At the end of the 1960s Ferrari was working on a new car for the FIA Group 5 endurance races, the Ferrari 512S. Intended to compete with the Porsche 917, the Ferrari 512S had a 5-liter V12, delivering some 377CV.
For its homologation, the car was produced in 18 copies, plus 7 others in spare parts. One of these examples was sent to Pininfarina, in order to produce a concept car. This one will be executed by Paolo Martin and presented at the Geneva Motor Show in 1970, arousing a wave of curiosity. Produced in a single copy, the Ferrari Modulo (not to be confused with the Fiat Multipla) had several lives thereafter.
A design icon from the 70s
The Ferrari 512s Modulo by Pininfarina leaves no one indifferent, inspired by science fiction and super cars. Very low and ultra-streamlined, it finds its inspiration in the space adventure. Dashboard, steering wheel, seats … everything here evokes the imaginary space shuttles of SF works. Access to the car is made by sliding the roof towards the front trunk. Still in a futuristic style, 24 pants supply air to the 377 horsepower Ferrari V12.
The Ferrari Modulo line is so unique it seems to obey no practical logic. Some see this concept as a precursor to other Ferraris like the Berlinetta Boxster (BB512 and BB521i). How not to also see a relationship with the Lamborghini Countach (designed by Marcello Gandini at Bertone) and with Lancia Zero Stratos concept car of Bertone?
In the register of futuristic supercars of this time, we also think of the Mercedes C111. Same profile, same technological disproportion – the C111 was equipped with a 345 HP Four-rotor Wankel engine – the C111 yet had a more important industrial function, contributing in particular to the development of diesel engines for sporting purposes.
The Ferrari Modulo was shelved for many years in the Pininfarina workshop. However, the Italian designer used it again in 2005 on the occasion of his 75th birthday, to exhibit it among his most beautiful models at the Concours de la Villa d´Este and then at Pebble Beach. This tells much about the esteem Pininfarina had for this unique car.
As most concept cars, the Ferrari 512s Modulo by Pininfarina was not really meant to be driven. Although seen on the road in a documentary from the 1970s, the wheel fairing did not allow the exceptional potential of its Ferrari V12 to be exploited. In 2014, the car was sold to the Ferrari collector James Glickenhaus and the car was finally configured for real road use. After several years of restoration work, it finally took to the track, and clocked 3.1 seconds to reach 100 km / h. A remarkable performance even by current standards.
A sudden tragedy
In 2019, after a series of exhibitions (Concours d’Elegance of the Villa d’Este and Monaco), the Ferrari Modulo suddenly caught fire. The exhausts heat up sharply and the rear of the car, where the famous twelve-cylinder is housed, flares up. The Ferrari 512s Modulo by Pininfarina therefore returned to the workshop for months of work. In September 2019, Glickenhaus presented the restored vehicle. A fire-fighting system had limited the damage.
The Ferrari Modulo remains a benchmark art concept for automotive designers. It is the major work of Paolo Martin, who worked for various designers after creating the Modulo. We owe him a Bugatti EB110 concept (1990). In 2010, he revisited his Modulo, a virtual project that would also deserve to hit the road.