging”.

Frank also thinks Ferraris are “losing that character that they had a few decades ago, where cars were less monster-looking, less aggressive”. In the case of the F430, “there’s an amount of artistic finesse to the car that made it stand out”. 

More videos coming soon

Ferrari F430

There’s plenty more in the video, including the concept of ‘tumblehome’ – the difference in angle between the doors and the window glass. If the cockpit curves inwards, explains Frank, that “tends to make the car look very dynamic”.

Visit Frank’s How I Designed YouTube channel and you’ll also learn the creative process behind the 2000 Mini Cooper, with more videos due soon. We hope to see the McLaren P1 next…

Read our review of the F430’s spiritual successor, the Ferrari F8 Tributo, by clicking here.

Ferrari Dino 'Evo'

Ferrari Dino ‘Evo’ review: a red rag to the purists

Ferrari Dino 'Evo'

Ferraris are works of automotive art, says conventional wisdom; modifying one is like daubing Dulux on the Sistine Chapel. Not that Kevin O’Rourke seems concerned. His Ferrari Dino ‘Evo’ was among the star cars at London Concours last summer, while another Dino built by his company, Mototechnique – the 400hp, F40-engined ‘Monza’ – earned a thumbs-up from Jay Leno and made the cover of Octane magazine. Is nothing sacred?

Launched in 1968, the Dino was named after Enzo Ferrari’s beloved son, Alfredo (known as ‘Alfredino’), who died of muscular dystrophy aged 24. It was Maranello’s first mid-engined road car, although it never wore the prancing horse badge (many owners added them subsequently). It was also the first ‘junior’ Ferrari, a since-unbroken bloodline that leads to the new F8 Tributo.

The original Dino 206 GT had a 2.0-litre 180hp V6, swiftly upgraded to 2.4 litres and 195hp in the 246 GT. The Evo, as you’d expect, packs a somewhat bigger punch. Its 3.2-litre V8 hails from a Ferrari 328 and uses Bosch electronic fuel injection from an F355, along with uprated driveshafts and a hydraulic clutch conversion. The result is 300hp and vastly improved reliability. “I’ve driven the car to Austria for skiing holidays and competed in three European road rallies,” confirms Kevin.

Ferrari Dino 'Evo'

The Dino’s voluptuous lines remain intact, and rightly so. The only additions are a roll cage to boost rigidity, a bespoke ‘Evo’ badge in the same angular script as Dino’s signature, plus a set of gold Ferrari 360 alloys – needed to accommodate the 360 brake discs and calipers. “Most people don’t like the wheels,” Kevin admits. The paint is a lustrous candy-flip, created by layering dark metallic red over a silver base.

I tug a delicate chrome latch and open the dainty door. The Dino’s cabin is snug and driver-focused, with simple white-on-black Veglia gauges, an evocative open-gate manual gearbox and a dashboard swathed in race car-style flock by O’Rourke Coachtrimmers, owned by Kevin’s son. Concessions to comfort aren’t immediately obvious, but include power steering (which can be dialled-down for track days) air conditioning and a power socket for a mobile phone.

The engine fires with a brusque bark and I ease gingerly into west London traffic. The pedals are skewed towards the centre and the gear lever needs a firm hand, but the Dino’s manners are reassuringly refined. It idles steadily and pulls strongly from low revs, allowing me to short-shift from first to third, while the brakes feel powerful and progressive. Ride quality, on fully adjustable suspension with Koni dampers, is firm without being brittle. Thankfully, the electric power steering still belongs to the old-school: it jostles with incessant feedback.

Ferrari Dino 'Evo'

I follow the old A3 through Esher and finally arrive at some open roads. With the lift-out Spyder roof removed, the V8 sounds magnificent. It’s multi-layered and richly mechanical, gurgles and gasps of induction augmented by zingy rasps from the exhausts. The Evo is quick enough to worry hot hatchbacks, but it’s more about sensation than raw speed. You drive it via the seat of your pants, measuring your inputs and feeling it react to road. It amplifies where most modern cars smother.

I finish the day with a tour of Mototechnique in West Molesey. Alongside numerous Ferraris, a Lamborghini Miura and a rare Porsche 356, I watch as aluminium panels are hand-beaten and a carbon fibre clamshell for an F40 is moulded from scratch. The contrast of old artistry and new technology is fascinating.

