This 2011 Ferrari 599 SA Aperta is the Car You Truly Want
When Ferrari first announced their replacement for the 575 Maranello I didn’t like it at first. Its front valence was too boring, the grille reminded me of retainers, and the back end is excessively simple. On Top Gear Jeremy Clarkson appreciated how it handled but found its technological prowess diminished the 599’s ability to feel more memorable. It being 2006 meant I soaked up every word because for one thing he’s British and another - nobody else really seemed to have the credentials to challenge his opinion.
And I used to agree with him in my own naive way. I used to think the 599 was just another Ferrari with an engine in the front. I used to think because it wasn’t as fast around the tracks as a 911 GT3 it wasn’t hardcore enough to carry the Ferrari badge. I thought comfort and ergonomics were features for the old and weak. I wanted a race car as a dream car, not a soft cruiser. I wanted a car that sacrificed everything in name of speed.
But I was wrong. You really don’t want a race car. You know what happens when you take out interior trim, carpeting, air conditioning, sound systems and add bucket seats with harnesses and a stiff suspension? You end up getting slow roasted and exhausted every time you want to go for a drive. Of course, a race car is desireable for the track but only on the track. What you really want is a car that feels special in every occasion and the 599 is just the car to accomplish that.
So you might think a bit of that magic would be lost when Ferrari decided to cut the roof off. Not so with the SA Aperta. This was a car created to celebrate 80 years of Pininfarina, the firm that has helped Ferrari create the supercar image we’re so familiar with today. They weren’t going to mess this one up.
That’s why the 599 SA Aperta has the best of both worlds. Ferrari used lightweight reinforcements within to the chassis to keep it as rigid as the coupe while only adding 36 lbs to its curb weight. For the drivetrain the car retains its magnetorheological dampers utilizing filaments within the shocks for fast adjustments. It also sits lower, has integrated roll bars, and sports carbon ceramic discs. Even its 6-speed F1 sequential transmission shifts in 100 milliseconds. And all of this is simply not as impressive as to what’s under the bonnet.
It’s a naturally aspirated 6.0-liter 65° V12. Despite having the same displacement, bore, and stroke as the first model - this one employs higher compression as seen in the more track focused 599 GTO model. This means instead of 611 hp, you get 661 @ 8,250. All of this power coupled with its 457 lb-ft means you can reach 62 mph in 3.6 seconds. Additionally, you’ll be hitting a top speed of 202 mph; plenty fast to get in a lot of trouble. See - best of both worlds.
Now you might be wondering how much this perfect dream car costs. Considering Ferrari only made 80 of these you might imagine it would cost as much as a 458 Speciale A roadster - in the realm of $550-$600k. You’d be wrong. The red one you see in the pictures sold for $1.18 million in January of 2016. Dream car indeed.
Maybe it's almost considered cruel that Ferrari made so few. Maybe that's what they wanted - for the world and even the most wealthy elite to desire what they cannot attain. The ambition to drive a machine capable of cruising at 200 miles an hour with the top down is alluring to all walks of motoring life. The SA Aperta is not the only car that can accomplish this feat but when someting looks, sounds, and drives this good you wouldn't want to have it any other way. This is the one you truly want.
All photos by Jeremy Cliff ©2015 Courtesy of RM Sotheby's