On the way back from Verona, we visited Maranello, home of the Ferrari motor factory, museum, and test track. This visit had been a dream of Jakob’s for many years, due to his dedication to industrial design and his interest in ‘going fast.’
Motor vehicles play a prominent part of Italian culture and sport; racing is one of the most popular spectator sports (motorcycles and F1) and participatory activities (as anyone passed by an Audi doing 180 km/hr on the autostrada can attest).
We had already visited, during our trip to Tuscany, the Museo Piaggio, where the eternal flame of Vespa, the iconic Italian scooter, is kept alive; this post records Jakob’s thoughts about stylish Italian transport.
(Our title refers to the strange but wonderful film, Holy Motors, which we watched earlier this year.)
Jakob says: “I thought the museum would be like a ton of Vespas and the story of Vespa, and it was. The design of the Vespa is sexy and sleek; they look better than all other scooters, not as fat.
“The way they displayed the museum was amazing. You got to walk around all of them. There were experimental and artistic models too. My favorite was the Salvador Dali Vespa.”
And now for the Ferrari Museum:
It’s the only Ferrari that’s ‘family-friendly’ (it has room for four).
Jakob says (in his best Top Gear voice): “It might look like a hard-top, but it’s actually a convertible.”
“I beat my brother (it was close; we crashed a few times). It was the best simulation I’ve ever done. It was actually like driving a car (yes, I have driven a car). I was sweating by the end of it.”
When we returned to Perugia, the next day saw a classic car rally (they host a lot of them here). We saw several Fiat Balilla roadsters. On the bus tour of the Ferrari factory and the Fiorano test track, we learned that Fiat now owns 90% of Ferrari (which explains all the Fiats and Lancias in the staff parking lots there); 5% belongs to various investors, and just 5% to the Ferrari family.
The tour was entirely done within a bus, and no pictures were allowed. Through the windows of the factory we saw models in various stages of production; in 2013, about 7400 Ferraris were produced, but production will be less this year (ca. 6800, the guide said), to permit construction of higher-priced models, such as “LaFerrari,” a glimpse of which we got out the side window (the guide was excited to point it out), the most expensive Ferrari ever made, a hybrid hypercar with 789 horsepower in a V12. The TopGear review makes special mention of LaFerrari’s engine sound, and we should note that there was a special exhibit in the F1 champion’s gallery where you could step inside a booth and simply hear the different sounds that a Ferrari F1 makes. The whine of power as the car upshifts and heads into a straightaway is, frankly, divine. A simple and brilliant offering for museum-goers: just the sound.
The Fiorano circuit is 3 km long; our guide informed us that the fastest lap ever on the track was done by Michael Schumacher in 55.999 seconds (F1 car), which sounds ridiculous. The track record for a road car of 1:20 was done this year by Fernando Alonso (in a LaFerrari). The guide did say that it was a ‘crazy time’. Schumacher won 7 F1 world championships, including 5 in a row for Ferrari.
Michael has been in a coma since Dec. 2013 due to a skiing accident, and his plight was recognized right at the entrance to the museum:
Today Jakob and I are off to London. I have to visit the Tate Britain to see a Pompeii painting, but we’ll take an hour to visit the James Bond Car exhibit at the London Film Museum in Covent Gardens.
In that spirit, here’s the final photo: a gold 500 Superfast, a model once owned by the actor Peter Sellers: