Every new Pininfarina Ferrari brings a new emotion. Or rather a very old emotion (the 212 Inter Cabriolet dates back to 1952) that gets a new lease of life with every new model. This 360 Modena is no exception.
Launched at the Geneva Show, it replaces the F355 Berlinetta (but not the Spider which remains in production) as the latest addition to the “small” Ferrari family (“small” means 8-cylinder engine, in this case).
To be honest the 360 Modena represents a radical departure from the F355 rather than a natural evolution of that concept. The main innovation is that this is the first Ferrari to be made entirely of aluminium. It also gets entirely new mechanicals: floorpan, chassis, engine, suspension system and transmission.
The design too, which as on all Pininfarina Ferraris springs from the mechanicals, introduces some innovative concepts. “For the Ferrari 360 Modena”, says Lorenzo Ramaciotti, General Manager of Pininfarina Studi e Ricerche, “we were asked to create a completely new model, not to say a radical change of direction, that also reflected the innovative character of its technological content. We came up with two suggestions, the first of which already contained all the themes that we were eventually to develop, with very slight modifications, in the second”.
The most immediately striking design feature, apart from the non-recessed faired front lighting clusters, is the absence of the characteristic Ferrari central grille. There were two good reasons for that decision.
The first was aerodynamic: “The aerodynamic requirements”, explains Ramaciotti “were quite restrictive, especially in matters of vertical load. So we took the opportunity to look more closely at ideas we had already introduced on the F355 and F50. Essentially that meant using the underbody as a surface with an aerodynamic function. It’s the system we call “ground effect”. We then went on to design the entire front section around that “slipstream”, that powerful aerodynamic “accumulator” in the attempt to maximise the flow of air towards the underbody”.
The second reason was the need to accommodate the new position of the radiators. On previous models these were positioned at the rear behind the passenger compartment. That positioning was designed to improve handling by reducing inertia and moving the mass of the car’s bulk towards its centre of gravity, while also adding extra load onto the rear axle in order to boost drive. That layout also meant that no hot pipes passed through the cabin, thereby significantly enhancing comfort. The use of rear-mounted radiators explains the Delta shape of the bonnet that has featured on so many Ferraris of recent years, but is no longer needed on the 360 Modena.
The article continues in Auto & Design no. 115