Theres one problem with the Ferrari Enzo. Its just too damn common.
Of course, thats a ludicrous assertion. When was the last time you saw one on the road? Probably never. Even lower-league supercars are hardly common, unless you know where to look.
The trouble is though, if youre an Enzo owner, then youre the sort of usefully rich person who probably knows another Enzo owner. And another. So what do you do to ensure Richie Rich next door doesnt have the same car that you do?
If youre James Glickenhaus, you speak to Pininfarina, and get them to turn your Enzo into the P4/5 concept, one of the most well-known custom hypercars ever built. A $4 million, modernised replica of the famous Ferrari P4 racers, the P4/5 is an Enzo underneath, but nothing like an Enzo on top. And at a stroke, Mr Glickenhaus becomes unique, even in his rarefied peer group.
Ferrari 456 Estate
Hes not the first custom supercar owner, of course. The Sultan of Brunei has had more than his fair share, from estate and saloon versions of the Ferrari 456, to a Bentley off-roader, to Aston Martin shooting brakes.
Sultan of Brunei’s Bentley 4x4s
Even the manufacturers themselves have been at it. The Geneva Motor Show was home to the Lamborghini Aventador J concept, the latest in a line of Batmobile-like works of art that take their designs to another level, rumoured to have been a special order for a customer.
Lamborghini Aventador J
Ferrari have created a special department for these one-off cars, called the ‘Ferrari Speial Project Program’, who custom build one-off cars for their most valued customers. The first car to come out the division was the SP1, built for a Japanese businessman and avid Ferrari collector. Another isthe rather hideous Ferrari P540 Superfast Aperta, ordered by Edward Walson, who wanted a Ferrari based on the gold one in the film Toby Dammit.
Ferrari P540 Superfast Aperta
The most recent from Ferrari is the Superamerica 45, produced to order by Peter Kalikow to celebrate 45 years since he bought his first Ferrari.
Ferrari Superamerica 45
The carmakers dont mind doing this, of course. Even in times of recession there are always people around who are so staggeringly wealthy theyll pay to have something exclusive. Your project is only limited by your budget, and if someone is bankrolling the most incredible vehicle in history youd be only too happy to oblige.
Its nothing new either. Even in the days when even regular supercars were less common, individuals were often keen to be seen in something different. If anything, coachbuilders were more common than they are today, and gave us such rarities as the 1975 Ferrari Daytona Breadvan, a shooting brake version of the famous 365 GTB4, or the Lamborghini 400 GT Flying Star II, made by Touring in the 1960s. And coach-built specials go back virtually as far as the dawn of the motor car.
Lamborghini 400 GT Flying Star II
But, it isnt just the wealthy individuals, nor the wealthier car companies that benefit from these creations.
As petrolheads, we all benefit. Sure, well never get to drive these exclusive vehicles – we may never even get to see them. But thats part of the appeal.
Ferrari Daytona Breadvan
When you were a kid, seeing a Ferrari fly past your familys car was a life-changing moment. You may never see another Ferrari for years, so every example you see counts.
Now, Ferraris, Porsches and Aston Martins arent as much of an event. The companies make more, and more people can afford them. You can go on the internet and find pictures of every supercar ever, until youre so familiar with the shapes you can draw the latest Lamborghini in your sleep. With your feet.
So these one-off supercars, these special projects, still excite. You may never see one on the road, but that makes it all the more special when you do. It brings out the child in all of us.
And for that, we salute the supercar specials, and the individuals that make them happen.