As with Ferrari’s celebration customs, the brand’s aficionados in Japan have been treated to a special bespoke model called J50 which celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Italian brand in that country
Author: Chandan Basu Mallik
Italian super car maker Ferrari has a unique way of celebrating in specific markets. It usually creates special or limited edition bespoke models as commemorative editions. And to mark the 50th anniversary of the Italian marque’s presence in Japan, Ferrari’s Special Projects division was commissioned to build a limited to 10 units only J50. The J50 is strictly a two-seater, mid-rear-engined roadster based on the 488. Ferrari revealed the J50 at the National Art Center in Tokyo at a special celebration.
In the spirit of Ferrari’s fuori serie [special production] tradition, Ferrari’s Special Projects department and the Ferrari Styling Centre team in Maranello were involved in the project. Apart from a visual and performance treat, the idea also marks a return to the targa body style evocative of several well-known Ferraris of the 1970s and 1980s.
The styling of this special edition is arguably is jaw-dropping and so impressive that many observers believe that the design influences of J50 might be also used in future models. The design approach was motivated by the desire to create a very low-slung roadster, encapsulating intrinsic Ferrari values of nimbleness and agility.
To achieve this objective, designers played on the body lines and have created a special visual effect by converging interplay between two main guiding lines: the slanted top edge of the side window, continuous with the windscreen, and the raked black swage line which dramatically rises from the low-set nose until it vanishes in the air intake aft of the doors.
While the “helmet visor” effect, which originates from the window graphic is reminiscent of Ferrari’s open competition barchettas going as far back as the 1950s. The black dividing line is a novel interpretation of a recurring Ferrari styling cue seen on iconic models such as the GTO, F40 and F50. Circling around the front of the car below knee height, it is a key element which alters the perception of the beltline, setting it at a much lower height than usual, transforming the J50 into a barchetta.
The bonnet section is lower at the centre with raised wheelarch crests giving the emphasized muscularity typical of Ferrari mid-engined sports cars. Two carbon-fibre air channels in the front bonnet create an even more diminutive and sharper looking front mass underlined by the full LED headlamps that feature a specific and very dynamic profile.
It’s not just styling. The J50 benefits from detailed aerodynamic development with a number of significant functional solutions. Firstly, the radiators have been positioned closer together, and the front bumper has been completely redesigned. The windscreen header rail has been lowered allowing more airflow over the aero foil and thus over the rear spoiler.
The sophisticated tail section is dominated by the artful interplay of graphic design themes and three-dimensional elements. The engine is framed by a transparent polycarbonate cover which is intricately shaped to provide a visual extension of the two separate roll hoops protecting the heads of driver and passenger. A transverse aero foil projects as a bridge between the hoops, effectively revisiting one of the most distinctive features of Ferrari sports prototypes of the 1960s.
The rear is decidedly aggressive in nature, with the quad taillight design widening the car visually under a high-downforce wing profile. The rear diffuser features an extractor shape inspired by jet engine afterburners. Unique designer 20in alloy rims were crafted specifically for this limited-edition model.
Inside the cabin, specific trim adorns the sports seats, echoing the design of the rear bonnet contour to provide a unmistakable signature feature. The carbon-fibre hard targa top is divided into two pieces which stow conveniently behind the seats. The J50 presented at the launch in Tokyo is finished in a special shade of three-layer red with a red-over-black interior trimmed in fine leather and Alcantara.