Ferrari Enzo FXX

Imagine getting the chance to buy Ferrari’s latest GT prototype, then getting to drive it as part of a team exploring new technology for Maranello’s future road and racing cars. Too good to be true? Not for some 30 handpicked owners of the Enzo-basedFerrari Enzo FXX. The fastest and most technically advanced cavallino this side of a Formula One racer, it was part testbed, part status symbol, and maybe -- just maybe -- the seed of a “next Enzo.”

The Ferrari Enzo FXX was conceived as the heart of a full-blown development project, according to Inginiere Amedeo Felisa, the vice-general manager at Ferrari who headed what was termed the FXX Program. The car itself was billed as “the culmination of Ferrari’s expertise in building special limited-series sports cars combined with its unparalleled racing experience. The [Ferrari Enzo FXX] will provide the basic framework on which the specifics of future extreme models will be developed.”

According to Ing. Felisa, the plan was to build just 20 cars. But as he told Road & Track’s Dennis Siminaitis, “we had a great deal of interest [from prospective buyers, so planned production was raised] to 21, then 22, 23 . . . We finally decided that ‘more or less 20’ meant ‘not more than 29.’ ”

The total reached an even 30 when F1 legend Michael Schumacher said he wanted to participate after retiring from competition. He took delivery of his Ferrari Enzo FXX at the Nurburgring in July 2006 after posting his 89th Grand Prix victory. The first 29 cars were all delivered between mid-November 2005 and April of ’06, according to Ferrari.

It wasn’t easy joining the Ferrari Enzo FXX “club.” Besides just the 30 cars available, the price of admission was predictably steep: 1.5 million euros plus taxes, close to $2 million U.S. And even those who had that kind of money had to be approved by a select committee of Ferrari engineers and planners. No dilettantes were wanted. This program was serious.

But besides a fantastic car, the purchase price included “participation in a series of 14 track events organized by Ferrari on various international-level circuits [in 2006-07] in Europe, North America and Japan” -- in other words, test sessions.

“[A]n official team of technicians will be on hand to provide any assistance and support required.” Moreover, the client test drivers, as Ferrari called the owners, would “be able to take their cars out on the track independently during private sessions ... Delivery of each [Ferrari Enzo FXX] also includes an advanced driving course with [instruction] provided by the best professional drivers.

Courses take place at the Fiorano circuit where Ferrari conducts its F1 single-seater testing. After the seat and pedals have been [adjusted] for each driver, there will be a traditional ‘shakedown’ followed by a training session to introduce the Client Test Drivers to test driving methodologies.”

In short, you had to go to school before taking to the track, sensible given this car’s huge performance. And the track was the only place you could drive an Ferrari Enzo FXX. The car was not street-legal, like the Enzo, and making it so would have cost another fortune. And though the Ferrari Enzo FXX did have the makings of a dandy GT1-class racer, Ferrari itself had no competition plans. This was primarily a testbed.

FX was Ferrari’s internal designation for the Enzo, so FXX was a logical name for a next-steps version. But though the two cars were obviously related, there were many differences. They started with the mid-mounted engine, the Enzo’s quad-cam 48-valve V-12 being enlarged from 5999cc to 6262cc.

Engineers labored to reduce internal friction and thus parasitic power losses. Among the measures were a redesigned crankcase, revised combustion chambers, a freer-flow exhaust system, and what Felisa vaguely referred to as “improvements in lubricants and in protecting surfaces in special ways.” Siminaitis speculated the use of F1 engine features such as “ultra-mini-skirted” pistons, high-strength titanium conrods, and “nanotech surface treatments,” but Ferrari was understandably mum about many details. No sense tipping off the competition.

Whatever the magic involved, it was powerful. Ferrari claimed “over 800 horsepower” versus 650 for the Enzo, plus 506 pound-feet of torque at 5750 rpm versus 485 at 5500. That alone would have assured higher performance, but Ferrari also made the Enzo’s six-speed sequential transmission shift 40-percent faster -- just 80 milliseconds total -- thanks in part to optimized gears and synchronizers that trimmed rotational inertia by a claimed 10 percent. It was more F1 experience at work.

Of course, the track-oriented Ferrari Enzo FXX could be quite a bit lighter than the Enzo. And it was, dispensing with air conditioning, airbags, sound insulation, and other road-car necessities. Ferrari quoted a dry weight of 2547 pounds, 220 less than the Enzo, but Siminaitis calculated a startling 510-pound advantage in curb weight (2720 versus 3230), this despite the addition of built-in racing-style pneumatic jacks. When all was done, the Ferrari Enzo FXX boasted a weight-to-power ratio of just 3.4 pounds/hp versus 5.0 for Enzo and 5.8 for the roadgoing Porsche Carrera GT.

