Ferrari's FXX Concept car was center stage at the Ferrari North America booth at the 2006 North American International Auto Show. An admiring throng of automotive journalists representing publications from around the globe listened to executives from the Prancing Horse, including Ferrari North America's President and CEO, Maurizio Parlato, report the latest business news. In the background, illuminated by flash bulbs, a total of five models were on display, including the F430 Challenge, F430 Spider and the 612 Scaglietti, the latter of which arrived in special-edition two-tone and Handling GTC versions. But it was the Ferrari FXX that drew everyone's interest. Ferrari's exceptionally-powerful prototype FXX has not been designed as status object that wealthy moguls or professional athletes will aspire to own. It is a production racer, and every "client" who purchases one joins Team Ferrari, as his or her driving experience will be observed by company technicians. Furthermore, racing stars Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello are on hand to lend advice to this ultra-exclusive - Ferrari estimates 20 marque loyalists will be lucky enough to own the FXX - faction of drivers. Appropriately, the Ferrari FXX is referred to as a project, since few, if any, of the 29 limited-production sports cars will hit the streets or see actual competition. This supercar is for track testing only, so in essence customers are buying the right to give Ferrari advice through what the company calls its "client-constructor collaboration program." Research generated by the FXX project will contribute to the design and engineering of Ferrari's future models. The Ferrari FXX is powered by a 6.3-liter 12-cylinder engine spitting out 800 horsepower at 8,500 rpm in front of an F1-inspired transmission capable of shifting gears in under 100 milliseconds. Formula 1 race cars are considered the extreme in gear change speed, and the FXX's achievement comes as close as any other vehicle today. A system of real-time telemeters on the FXX monitors 39 variables and communicates information to Ferrari's technicians. When a client joins the FXX project for a sum of 1.5 million euro, the seat and pedals are individually adjusted and a training session is provided to familiarize the driver with the FXX. A passenger's seat will be available for drivers who would like the onboard advice of a pro, or hope to entertain a passenger in the 2,541-lb. supercar.
Photos by Ron Perry