As far as being a special car, the name really says it all.
From the very beginning, the $670,000 Enzo was destined to be something special in terms of looks, performance, execution and exclusivity. How exclusive? Of the 400 that were slated to be built, only 80 found their way to North America.
That's exactly what the company's extremely well-heeled patrons expect when considering any Ferrari purchase, most importantly one named for Enzo Ferrari, the man who founded and maintained a firm grip on his empire from its beginning in 1947 until his death at age 90 in 1988.
To Ferrari, racing came first and selling street cars merely supplied the funds to keep the track cars winning. The Enzo is aptly named because it idealizes that philosophy. The car is a rolling compilation of everything Ferrari is a with air conditioning, tilt steering and fitted luggage.
As such, with the help of a wind tunnel to develop aerodynamics, the Enzo looked more like a race car than a road-going machine, especially with its prominent cheese-wedge nose, massive frontal area, side and rear air intake scoops and protruding rear fenders. By comparison, the narrow cockpit remained well within the confines of extra-thick gull-wing door panels. An expansive windshield also stood in stark contrast to a pair of gun-slit side windows that seemed more useful providing privacy from nosy bystanders than as an aid to visibility.
Unfortunately, pictures of the Enzo don't even come close to doing it justice. A two-dimensional image leaves the misguided impression that the car is an odd collection of even odder shapes. To see it in the flesh instantly changes that notion.
This is both a serious and sensuous work of art that, years on, will be enshrined as one of Ferrari's best.
Among the original styling parameters for the Enzo was that the carbon-fiber body not have any obvious stabilizing wings to supply necessary downforce at high speeds. Ferrari design engineers installed a pair of adjustable front flaps hidden beneath the twin radiators at the front of the car. An active spoiler that adjusted according to the velocity of the vehicle was actually part of the rear deck. Channels underneath the Enzo's flat bottom were sculpted to allow air to flow unrestricted to a pair of diffusers at the rear that also generated downforce.
If there was ever any question about the benefits of racing experience, the Enzo erased them all.
More racecar-inspired goodies were deployed inside with carbon fiber on display, well, absolutely everywhere. Both leather-covered bucket seats were molded from the stuff, as was the dashboard, center console and most other trim.
The Formula One-inspired steering wheel acted as the Enzo's nerve center. Various lights and buttons installed along the side of the triangular hub controlled functions including reverse gear, front-end height adjustment (up or down by 1.2 inches, depending on road conditions) and the three traction control settings: Sport (fully on), Race (partial slip) and off.
The six forward gears of the Enzo's F 1-style sequential manual (no clutch) transmission were controlled by paddles affixed to the back the steering wheel. Shifting required a simple tap.
A series of lights inside the top of the steering wheel progressively flashed between 6,000 and 8,000 revs per minute, the designated red line, allowing the driver to quickly determine shift points without taking his or her eyes off the road.
The Enzo's motivation resided behind the front seats and was proudly displayed under a flat, narrow rear window. The all-aluminum, 6.0-liter V-12 put out 650 horsepower and 485 foot-pounds of torque at 5,500 revs. That was enough to move the somewhat hefty 3,300-pound Enzo (the benchmark McLaren F1 weighed 680 pounds less) to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and to a top speed of about 210 mph. In terms of cornering grip, it easily surpassed the 1.0-g mark.
Among the interesting Enzo factoids was the need for 12.2 quarts of $60-a-bottle Shell Helix 10W60 synthetic. That's about $720 just for the oil. Use the "cheap" stuff and the warranty was void.
Superlatives aside, admittedly a difficult thing to do when it comes to the Enzo, this fantastic Ferrari came equipped with an abundance of soul. It could spit fire and brimstone at the slightest provocation, or placidly sit basking in the adoration heaped upon it. It was a zero-compromise sports car that was intended to be a reflection of the man to whom it was dedicated.
That, perhaps, was the Enzo's ultimate superlative and its legacy.
* Malcolm Gunn can be reached at www.theoctanelounge.com by clicking the contact link.