How the Enzo Ferrari Works

Image Gallery: Exotic Cars Enzo on display at the Frankfurt Motor Show. See more pictures of exotic cars.
Photo courtesy Ferrari SpA

The name Ferrari brings many images to mind: a Formula One racer darting through the turns at Monte Carlo; vice cops chasing drug smugglers through the streets of Miami; ultra-rich drivers cruising winding roads in their six-figure trophy cars; the prancing stallion on a yellow background. The company itself is all about heritage and prestige. The Ferrari company has been involved with racing for more than 50 years, and has been producing road cars almost as long.

Every few years, the two facets of Ferrari combine, taking the high-tech, high-performance designs of Formula One (F1) and putting them into the ultimate dream car. The results have always been exotic, incredibly fast, and incredibly expensive. The latest Ferrari supercar is the Enzo Ferrari, named after the company's late founder.

Enzo on display at the Frankfurt Motor Show
Photo courtesy Ferrari SpA

Enzo Ferrari built the company after splitting from Alfa Romeo in 1940, and the car that bears his name is focused purely on performance. Just being rich isn't enough to get yourself behind the wheel of the Enzo: Fewer than 400 were made, and prospective owners had to apply to Ferrari for the privilege of buying one. Oh, and don't say the name wrong: It's Enzo first, Ferrari second.

In this article, we'll learn how the Enzo was designed to emulate a Formula One car, what powers it, how fast it goes, and why it's so difficult to get one.

Let's start with the engine.

Power and Glory

The Enzo features a mid-engine design.
The Enzo features a mid-engine design.
Photo courtesy Ferrari SpA

The Enzo Ferrari has the engine in a compartment behind the driver -- the mid-engine design that is almost universal among high-performance supercars.

The engine itself, which was designed specifically for this car, is a 366-cubic-inch (6.0 liter), aluminum-block V-12, with four valves per cylinder. It cranks out 660 horsepower at 7,800 RPM, and goes from zero to 100 mph (161 kph) in 6.6 seconds. The top speed is estimated at 217 mph, a speed few owners will ever reach. With a compression ratio of 11.2:1, the Enzo needs some high-octane fuel to run properly -- just another symptom of its F1 heritage. A dry-sump lubrication system keeps everything running smoothly.

The Enzo features a 6.0-liter, V-12 engine
Photo courtesy Ferrari SpA

Despite stripping away many of the comforts associated with luxury cars (the Enzo has no radio), the Enzo is not the lightest car in the world. Its curb weight of 3,009 pounds (1,365 kg) gives it a power-to-weight ratio of 4.56 pounds per horsepower (or .219 horsepower per pound). Here are the power-to-weight ratios* of some of the top supercars so you can see where the Enzo fits in:

*Stats calculated from info at

The six-speed transmission is considered manual-only -- no automatic transmission is available. However, many enthusiasts argue that in order to be considered manual, a car must have a foot clutch. Since it doesn't have one, these people prefer to call the Enzo’s transmission "sequential," or SM (sequential-manual). The term "semi-automatic" is also used.

Almost all of the controls are on the F1-style steering wheel, including the shifting paddles. A series of LEDs on the wheel lets the driver know when the RPMs are high enough to shift, which can be done without removing a hand from the wheel. Other buttons control the selection of gear modes (Sport or Race mode) and a traction control system that can be deactivated.

Photo courtesy Ferrari SpA

All that power gets the Enzo from point A to point B very quickly, but European supercars aren't built to go in a straight line. Next, we'll look at how the Enzo handles.

Turning Point

Photo courtesy Ferrari SpA

By all accounts, the Enzo is stable when cornering, though it is so powerful that it can be difficult to control. The car does have rack-and-pinion power steering, a small nod to driver comfort. The coil-shock units are pushrod actuated, and the shock absorbers can be electronically adjusted from the cockpit into two different positions. The four-wheel independent suspension is further stabilized by front and rear anti-roll bars.

The Enzo meets the road on four Bridgestone Scuderia tires, specially designed and tuned for this car. The front features 245/35ZR-19s, and there are 345/35ZR-19s on the rear, mounted on forged aluminum, single-nut wheels.

Photo courtesy Ferrari SpA

Even the brakes are beastly on the Enzo. The Brembo-produced, 15-inch discs slow the car down remarkably quickly. Almost all the drivers who tested the Enzo reported a few embarrassing laps, creeping through the turns after mashing on the brakes to stem the Enzo's mighty horsepower. It turns out a lighter touch is needed. An anti-lock braking system helps control those steep descents in speed.

Now we'll see how Ferrari's engineers translated the pure racing power of an F1 car into a street machine.

One for the Road

The design of the Enzo, from the engine to the body, was intended to create something close to a street-legal Formula One car. That sets the Enzo apart from earlier Ferrari supercars.

