It was a brisk, late summer morning, where in the shadows of downtown Chicago’s high rise buildings, the wind gusts through and carries the chill of Lake Michigan. It was in this deep canyon of concrete and steel that the 20th annual Ferrari Festival was held, on Monroe Street in front of the Italian Village restaurant. A full city block lined on both sides with a collage of different models and eras of Ferrari’s. In front of Italian Village, live music would play throughout the event, including a solo accordian player, which provided the perfect backdrop to the occasion. Occasionally, one of the Ferrari’s would bark to life, sending the sweet note of twelve cylinders echoing among the towering buildings. Perfect weather, perfect backdrop, perfect location and the hint of a fine cigar wafting in the air intermittently, you could not have asked for a better setting. The Ferrari Festival has been happening for 20 years now, and although it is free to spectate, the event is also a charity fund raiser for Inspiration Corporation and the Lurie Children’s Hospital, both excellent causes! What a great turn out, as the music played throughout the morning, throngs of spectators got to pour over the more than 70 Ferrari’s on hand. I managed to get plenty of photos in the couple hours I was there, but as I typically do, here are what I personally considered some of the highlights of the day.
When it comes to Ferrari’s, it seems everyone has an opinion on what they think is the Ferrari, clearly even Ferrari themselves since they named on LaFerrari. In my opinion, the F40 is the one dream car I would pick if I had to choose just one from the Ferrari stable. However, lately there has been another that’s caught my eye. The F430 which first debuted in 2004, was sort of a refresher for the outgoing 360 it replaced. Essentially an evolution to the new curvy styling of the 360, the 430 refined and in my opinion, perfected the look. The 430 Stradale at Ferrari Festival pictured below, is one that really tipped the scale for me. No cliche red for this particular 430, it is clad in a stately silver with anthracite gray racing stripes, with a simple black interior, it is a spec that wins my heart. As understated as a Ferrari can be, but with an unmatched elegance, it is a splendid design. So why has the 430 tickled my fancy of late? For me, it has a certain timeless quality to it. The angular, wedge Ferraris of previous generations I love indeed, but they now feel like 80’s period pieces, a bit of a novelty. Father time has caught up to most cars made pre-2000, Ferrari’s included. More mundane, modern day compacts with the boost turned up will happily surpass power output of say a 355, and match it’s acceleration as well. With the 430 however, I feel the styling holds up, and the performance does too. Although the car is now essentially three generations old, it does not lack in power, 500 horsepower is a good number for any era. What’s more, is the acceleration numbers are only a beat behind it’s contemporary 458 and 488. So for me, the F40 is still king if I had to choose just one, but the 430 would be a fitting stable mate if I were to choose two.
A great story, or great history can really sell a car and elevate it’s status. With the car below, the F12tdf, Ferrari was attempting to tap that great history. The tdf moniker stands for Tour de France, and it harkens back to earlier years when Ferrari held dominance over the racing series that shared that name. This F12 is the result when Ferrari revisit their 599, put it on a weight loss regimen, inject it with loads of performance enhancing substances, and thus create a menacing monster that achieves over 200mph speeds and can sprint to 124mph faster than many cars can get to just 60mph. It looks the part too, you can see elements of the 599, but meaner, more aggressive and more dangerous looking; and the 599 wasn’t an adorable puppy sort of car to begin with. Amid all that aggression is real beauty as well, the exposed carbon fiber in all the right spots, the pearlescent paint that holds so much more depth and nuance than just plain white, the red and cream interior with leather so soft and supple it seems almost sinful to sit on it, all make this a show piece of some of the best of what modern Ferrari’s can offer.
Older Ferrari’s of the 1960’s are undeniably charming, and have a classic beauty that you can still appreciate today. The 275 Spider on hand, was definitely loaded with that same beauty and charm. These cars in convertible form are quite scarce if I am not mistaken, and they also sport some uniqe styling compared with other 275’s, most notably in the tail section. The rear end terminates in a more smooth and elegant fashion in contrast to the standard 275’s more abrubt and angular fourish. The moderate cloud of steam it arrived with billowing from under the hood, only added to it’s charm. A real rarity, as only 200 of these were made for the U.S. market, I was fortunate to catch a glimpse of it.
These three were far from the whole story, there were plenty more incredible samples on hand, from Testarossa’s to 488 Speciale’s and everything in between. It was a great event that I plan to revisit again next year, and I recommend you do too! Thanks for reading, and as always, keep scrolling for even more shots from the day.
-photos and writing: Robert Sixto