An important lesson for supercar posterity: stick the engine in the middle, it’s better. But that’s not the only schooling going on here – brace yourselves folks, because Liberty Walk are having a go at being smooth and subtle…
The notion of a mid-engined Ferrari is commonplace today – indeed, it’s more unusual to find Ferraris that have the motor at the front – but there was a time when this was not the case. Enzo Ferrari was famously against the idea, complaining that putting the engine behind the driver was like ‘putting the horse behind the cart’. His front-engined Formula One cars were doing fine in the 1950s (and it’s worth remembering that Enzo never really wanted to build and sell road cars anyway, they were just a necessary evil to pay for the firm’s racing endeavours), but in 1960 the 246P was tested in F1 – the firm’s first ever mid-engined racer, running a 2.4-litre Dino V6.
The first mid-engined Ferrari road cars – the Dino 206 and 246 GT – didn’t arrive until 1968, because again cantankerous old Enzo felt that the general public couldn’t be trusted to handle such a layout. But, as with the F1 cars, the engineers managed to change his mind, and victory ensued.
Fast-forward to 2015, and we see the covers coming off the magnificently rakish 488 GTB. Ferrari’s latest mid-engined V8 treat, it traces a line back to the Dino, although in terms of midship-V8s it all began with the car that replaced the Dino: the 308. In chronological order from that point (in 1975) to this one, the model numbers run like this: 308, 328, 348, F355, 360, F430, 458, 488. So there you go, you’re all caught up.
The car you see here, however, is no ordinary 488. Sure, the model’s a mighty thing in standard form – its 3.9-litre dry-sumped twin-turbo V8 produces 661bhp in factory spec, it’ll run 0-62mph in three seconds dead – but naturally this isn’t a factory-spec example. We’re not that sort of magazine.
So why the history lesson? Because this is one of the most mould-breaking Liberty Walk builds we’ve seen so far, that’s why, by virtue of the fact that it almost doesn’t look mould-breaking at all: with the notable absence of the usual stickers and graphics, the uninformed observer might be led to believe that this is how Ferrari themselves actually built it. Of course, you and we know better, but isn’t it intriguing to find an LB Works widebody road-racer that’s… subtle? Is it mad to use that word?
OK, perhaps not subtle as such, but it certainly exudes a class and maturity that you wouldn’t find in, say, a baby-pink Liberty Walk Nissan GT-R. So how did all this come about?
The man with the gen is James Pearman, Director of The Performance Company. Regular readers will remember him from issue 395, in which we showcased the deep-green LB Works Lamborghini Aventador that he was the puppetmaster above…