Ferrari Monza SP1 and SP2: a ride in Maranello's Special Project

Published: 11 July 2019

► CAR rides in the Ferrari Monza at Goodwood
► Two versions offered: Monza SP1 and SP2
► Less than 500 will be made at c. £1.6m each

Fewer than 500 of these gorgeous Ferrari V12 Barchettas will be built, with elegant retro styling inspired by Maranello’s open-top sports racing cars of the 1950s.

The 499-car production run will be split between single-seat SP1s and dual-seat SP2 Monzas, dictated by customer preference. 

Following static display appearances in 2018, the SP2 has made its dynamic debut at the 2019 Goodwood Festival of Speed – and CAR’s James Taylor hitched a ride up the hill.

Riding in the Ferrari SP2 Monza at Goodwood

The Goodwood Festival of Speed is always a feast of extraordinary rare cars but 2019 was a vintage year for lesser-spotted Ferraris. The one-of-one P80/C track carand SP3JC both charged up the hill under the gaze of double-taking tifosibut one of the biggest head-turners of the festival was this jet-black SP2 Monza. 

It’s been seen on static display at the Paris motor show previously but Goodwood marked the first time it’s turned a wheel in anger in front of the public. CAR hitched a lift for one of the Monza’s dramatic hill runs. 

Up close, its shape and surfacing really is pure and restrained, remarkably so for a modern sports car. Some of the details are really quite special, and the more time you spend in the SP2’s company, the more its £1.6m price tag begins to make sense. The size of the bonnet, for instance, one gigantic composite clamshell. And beneath it, the V12 engine from the 812 Superfast, with variable inlet tracts for yet more power. More than 800(!) metric horsepower, in fact – and all without a turbocharger in sight. 

The tiny doors swing upward and you clamber over the high-cut sides (being ever so careful not to scuff anything, given that price) and drop into a blood-red bucket seat with race harnesses. They have a lot of slack in this particular car, and so it’s necessary to slide the seat further forward than you would ordinarily to be fully restrained.

You’re separated from the driver (professional race instructor Pat in this car) by a spar of carbonfibre, and the airflow ahead by a tiny wind deflector. The driver’s side has a curved shroud over its instrument panel that appears black outside the car and translucent within. 

Rolling from the paddock to the startline, the SP2 creates a real stir, passing through a constant Mexican Wave of smartphones. People lean toward the open cockpit to ask questions – how much, how fast, how many to be built, and does it really have no roof? (It doesn’t – there’s nothing to spoil the lines, or the surprisingly usable boot.)

The V12 turns heads too, its tiny flywheel meaning it whips from idle to high revs in the blink of an eye and rocking the car across its axis despite the chassis’ stiff structure. With 800bhp or thereabouts on tap and the whole world watching it would be tempting to take it easy up the famously unforgiving Goodwood Hill but fair play to driver Pat, who cranks the manettinoto the CT-off position, and leaves the line in a flurry of tyre smoke and opposite lock. 

I’ve been fortunate to experience some seriously accelerative cars in the course of work for this magazine, but the SP2 Monza really is something. It feels every bit as fast as one might imagine a carbonfibre car with 800bhp would. It stops well too, its composite brakes grabbing from cold impressively well. It’s also a blustery experience; that wind deflector doesn’t do quite as much as you might expect, and I’m glad of the full-face helmet I’m wearing but disappointed that the run is finished. 

This is more than a pure styling study – on the basis of this ride, the SP2 Monza is as breathtaking dynamically as it is aesthetically.

How much for a Ferrari Monza SP1 or SP2?

The Ferrari SP1 and SP2 Monzas, first seen at Capital Markets Day in Maranello in 2018, made their motor show debuts at Paris the same year, where their pricing was confirmed: 1.6 million euros including Italian VAT. Strip out that Italian VAT, convert to sterling and factor in UK VAT and you’re looking at a similar sum; roughly £1.6 million.

Buyers will not be able to buy both, and getting your name on the Monza list will require sturdy Ferrari-buying credentials – that high-mileage 456 you just snaffled on eBay probably won’t cut the mustard.

Talking to CAR, Ferrari’s senior vice president for design Flavio Manzoni revealed the buzz the project created within Ferrari’s Centro Stile design facility.

‘When my team and I discovered there was a possibility to work on this concept, the enthusiasm, passion and creativity reached one of the highest peaks I have known in the eight years I have been with Ferrari,’ says Manzoni.

‘Here was the opportunity to deliver something really pure. This comes from the architecture. A car without a roof becomes immediately more pure, more simple. We also had the chance to create something [a modern barchetta] that doesn’t exist in the world – this was unbelievable.

‘But the first thing I told my team was that I didn’t want it to be nostalgic. This car, despite the name, is not a modern interpretation of the Monza. It’s an interpretation of the concept of the barchetta. This is part of our history, but I also love the idea of being part of the machine, with a level of symbiosis beyond anything else – essentially you sit in the car, with the carrozzeria at eye level. The idea of driving this, without a roof, with no helmet and windscreen, is for me really impressive.’

Tell me more about the Ferrari Monza SP1 and SP2...

Ferrari chose its industry-facing 2018 Capital Markets Day to unveil two limited-run Icona creations, the single-seat Monza SP1 and dual-seat Monza SP2 Barchettas – the first cars from what Camilleri describes as the fourth pillar of modern Ferrari, alongside its special series, GT and sports cars.

Described as ‘a glorious manifestation of Ferrari’s DNA’, the Icona cars will be built in limited numbers and to a cadence Camilleri refused to be drawn on. They’ll boost revenue without adding considerably to production volumes or damaging brand equity.

It's a project instigated under Marchionne’s watch, with fewer than 500 Monzas being offered to loyal Ferrari buyers. Based on the 812 Superfast (complete with rear-wheel steering), the Monza ups the naturally-aspirated V12’s power output to 810PS (799bhp) while cutting weight for a 0-62mph time of 2.9sec and 0-125mph in 7.9sec.

Monza SP2 overhead

The absence of a roof and a windscreen (Ferrari talks of a RenaultSport Spider-like ‘virtual windscreen’) is key to the Monza’s appeal, which head of product marketing Nicola Boari describes as ‘the embodiment of the passion of our founder; the purest and most intoxicating driving experience, with very little between you and the asphalt’.

An upper body in F1-grade composites, including kevlar and carbonfibre, cuts weight while giving design director Flavio Manzoni and his team the freedom to realise what he describes as ‘the elegance of the past fused with an uncompromising architecture and a modern approach, and not a nostalgic approach’.

Inspired by the 750 Monza racer of the ’50s, Manzoni’s creation is a thoroughly contemporary Ferrari form, one that deftly draws on the past while refusing to acquiesce to retro.

Monza SP1 rear

In both versions the driver is encircled in a sweep of elliptical carbonfibre, the sparse driving instruments supplemented by an offset lower panel housing supplementary controls. The car debuted in three colours – black, red, and silver with yellow race graphics, with the latter looking particularly striking on the car’s unique 21-inch forged wheels.

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