My Car Quest

September 24, 2021

Concept Car Finally Reaches Road: Ferrari Pininfarina Modulo 512S

by Wallace Wyss –

A lot of time you look at a concept car and if it’s real daring in design–i.e. it looks like it wouldn’t meet any regulations of lighting, windshield rake, safety, etc, you think “well, a nice idea but it will never reach the road.”

Ferrari Pininfarina Modulo

But sometimes they do. James Glickenhaus, an American sports car manufacturer and owner of race team Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus, always liked this show car and when he saw Pininfarina was amenable to selling it in 2014, he was there with the money. The car has an illustrious DNA–it’s built over no less than a Ferrari 512S chassis.

Ferrari Pininfarina Modulo

According to Road & Track the reason the car became available was, about that time, “Pininfarina was just about to get ready for its takeover by Indian giant Mahindra.” R & T also said Pininfarina was sure Glickenhaus could get the car converted because “he already had the team for the job through SCG, right there in Italy.”

What number you ask? Ah, you would have to ask. Bit of confusion there, one news source said numbered 0023 Wikipedia says chassis 0027 and the usually reliable Ferrari SN checking site barchettacc.com first says Ferrari 512 S Berlinetta s/n 1046 is the car under the Modulo but then in the same listing says the show car Pininfarina Modulo is 0864. So as usual you get lost in a serial number maze when you try to trace old race cars.

Ferrari Pininfarina Modulo

Photo from Road & Track

Ferrari had converted it to a 612 Can Am when they decided to use the chassis instead for the one-off off Modulo design. A writer from Jalopnik suggested Ferrari didn’t even need 25 of them but that was an FIA rule for that class. You had to build 25, whether you needed them or not.

But even though it had a real frame, real suspension, real steering gear, and such it wasn’t drivable and had merely been pushed onstage at one show after another.

So one day, five years after buying it and having it restored, in 2019 Glickenhaus is driving it around in Monaco when it catches fire. The fire was put out quickly and the car repaired but you wonder if it’s too big a river to cross to make a car street drivable that was only meant to preen onstage. Glickenhaus said at the time of the fire that a custom muffler designed by a third party was to blame.

The car made its world debut at the 1970 Geneva International Motor Show. The designer credited with the wedge shape is Pininfarina designer Paolo Martin. Interesting was the slide forward access to the cockpit, rather like some military aircraft, and the 24 holes in the engine cover designed to cool off the 5.0-liter V-12 rated at 550 horsepower. If I may be so bold to critique a feature, it would seem having the cockpit slide backwards would have allowed the car to be driven with it open.

Ferrari Pininfarina Modulo

Ferrari Pininfarina Modulo Interior – Photo from Road & Track

You wonder when you find out its underpinnings whether its value now is higher than any of the 512S sports cars made by Ferrari for the new Sports class at the end of ’69. That Ferrari would have been a world class competitor if it weren’t for a pesky German car called the Porsche 917. The 512S only won one major race “in period”, the Sebring race of 1970. Minor victories were winning the non championship Fuji 200 Mile Race in Japan, and a 512 M version taking first in the Kyalami 9 Hour Race in South Africa. Still, those wins prove it is built on a chassis that has the potential to win.

Originally it had no rear window but in a re-do where they changed the color from black to white, they added what looks like a rear window which you can see glimpses of what’s behind you through oblong holes. Jonathan Thompson, of Road & Track suggested in an article about it that it could be ideal for a science fiction film. Amazingly it’s fifty years since the car was built and it still might be too futuristic to be believable as a street car.

I haven’t read any articles about old dream cars fitted out for the road where the authors laud those individuals who, with their own money, “saved” the car but here and now I want to salute Jim for doing this. It’s only when we see a dream on the road that we can grasp the full concept of what the designer was trying to achieve.

Ferrari Pininfarina Modulo

Hey Paolo–you forgot room for a suitcase!

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

THE AUTHOR: Known as “Mr. Malibu Car Art” Wallace Wyss is painting portraits of the world’s most exotic cars. Write malibucarart@gmail.com for info.
 
 

Below is the video – Ferrari Modulo by Pininfarina: First Drive, Ever

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Concept Car Finally Reaches Road: Ferrari Pininfarina Modulo 512S
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Concept Car Finally Reaches Road: Ferrari Pininfarina Modulo 512S
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The designer credited with the wedge shape of the Ferrari Pininfarina Modulo is Pininfarina designer Paolo Martin.
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Comments

  1. Italy recently issued a postage stamp showing the Ferrari Modulo in celebration of 90 years of Pininfarina (see the attached image).

    Read more here – https://journal.classiccars.com/2020/10/08/italy-honors-pininfarina-with-postage-stamp/?utm_source=core77.com&utm_medium=facebook&fbclid=IwAR2U3m1ZphVzv7rUxGig7BRm_TpRuJ1oCEqnGNREga2XGPJxyelg0IT69y8

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