Every once in a while Ferrari rolls out a limited-run special. The super-exclusive Sergio limits that production run to just six examples. Jonathan Crouch reports.
Ten Second Review
Ferrari delivers the ultimate tease in the Sergio, a custom-styled supercar based on the 458 Spider, with 458 Speciale mechanicals. Just six have been built and they've all been sold for £2.5m apiece. We can't even kid ourselves that Maranello will one day let us have a go.
I'm not sure if you remember the card game Top Trumps. If you're of a certain age you'll probably recall collecting these cards and playing games at school. I had packs that covered planes, speedboats, ocean liners and motorbikes but the car ones were my favourites. One pack was all about supercars and included a Ferrari called the 88 Alu. Now I'm not sure if this car was the figment of a bored employee of Top Trumps, but I've never been able to find any other reference to it before or since. It looks like a two-tone red and white 308 GTB with a 4942cc 12-cylinder engine and 360hp, which is basically the underpinnings of the 512 BB. I assume the body is made of aluminium. But Ferrari actually does have form in making very low-volume specials. Many are slowly decaying in a fetid warehouse in Brunei. And then some, like the latest Ferrari Sergio, are actually being sold to a few very privileged punters.
The Sergio, as anybody broadly familiar with Ferraris will instantly be able to tell, is based on the chassis and running gear of a 458 Speciale and some of the body of a 458 Spider. It's been built to celebrate Ferrari's relationship with the Pininfarina styling house, which marked its 60th anniversary this year. With that combination, you just know the Sergio, named naturally after the former Mr Farina, is going to be something very special to drive. Unfortunately, we have yet to get behind the wheel of the Sergio and don't expect to either. Ferrari selects its customers on discretion as much as anything else and seeing a Sergio in a magazine comparison test would probably make them a bit cross. Ferrari aren't very pleasant when they have a tantrum. It outputs the same 605PS as the Speciale which results in a sprint to 62mph of just 3.0 seconds, as opposed to 3.4 seconds for that notable sluggard, the 458 Spider. Beyond that, we'd just be speculating.
Design and Build
There's been quite a bit of back and forth about the design of the Sergio. If you've been in a relationship with your styling house for as long as Ferrari and Pininfarina have, they've long stopped taking offence at straight talk. We first saw the Pininfarina Sergio at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show and it looked like a typical show car; all rakish angles, no windscreen and chock-full of production impracticalities. It only needed beetle-wing doors and a yoke for a steering wheel to get the full house in show car bingo. Actually productionising this car would require radical rework and the Sergio model that Ferrari unveiled in Abu Dhabi when the first car was delivered to its new owner looked very different. And, I might add, better. Yes, the basic proportioning was clearly that of a 458 Spider but there was much the same angled sweep of carbon fibre on the flanks and a rather watered-down version of the Pininfarina car's nose. The transparent bar linking the headlights in particular is apparently a throwback to the original Ferrari Dino show car. The cabin is less radical, with familiar 458 architecture bedecked with extra carbonfibre and Alcantara. Ferrari has ensured that each customer has been able to uniquely personalise their Sergio at the Maranello factory.
Market and Model
So, how much are we bid for a car that's a melange of 458 Speciale, 458 Spider and a few custom Pininfarina styling licks? Well, a Spider is £199,000, a Speciale is £208,000, so follow that trend and you arrive at a figure of £216,000 which is actually nothing like what Ferrari wants for the Sergio. Were you one of the anointed six, you would need to hand over a reputed £2.5m to get your hands on the keys. No, that wasn't a typo. Two and a half million pounds. Now, there will be some who see this as the most naked and opportunistic profiteering by Ferrari, aimed at efficiently separating oil-rich fools from their money; all that's wrong with capitalism condensed into a few feet of expensive alloys and carbon. I'm not so sure. If there's a demand, why not? These people aren't being forced into a purchase and they probably think that their Sergios will appreciate in value over time. Given the prices that some low-volume Ferraris are currently making, it would be a brave person who predicted Sergio residual values to take a nosedive.
The Ferrari Sergio has a certain inbuilt irrelevance. It's a car that has been built for six lucky owners and is so valuable that the cars will rarely, if ever, be seen outside their climate ontrolled cocoons. It generates profits for Ferrari, it burnishes Pininfarina's reputation and it might well make its owner a decent packet to boot. So everyone's a winner then? Apart from those of us who want to press our noses to the window and wonder, just for a moment what it must be like to actually drive the thing. Proper tyre shrieking, rev counter yammering off the redline driving, because hidden far beneath the hype is a car that has been built to perform but will never be given its head. And that makes me just a bit sad. I'm glad the Ferrari Sergio exists. But next time, Ferrari, build seven. And save one for the motoring journalists of the world to record for all-time on video, doing what it does best. And if we don't manage to destroy it, you can send it to the crusher afterwards. I hate cliffhangers and something this good just can't be left a secret.