At 190.2 inches, the Ferrari Enzo FXX was fractionally longer than the Enzo, but virtually identical in other dimensions. So, too, in basic construction and suspension, though the latter was retuned for track work. That also dictated bigger brakes -- huge Brembo-brand composite-ceramic discs with diameters of 15.7 inches fore, 15.0 aft -- plus special 19-inch “semi-slick” tires, developed by partner Bridgestone along F1 lines.

Aerodynamics has long been key to Ferrari’s racing successes, and designers at Pininfarina had a chance to try some new ideas with the Ferrari Enzo FXX. As with the Enzo, the goal was to achieve stabilizing downforce without clumsy add-ons, so the Ferrari Enzo FXX used a similar set of underbody ducts and diffusers for “airflow management.”

But Ferrari had also learned that too much downforce can actually increase drag and thus reduce top speed, so the Ferrari Enzo FXX added adjustable flaps in the front- and mid-underbody areas that served to “bleed” downforce above 150 mph or so. They did this by diverting air into channels exiting in square-shaped ducts just below the twin exhausts on either side.

The positioning of the exhausts themselves also helped smooth airflow at the rear. Two final aero aids were a surprisingly low-profile rear wing with driver-adjustable outboard “trim tabs,” and a fixed flap ahead of each front wheel for reduced drag and proper vertical loading at that end.

With all this, the Ferrari Enzo FXX claimed 40 percent more downforce than the already impressive Enzo. In fact, the pressure available exceeded the car’s weight, “making a drive across the ceiling of a tubular track a theoretical posit,” as Siminatis noted. Spider-Man, your car is ready.

Spidey needn’t travel alone, however, because the Ferrari Enzo FXX, like the Enzo, had two seats, appropriate for the “trainer racer” part of its brief. Those seats, custom-fit Recaros with five-point racing harnesses, resided in an all-business cockpit befitting a testbed. Steering-wheel buttons allowed the driver to control onboard telemetry covering 39 different parameters, plus real-time data upload to engineers in the pits.

The Ferrari Enzo FXX was also equipped for two-way voice communication, like most modern race cars. As we said, this program was serious. The electronics package and LCD instrumentation were purpose-designed by longtime Ferrari partner Magneti Marelli. A final touch was replacing drag-inducing outside mirrors with a roof-mounted rear-facing TV camera whose images displayed on a portion of the LCD screen.

Ferrari described Ferrari Enzo FXX performance as “absolutely blistering,” which was a fair description. Though top speed was the same as the Enzo’s, 217 mph, Ferrari cited a credible 0-60 estimate of 2.8 seconds, a half-second quicker than the road car. Cornering power was far superior, no surprise with all the aero work. Ferrari quoted a lap time at Fiorano of under 1 minute 18 seconds, versus 1.25 for the Enzo and a record 55.9 seconds for the F2005 Grand Prix car.

Road & Track’s Patrick Hong got to ride shotgun with Grand Am pilot Nick Longhi at the first Ferrari Enzo FXX group outing, staged at Miami Homestead Raceway in April 2006.

“The first thing I notice as we move off,” he reported, “is how smooth the FXX rides on the track. Like the Enzo, this super Ferrari soaks up the road with more compliance than expected. [And] whether the FXX is pegged at full throttle or clawing through corners, it actually feels quite comfortable ... After five or so laps of seeing the scenery blur past the windscreen, I never feel dizzy or uncomfortable ... well, let me take that back. I did feel a bit of strain in my neck. The FXX’s extreme cornering ability and the resulting lateral-g forces really put my neck muscles to the test.”

Hong was no less thrilled by the car’s sheer presence. Seeing a Ferrari Enzo FXX “flexing its muscles and stretching its legs,” he said, “is enough to get your adrenaline pumping and your heartbeat kicking into overdrive.” He termed the engine sound a “ferocious and deafening bark, not unlike that of a shrieking Ferrari Formula 1 engine, just one octave lower.”

In all, the Ferrari Enzo FXX is a modern marvel and another Maranello legend, a car with all the charisma and significance of the fabled 250 GT0 and 365 GTB/4 Daytona. Where will it lead? Hard to say, but there seems little doubt that many future Ferraris will owe a debt to this singular automobile.

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Enzo FXX

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