Ferrari: Under the Skin

Written by Abid Gangat

When we think of a car we think, comfort, safety, functionality, and a way to get from A to B. This is the basic criteria when considering design features for the car, as we know it. However, what about the other considerations, such as the beauty, ingenious delivery of power, the ability to excite, and finally delivery of an experience to the driver that they have never experienced before, and one that they will never ever forget – This is the world of Ferrari.

Design Museum: Ferrari Under the Skin

The Design Museum exhibition Ferrari: Under the Skin features the greatest collection of Ferrari motor vehicle history that London and the UK have ever seen. This £140M stockpile of amazing design and engineering takes the visitor on a journey spanning 70 years. From its very early beginnings in 1947, with the very first Ferrari design, the 125 S, to the present day delivery with the LaFerrari Aperta which is Ferraris first hybrid, incorporating F1-derived KERS technology which gives the driver a striking performance boost.

“If you can dream it, you can do it” – Enzo Ferrari

The Ferrari story is one of design, innovation and engineering excellence. Set against the backdrop of post-war austerity, Enzo Ferrari and a small but dedicated team decided to create an elite performance vehicle whilst many were manufacturing economy vehicles and scooters. The opening section of the Design Museum exhibition charts the story of Enzo Ferrari and his remorseless drive to create the perfect driving machine for track and road.

Enzo Ferrari in Factory, 1947

Andrew Nahum, co-curator of Ferrari: Under the Skin commented: “Ferrari represents an ideal case study in design and development. Ferrari uses the subtle and often unseen techniques of automobile design, but with the utmost care and precision. The exhibition provides an insight into the history and practice of the whole private world of automotive design.”

Model resin of 348TB – The construction of the model is performed with a milling machine automatically controlled by a computer with CAD – CAM system, 1990

The exhibition offers visitors a behind the scenes look into the secretive world of car design. Original hand-drawn sketches feature next to high-tech wind tunnel models as well as beautifully crafted early wooden master models to present a survey of the manufacturing process and the relationship between form and function. Charting the varied techniques used throughout Ferrari’s history, the exhibition demonstrates how designs, and sketches are translated by sculptural techniques into the final form of a car.

Side view with the mechanics in the transparency of the first Ferrari car, the 125S – Project of Gioachino Colombo’s project executed in August 1945

Sir Terence Conran, founder of the Design Museum said: “I think I speak on behalf of millions of ambitious people of all ages that we have all at some point had delicious dreams of owning a Ferrari. The brand itself has become a worldwide symbol of design success, whether it is their road models or Grand Prix cars. The Ferrari story is truly one of the great adventure stories of the industrial age and I am very proud we are able to tell it at the Design Museum. The depth of emotion goes far beyond the external beauty of their cars; what excites me so much about this exhibition is the rare opportunity to glimpse behind the scenes and experience the dynamic between engineering, manufacturing and design, which produces Ferrari’s magic ingredient. It is a magic ingredient that means I am here, aged eighty-five and still lusting after the idea of owning a Ferrari – I want to go out with a beautiful, powerful and perfectly designed vroom!”

LaFerrari, 2013

Throughout its history, it is competitive racing that has remained at the heart of Ferrari from its inception to today. As well as a plethora of previously unseen documents from the early history of the racing team, the exhibition includes helmets work by Alberto Ascari, Mike Hawthorn, Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen. The 1952 British GP winner’s trophy and a selection of famous racing driver suits are also on display. The evolution of racing car design is represented through the Ferrari 500 F2 (1952), which Alberto Ascari drove to victory at the F1 championship in 1952 and 1953, and the Ferrari F1-2000 (2000), the championship-winning car driven by Michael Schumacher.

The exhibition culminates in a look at Ferrari today. A LaFerrari Aperta, owned by Gordon Ramsay and the most technologically advanced Ferrari to date, represents the company’s continuing design innovation. This hybrid vehicle is accompanied by concept sketches and an in-depth look at the engine – The design power behind the brand!

Rally of the South African Ferrari Clubs on the Kyalami Circuit for the 50th Anniversary Celebration, 1997

The Ferrari: Under the Skin, exhibition runs until April 15th. For further information on tickets and the exhibition go to