For sale: Ferrari's Le Mans-winning 499P... with more power

100 years of Le Mans

Nothing like it has been seen before: Ferrari's 499P Modificata is a version of its Le Mans-winning Hypercar with more power and bonus features for buyers prepared to pay millions on a track-only car that can't be driven on the road or raced

Ferrari 499P modificata rear

499P Modificata offers up to 846bhp from its derestricted hybrid powertrain


Really, we should have seen it coming. The fact that Ferrari would put a lightly modified version of its Le Mans-winning 499P on sale to the general public (well, not that general, but we’ll get to that in a minute) seemed such a slam dunk, no brain thing to do it should have been obvious from the start.

But the truth the reason so many of us failed to see it coming – myself included – was because this sort of thing has never been done before. Or at least not it in this way.

Ferrari 499P Modificate ftq

Spot the difference between the 499P Modificata...

Ferrari 499P Hypercar

...and the Le Mans-winning Hypercar

Of course car manufacturers have been selling lightly modified iterations of their factory race winners for almost as long as cars have been racing. For decades customers buying racing cars helped keep the factory teams of companies like Aston Martin, Jaguar, Ford, Porsche and many others afloat. But those customer cars were built to race and the thinking was simple: for the customer it was the only way into a really competitive car, for the factory there was not only their money but, at the back of their minds, the reassurance that even if all the work cars failed, a private car wearing the same badge might still scoop the top prize and history would soon forget who owned it at the time, and remember only who made it. Over the years, precisely that happened many times. And if that wasn’t sufficient incentive to sell a few additional cars, you could always turn one into a street machine – as did Jaguar when, unable to flog a stack of D-type chassis, it simply created the XKSS.

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But this is the first time I can think of where a top level racing car has been adapted for customer use for neither road nor racing purposes. Of course Ferrari has been building unhomologated track cars for years, but they have all been derived from street machines. Not this one: this is a full LMH prototype with Le Mans-winning heritage and while it has been modified for customer use, that is not to say it has in been watered down, to any extent. Quite the reverse in fact.

So what’s the same? The important bits – the tub, the engine, hybrid drive, suspension, basic aero concept, and so on – are common to both the works 499P and the customer 499 Modificata. As is the monoposto cockpit. But no longer having a rulebook with which to comply has conferred a number of benefits upon the car now being offered. For a start its powertrain is not restricted to a certain output, which is why the 3-litre V6 engine and front-mounted electric motor can provide up to 846bhp when using the new ‘push to pass’ power boost function also denied the race car, which is limited to ‘just’ 671bhp.

Ferrari 499P Modificate cockpit

Cockpit design is unchanged from the one James Calado, Antonio Giovinazzi, Alessandro Pier Guidi sat in as they drove to Le Mans victory

Just as significant is the fact the electric motor can drive the front wheels from rest, whereas at Le Mans no torque is allowed to pass through the front axle until the car is doing 118mph, so no traction advantage is conferred. In the Modificata, you have all the traction, all the time.

Interestingly however Ferrari makes no claims about this car’s performance relative to the race car. With essentially unlimited traction and a further 175bhp, you’d expect this to be one customer car that easily outpaced its works sister. But were that the case, why is Ferrari not saying so? It would surely be a powerful sales tool.

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I have no idea, but perhaps the truth lies in some of its other modifications, all designed to make the car more accessible to an owner who probably won’t be a full time professional racing driver. It has Pirelli rather than Michelin tyres, designed to be better suited to an enthusiastic amateur, and the aero and electronics have been reassessed with similar outcomes in mind.

So here comes the good bit: the car costs £4.6 million and is intended for use at nine events Ferrari lays on around the world annually for its most important clients. It will look after the car for you but if you want to use it for any other purpose, that is subject to separate negotiation. Ferrari says production will be ‘strictly limited’ but won’t say to what number. And whenever I hear that term without the accompanying statistic, my automatic presumption is that it will be strictly limited to whatever number Ferrari is able to sell.

It is a stunning amount of money to pay for any new car for any purpose, though to those that do, it’ll likely amount to a puddle in the ocean and be more than offset by thoughts of what it will likely be worth in future. Besides, Ferraris with genuinely Le Mans-winning heritage aren’t exactly littering the streets. The last time an opportunity like this came along the car was the 250 LM, it was the 1960s and the world a rather different place.