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In conversation with Flavio Manzoni, Design Chief, Ferrari

2nd Oct 2017 6:00 am

Flavio Manzoni, Ferrari Design Chief speaks with us about the company’s design philosophy and process, the Centro Stile and Pininfarina.


With Pininfarina, Ferrari cars always had a certain look. Today with Centro Stile (in-house) running the show, there’s more detail on the car and more features. It’s less about the basic lines and more about detailing. Is that a conscious decision?
Well, it depends on the project. If we look at the California T or the GTC4 Lusso, for example, I don’t see too much complexity in the shape. We can see complexity where there is a very high level of performance, like the 812 Superfast, or on cars like the Tour de France. But the Tour de France is a race car, so the design codes, the linguistic codes of a car like this are different than GT cars. We have to distinguish between sportscars and GT cars. I think that the 488 is quite clear; I don’t see more features on the 488 than on the 458. The complexity of a Ferrari is a strictly connected to its performance.

One aspect I loved of older Ferraris is this diving black line all along the body. Will you bring it back?
Ah, that’s like a gap between two shells. And no, we won’t necessarily be looking to bring this back in the same way. The difference between Ferrari and other producers is we never make one model and keep evololving it. We start from zero. Nevertheless, even if we conceive a shape which is very new, very original and very different, we can make some reference to elements of tradition. So the car can be completely new, but there may be an element that connects with history, like that dividing line.

Do you ever clinic your cars or show them to anyone apart from the management?
No clinic test! We present it first to president Sergio Marchionne, then the vice president Piero Ferrari. Then, when the car is almost finished – let’s say the design is done – we can present it to the most important dealers before the official launch of the car.

Before the design is signed off, how much of an effect can Piero Ferrari or Sergio Marchionne have? Can they say, “I don’t like this. Change it completely.” How often do you present to them?
Yes, they do change things. Every month we have a presentation. We normally start with several models; in the case of the La Ferrari it was 12. Step by step there was a presentation of six models, 1:1 scale, then there is a convergence from six to two and then slowly to one model (see diagram).

So, of these six models, does one come from Pininfarina? And are they still part of your design process? Do you share your design, take inputs?
It depends. For LaFerrari there were three models made by Pininfarina and three by Ferrari design, and Ferrari design won the competition. We are working on a range of projects in-house, and for one-off projects with Pininfarina, for example, cars like the Sergio made a few units, or the F60 for the United States has been designed by Pininfarina.

Now that Pininfarina is owned by an Indian company Mahindra, does it make any difference to you? Because Mr Ferrari was very passionately Italian.
I’m happy for Pininfarina because now they are stronger, they don’t have financial problems. But it doesn’t change our corporation because Mahindra is giving Pininfarina a lot of freedom.

Do you have a favourite Ferrari designer from the past? Can you pick one or two favourites?
I really love the work of Aldo Brovarone. Brovarone was the designer of many beautiful Ferraris. His Dino was just absolutely beautiful. My favourite Ferrari that he designed is the 330 P3-P4.

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