For a while I’ve been pondering Ferrari’s naming strategy because, frankly, it seems all over the place.
The range starts with the California, which is an old, emotive and very proper name for a Ferrari. But next up is not a name, but a number. Even so, calling a Ferrari 458 because its engine displaces 4.5-litres and possesses eight cylinders is still a strategy that Ferrari has used for over half a century. But then comes the Ferrari FF, which, spelt out is the Ferrari Ferrari Four and, all tautological issues aside, follows no previous strategy I can recall.
More bewildering still is the decision to name the current flagship model the F12. I think it means a Ferrari 12-cylinder whose numerically closest relative is the eight-cylinder F10 Formula 1 car, which was named after the 2010 season in which it competed and which itself was inexplicably preceded by the F60 and followed the F150. This you may remember is the car that then quickly became the F150 Italia because someone at Ford was sufficiently concerned it might be mistaken for one of their F150 pick-up trucks that legal action was thought appropriate.
And finally and most wonderfully, we have the sold-out hypercar, the Ferrari LaFerrari, whose name to me served primarily to call to mind the Frisky Frisky Sprint, though I doubt that was what Ferrari had in mind at the time.
I say finally, last week Ferrari announced a new car – one that with 1021bhp is the most powerful car of any kind yet to emanate from Maranello. Clearly based on the LaFerrari its looks are such that you didn’t need to read the accompanying blurb to understand its role is as Ferrari’s next track-only supercar for its most favoured and well-resourced customers. It was, in short, the successor to the Ferrari FXX.
So what was it going to be called? Of all the options provided by all the letters in all the languages in the world, it elected simply to append the letter ‘K’ to the original car’s name. So yes, ladies and gentlemen, Ferrari’s newest, most-powerful proposition really is called the LaFerrari FXXK. To be strictly accurate there should be a space before the ‘K’ but even then it is impossible not to think of it as the Ferrari Expletive Deleted. If this is what Ferrari intended, it will not be the first time a manufacturer has turned to the vernacular to assist with its marketing message – you used to be able to buy very hot Mitsubishi Evolutions called FQs which really did intend to invoke Anglo-Saxon argot to describe just how quick they were.
And of course it won’t stop there. Now Ferrari has the FXX K, within a couple of years I guarantee there’ll be an Evolution version. Which rather begs the question as to which name that will carry? I put the question to the Twittersphere and the best reply back so far is the Methatsfast. As in the Ferrari FXX K Methatsfast. Can you do any better?
Actually I’m glad Ferrari’s naming strategy appears to be dreamt up on the back of a napkin in the Cavallino after a bit too much Chianti, because it shows Ferrari ascribes a healthy lack of importance to such trivia. The truth is that with a brand as strong as Ferrari, you can give a car a name you’re not allowed to hear on telly until 9.00pm at night, charge over $2.2 million plus local taxes for it, only let owners drive it at times of your choosing and you will still sell every one you make before a single punter has even sat in one. Which is good business if you can get it.