Presented by RM Sotheby’s.
Of all the styling houses to have collaborated with Ferrari throughout its 75-year history, one name in particular stands head and shoulders above the rest: Pininfarina. No other carrozzeria has enjoyed such a close and enduring relationship with the Prancing Horse, or designed so many exquisite bodies for so many different models. From the 250 GT of the late 1950s, via such classics as the 275 GTB, Daytona, Testarossa, and F40, Pininfarina has been responsible for some of the most iconic shapes ever to leave the Ferrari factory.
It is fitting, then, that to honor the Turin coachbuilder’s 80th anniversary, Maranello chose to create its own very special homage to the firm: the SA Aperta. As the cognoscenti will know, SA referred to Sergio and Andrea Pininfarina (respectively, the son and grandson of company founder Batista “Pinin” Farina). Aperta, meanwhile, was a self-explanatory nod to the reconfigured body—the word meaning “open” in Italian.
Unveiled at the 2010 Paris Salon, which took place from 2 to 17 October, where Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo described it as “technologic romantic”, the SA Aperta was an unapologetically hedonistic machine. Based on the 599 GTB Fiorano (Tipo F141), the two-seater roadster featured the uprated 5,999 cc 65-degree V-12 and six-speed F1 Superfast gearbox from the limited-edition 599 GTO. With no less than 661 horsepower on tap at 8,250 rpm and 457 lb-ft of torque at 6,500 rpm, performance was truly scintillating. The sprint from 0-100 62 mph was dispatched in an astonishing 3.6 seconds, while the top speed was no less than 202 mph.
Improvements to the chassis included a 10 mm lower ride height, thicker rear anti-roll bar, and recalibrated active dampers. There were also unique five-spoke, 20-inch wheels shod with 245/35 ZR20 tires at the front, and immense 305/35 ZR20 rubber at the rear, plus carbon-ceramic brakes for ultimate stopping power. The overall set-up remained softer than the GTO, however—Ferrari recognised that the SA Aperta would be less likely to spend time chasing lap times than its stablemate the Omologato. Maranello’s F1-Trac traction control system, which had made its production debut on the 599 GTB in 2006, meant that, for all its prodigious performance, the SA Aperta remained as wonderfully forgiving as it was engaging.
Yet while the electrifying pace and superb chassis of the SA Aperta were certainly cause for celebration, what really set it aside from its stablemate was the revised body. Based on the same aluminum structure as the Jason Castriota-designed 599 GTB, the new machine most obviously ditched the fixed roof of its progenitor in favor of a removable carbon fiber panel. Very much a minimalist roadster rather than a cosseting drophead, only the simplest of weather gear was provided. As the name suggested, the Ferrari was intended to be enjoyed in open guise.
Other visible modifications compared to the closed version of the 599 included a more steeply raked windscreen, while the GTB’s signature flying-buttresses were abandoned in favor of aerodynamic fins integrated into the twin roll hoops. Both the fins and windscreen pillars were usually finished in metallic silver to provide a visual contrast with the rest of the body. At the front, larger cooling ducts in a redesigned bumper further differentiated the SA Aperta from its berlinetta cousin, while the rear bumper and carbon fiber sills were also subtly reimagined. Beneath the skin, Maranello engineers had invested a considerable amount of effort ensuring that the open body remained suitably stiff. Remarkably, the weight penalty compared to the GTB was only around 17 kilograms.
In total, only 80 of these incredibly special cars were produced: one for each year since Pininfarina came into existence. As befitting such an exclusive limited-edition model, the SA Aperta was offered by invitation only to a very select band of existing customers.
Unsurprisingly, all 80 were sold long before the model made its public debut at the Paris Salon.
Registered in November 2011, chassis 183747 was purchased new by the consignor and joined The Gran Turismo Collection. This one-owner example had covered 8,670 miles at the time of cataloging and has been carefully maintained by main dealers H.R. Owen and Joe Macari. Finished in Giallo Triplo Strato with black detailing in place of the usual silver, plus yellow roll hoops and Scuderia shields, this Ferrari is simply jaw-dropping and has unbelievable presence. Further adding to its incredible aesthetics, a GTO bonnet was fitted and the standard one remains with the car.
Guaranteed to turn heads wherever it goes, it was an undisputed hit at the Hampton Court Concours of Elegance, where it was displayed in September 2014. But with its sonorous and hugely addictive V-12, as well as a beautifully sorted chassis and superlative handling, to restrict this Ferrari to concours lawns would be to miss out on its raison d’être. A phenomenal device that begs to be driven, it belongs on the road and just needs a new owner who shares that philosophy.
This vehicle is offered from The Gran Turismo Collection, featured in RM Sotheby’s forthcoming London sale on 5 November at Marlborough House. Learn more and register to bid online.