The world’s top Ferrari collectors recently gathered in Maranello for the exclusive launch of Icona (Italian for “Icon”), billed as a new series of special, limited-edition Ferraris aimed at top-tier buyers. Icona promises to be uncompromising on every level – a celebration of pure driving pleasure.

What they unveiled was a retro-futurist barchetta (Italian for “little boat”) called the Monza, and it’s a startling addition to the bloodline. This open-top racer immerses the driver in wind, speed and sound, and will be offered in both one- and two-seat editions – Monza SP1 and SP2, respectively.

In a car world obsessed with the new and cutting edge – self-driving, hands-free, connectivity, etc. – the Monza is oddly rebellious. It appears to reject many of the advancements threatening to take driving away from the driver and eliminate the visceral thrill of horsepower in your hands.

This V12 barchetta has no proper roof or windscreen, and instead offers a powerful en plein air racing experience with a healthy dash of danger.

The Chance to Create a New Icon

As Flavio Manzoni, Ferrari’s Head of Design since 2010, stood before a captivated audience at the Icona launch, he said: “The only way to become an icon is to create a timeless masterpiece. When my team and I realized there was the possibility to recreate the myth of a barchetta with a modern approach, the level of excitement, passion and creativity reached one of the highest peaks in eight years.”

Manzoni’s team took inspiration from several classic Ferraris – the 166 S (1948-1953), 375 MM (1953-5) and the 750 Monza by Scaglietti (1954) – but nothing was borrowed directly. The Monza evokes past elegance while remaining decidedly modern and free of nostalgia. Looking over its design, I also see echoes of the 335 S (1957-8), 250 Testa Rossa (1957-1961), and two special projects from Pininfarina – the Rossa (2000) and the Sergio (2013).

An Exterior Shaped by the Wind

Staying true to the wind-shaped “pebble” speedform of classic barchettas, Manzoni’s team set out to design a chassis that appears drawn with a single pen stroke. The Monza features soft, curving lines from end to end; even the custom five-spoke wheels look like sand dunes carved by desert winds. From the side, one sees a strong two-wave silhouette – a persistent Ferrari design cue carried forth by the team – that highlights the powerful front engine.

Ferrari 458 Italia silhouette

The distinctive Ferrari two-wave silhouette, seen here on the 458 Italia.

That engine, by the way, is the most powerful naturally aspirated V12 ever produced by Ferrari. The 812 Superfast’s 6.5-litre has been increased to 810 cv at 8500 rpm.

The Monza achieves balance through a wedge in the body side, counterbalanced by the fuselage shape of the main volume. On the front end, this fuselage volume develops starting from the grille – another recognizable Ferrari design cue – while the headlights are formed out of subtracted material, almost like air intakes. This balanced, natural design that looks like a speedform sculpted by wind is a concept referred to in Italian as bolide.

The car’s two main body sections join along a distinct line, creating an upper and lower volume. This classic Ferrari design cue appears as far back as the ’80s and as recently as the LaFerrari and J50. The effect is that the upper volume appears to float.

A two-volume design created an interesting opportunity at the rear, where they stayed true to the round, pebble shape of original barchettas. (There’s even a tapering roll-bar cover behind each headrest.) A continuous light strip wraps across the whole rear, making the top volume appear to float. From every angle, the Monza’s exterior design is both familiar and futuristic.

Slip Inside a Luxury Racing Cockpit

The interior essence of the Ferrari barchetta bloodline boils down to two key features: a cockpit-driven interior and a co-pilot seat cover. In keeping with this design philosophy, the Monza embeds its driver in an elliptical, open-top cockpit, like race cars past and present. This places him or her in the heart of the vehicle and creates a complete integration of car, driver and nature, for a truly immersive motoring experience.

Ferrari Monza SP2

The Monza SP1, like the 750 Monza before it, hosts a seat for the copilot when needed, but otherwise operates as a solo racer. In both the SP1 and SP2, a bridge divides pilot and co-pilot, reinforcing the concept that the Monza is first and foremost a driver-focused car.

Inside, exceptional forms and materials abound: A control cluster arranged on a banked, righthand panel allows you to make adjustments while keeping your eyes on the track, and in the absence of a proper windscreen, Ferrari installed a patented device below the driver’s sightline called a Virtual Wind Shield to reduce drag without compromising that wind-in-your-face sensation.

The steering wheel and display are much like the LaFerrari, F12tdf and other newer models: digital displays flank a single, centrally placed RPM dial, while all other controls are built into the steering wheel.

Conclusion: Can I Have One? Please?

I was unsure of the Monzas when they were first unveiled. They were just so…unexpected. Plus, I was never a great fan of the Mercedes SLR Stirling Moss. But the more I read about Flavio Mazoni’s design thinking, the more I fell in love with the Monza concept.

At a cost of roughly $1.82 million and production capped at 499 for each version, owning one (or both) is a rarified experience even by Ferrari standards. But even at such high prices, expect Monzas to immediately skyrocket in value and gain true icon status within a decade or two.

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