Ferrari, quite unexpectedly, unveiled an ultra-limited edition roadster in Tokyo this week to commemorate the company’s 50th year in Japan. The Ferrari J50, based upon the 488 Spider, was built by Ferrari’s Special Projects department — the same team who brought you the SP12 EC (Eric Clapton).
Only 10 will be built, and each will be individually tailored to suit their respective owner’s indulgences. The tradition of fuori serie, an Italian term used to describe a custom made automobile, exists specifically for wealthy, prominent individuals to showcase their financial prowess, as well as their desire to stand apart from the masses.
It must be stated here to avoid any confusion that the J50 is not a new Ferrari model. The homologation process, the lengthy legal process that each vehicle must go through to be approved for sale in a country, is unjustifiable for a car that will be produced in such limited numbers. You are looking at a 488 Spider dressed in a different outfit, although to give credit where credit is due, the J50 is an absolutely stunning piece of machinery.
The J50 uses the same 3.9-liter twin-turbo V8 as the 488, reworked to produce 680hp, an increase of nearly 20hp. With nearly 700 horses available, it makes sense that the team at Ferrari Styling Center in Maranello carried most of the responsibility in creating the J50.
And what a job they’ve done. The 488 will certainly turn heads wherever it goes, but the Ferrari J50 would bring a busy metropolitan rush hour intersection to a stand-still.
The front bumper now houses two very narrow LED headlights, which when set against the sharp, angular nose of the J50, creates the persona of a futuristic robot fighter, almost like something you would see in an anime series. Ferrari describe this as “radically futuristic design language.”
A black dividing line, a definite throwback to the F40 and F50, dissects the front bumper horizontally, and then continues around the front fenders, jumps over the wheel gaps and progresses along the side of the car, terminating in the side intakes. That “swage” line, and the very tight, almost impossibly compact-looking cockpit, anchor the J50’s low-slung appearance.
At the rear, a special transparent polycarbonate engine cover is present with two bulging channels at either end, both of them continuing forward towards the cabin and terminating in the driver and passenger roll hoops. The engine cover passes beneath an aerofoil “bridge,” which connects the left and right rear-quarter panels.
It really is fruitless to try and describe how stunning the J50 is with mere words. I try to avoid being jealous, but it’d be a flat out lie to say I’m not envious of the lucky 10 individuals who will get to own one of these.