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Ferrari SP38: meet Maranello’s F40 and 308GTB inspired one-off

Published: 23 May 2018

► One-off model
► Based on the F40 and 308GTB
► Built on a 488 GTB 

Ferrari’s One-Off programme doesn’t always result in the most visually pleasing bespoke creations, but this latest example is certainly raising a few pulses around here.

Taking influence from the F40 and, to lesser extent, the 308 GTB, it’s called the Ferrari SP38. Full details follow below, but we have just two immediate questions: a) couldn’t someone have come up with a better name, and b) why hasn’t it got a bigger rear wing?

Those minor quibbles aside, the SP38 is surely one of the sexiest pieces of metal and carbon to come out of Maranello for quite some time.

What’s the Ferrari SP38 based on?

You’ve probably guessed this from the proportions, but underneath those new cloths lurks the beating heart and techno-structure of a Ferrari 488 GTB – a nice choice for an homage to the F40, since both models are powered by a twin-turbo V8.

This adds a further layer of complexity to the exterior design, of course, as the makeover still needed to provide adequate air-flow and cooling to the 488’s engine. Especially since the SP38 has apparently been engineered for road and circuit use.

According to Ferrari, the new owner immediately put this to the test by taking to famous Fiorano test-track for some familiarisation laps.

Who designed the Ferrari SP38?

The in-house Ferrari Design Centre is responsible for the SP38’s new look.

The idea was to concentrate the unique Ferrari’s mass over the rear wheels – something that’s been done in such an elegant way that it’s not actually that obvious until you see it from a rear three-quarter view.

Seen from this angle, the SP38 has a distinctive wedge shape that ‘sharply stretches’ towards its nose. The skinniest possible headlights were part of the brief from the client, apparently, which meant moving the daytime running lights for added ‘character’.

The slim bumper element at the front is where the 308 GTB reference comes in.

The wedgy, visor shape to the windscreen and side glass reminds us of a Lancia Strato, while clever folds in the metal along the flanks cunningly hide the 488 GTB’s trademark air intakes; these couldn’t be taken out altogether as they’re still relied on to feed oxygen to the engine’s intercoolers.

In what way does the SP38 look like a Ferrari F40?

It’s subtle, and reading between the lines the idea to play on the F40 heritage may have come from the engine similarity rather than as an original aesthetic intent. Even so there are some neat styling cues.

Most obvious is the slatted engine cover, which replaces the traditional glass rear window and helps keep the engine cool. This whole assembly is carbonfibre, and the ‘slashing shutlines’ in the SP38’s flanks are a deliberate F40 reference.

The rear haunches carry over into a spoiler that’s also supposed to be a hat-tip to the F40 – though we can’t help thinking the thing would have looked even more awesome if the designers had gone even further with this, and given it a properly proud rear wing practically at the level of the roof.

Presumably there are good aerodynamic reasons for not doing this. But still. A trio of tailpipes would have been a nice bit F40 iconography as well.

Who are we to question the decisions of the super-rich, eh?

Who owns the Ferrari SP38?

Ferrari rarely kisses and tells, and this is no exception.

All we know is that this person is ‘one of Ferrari’s most dedicated customers’. And that their latest toy is rather lovely.

Having been handed over to its new owner at Fiorano, the Ferrari SP38 will be appearing in public for the first time at the 2018 Concorso d’Elegenanza Villa d’Este on Saturday 26 May.

Give it a good stare from us if you happen to be there.

By CJ Hubbard

Former CAR magazine associate editor, road tester, organiser, extremely variable average wheel count

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