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Sunday, January 27, 2008

The new Ferrari Classiche division

Located appropriately in what was once the foundry building in the early days of car production at Maranello, the new Ferrari Classiche division has a clear mission: to set the absolute reference point that guarantees the originality of cars over 20 years old, and to maintain past production with not only an extensive programme of re-manufacturing, but also actual restoration at the factory.

As Ferrari’s President, Luca di Montezemolo, said at this week’s launch “Today, we have started a great initiative for Ferrari’s past and more importantly, connecting its history with the future.

“This programme will keep us in contact with best models of previous years and their owners. We will be setting a point of reference in the factory for these cars and ensuring they have totally authentic parts.

“The spirit of the programme we have started today shows Ferrari is never at a standstill. As I speak, Luca Badoer is testing – in tropical heat - at Fiorano in the cars we will be using at this weekend’s Grand Prix at Hockenheim. “

Vice-President Piero Ferrari, also present at the launch and Chairman of the COCER (Certification Committee), concurred “Ferrari Classiche demonstrates how much love, passion and interest we have for the older cars, and how important it is for us to create a long-standing connection with our enthusiastic owners. This will be an opportunity for us to give long-term, official, serious service for our clients.

“I am particularly happy to be a member of the committee that will evaluate the technical characteristics of each car put forward for certification.

“This will be another addition to the Ferrari myth.”

Ferrari Classiche will be centred around the following areas -

Certificates of Authenticity

As the world’s premier marque for collectors, Ferrari takes the originality and veracity of its older products very seriously. The process is designed to make it totally transparent that an older car (or competition car of any age) is what it purports to be. To achieve certification the cars will undergo a very careful inspection either at the Ferrari Classiche division in Maranello or at specially authorised centres throughout the world.

The report will reveal the car’s mechanical condition and also, by careful examination of the chassis, engine, gearbox and other ‘numbered’ components verify that it is indeed ‘matching’, or that changes made in period (perhaps in racing conditions) are genuine and true to the type.

This will, at a stroke, remove any perceived ‘provenance’ from outright fakes and make the viability of producing clearly labelled 250 Testa Rossa or 250 GTO ‘replicas’ on more ‘ordinary’ chassis in doubt as under no circumstances will they receive certification.

All certified cars will be eligible to take part in official Ferrari events including, for example, the Shell Ferrari Historic Challenge.

Re-manufacture of original parts

An important part of Ferrari Classiche’s work is the continuing production of components, either in-house or using original suppliers, for past models. This will enable cars undergoing certification to have either non-original, unsuitable or worn-out parts replaced by ones newly manufactured to the original drawings – all kept in the extensive on-site archive.

At the launch, several cars and engine and gearboxes were on display and the head of Ferrari Classiche, Roberto Vaglietti, explained that many of the cars they had examined, despite appearing in good condition with a history of maintenance at well-known restorers, needed further work not only before certification, but also to bring the car back to its original condition in terms of performance and reliability.

Restoration in-house

For the very first time Ferrari is offering a complete restoration service for older models in its own workshops at Ferrari Classiche. Owners will be able to send the car to Maranello not only for pure certification but also for extensive work in all areas of drivetrain, bodywork, trim etc.

A typical example was the yellow 275 GTB in the workshop that Roberto Vaglietti explained had been purchased by an American customer for restoration but lacked an engine. Ferrari will make a completely new 4-cam motor for it, to the original specification but with some improvements, and numbering it in the sequence of the time with the correct stampings on engine, gearbox and chassis.

There was also a 250 GT motor in the final stages of assembly and two Ferrari 400 models undergoing restoration for a Middle Eastern client who just loves the type and wanted Ferrari itself to carry out the work.

Vaglietti explained just how far the Classiche division would go when bringing a car back to its original condition “We are not in business to make an ‘American-style’ over-restoration to win cups.

“We will carry out the work to the standards of the time using totally correct parts from the original manufacturing processes.”

So in effect owners will receive their cars back in genuinely ‘original’ condition.

Ferrari have already received 250 applications for certificates that will cost (if processed in Maranello) a minimum of 1200 EURO with further work charged at 60 EURO/hour. 190 cars have been successfully awarded the certification that comes in a red leather bound folder, with enamel badges for the car itself.

In addition to the launch of Ferrari Classiche, Luca di Montezemolo also disclosed the creation of a ‘Club’ for owners of certificated cars with a clubhouse at the Fiorano track where Enzo Ferrari used to live.

And, in another surprise announcement during a question and answer session, it was revealed that while Ferrari would continue its Corse Cliente activities in areas up to, but not including, FIA GT1 (so no racing 599 GTBs for a while) there was the possibility of factory-supported Historic Racing for clients (perhaps from the USA) wishing to enter European events like the Mille Miglia.

Owners of cars in the UK interested in the Ferrari Classiche programme should contact Tony Willis, Ferrari GB Classiche Specialist.

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