LaFerrari: Fast, Furious, Too Bad About the Name

Jamie Lincoln Kitman

Jamie Lincoln Kitman | Mar 25, 2013

For reasons unknown, the Italian dream maker Ferrari won’t grace the floor at New York City’s Javits Center when the auto show arrives later this week. Only a month ago, the crowd was heaving just to get near the Modenese company’s stand at the Geneva Auto Salon for the worldwide debut of its new, limited-edition, 950-horsepower hybrid hypercar, called, yak-worthily enough, the LaFerrari. The last car name I remember rubbing me as badly was the LeCar, by Renault. But it was such a cheap thing that its silly name grew ephemeral. On the other hand, since you simply must ask, LaFerrari costs more than one-million-dollars, which is living Laf@#%ing expensively indeed.

The LaFerrari was a hit with the press at the Geneva Auto Show but it won't be making an appearance in New York this month. (Norbert Aepli)

Even if LaFerrari is not coming to New York, it may be posited that even the mere suggestion of the presence of the successor to the highly collectible, technically advanced and ultra-high performance 288GTO, F40, F50 and Enzo Ferraris will draw a crowd in any city or town. That the car looks striking – blending the classical lines of Ferrari’s fondly remembered 1960s’ P3/P4 racing cars with the official look of modern auto design -- the angry insect cum Transformer – is a given.

But the new Ferrari has more to recommend it, including a racecar quick zero-to-sixty time of less than three seconds, breezing by on its way to a maximum velocity of 217 mph. A mere 499 will be built.

Angry insect cum Transformer aesthetic? Check. (Norbert Aepli)

LaFerrari’s crowning achievement – that it is a gasoline-electric hybrid with an electric motor to assist an already brutal V12 of the internal combustion persuasion – is a final point of distinction, if not great environmental consequence. A trend toward employing green technologies among many of the world’s supercar and luxury carmakers makes such innovation for Ferrari almost inevitable. Like the rest in its cohort, its work in the arena is best viewed as technically interesting, sincerity unknown, but clearly not yet real saving-the-planet kind of stuff. This hybrid is no Prius. Fast, however, it is, like only 950 horsepower can be.

Ferrari has hinted that the small run of LaFerraris has already sold out. Yet even if the secretive firm’s enduring dedication to employing a sliding scale of truthfulness applies, and this is not yet the case, you can rest assured the world’s growing supply of millionaires, billionaires and cold-blooded investor/speculators will ensure these exclusive chariots are all tucked away under hermetic-seal soon enough.

There remains that name, though. Following the F40s and F50s, which proceeded in a fairly logical nomenclatural progression, the Enzo was named to honor the memory of Ferrari’s tough-as-nails founder. One seemingly logical step would have been to call it the Ferrari Luca, after Enzo’s fiery successor, the soon-to-be-departing and also famously autocratic boss man, Luca deMontemezolo. But he’s neither dead, nor really old – and young enough in his own mind to see a political career ahead (which would be hilarious anywhere but Italy). So we’re guessing the Ferrari Luca moniker was dismissed on grounds of questionable taste.

As Ferrari's Enzo was named after the company's famous founder, Enzo Ferrari, one imagines that the Enzo's successor might have been named the "Luca" after Enzo Ferrari's successor, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo. (Wikipedia)

Yet, in its total self-regard and immersive self-referentiality, the LaFerrari name manages to skirt the boundaries of good taste by just as wide, and possibly a wider, margin. “Not Ferrari LaFerrari!” public relations staff grow hoarse correcting American journalists, “but rather, ‘LaFerrari.’” They stretch it out, the word tripping off their lips musically. La Ferrari.  La Fer-ra-ri. Nah. Still sounds cheesy.

Of course, you have the right to call yourself whatever you wish. Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner would have been a memorably pretentious pop star even if he hadn’t chosen to call himself… Sting. On the other hand, if he’d called himself LeSting, who knows?

Meanwhile, LaFerrari is no Sting and it’s no Renault LeCar. Instead it strikes us as the lexiconic equivalent of the four-inch-high prancing horse badge with which Ferrari’s most vulgar customers insist on emblazoning their fenders. Now, just in case anyone missed you pulling up in your noisy red phallus, or neglected your logo-enriched sunglasses, tracksuit and gold chains, you now get another opportunity to impress.

“Did I mention that my Ferrari is the Ferrari LaFerrari?"

The LaFerrari doesn't come close to achieving the same fuel efficiency as this model.

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