Famed coachbuilder Sergio Scaglietti hadn’t worked with Ferrari in 17 years when the phone call came. “I found out two hours before the presentation the car’s name was [Ferrari 612] Scaglietti,” he beamed. “They called me and said to be sure to make it to the introduction of ‘my car.’ I was flabbergasted.”
Ferrari indeed wished to honor the Modena stylist and coachbuilder associated with some of its most beautiful early sports cars. It chose for the purpose the new Ferrari 612 Scaglietti, six to suggest the liters displacement, 12 for its number of cylinders.
The Ferrari 612 Scaglietti had an all-aluminum construction to reduce weight.
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Ferrari pitched this, its largest road car ever, as a genuine four-seater rather than a 2+2. The Ferrari 612 Scaglietti's long-hood, short-deck Pininfarina-styled body with its scalloped sides paid homage to the famous Ferrari 375 MM “Berlinetta Aerodinamica” Pininfarina built in 1954 for Roberto Rossellini as a gift to Ingrid Bergman.
The Ferrari 612 Scaglietti’s unveiling at the 2004 North American International Auto Show in Detroit marked two Maranello milestones. It was the first time America was the site of the international launch of a Ferrari model. And it commemorated the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the first Ferrari road car into the United States.
Once the nostalgia and hoopla were satisfied, it became evident the Ferrari 612 Scaglietti also represented a revolution in Ferrari construction through weight savings from its all-aluminum technology. The body was made in the Scaglietti body-construction facility, and it featured a space-frame chassis developed in conjunction with aluminum giant Alcoa.
The chassis was of aluminum extrusions connected by aluminum casts that acted as joints. Sheet aluminum reinforced the structure, and special heat treatments made the alloy panels more resistant to deformation.
The 540-horsepower 5748cc V-12 had four valves per cylinder, light alloy construction, and a new exhaust system that reduced back pressure. It was positioned far behind the front axle for superb handling, a placement that dictated the car’s somewhat controversial rearward cabin placement.
The Ferrari 612 Scaglietti was first to feature
CST (Control for Stability and Traction).
This was the first Ferrari with CST (Control for Stability and Traction) as a handling aid. The system, which worked with the antilock and antiskid functions, had Normal and Sport settings, or could be deactivated completely. Buyers could choose a traditional six-speed manual transmission or an updated version of the F1-derived paddle-shift system.
Despite being longer than a Mercedes E-class sedan and weighing 4,100 pounds, the Ferrari 612 Scaglietti was a superb road car, perhaps the best Ferrari grand-tourer ever. Car and Driver in August 2004 compared it with the day’s other premier four-place coupes and picked the Ferrari 612 Scaglietti over the Bentley Continental GT, Mercedes-Benz CL600, and Aston Martin DB9. The Ferrari 612 Scaglietti stormed to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds, needed just 9.5 to hit 100, and clipped the quarter-mile in 12.5. Top speed was 192 mph.
“Drive our quartet hard,” the magazine said, “… the Ferrari oozes character and dynamic ability to elevate the entire experience beyond its rivals….” That was the essence of the Ferrari 612 Scaglietti’s mission -- to feel like a classic sports car even with two posti behind the driver.
Though not universally regarded as one of Pininfarina’s best design efforts, the Ferrari 612 Scagliletti was an unqualified commercial success. Deliveries in 2005 alone totaled 864, robust sales by Ferrari standards.
Two new options arrived that year to enhance the 612’s appeal: available two-tone paint schemes in a near-limitless choice of colors and combinations, and a “Handling GTC pack.” The latter made for grander and safer high-speed touring with its included CCM brakes. CCM stands for carbon-ceramic material, which virtually eliminated heat buildup and thus fading in hard use, a notable advance on conventional steel brakes.
The Ferrari 612 Scaglietti could be ordered in
almost any two-tone color combination.
The package also delivered premium ball-polished modular wheels and, on cars with the F1 sequential gearbox, more aggressive shift programming for improved responsiveness and acceleration.
The Ferrari 612 Scaglietti was further enhanced in 2007 with availability of new ultra-soft leather upholstery by Poltrona Frau -- “as seductive to the touch as it is to the eye,” said Ferrari. The leather stitching and surface finish were also revised for a more-luxurious look and feel.
At the same time, the Ferrari 612 Scaglietti debuted a new high-tech Bose “infotainment” system with home-quality digital 5.1 surround sound. Called the Bose 2 DIN Radio-Navigator, this all-in-one package combined regular and satellite radio with audio/video DVD playback, hands-free cellphone link, and a navigation system whose dashboard screen could display signals from a built-in rearview camera and an onboard TV tuner. (For safety, the last could be used only with the vehicle stopped.)
As the latest in the long line of “deluxe” Ferrari 2+2s, the Ferrari 612 Scaglietti was a delightful contradiction: a fast, supremely comfortable long-distance GT that could shame many “pure” sports cars on a winding road. Who says you can’t have it all?
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