It doesn’t get much rarer than this custom-built Ferrari Berlinetta
When was the last truly graceful Ferrari? It’s a question we recently posed to our followers on Instagram, with varying results. Of little surprise was that numerous votes were cast for the F355, 456 and 550 Maranello, cars that show the roll Pininfarina was on in the 1990s. More shocking was that some suggested you need to trace as far back as the 1960s and to sultry Gran Turismos such as the 275 GTB and 365 GT 2+2 for automotive elegance in the truest sense. Few could argue that Ferrari is building the fastest, most technologically advanced and desirable cars in the world right now and, let’s face it, it has been for a while. But where’s the understated and knee-weakening feminine elegance gone?
Thankfully, one of Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera’s well-heeled customers wondered the same thing. Together, they hatched a plan to bestow a simpler, more classically designed body on the underpinnings of the mighty 740bhp F12berlinetta, a car whose functional, aerodynamically-led styling we’ve always deemed on the fussy side. Touring’s charismatic designer Louis de Fabribeckers got to work, and the result is this: the Berlinetta Lusso.
Chiefly inspired by Ferrari’s first series-produced model, the gorgeous Touring-bodied 166 MM from 1948, the Berlinetta Lusso made its debut at the Geneva Motor Show in 2015. We actually had a dalliance with the first completed car in California later that year and it’s fair to say the ‘complex simplicity’ of its hand-beaten bodywork left an indelible mark on our memories. From then on, there was a permanent space reserved for the charming V12 in the garage of our dreams – which is handy given one of the five Berlinetta Lussos built by Touring has just emerged for sale in the Classic Driver Market.
Resplendent in the ultra-tasteful shade of Grigio Mistico over a spellbinding brown and beige leather interior, this Berlinetta is chassis number two and was certainly not the first Touring creation in its owner’s stable. Proportionally, the smooth, high-waisted body boasts echoes of the 250 GT Lusso and, more recently, the opinion-polarising 612 Scaglietti. But we’d argue there’s nothing divisive about this car, which has clearly not been ‘overdesigned’ as is so often the case with supercars these days. As with all of Touring’s creations, the details and both abundant and hypnotising – there are subtle flares on this car that mass-producing manufacturers could only dream of. It exudes elegance.
Save for the headlights, taillights and the windscreen, the exterior shares nothing with its F12b counterpart, which goes some way to explain why each Berlinetta Lusso body takes Touring’s craftsmen over 5,000 hours to handshape. We particularly love the car’s ‘egg-crate’ grille and small, pert tail, which looks infinitely better resolved than the complex arrangement on the F12b and is one of the myriad reasons why this car will age so much more gracefully. Oh, the body’s also slightly lighter than the F12’s and believe us when we say the same neck-snapping, eye-watering performance is present and correct.
The interior, too, is fundamentally unchanged, though the same meticulous attention to detail has been paid as the body in order to bolster its Grand Touring credentials. The cabin is a triumph – from the sumptuous and rich-smelling hides that lend a feeling of the old world to the subtle wood trim that’s firmly in the new. The contrasting Terra de Siena stitching is the beautifully judged cherry on the cake. There’s also a bespoke matching luggage set.
We will admit, the Berlinetta Lusso does not slap you round the face with its styling and leave you slack-mouthed and drooling to the same extent as Touring’s stunning Alfa Romeo-based Disco Volante. But it is a more mature design that was always meant to appeal to a more mature and discerning customer. The car successfully evokes a bygone era of restrained automotive elegance that frankly we cannot envisage ever returning and serves as a timely reminder that less is definitely more.
Photos: Stephan Bauer © 2019