Are Ferrari Icona series cars the “end of an era”?

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96 ferrari daytona sp3 official reveal nose e1637524823479John McIlroy looks on in wonder at the stunning new Ferrari Daytona SP3 but sees the Icona series cars as the end of an era for the famous Italian brand.

The covers come off; Ferrari’s stunning Daytona SP3 is presented in front of you; you’re told the production run is 599 vehicles; and the first question that enters your head is: why only 599?

It’s a measure, perhaps, of how comfortable Ferrari now is with its own heritage that the third Icona creation – the first car from the company to officially be called Daytona – is considerably more convincing than the Monza SP1 and SP2 that started the series. It’s a simply fabulous piece of design in the metal – cutting-edge construction blended with passive aerodynamics (no moving winglets here, thank you) and dozens of little nods to classic sports prototype racers of the sixties. Ferrari’s design boss Flavio Manzoni says Icona cars need to reference “past, present and future” – and the SP3 certainly does that.

That the car’s 6.5-litre V12 has a few more horsepower than even the 812 Competizione (making this the most powerful conventionally powered Ferrari ever) is the sort of factoid that wealthy collectors lap up. But we’re told that around 300 of them visited the same mansion on the outskirts of Florence where the car was shown to us this afternoon, and that a few were almost moved to tears by the Daytona’s mix of curves and crisp lines more than the engineering beneath them. It has been a project led by Manzoni’s design team – albeit with the reassurance of a LaFerrari chassis as the starting point – and is all the more glorious for it.

Of course all 599 examples are already sold – offered first to existing Monza customers, then to those who ruled out buying those cars because their lack of a windscreen made them illegal on the road in several regions. Preserving that sort of demand – retaining the sort of exclusivity that helps long-term values – will be behind the decision on numbers, though it is bound to have resulted in some awkward conversations with potential customers #600,#601 and #602.

The Daytona SP3’s significance extends beyond the lucky few, though. As the company transitions its ‘regular’ line-up – remember, we’re likely to see a Ferrari SUV within the next 18 months, and a pure-electric vehicle is confirmed for 2025 – Icona could well become the last-chance saloon for some of the key technologies and features that have helped shape Ferrari’s legacy over the past 74 years.

97 ferrari daytona sp3 official reveal rear endThat may extend to the V12 motor – and it’s all but certain to include normally aspirated combustion engines. It’s interesting that Ferrari’s technical boss Michael Leiters says he sees no imminent scope for an all-electric Icona model (scuppering my plan for a BEV GT that tips its hat to the wedge-shaped 400 of the seventies). And that he believes the V12 is “worth fighting for”.

Ferrari’s management insist that while more Icona models are coming, there’s no decision yet on what the next inspiration will be (the Daytona takes us through until 2024 anyhow). But the freedom that the series gives Ferrari and its most well-heeled clients is there for any car fan to celebrate – even those of us for whom owning one will remain a distant dream.

John Mcllroy

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