Kevin concedes that demand for modified Dinos will be limited, particularly given the £250,000 cost of a donor car. However, his latest project – tucked in the corner of the workshop – starts from around a fifth of the price. The 400hp 308 GTB Evo is, for now, a work in progress. But I can’t wait to see the finished result.

Price: £300,000+

0-62mph: 5.8sec

Top speed: 160mph

Horsepower: 300hp

Weight: 1,180kg

Ferrari Dino ‘Evo’: in pictures

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Ferrari F12 once owned by Top Gear’s Chris Harris up for sale

Chris Harris Top Gear Ferrari F12 for sale

The Ferrari F12 Berlinetta once owned by Top Gear’s Chris Harris is up for sale. It’s a 2014 car with 13,533 miles on the clock, presented in stunning gunmetal grey.

The seven-day auction will start on 23 March on the online platform Collecting Cars.

Chris Harris Top Gear Ferrari F12 for sale

Harris is known for having a contemporary taste in specifications, and this Ferrari F12 is no exception. On the inside is a very attractive Iroko brown leather appointment with orange stitching. The seats are also the desirable ‘Daytona’ spec, with the retro leather straps.

Other desirable options include the carbon wheel, complete with LEDs, plus front and rear parking cameras. While he owned the car, Harris swapped out the Speedline wheels for the Y-spoke items that reduce unsprung weight by 15kg. Chris is the second of the car’s three owners.

Chris Harris Top Gear Ferrari F12 for sale

Aside from its notable ownership history and desirable spec, the F12 is a desirable machine in its own right. Taking centre stage of this rip-roaring GT is the F140 V12, displacing 6.3 litres and putting out over 730hp.

It’s also the first front-mid Ferrari super GT to feature the excellent seven-speed dual-clutch transmission with shift speeds that are still impressive today. Needless to say, the performance holds up, too. It’ll sail past 200mph flat out, hitting 62mph easily in under 3.5 seconds.

Chris Harris Top Gear Ferrari F12 for sale

The car comes with full Ferrari main dealer service history, with the last at HR Owen in London. Knowing the way Harris drives, prospective buyers will be pleased to note that this F12 is wearing a fresh set of Pirelli P Zero tyres.

As for what you can expect to pay: Auto Trader listings for F12s show prices starting from £150,000, going up as far as £200,000 and beyond. Place your bets…

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Ferrari could face legal action over advertising on new F1 car

Ferrari faces legal action over advertising

Ferrari is facing legal action spearheaded by non-profit consumer rights organisation Codacons. The group claims that the new SF1000 F1 car features illegal advertising.

The dispute concerns the Mission Winnow logos, which reference an initiative with the backing of tobacco manufacturer Philip Morris International. Though it’s claimed there is no direct advertising of tobacco, Codacons says the logos are a get-around of regulations.

Codacons claims it has the backing of Italy’s Ministry of Health in pursuing Ferrari on the issue, saying “the Ministry’s opinion states that ‘the Mission Winnow brand used on the occasion of Formula 1 sporting events allows, through the links on the site of the same name, a promotion, albeit indirectly, to an important manufacturer of cigarettes and new tobacco products’”.

Ferrari faces legal action over advertising

The issue could even result in the seizure of the new car and any associated material featuring the branding.

“Strengthened by the decision of the Ministry, we will start a legal battle against Ferrari, presenting a new complaint to the Antitrust and Ministry of Health,” said Codacons president Carlo Rienzi.

“We will ask the NAS to seize the new SF1000 single-seater presented in Reggio Emilia.”

Ferrari faces legal action over advertising

This isn’t the first time the Scuderia has courted controversy with its association with Mission Winnow. It first ran the logos at the 2018 Japanese Grand Prix. However, it eventually removed the logos and shelved its ‘Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow‘ team branding for 11 of the 21 races during last year’s season. The branding was also missing on the car for the F1 2019 game, with SF90 logos taking its place. 

“It is not the first time that Formula 1 or motorbike races have been used to bring back from the window what the law forbids, namely to advertise tobacco and tobacco products,” said Massimiliano Dona, president of the UNC, Italy’s national consumer union. 

“For this reason, we ask the authorities to ascertain the facts and what Mission Winnow really is.”

