Musings on the Motoring World

Ferrari ceases production of its strangest model

Ever since Luca Cordero di Montezemolo ascended to the throne of Ferrari SpA in 1991, there has never been a boring Ferrari. A true Italian blue-blood, Montezemolo had the golden touch to turn Ferrari from a builder shoddy exotics into a purveyor of God’s chariots on earth.

Nearly every model since the F355 has been exceptional, redefining its genre in one way or the other. With such an ensemble, it is impossible to single out one that stands apart from the rest. Unless of course, it was as odd and unconventional to the Ferrari norm as the Ferrari FF and the GTC4Lusso.

Maranello’s odd wagon wonder

Introduced in 2011, the Ferrari FF was as unconventional in every conceivable manner. First, it eschewed the traditional coupe-body for a shooting brake design. Then it adopted a unique four-wheel-drive system known as the 4RM, which uses a second front-mounted gearbox to send torque to the front axle instead of a bulky traditional transfer case.   

Lastly, there was its name, the FF, or Ferrari Four. Not only did it not make sense when read aloud, but it is also an English word. A word that sticks out like an Asperger’s twitch in Ferrari’s catalogue of romantic Latin names.

The FF name was eventually replaced by the exotic-sounding GTC4Lusso in 2016, whilst its unique body and mechanicals remain. That is, until last month when the company confirmed that it has ceased production of its flagship 2+2 grand tourer.

Ferrari maintains that the GTC4Lusso’s end was in line with the company’s “five-year model strategy” and the model has run its course. Unfortunately for fans of the shooting brake, the company has no plans of replacing it.

A stranger in a shrinking world

That admission has left fans bewildered at Ferrari’s decision to end the lineage of its big 2+2 grand tourer. Many point to its unconventional design and the strange limitations of the 4RM system that sends 20 per cent of torque to the front and only when the first four gears are used as reasons for its poor sales.

However, Ferrari’s flagship 2+2 grand tourers have never been hot sellers in Ferrari’s history. The 456, while beautiful only sold 3289 examples in 11 years. Its successor, the 612 Scaglietti managed 3025 in seven years.

In its five-year production run, Ferrari sold 2291 FFs. Though Ferrari has yet to tally up the GTC4Lusso’s numbers, it might not be all that more. The FF/GTC4Lusso’s four-figure production figures are impressive for a flagship. However, it falls short far short of the thousands of 458 and F12berlinetta models Ferrari sells annually.

That being said, Ferrari isn’t alone on this trend. The market for big luxury grand tourers is imploding. Everyone from Mercedes-Benz to Lexus is reconsidering its model line-up in that end of the market. In light of that, it is of little wonder why Ferrari isn’t too keen on replacing the GTC4Lusso. Not the least of which is the upcoming 2022 Purosangue SUV, which is expected to be a proper money-spinner.  

What made the Ferrari FF/GTC4Lusso so special?

This being The Motor Muse it would be remiss of this site not to pay tribute to the FF/GTC4Lusso. Unconventional in name, design, and engineering, Ferrari’s wagon wonder is exactly the sort of car that deserves celebration.

Like the Koenigsegg Gemera, the FF/GTC4Lusso didn’t stick to the standard 2+2 grand tourer coupe formula that Ferrari and its ilk have been doing time and time again.

In this case, Montezemolo deserves some credit for doing something revolutionary. His insistence of making an all-weather practical Ferrari that isn’t an SUV or a four-door created an extraordinarily brilliant oddity.

Its 4RM system may have been too technical for the average Ferrari owner to operate. Nobody in a Ferrari is going to listen to cautions like “don’t go above fourth gear in the snow” after all. Its shooting brake shape is a hard sell for older and more traditional audiences, but it is unique. No one else, aside from custom coachbuilders are doing a take on the two-door shooting brake formula.

Conformity is the best policy

Sadly, like many things in this industry, conformity is the best policy. Pure adoration and fascination from enthusiasts won’t save Ferrari’s odd duckling. In this day and age, the FF/GTC4Lusso is too left-field to be anything but an indulgence. And in the wake of its departure, the Prancing Horse looks set to cruise in the mediocrity of Marchionne’s march for sales numbers.  

As SUVs become a sure-fire way to mint money and bolster sales figures, cars like the weird and wonderful FF/GTC4Lusso will be lost amidst a sea of faceless, interchangeable committee-designed models. An unfortunate reality as the industry stalls itself over declining sales and interest.

Most of us will never be able to afford the FF/GTC4Lusso. But with the possibility of never seeing the likes of it again, the world feels far poorer for it.