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Ferrari Concours d' Elegance

Broadcast date : 9th May 2004

The Southern Equatorial Ferrari Automobile Club held its annual Concours d' Elegance at the Italian Club in Bedfordview in April 2004.

This is the competition to see who has the fairest Ferrari in all the land. And as a Ferrari is drop-dead gorgeous by definition, it goes without saying that the competition was extremely stiff

The cars are judged in terms of presentation, cleanliness and originality. So, a perfectly restored Ferrari may lose to an original unrestored car in the overall contest, depending on the judging criteria.

The Ferrari 308 is probably most people's idea of a typical Ferrari. This was the car that Thomas Magnum - or rather actor Tom Selleck - made a household word in the private eye TV series a couple of years ago.

The 308 comes in closed, GTB form or as an open GTS model. The "B" stands for Berlinetta, which means it is a closed-top model. The "S" designates that it is a Spider, or open-topped model.

Interestingly, the 308 was produced with both a metal and a fibreglass body by the factory and this red car is in fact one of the rare fibreglass 308s. Only one hundred of these were built, while some three and a half thousand metal-bodied 308s were built between 1976 and 1985. The model then evolved to the 328 model with deeper airdams and a more powerful motor.

Ferrari nomenclature is confusing to even the cogniscenti. To understand the basic modelling system, the numerals refer to the cylinder capacity of a single cylinder. Thus a 308 has a single cylinder capacity of three hundred and eight cubic centimetres. And as it has eight cylinders, the size of the engine is three hundred and eight, multiplied by eight. Thus the overall engine size is two thousand, four hundred and sixty four cubic centimetres.

But Ferrari, being Ferrari, didn't stick to this format all the time. For instance, this red 365 Berlinetta Boxer has a horizontally-opposed twelve-cylinder engine. And it is a four-point four litre. Many feel that this is one of the most beautiful Ferraris ever made.

The blue Berlinetta Boxer, however is known as a five-one-two. In this case Ferrari employed a system of overall capacity and number of cylinders. So this denotes that its twelve-cylinder engine was increased to five litres.

The addition of airdams in the nose is one of the few ways of visually identifying the two different models. Incidentally, the Berlinetta Boxer was an indecently fast motorcar in its lifetime, produced between 1975 and 1983. It had a top speed of about two hundred and eighty kilometres per hour, heady stuff for those days!

The Berlinetta Boxer would evolve into the Ferrari Testarossa in 1985, perhaps one of the most fitting names for a car that is all about male aggression.

Actually the name Testarossa does not refer to an overdose of testosterone, but to the red colour of the car's cylinder heads. The original Testarossa was actually a sports racing model from the late nineteen fifties.

For those who appreciate the litheness of a 308, they will also love the 246 Dino. This silver example has some very special Campangnola wheels and is powered by a two- point -four-litre, Vee Six engine. It was considered an "entry-level" Ferrari back in the late 1960s when it was introduced. A number of examples made it to South Africa but an increasing number have recently been sold to collectors overseas, as demand for these beauties is high.

At the other end of the Ferrari spectrum is this F40. The F40 is powered by a twin turbocharged V8 motor producing over three hundred and seventy kilowatts. It is one of the last Ferraris to employ a classic tubular chassis and the name is derived to celebrate forty years of Ferrari, launched as it was in nineteen eighty seven.

The car is said to accelerate to one hundred kilometers per hour in three point eight seconds, and has a top speed of over three hundred and twenty.

The three-litre V8 engine is based on the unit used in the 308, but the power output from the turbochargers makes this a completely different animal. Ferraris' wild child, indeed.

The smooth svelte lines of the Ferrari Daytona, on the other hand, speak of a more genteel era. The Daytona was built between 1969 and 1973. This is a classic front-engined V12 machine, meant for covering vast distances at great speed in comfort.

The mid-engined 308s and 328s evolved into the 348 by 1990. The 348 then gave way to the F355, like this Spyder prepared for the Concours by Theresa van der Merwe.

The F355 was a much-loved model, and by the start of the twenty first century it had given way to the F360 Modena. Also mid-engined, also a V8, the F360 is considered to be the most successful production Ferrari ever. It has become more of an every-day driving car than any Ferrari before it, although these machines are still not as user-friendly as cars like the Porsche 911.

The Southern Equatorial Ferrari Automobile Club is one of the oldest Ferrari clubs in the world. It was established way back in 1967 with a lunch at Zoo Lake.

Its members include the flamboyant club chairman Giorgio Cavalieri, and honorary president Libero Pardini. As a special treat for club members, the organising committee flew Sergio Vezzali out for the Concours.

A master mechanic from the golden era of the Ferrari Formula One team between 1962 and the mid-nineteen eighties, Signor Vezzali did chassis set-up for the likes of nineteen sixty four world champion John Surtees, Niki Lauda who took the world title for Ferrari in nineteen seventy five and seventy seven and Jody Scheckter who became world champion in 1979.

Jody was of course, the only South African ever to win a world Formula One championship. And he did it in a Ferrari.

Sergio Vezzali remembers the fantastic long straight at the original Kyalami with affection and loved his stay in South Africa.

And win or lose, the 2004 Concours was a special moment for Ferrari fans that will long be remembered.

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