Monday, 22 October 2012

Detail Done Delicately.

Here is another of those tantalising instances where I had brief access to an exotic motor car yet no opportunity to drive it. Taken in as part exchange against something still more valuable, it sat, blocked in, in the protective bosom of the workshop to prevent ne'er-do-wells from getting their clammy mitts on it.

So, if I couldn't drive the bugger, lets at least take the opportunity to look at it. Closely. Because, when it comes to the tasteful application of detail and decoration, the maker of this conveyance still wears the crown.

This first image possibly gives the game away already. Lit in red with the ignition key in place, it does exactly what the graphic suggests. But other than the green illumination there's no fanfare, no extra theatre, and definitely none of Aston Martins daft and slightly nauseating "Power, Beauty, Soul" codswallop. Just thumb it and feel the noize.

We're outside the car now (obviously) and can look towards one of this exotic stables most enduring trademarks, the twin, closely set, round rear lights. It's come and gone over the years, and indeed at the moment looks like dying out again, but a certain generation will forever get goosepimples when they think of the sound and aesthetic of being overtaken by those four scarlet circles.

On the other side of the steering wheel from the starter button is this five-way selector switch. When the Manettino (Italian for little lever) first made its appearance in 2004 it was regarded by the easily impressed as F1 for the road. Well, yes, and no. In reality the adjustments that the device could make to suspension, traction etc. were far more tame than you'd ever find on the grid. But, hey, the technology was better implemented here than in just every other supercar. 

And there's no denying it, the fact that it's even there gives you at least part of a Formula One dream to continue. Plus it's beyond a doubt that the Manettino switch is the coolest steering wheel control of all time.

Speaking of F1, here it is.. Of course, F1 in the parlance of this particular company refers to their advanced sequential manual gearbox, its name implying that it was derived from the technology used on the Formula One circuit, so to speak. Its presence in a road car is announced by this rather fetching piece of etched aluminium. Now, I'm not usually in favour of little swatches of irrelevant material being sprayed around a car interior to denote some kind of special status, but this company are the exception to the rule, because they do it so delicately, even when the model number is embossed into it.... on this swathe of carbon fibre which also wraps the ventilation nozzles. This would be utterly hateful if it were the inside of, say, a Mercedes or something. Carbon Fibre trim has no place whatsoever in the cockpit of an SL or AMG, but at least here it seems to suggest a window into the DNA of the machine. It's an expression of what lies under the skin.

Yeah, it's a Ferrari. Those of you who didn't get that after the second image are advised to go and find a copy of any motoring magazine since the '90s and absorb it from cover to cover. Everyone else, well, I know I've not said anything you don't know already. But sometimes a good thing is worth enjoying a second or third time.

And me? I could say that sitting in the F430, drinking in the details, inhaling the aroma and revelling in the sense of the occasion, makes up for not actually driving it. And I'd be talking absolute bollocks.