You’ve got to hand it to Ferrari’s chairman, Luca di Montezemolo. In the first quarter of 2013, Ferrari sold 1798 cars, a relatively modest four per cent rise on the same period last year. But that equates to a 36.5 per cent jump in net profits, to €56.7m. No brand is more premium than Ferrari, and that’s what you get when you keep an intensely beady eye on things.
Montezemolo resisted the gold rush in the mid-noughties, when Ferrari could have comfortably increased production to 10,000 cars per annum. Now, in a drastically less favourable economic climate, he’s planning to reduce the number of cars Ferrari makes, though he insists that this decision is based, not on continued global economic unpleasantness, but to preserve one of Ferrari’s core assets: exclusivity.
‘This is paramount,’ he told Topgear.com after addressing a huge media gathering in Maranello. ‘We will make fewer cars than the market demands. I want to make more special series cars, more one-offs, and more tailor-made cars, although our main thrust will always be the GT road cars. My 12-year-old daughter could take a reservation for a Ferrari. It is important for our dealers to learn to grow working in quality, not just quantity. A Ferrari is like a beautiful woman, you must desire her.’ (He later expanded on that analogy, but we’ll leave it there.)
Despite pegging production back to around 7000 cars – excluding the 499 LaFerraris that have been sold – 250 new jobs will be created in Maranello, primarily to help manufacture the newly developed V6 and V8 units in the Maserati Quattroporte and Ghibli. The existence of these cars, along with the upcoming Levante, Montezemolo says, quashes on-going pressure to create a four-door Ferrari or an SUV. On the matter of a Ferrari flotation, a rumour that will persist as long as parent company Fiat struggles, Montezemolo is bluntly emphatic: ‘No, no, no!’
Ferrari has also appointed Andrea Perrone, the former CEO of luxury shirt maker Brioni – which had a long-standing deal with Bond producers Eon to supply 007 on screen – to overhaul its often criticised merchandise range. Perroni insists that Ferrari can reconcile its affordable fan gear with its vastly more expensive new Pr1ma line, Italian-made clothing that he says is so consistent with the brand that it need not even bear the famous Prancing Horse logo. These spin-offs currently add around €50m per year to Ferrari’s bottom line, ‘but [the company] is not going to become a retail company manufacturing T-shirts,’ Montezemolo says.
And ahead of this weekend’s Spanish GP, he refuses to be drawn on the departure of Lotus F1’s highly rated technical director James Allison. Allison, who was at the Scuderia from 2000 until 2005, is thought to be today finalising the terms of his return to Maranello. ‘It is a rumour,’ says Montezemolo, ‘and I have to deny it. We will communicate when there is news to say.’ The man who is known to have destroyed flat-screen TVs when a race slips away from Ferrari professes to be largely happy with the way the 2013 season is unfolding.
‘I am a typical Italian: very superstitious. But this season our car is very competitive. What I can definitely say is that I don’t want to lose [the championship] in the last race. I am delicate. At my age I have to protect my heart…’