Ferrari tops Disney as the world’s strongest brand

Ferrari world's strongest brand 2020

Ferrari has been ranked the world’s strongest brand for the second year in a row. That’s according to the Brand Finance Global 500 report for 2020.

A brand strength index score of 94.1 out of 100 earns Ferrari the top spot on the list. It’s ahead of 11 other brands to have been awarded the highest AAA+ rating. It did, however, drop slightly from its 2019 score of 94.8.

Ferrari is also the only automotive brand to get an AAA+ rating. It defeated second-placed Disney (93.9), which spent more than seven-times the total brand value of Ferrari on film and TV assets owned by Fox.

Coca Cola, meanwhile, came sixth, with a score of 90.9 in the BSI index.

Ferrari world's strongest brand 2020

In the name of preserving exclusivity, Ferrari plans to cut licencing agreements by 50 percent, and eliminate 30 percent of its product categories. Could that mean cheap Ferrari aftershave is a thing of the past?

The brand value of Ferrari grew to nearly £7 billion last year: a year-on-year rise of nine percent. The result is that, overall, Ferrari is 206th in the top 500 most valuable brands. It climbs from 220th place in 2019.

Ferrari world's strongest brand 2020

Its success partly due to a new model offensive. Last year saw the marque introduce five new cars, including the SF90, a new supercar designed to deliver hybrid-hypercar performance, and the Roma, a higher-volume GT.

In terms of other areas of its business, Ferrari also closed a deal with the Giorgio Armani Group for the manufacturing of its clothing.

Ferrari world's strongest brand 2020

“The embodiment of luxury, Ferrari continues to be admired and desired around the world, and its outstanding brand strength reflects this,” said David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance.

“It is no wonder that many consumers, who might never own a Ferrari car, want a bag or a watch emblazoned with the Prancing Horse, but it is also crucial that the company management remain at the steering wheel of the brand’s future and maintain its exclusive positioning by monitoring the licensing output closely.”

Ferris Bueller Ferrari for sale

The Ferris Bueller Ferrari is up for sale

Ferris Bueller Ferrari for sale

You could own one of the most famous Ferraris in the world. It might be a replica, but it’s the 250 GT replica that co-starred in the cult 1986 movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The car is up for auction at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale sale on January 18.

This is the first of three replicas built by Modena Design and Development for the movie. These were used for the fast driving shots in the film. For close-ups, a real 250 GT was used.

Ferris Bueller Ferrari for sale

One of the cars was destroyed while filming, while the third wasn’t actually finished in time to be used. This one has just underdone a full body-off restoration back at Modena Design and Development.

It looks as almost beautiful as an original Ferrari. However, there are some aspects of Ferrari ownership that this replica can’t deliver.

Turn the key, for instance, and you won’t be met with the chatter of a classic Columbo Ferrari V12. Instead, a 7.0-litre four-barrel-carburettor V8 will burble into life. Somewhat incongruous with the delectable Italian lines, but then they’re not really Italian are they?

Ferris Bueller Ferrari for sale

Of course, the car’s provenance as a movie star adds an appeal that no real 250 has. Well, apart from the one they used for static shots in the film.

As for what the car will sell for – it’s anyone’s guess. Real 250s approach eight figures and beyond. Replica number three, not used in the film, came up for sale two years ago and made just over £300,000.

Having had actual screen-time in the film, this one is likely to go for considerably more.

Museo Ferrari Maranello

More than 600,000 people visited a Ferrari Museum in 2019

Museo Ferrari Maranello

For many Ferrari fans, a trip to Italy is not complete without visiting one of the famed brand’s two museums. 

Last year, a record-breaking number of them made the pilgrimage, with total visits swelling to over 600,000. 

Visitor numbers were actually up 12 percent over the previous year, with more than 400,000 people visiting the Ferrari Museum in Maranello, and 200,000 visiting the Museo Enzo Ferrari in Modena.

Ferrari says a new ‘single ticket’ that gives access to both museums has helped grow visitor numbers. Sales of the dual-access ticket grew 50 percent in 2019.

The history of Ferrari is so rich, it needs two museums. The Modena destination celebrates Enzo Ferrari himself, along with exclusive Ferrari GT engines and cars.

Museo Enzo Ferrari Modena

Meanwhile, the museum in Maranello focuses on the broader Ferrari group, plus Scuderia Ferrari F1 and other famous racing cars.

