Ferrari unveils 680bhp J50
Limited edition run of 10 Ferrari roadsters feature more power, F40- and F50-inspired styling, and properly integrated door handles
Looking for an excuse to build a few bespoke cars and charge a little extra for them, Ferrari has unveiled the J50.
Ferrari has history here, of course. Back in 2014, it celebrated 60 years of flogging its wares in the United States with the F60 America, in essence an open-top F12. Just 10 were built, with each one sold before any member of the public had even seen it. And having watched Pininfarina have no trouble selling six 458 Spider-based Sergios, Ferrari wants in on the action.
So now that’s the cynical side of this article out of the way…
Wow! Based on the 488 Spider, it’s a two-seat, mid-engined roadster harking back to the company’s heady design days of the ‘70s and ‘80s, and commemorates the fifty years Ferrari has been operating in Japan (hence J50). Created by Ferrari’s Special Projects department in Maranello, and designed by the Ferrari Styling Centre, just 10 examples will be built. And we can't imagine all aren't already sold.
All the bodywork is new, and it’s hard to know where to look first. The angry, upturned outer edges of the front splitter? The twin carbonfibre vents in the bonnet? The black swage line that apes those on the 288 GTO, F40 and F50, and which rises from the nose, up the voluptuous sides, and disappears into the side intakes?
Have you noticed the lower windscreen too, which increases airflow over the larger rear spoiler? And what about the engine? Usually hidden away on the 488 Spider because of the folding roof, this ‘barchetta’ does away with the all-weather protection and instead we get the 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8 on full display beneath a polycarbonate cover. The shape of the engine cover mirrors the twin carbon roll hoops too, which are themselves spanned by an aero bridge that Ferrari claims is 'revisiting one of the most distinctive features of Ferrari sports prototypes of the 1960s'.
The roof is now a carbonfibre targa top that divides into two pieces and stows behind the seats. At the back there is a bigger fixed rear wing, quad tailpipes and dual exhausts, while the forged 20in wheels are reminiscent of the F50. All in all it’s pretty damn nice, and we’re just hopeful that some of the design language makes its way onto the revised F12, the much-rumoured Dino, heck, any Ferrari that won’t be hidden away in collections for years to come.
That, and we'd like to see the engine again soon – it has been upped from 661bhp to 680bhp. A hint at what’s to come from a 488 Speciale/Scuderia/Challenge Stradale, we hope.
Oh, and best of all, the door handles are now integrated into the doors; on a 488 GTB or Spider they’re awful, tacked-on afterthoughts. Maybe not quite worth the price of admission (you have to ask how much? Then alas it's not for either of us) but a welcome sweetener to seal the deal.
Less impressive are the interior tweaks. There's a some specific trim alternations, a few bespoke materials, but it's mostly 488 fare in here. Still, we'd have one.
Halfway through this official Ferrari video, you eventually get to the see the J50