Ferrari and Touring go together like milk and chocolate—wonderful on their own and even better together. In the late 1940s, these two legendary Italian firms pooled their talents to create one of the world’s most memorable cars, the 166 MM Barchetta. After that triumph, however, Touring designed bodies for only a few Ferraris.
Today, Touring and Ferrari are together once again, although the result is not an official creation of Maranello. At the 2015 Geneva Auto Show, the reborn Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera showed its latest creation, the striking F12-based Berlinetta Lusso.
The Berlinetta Lusso was commissioned by an F12 owner who wanted a unique Ferrari. Touring complied, and now says it will build a total of five examples. The company is mum on the price, which doesn’t include a “donor” F12 (the customer must supply his own car) but does cover 5,000 hours of labor to transform a production-line Ferrari into a hand-built one. None of that time is spent on the mechanicals; the F12’s engine, suspension, transmission and so forth are left untouched
The Berlinetta Lusso’s appearance combines history and modernity. Touring makes much of its focus on proportions: “a long bonnet evoking the powerful V12 engine, a cockpit resolutely designed for two and a discrete trunk for precious luggage.” While the car looks quite close in size to the F12—Touring measurements reveal the Berlinetta Lusso is actually three inches longer and four inches wider—it certainly appears quite different in form.
The biggest change is made to the greenhouse, where the F12’s long flowing hatchback, which extends essentially to the very back of the car, has been trimmed. The Berlinetta Lusso’s greenhouse and new rear deck have a distinctly 250 GT Lusso feel, a sensation that continues with the treatment of the taillights. (The “original” Lusso was designed by Pininfarina, which became Ferrari’s official designer of road cars in the mid 1950s.) The rear end, which features an unaltered, ultra-modern diffuser, is perhaps the most handsome aspect of the car.
The second biggest change is to the nose, which to my eyes is the least handsome part of the car. Touring has altered and enlarged the grille opening to suggest a 1950s Ferrari. It has also made more retro the hood, which loses its center vent and Aerobridge air channels. While these changes do make the car more “classic,” the whole is not harmonious. The small elements that flow from the modern front splitter to the vintage grille seem to be implying a Formula 1 car, which does not make sense in the context of a luxurious Gran Turismo. But mostly it is the juxtaposition of the grille and standard F12 headlights that does not gel for me.
The third major alteration is the surfacing of the sides. In an ode to its most famous Ferrari, Touring has fashioned a true Barchetta “pinch line” which runs back from the top of the front wheel arch before disappearing into the rear fender. It is a truly stunning design element, one that somehow looks right at home on a modern-day Ferrari. (This could be due to a masterfully incorporated hint of F12; the front of the “pinch” bulges underneath in a form very similar to the aero channel on the production car’s door.) Also striking, if subtle, are the flush door handles. The lowest element, a duct that exits the front fender, is not so attractive but it serves a functional purpose so can be forgiven.
Inside the Berlinetta Lusso, Touring has exercised restraint. Aside from restyled seats (which appear to be a modification of the stock seats), a Touring Superleggera cover on the airbag, new sill covers and various colors and materials, the interior is unchanged from factory Ferrari. As with the mechanicals, this should not pose a problem; there is little to criticize inside an F12’s cockpit.
The Berlinetta Lusso’s true beauty is found on the outside, and Touring’s process for creating the old-new body fittingly combines old and new technology. The hood, front bumper and tailgate are made of carbon fiber (as are the skirts, splitter and diffuser) while the main body panels are formed by hand from aluminum. As you can see in the photo at right, the art of panel beating remains much the same as in the days of the Barchetta. Then as now, it is the skilled craftsmen who make all the difference.
Touring is the latest entrant into a reborn world of Ferrari coachbuilding. This began in the 1990s with Pininfarina and the Sultan of Brunei, continued with Zagato’s retro 575Ms in the 2000s and, most recently, Pininfarina’s 458-based Sergio (which was later adopted and built by Ferrari). While body kits that will make a car look wider, wilder, more aggressive or some combination of those traits are always readily available, coachbuilding is something far more special. The Berlinetta Lusso is likewise far more special than a standard F12 (with no disrespect at all to the production car), and marks an exciting expansion of modern-day coachbuilding.