The walls of the Ryogoku Kokugikan were covered in red today. It was all part of Ferrari’s ongoing 70th Aniversary celebrations they’ve been having since March this year. After a whole year of events held by various clubs and dealers it has all lead up to this celebration at one of Tokyo’s most important sumo stadiums.
It’s a way of saying thanks to their fans and customers, Ferrari Japan displayed some of their best and most important cars from their illustrious history. It was a rare chance for us peasants to see some of the rarest cars to come out of Maranello.
The car I was most excited to see was the J50. The car was made to commemorate 50 years of Ferrari in Japan and only 10 will be made. All have been sold to Ferrari’s top clients at a starting price of 3.3 million euros. Using the 488 Spider as the base car, power from the 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 has been upped to 690hp.
I haven’t seen one of these since its launch in December last year. First customer deliveries are expected by the end of the year with the rest coming next year. It’s a striking and modern design that’s both unlike anything Ferrari currently do while having elements of some of their historic cars such as the F50 and 308 GTS.
Next to it was the Sergio, 1 of 6 special models built to celebrate the relationship between Ferrari and Pininfarina. The car here is 6 of 6 and has rarely been seen out in public. The third ‘special’ car on display was the SP1. A Special Projects car based on the F430, it was commissioned by one of Ferrari’s biggest collectors based in Nagoya. Seeing one of these cars was special enough but all three in a line was something else.
Of course there were other significant models such as the achingly beautiful 250GT SWB, the 275GTB/4, and the 365GTB/4. More modern classics included the 288 GTO, F40, and Enzo. Strangely enough despite the popularity of the F50 in Japan, there wasn’t one on display.
As part of Ferrari’s 70th Celebrations the company created 70 liveries based on some of their most iconic cars. These were displayed for the public to see as well with two making their first public appearance; ‘The Surtees’ livery Calfiornia T inspired by John Surtees’ F158 F1 car and the ‘Plein Air Pleasure’ 488 Spider inspired by the 599SA Aperta.
For a company that prides itself in exclusivity and secrecy, it was great to see them and the respective owners of the displayed cars so willing to share their cars with everyone. They didn’t try to keep it a secret too with Ferrari Japan’s social media pages literally sharing all the info leading up to the event to get as many people there as possible. There wasn’t even an entrance fee or gift shop to try and make a quick buck from fans.
In the afternoon there was a special event for media inside the sumo stadium. It was my first time inside one and there just so happened to be a LaFerrari Aperta in the middle of the ring. Holding Ferrari’s 70th celebrations in Japan at a sumo stadium, a sport that’s so entrenched in Japanese culture, couldn’t have been more perfect.
With the Tokyo Skytree, the tallest building in Japan, peeking out in the background, the metaphor of modernity and tradition was quite appropriate. In the presentation given by Reno de Paoli, Managing Director of Ferrari Japan & Korea, de Paoli made the comparison between the pursuit of power and strength through techniques learnt from tradition and perfected over time as something both sumo and Ferrari have in common.
Ferrari Japan brought out all the stops with a traditional taiko drum welcoming us in and a sumo gyoji (referee) presenting a ceremonial fan to celebrate Ferrari’s 70th anniversary. It was an event that was appropriately full of pomp and ceremony expected from a brand like Ferrari but with a uniquely Japanese twist. It was by far one of the best and most unique ‘car unveils’ I’ve been to.