Fittingly, the first exhibition at Maranello this year is “Ferrari at 24 Heures du Mans’, which opens on 15 January to mark 70 years of Ferrari victories at the Le Mans 24 Hours.

It runs alongside other exhibitions marking 90 years of Ferrari and a showcase of the brand’s most extreme limited-run hypercars.

Over in Modena, the Museo Enzo Ferrari continues its ‘timeless masterpieces’ exhibit of Ferrari’s most enduring designs.

DIY Daytona: Buy this classic Ferrari and build it yourself

Collecting Cars Ferrari Daytona GTB/4

Would you buy yourself a classic Ferrari if you had to assemble it yourself? If so, this could be the perfect opportunity to own an iconic Daytona. 

The car was once a gleaming 1971 365 GTB/4 Berlinetta (affectionately known as the ‘Daytona’), but it hasn’t been driven since 1974.

This UK-market car, collected from the Ferrari factory in May 1971 by its first owner, was taken to the Monaco Grand Prix along the Italian Riviera. That’s the Daytona-driving dream, right?

The DIY DaytonaCollecting Cars Ferrari Daytona GTB/4

The car was driven and serviced accordingly for the following three years, but the Daytona dream soon turned to a nightmare. The story goes that it left the road and tumbled down a slope, which damaged it. The chains used to recover it then damaged it even more.

Multiple custodians took it on over the next 45 years, wanting a project. One even relieved it of its roof to turn it into a GTS/4 Spider recreation, but never followed through.

It sat fallow for 30 years until 2006, when work finally got underway on a restoration. With some expert coachwork and painstaking parts-sourcing, its bodywork is probably in better condition than when it left Maranello. Yet there’s still work to be done.

Collecting Cars Ferrari Daytona GTB/4

It’s offered now as a partially finished project, with the original V12 engine and boxes of parts ready to go. Some of the parts to be supplied with the car are brand new.

The engine will need work, but its internals are apparently in good condition. Original, too, is the instrument cluster, with a believed-to-be-accurate 26,117 miles on the odometer. 

This is a DIY Daytona, with everything needed to build a complete car. We say ‘DIY’ in a light-hearted way. You’ll almost certainly want the help of a specialist to get it across the line. You’ll need to decide what colour to paint it, though. Once complete, it should be perfect for someone who wants to drive their Ferrari, rather than simply own a garage queen.

You’ll be able to bid in this Daytona, and its associated bits, on Collecting Cars in the new year.

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The real cars of Le Mans 66

Le Mans 66 Ford v Ferrari

With Le Mans 66 opening in cinemas, the famous story of Ford’s triumph over Ferrari in the 24-hour race will be further immortalised in popular culture. It’s a rare treat for racing and motoring enthusiasts to see a movie where cars are the stars.

And if you can get to Los Angeles before January 19 2020, you could see them in person at the world-renowed Petersen Automotive Museum.

Winning numbers

Le Mans 66 Ford v Ferrari

Two Ferraris featured in the film will be on display at LA’s Petersen Automotive Museum in January, as a part of the ‘Winning Numbers’ exhibit. The 1961 Ferrari 250 SWB SEFAC and 1957 Ferrari 625/250 TR will be joined by a Ford GT40 Mk3, the first Shelby Cobra from 1962 and a 1952 Ferrari 212/225 Barchetta. We start with the Ferraris…

Ferrari 250 SWB SEFAC

Le Mans 66 Ford v Ferrari

The 250 Short Wheel Base is an integral part of Ferrari’s road and race history. Affectionately known as the ‘hot rods’, the SEFAC 250 SWB Competizione racers were made from thinner alloy and produced more than 300hp.

The car on display at the Petersen brought home a GT class win for Ferrari at Le Mans in 1961 and finished third overall. It’s fair to say this car is a building block of the Ferrari Le Mans legend, one with which Ford was so determined to grapple.

The car is owned by Petersen founding chairman Bruce Meyer, who loaned it to the Le Mans 66 production team. Meyer bought it in 2010.

Ferrari 625 TRC

Le Mans 66 Ford v Ferrari

The other movie star car is a Ferrari 625 TRC Spyder by Scaglietti. Unlike the 250 SWB SEFAC, which is a GT racer, the TRC is a sports prototype. It came about right at the start of Ferrari’s era of dominance at Le Mans. The marque took outright wins from 1960 to 1965. The events of 1966’s race are, of course, the subject of the film.

