It seems only appropriate that the car that has always been involved in racing, met me on the racetrack. Also appropriate, was the ferrari-red 2004 Ferrari 575 Maranello. There are buyers on the waiting list to take ownership of one of the world's fastest cars. They may have to wait. Ferrari has a self-limited production of 4,000 units per year. According to Marco Mattiacci, Vice President of Marketing, Ferrari Maserati of North America,"this number feels right for us and right for the factory."
Only a lucky few have been able to see it, let alone drive it. I am one of those lucky few and I am here to report that it is as beautiful as it is aerodynamic. The new 575 flies, not prances, from 0-60 mph faster than any other production Ferrari sold today. With all that power Ferrari upgraded to increase down force and brake cooling. They added a full active suspension as well as a special launch mode. The acceleration feels like 2-Gs taking off in an airplane.
Specifically, the 575 M gets a larger displacement V-12 (up from 5.5 liters to 5.75, hence the name change from 550 to 575). The Maranello is the ultimate GT cruise-all day, set records on the track, or go to the symphony at night car.
The Formula One style gearbox is adapted from the 360 Modena. According to Ferrari they had to adapt it to handle the substantial 515 horsepower and 434 foot-pounds of torque (vs. 400 horsepower and 275 foot-pounds of torque in the 360).
There are three modes available, sport, normal and automatic. The advantages to the F1 gearbox are that it allows you to upshift with your foot still planted on the throttle and your hands on the wheel. Touch the brake and downshift and you're done. The trick is doing it smoothly, something I wish I had more time to practice. There is also an automatic mode for city driving. The steering wheel is what makes one want to drive in manual. On the right side of the wheel, behind the wheel, where you would intuitively put your hand is the upshift paddle. The left side holds the down paddle. They are set at 10 and 2, where you are supposed to hold your hands for racing.
One would expect a roar when you start the engines, as in "drivers start your engine", but the car stands quietly waiting for its owner to put their heel in its side and say giddy-up. The car has an air of aristocracy, of old money that doesn't need to show off. It's not a rapper with new money buying its way in.
The first thing you notice about the 575M is its simple elegance. I sat in the driver's seat and my eyes locked on the roof. Baseball stitching one normally sees only on the seats is lovingly sewn into the roof. According to Mattiacci, "behind every Ferrari there is an investment in craftsmanship and style. A study of creativity and research and development is done involving performance technology. Design will follow this. We work with the most luxurious leathers. Italy has a great heritage of design and creativity in different cities with different masterpieces "
You don't have to be a racecar driver to enjoy the 575 M at all. You don't even have to like the symphony. You do have to enjoy the arts, preferably the classics and the masterpieces.