1989 Ferrari Mythos Concept Car


Image Gallery: Concept Cars The striking 1989 Ferrari Mythos concept car was based on the chassis and powertrain of the midengine Ferrari Testarossa. See more concept car pictures.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

With the introduction of the 1989 Ferrari Mythos concept car, the fabled styling house Pininfarina broke tradition and declined to debut latest creation in Europe.

Instead, the company chose Tokyo's October 1989 auto show to unveil what may have been its most striking design study ever. Created for Ferrari, cementing the decades-long tie between the two companies, the Mythos was no myth, no fantasy. It was a real no-top speedster with a mid-rear 12-cylinder engine. Yet neither did it quite qualify as reality. Not for a while, at any rate.

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Although based on the proven Testarossa chassis, the Ferrari Mythos concept car was strictly one-of-a-kind, playing on its own field. And yet, said chief designer Lorenzo Ramaciotti, the car's design could be "adapted to fill the needs of production... of tomorrow's cars." Sergio Pininfarina, the company chairman, called it an "advanced research prototype," meant to show that Italian styling was "on the crest of the wave."

There was not much doubt about that. Even superlatives seemed lacking when describing the lines of the Ferrari Mythos concept car. Best? Smoothest? Most beautiful? Maybe so; but more important, Mythos signaled a switch in basic approach to auto design, from the reality-based creations of recent times (which focused on new materials and technologies) back to the dreamy, elemental essences of form. In a word, it was a return to the "purity" of the dream.

Emphasizing the "relationship between volumes," according to the Pininfarina firm, the Ferrari Mythos concept car broke free of the traditional "linked panels." Although made up of two distinct elements, the stylists attempted to meld the pair into a single homogeneous form, one flowing into the other.

The main body, containing engine and rear-mounted radiators, served as one of the two masses. The extension that holds passengers and the car's nose was the other. Unlike the Testarossa, which used lateral grilles to minimize the relation of the two masses, Mythos tried to emphasize that contrast -- to highlight the obvious fact that they intersected.

The 1989 Ferrari Mythos concept car broke free from tradition in other ways, as we'll see on the next page.

For more on concept cars and the production models they forecast, check out:

1989 Ferrari Mythos Concept Car Body Design

Without a roof or side windows, the 1989 Ferrari Mythos concept car was a roadster in the truest sense of the term.
Without a roof or side windows, the 1989 Ferrari Mythos concept car was a roadster in the truest sense of the term.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

The 1989 Ferrari Mythos concept car body design harked back to Ferrari tradition, but also forged its own path.

The 1989 Ferrari Mythos concept car body design symbolized a rebirth of the two-seater "barchetta." Pininfarina described it as "very compact, decidedly sporty and extremely spartan." Coupe, targa, and speedster bodies were considered, but speedster won out for its race-car connection. That meant neither a solid roof nor side windows had to be dealt with in the design process.

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A low but lengthy windshield stretched out steeply, to flow into the projectile-like nose. Wheel arches hugged the tires, reaching down close to the pavement. Deeply recessed rectangular headlamps barely broke the flow of the fender, from air dam to door. A lower lip at the front end was "echoed" by a touch of bulge that extended all the way back along the lower body, level with the sills.

Monstrous intake holes behind the doors fed air into the greedy Boxer engine; however, there was no Testarossa-style grillework to block the flow. The Pininfarina signature and Ferrari crest sat just behind the rear intake, ahead of the back wheel.

A rear end that broadened sharply (but ever so gracefully) also rose above the seats, helping to accent the Ferrari Mythos concept car's wedge profile, whether viewed from the side or above.

Rear overhang appeared even shorter than a ruler suggested -- nearly nonexistent, in fact, going beyond stubby to deliver a sliced-off look. Two pairs of exhaust pipes peeked out from the engine-ventilation slit in the back panel, below the taillamp that was set and above the continuous bumper.

Aggression was evident in such details as the shape of the nose; the small windshield and squared-off tail (both reminiscent of certain Group C racing cars); the steeply-inclined outer edge of the air intake; and the raised front wheel arches, which were typical of Pininfarina-styled Ferraris.

An extension of the windshield glass hid its wiper. Because the Ferrari Mythos concept car's side planes blended so well, the big rear wing spoiler didn't stand out nearly as much as in other supercars.

To improve downforce, the rear wing spoiler of the Mythos could lift nearly 12 inches.
To improve downforce, the rear wing spoiler of the Mythos could lift nearly 12 inches.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Viewed from the top, a link with Formula 1 Ferraris was evident in the double "S" section, said to be "similar to the sinuous lines of a... violin." Whereas an ordinary Testarossa was wider at the rear than at the front, the Ferrari Mythos concept car added five more inches to that difference, making the back end 8.2 inches broader than the front. For that reason, the gaping rear air intakes were evident even when viewed from the front of the car. Rear overhang was shorter than Testarossa's, measuring just 25 inches.