While not a Le Mans winner itself, this 625 is an integral part of this story. It was raced in 1962 by none other than Ken Miles, star character of Le Mans 66, played by Christian Bale. He won his first race in the car, in Santa Barbara.

It’s appearance in Le Mans 66 must have been something of a trip down memory lane. Bruce Meyer bought the car in 2006.

Shelby Cobra

Le Mans 66 Ford v Ferrari

Matt Damon stars opposite Christian Bale in Le Mans 66, playing a young Caroll Shelby. He was instrumental in developing the GT40 to a state where it could legitimately take on Ferrari at Le Mans. Shelby had proven himself with his work on the AC Cobra.

Famous now, the Shelby Cobra was an experiment back in 1962 A Shelby-tuned Ford V8 was added to a small British roadster called the AC Ace, along with wide wheelarches and fat tyres.

The 1962 car on display at the Petersen is the very first production-specification, competition-ready car produced by Shelby. It’s also part of the Bruce Meyer collection.

Ford GT40 Mk3

Le Mans 66 Ford v Ferrari

The story culminates with the victory of the Ford GT40 over Ferrari at Le Mans, the American marque taking over the podium with a 1-2-3 finish. It’s only right that an example should feature in the display at the Petersen.

This is a road-going Mk3 from 1967. It differs from the 1966 cars most obviously at the front, with more bulbous lights for road use. Other changes include more space for luggage, movement of the gear shifter to the middle, plus a de-tuned power output of 310hp.

Just seven Mk3 GT40s were made, of which one is on display at the Petersen. The car’s significantly modified looks supposedly put off some buyers, who wanted something resembling the triumphant racers.

Ferrari 212 225 Barchetta

Le Mans 66 Ford v Ferrari

This is a very significant car in the story of Ford taking on Ferrari, in spite of being built 14 years before Ford’s Le Mans win.

Henry Ford’s relationship with Ferrari became obsessive over time. Before having his takeover offer turned down, however, he was like any other fan. This 212 225 was a special order by FoMoCo for Henry Ford II, used as his personal car.

It’s said the diminutive Barchetta served as inspiration for a great many design cues that appeared on the Ford Thunderbird in 1955.

Ford v Ferrari

Le Mans 66 Ford v Ferrari

“The story of Ford’s triumph over Ferrari at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans will be told for generations,” said Terry L. Karges, executive director at the Petersen Museum. “We’re excited to see the film, but we’re most excited to offer fans of the movie an opportunity to see the cars that will be in the film and learn about other vehicles that are pivotal to the story.”

You can now experience classic Ferraris in Italy

Ferrari Classiche Academy

Ferrari’s new Classiche Academy is underway, and it makes possible one of the great automotive impossibilities: the opportunity to see, learn about, feel and drive classic Ferraris. This, and more, takes place over two days of immersion in the world of Ferrari at the marque’s Fiorano circuit.

Not quite the multi-million-pound V12 GTs of the 50s and 60s. You do, however, get the authentic 70s and 80s experience, with a 308 GTS and GTBi. Unlike any other supercar driving experience, Ferrari opens by taking you underneath these early era Ferrari supercars, to discover what makes them tick.

Ferrari Classiche Academy

Then you go for a tour of the Officine Classiche Ferrari, where you can view technical drawings and notes taken by engineers in period. The marque has an archive of notes, drawings and race reports going back to 1947. 

Driving classic Ferraris

Ferrari Classiche Academy

The track experience shouldn’t be the standard UK fare of ‘stay in a gear, don’t go over X,XXXrpm’, either. With the Classiche Academy, you get a course in vehicle dynamics and corner management.

You learn various driving techniques like high-speed counter steering, wet-weather driving, heel and toe and double clutching. It’s all stuff you’d at least hesitate to try on the road in your own car, let alone in someone else’s classic Ferrari.

Ferrari Classiche Academy

This is all because Ferrari wants to deliver pre-digital driving experiences and to encourage the learning of car control in cars with no safety net to catch you. Again, how many people who actually own these cars dedicate time to learning how to drive them?

Imagine in 30 years time if Ferrari offered a two-day course at Fiorano where you got to learn to drift ‘classic’ 458s? That’s the kind of thing this is for 70s and 80s supercar aficionados.