So here it is, the latest Ferrari one-off, the P80/C, and we’re calling this the best yet. Sure, a new Ferrari will provoke a debate so fierce, it can get more heated than the surface of the sun, and these SP cars are often very personal interpretations of a theme.
But here’s why this one knocks it out of the park: It’s the most extreme yet because it’s also the first to use a race car as its jumping-off point, which is a genius move in itself. But it also means it’s liberated from any road-car homologation requirements, enabling all involved to do something wilder than usual.
The P80/C is based on a 488 GT3 chassis, so it’s 50mm longer than the standard 488 as well as being combat-ready. This allowed Ferrari’s Centro Stile to shift the visual balance forward, accentuating the rear end. Ferrari and its Corse Clienti division have raced so many of these cars now that they’ve accumulated a mountain of aerodynamic data.
The new car is said to be 5% more efficient overall, and although elements of the rear diffuser are shared with the GT3, the front splitter and all the external surfaces are unique. The body is made entirely of carbon fiber; the most functional elements are left bare, while the rest of the car is finished in Rosso Vero.
Ferrari says that P80/C’s aero treatment, in particular in the area above the engine bay, is influenced by the T-wing that appeared on the Scuderia’s Formula 1 cars in 2017, and helps reduce the length of the flow over the rear, providing a “strong recompression of the flow rearwards, reinforcing the downforce generated by the tail and the wing.”
Visually, the new car calls on a pool of historic references that include such beloved touchstones as the Le Mans 24 Hours-winning 250 LM, the Dino 206 S, and the 330 P3/4, and is a contemporary homage to the period in Maranello history when the racing prototypes’ styling licks would often transition to the road cars. But it’s also determinedly doing its own thing: The side windows flow into the air intakes in a deliberate act of aesthetic disruption, helping imbue the front and rear with their own character while maintaining visual harmony overall. Looked at from the side and above, there’s a hint of Ford GT in the way the flying buttresses separate from the body. The concave rear glass and aluminum louvers on the engine cover are another nod to the 330P3/4.
The P80/C also has an interesting duality: in race trim, it keeps the wing and uses 18-inch single-nut wheels, but the aero addenda can be removed and 21-inch wheels can be fitted to accentuate the car’s form language.
These things are highly subjective, of course, but we can confirm that this latest SP car is the work of someone steeped in Ferrari history, with an acute aesthetic sense to match. So although this is most definitely a one-off, it’s no mere vanity project. This is a highly significant statement.
NOTE: This article first appeared on TopGear.com. Minor edits have been made.