The 1989 Ferrari Mythos concept car forged a new path not just in the design of its body. Learn more on the next page.

For more on concept cars and the production models they forecast, check out:

1989 Ferrari Mythos Concept Car Mechanical Design

The 1989 Ferrari Mythos concept car cockpit stressed symmetry. The shape of the analog instrument panel was echoed by the steering wheel.
The 1989 Ferrari Mythos concept car cockpit stressed symmetry. The shape of the analog instrument panel was echoed by the steering wheel.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Like many futuristic concept cars of the 1980s, aerodynamics played a key role in the 1989 Ferrari Mythos concept car mechanical design. The rear wing spoiler, for one, could raise almost a foot (according to speed), to boost downforce. It also rotated 12 degrees, while producing a load of 331 pounds at 155 mph.

Instead of the usual correction techniques that affected either the front or rear axle alone, which upsets a car's balance, Pininfarina opted for one at each end. So up front, the retractable lip at the base of the bumper protruded a little over an inch to increase the downforce reaction of the dam. Both devices operated electrically, zipping into action at speeds above 62 mph. Each retracted when speed fell below 44 mph.

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Ornamentation was about as minimal as in any design of the 1980s. Functional elements (bumpers, headlamps, spoilers) were integrated into the overall design, not tacked on later. No surface graphics were needed to identify a car that spoke for itself.

Within the Ferrari Mythos concept car lay a symphony of symmetries. Seat bases, for instance, reflected the flowing line of the simple dashboard. The twin-circumference pattern of the analog instruments repeated itself in the steering wheel. Controls sat on symmetrical stalks at the side of the instrument panel. That panel, the steering wheel, and pedals formed a single, depth-adjustable block.

The lack of window handles allowed the door shell to serve as an armrest, while door panels were of the most minimalist nature. Like the body, the two-seat interior, upholstered in red leather, was intended to recapture the spirit of racing "barchettas" of the 1960s. The instrument panel, facia, door panels, and seats were leather-covered shells.

Mechanicals for the Ferrari Mythos concept car came strictly from the Testarossa, including the 12-cylinder, 4942cc flat Boxer engine. Only the exhaust system had to be revised, because of the Mythos's shorter rear overhang. The tubular steel frame was also derived from Testarossa, but reinforced in this application. Hoods, doors, and body panels were made of carbon fiber.

Pirelli PZero tires carried the engines 390-horsepower to the ground: 245/40 ZR17 in front, and mammoth 335/25 ZR17s at the rear. Alloy wheels, derived from the basic Ferrari five-spoke design, displayed only the familiar prancing horse in their hubs; lug nuts were concealed.

With the creation of the far-from-mythical Ferrari Mythos concept car, the Pininfarina firm -- and Ferrari -- reached back to the tradition that brought forth such innovative models as the 250 PS (in 1968), the 512 S (1969), and the futuristic Modulo (1970). Fans of both art and automobiles surely welcomed a regression of that kind.

Go to the next page for specifications of the 1989 Ferrari Mythos concept car.

For more on concept cars and the production models they forecast, check out:

1989 Ferrari Mythos Concept Car Specifications

Drawing inspiration from past models, Ferrari and Pininfarina managed to create a vehicle both futuristic and traditional in the 1989 Ferrari Mythos concept car.
Drawing inspiration from past models, Ferrari and Pininfarina managed to create a vehicle both futuristic and traditional in the 1989 Ferrari Mythos concept car.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Racing through the space that lay somewhere between fantasy and reality, the 1989 Ferrari Mythos concept car was the subject of many a car-lover's dream of the automotive future, and a glance at the 1989 Ferrari Mythos concept car specifications listed below proves that the dream wasn't so far-fetched.

Manufacturer: Pininfarina Studi e Ricerche S.p.A., Turin, Italy; for Ferrari S.p.A., Modena, Italy

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Body design: 2-passenger, 2-door coupe; carbon fiber body, tubular steel frame

Powertrain layout: mid-engine, rear-wheel drive

Wheelbase: 100.4 inches

Overall length: 170.7 inches

Overall width: 82.7 inches

Overall height: 41.9 inches

Track, front: 59.8 inches

Track, rear: 68.0 inches

Weight: 2,756 pounds

Approximate price: not available

Engine type: dohc horizontally-opposed 12-cylinder

Displacement (liters/cubic inches): 4.9/301

Horsepower @ rpm: 390 (DIN) @ 6300

Torque (lbs./ft) @ rpm: (est.) 354 @ 4500

Fuel delivery: twin multi-point fuel injection

Transmission: 5-speed manual

Suspension, front: transverse arms, helical coil springs

Suspension, rear: transverse arms, twin helical coil springs per wheel, anti-roll bar

Brakes: front/rear ventilated discs

1989 Ferrari Mythos Concept Car Performance

Top speed: not available

0-60 mph: not available

Quarter-mile: not available

mph @ quarter-mile: not available

For more on concept cars and the production models they forecast, check out: