How the Enzo Ferrari Works

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.