The chassis is a lightweight, carbon-fiber tub with aluminum honeycomb units to help it pass safety laws. The interior is spartan -- even the dashboard is made of carbon-fiber -- and the pedals are close together like a race car's.

Photos courtesy Ferrari SpA

Only a few concessions to luxury were made, such as air conditioning and leather upholstery on the carbon-fiber seats. If you're sensing a theme, it's because the designers intentionally strove for a purity of "man-machine interface." Hence all the carbon-fiber. Air bags for both the driver and passenger were included, and have been needed. Several Enzos have reportedly already met their maker, reducing the worldwide population to about 395. The air bags helped keep the drivers from meeting a similar fate.

Photo courtesy Ferrari SpA

The body, designed by long-time Ferrari partner Pininfarina, was made to echo the form of the F1 racers. The tapered nose and front air inlets are very reminiscent of an F1's shape. Some have complained that the Enzo is not as "beautiful" as some Ferraris, while others see a different kind of beauty in its purity. "It's like a jet fighter," wrote one enthusiast.

In many ways, it is like a jet fighter. Imagine the shape of an airplane's wing -- it creates lower pressure on the top surface of the wing, helping to produce lift. The body of the Enzo is like an upside-down wing. The shape of the car, from the spoilers to the undercarriage, acts to create downforce, literally sucking the car down onto the road. A Formula One car does the same thing, but in that case, pit crews can adjust the car for each track: Lots of downforce is needed for tracks with tight turns, while too much downforce would cut down on top speeds at a more wide-open course. The Enzo has to do it all with just one configuration. Ferrari's engineers worked hard at this, using active control spoilers that adjust their positions -- and therefore the amount of downforce created -- depending on the speed of the car. At 135 mph, almost a half-ton of downforce is pressing down on the Enzo.

Photo courtesy Ferrari SpA

The Enzo is 185.1 inches (470.1 cm) long, 80.1 inches (203.5 cm) wide, and just 45.2 inches (114.8 cm) high. The doors and part of the roof swing up and forward to make it easier to get in and out.

Photos courtesy Ferrari SpA

The car only sits 3.9 inches (9.9 cm) off the ground, but another steering-wheel-mounted button lifts the front suspension a few inches more, so you can avoid scraping the car's chin on lumpy pavement or steep parking lot entrances.

Now, let's examine what it takes to get your hands on one of these limited-edition supercars.

Exclusive and Limited

Photo courtesy Ferrari SpA

Although the price tag on the Enzo Ferrari puts it out of reach of all but the super rich (or the super obsessed), you'd still think Ferrari would be able to sell more than the 399 that rolled out of the factory at Maranello, Italy. Why did they sell so few? Because that's how many they made -- and that's how many they will ever make. When the Ferrari people call something a "limited edition," they're not kidding.

Part of maintaining Ferrari's prestigious heritage is making sure that not everyone can have one. Only a privileged few can buy a Ferrari, and only the most elite owners and collectors in the world will drive one of these limited-edition production cars. That helps explain why the company can charge a lot for their machines.

And just how much is "a lot"? In the Enzo's case, $652,000.

The money doesn't stop flowing once the Enzo is in your garage, either. According to a 2003 Car and Driver article, replacing the brake pads costs $6,000, and the carbon-ceramic brake rotors go for $24,000. A special oil must be used (or else Ferrari will consider the warranty void) -- the oil costs $60 a quart.

Which cars are the fastest? Test your knowledge with this quiz from Turbo:

Which Car is Faster Quiz


A stack of cash alone will not get you an Enzo -- Ferrari has traditionally made potential buyers apply to buy one of their limited-edition cars, placing various restrictions on what may and may not be done with the car. They enforce these restrictions by threatening to withdraw perks like factory tours and the chance to buy future Ferraris -- a serious threat to the exotic car collectors of the world.

Previous Ferraris were even harder to get than the Enzo. For example, the Ferrari F50 wasn't sold, it was only leased. Ferrari could yank the lease at any time, and one of the stranger restrictions was that journalists were not allowed to use the car for performance testing (Car and Driver, Aug. 2003). The Enzo is far easier to get into by comparison. All approved Enzo buyers had the option of traveling to Italy to have the seat and pedals custom fitted.

For more information on the Enzo Ferrari and other supercars, check out the links on the next page.

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More Great Links


  • Robinson, Aaron. "Road Test: Ferrari Enzo." Car and Driver. August 2003 (36-41).
  • Walton, Chris. "First Test 2003: Ferrari Enzo." Motor Trend. August 2003 (46-49, 138).
  • Wilson, Kevin A. "The Enzo Ferrari: F1 made user-friendly." Autoweek. August 12, 2002 (13-19).