Ferrari’s Massmarket Foray

Ferrari California Presented By GranTurismo.

By Gunnar Heinrich

GOING massmarket is like going public.

You’re opening up your once closely held business to outside scrutiny and increased regulatory pressures, but in theory you’re removing the ceiling on capital generation.

While Ferrari is very much a unique part of publicly traded Fiat, it has more or less been left alone to its own devices; making precious few exotics for the precious few patrons who can afford the price of admittance (and maintenance).

Ferrari’s pressures, even during their parent company’s darkest hours, seemed to have little to do with fiscal needs but more to do with performance wants.

Luckily this laissez faire system has worked to Ferrari’s benefit. The company has never seen better days – financially.

And like Porsche’s foray into SUV-land and Aston Martin’s segue into four door saloons, Ferrari is set to test, albeit conservatively, the waters of mass-marketdom with the decidedly practical and comparatively everyday California Spyder.

As an aside, the car has a Fiat Barchetta’s front and an ass ressembling the face of some frowning newt; there’s little on first, second, or third glance that can visually recommend the California’s style.

Add the increased proportions and a roomier cabin design placed forward of  a conventional trunk thanks to traditional front engine/rear drive setup and what we have are key clues to suggest that this car will have potential SL, 6-Series, 911 and Maserati GT buyers cross shopping.

No doubt that means more Ferraris will be built than ever before as a result for the demand at the $100K level is far greater than it is at even $200K. Plus, Ferrari has entered an age where it’s “brand” identity is as platinum as can be – with new orders regularly reaching into two long years’ wait on new models. Again, we’ll expect the same if not more of the same sell-out rate for the California.

But with all this success that is yet to be reaped, are we witnessing the slow but steady disolution of an elite marque into just another expensive, over-hyped brand?

[Linked: Ferrari California]

September 17, 2008

About the Author: Gunnar Heinrich is publisher of Automobiles De Luxe online and is executive producer of the Automobiles De Luxe Television series on PBS member station CPTV.

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  1. The slow dissolution of Ferrari as a brand started way back with the original Bertone-styled 308, and continued with the Magnum PI era V8s and 348.

    Heck, with the right kind of perspective, even the fabled 288GTO and F40 were massive compromises that should never have been.

  2. Hard to agree on that track of thought, Jo.

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  1. From Ferrari California Unveiling on Sep 19, 2008

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