This story was originally published in the July 2003 issue of Road & Track.
Extraordinary places bring together extraordinary events. The Bonneville Salt Flats was a lake that covered one-third of the state if Utah some 15,000 years ago. Now it is a vast plain against the backdrop of mountains that spans 30,000 acres, covered with a snow-white, hard-packed crust of salt. It is a setting best described as an alien world that has seen many land speed records set by the likes of Sir Malcolm Campbell, Craig Breedlove and Gary Gabelich's rocket car, the "Blue Flame."
Today, with the wind gusts almost finishing their yearly task of drying the lake bed after the winter rainfalls, the Bonneville Salt Flats again plays the role of another unusual meeting point. After months of searching and waiting, R&T Design Director Richard M. Baron, photographer John Lamm, racing legend and Contributing Editor Phil Hill and I are finally here tiptoeing around on the salty earth for a sunset photo shoot. Standing just a few feet away is a brand-new, sparkling red Ferrari Enzo that appears almost as alien as the salt flats itself. Needless to say, we are looking forward to our drive in the incredible Enzo in the next few days. And all this is made possible by a generous owner, Richard Losee.
While it may appear that we gathered at Bonneville strictly for photography, really it is Phil Hill who provides the link between this hallowed ground for speed records and the newest prancing horse supercar. Phil set a record of 254.91 mph for MG in 1959 at this very location, and won the Formula 1 World Championship for Scuderia Ferrari in 1961. So it is fitting that I begin my excellent long distance adventure in the passenger seat of the Enzo, with Phil at the helm, leaving the salt flats as the sun dips below the horizon.
Form Follows Function
The next day, Utah's bright morning sun and crisp spring air greet us while we wait in the foothills below Sundance for Richard Losee and his Ferrari Enzo. Before we can see them, we can hear the distinctive, high-revving Maranello exhaust note as the car downshifts and then turns into the parking lot.
In person, the Enzo's front angles and flowing rear that once seemed at odds with each other in photos now blend nicely. Just as aerodynamics dominates the F1 cars, the newest super Ferrari's form follows the same function: to pierce through the atmosphere with minimum disturbance. Pininfarina and Maranello engineers designed the Enzo to be aerodynamically stable without the pronounced wings like the ones seen on the F40 and the F50.
Walk up to the front of the Enzo and note how its low stance is accentuated by its width. Leading the carefully sculpted body is a pointed nose that slopes downward, but keeps a high profile at the very tip. Get as close to the ground as possible and stare directly into the narrow headlights. The broad fenders begin at the top edges of two lower rectangular radiator air intakes, then grow strongly upward and outward to the rest of the car. Center stage, just below the high nose, is another inlet with an all-black carbon-fiber wing mounted below. Squint and follow the outline of the nose and the lower parts of the air inlets, and you can almost make out the front view of Ferrari's Formula 1 race car.
Stand up and follow the Enzo's fenders around to the cockpit, and the higher perspective reveals many intricate details. Initially, the window cutline that sweeps down and forward makes the B-pillar look extra thick. However, Losee points out that this is to match the line of the air intakes on the rear fender, and gives the car a sense of motion even at a standstill.
To improve airflow, there is a pair of countersunk air channels that start just aft of the radiator outlet up front, wrap smoothly around the greenhouse and then gently open up again toward the back. This ensures that undisturbed air can be directed to help clean up the turbulent flow aft of the green house, and also to make the small, low-mounted rear wing work effectively. Other design features built onto the top side of the car are the vents behind the front wheels, inlets on the rear fenders (top and bottom), and another pair of outlets nestled just in front of the rear wing, all to manage airflow and promote vehicle stability at speed.
Make your way to the rear. The edgier lines up front now become smoother curves at the rear fender. Besides the wing flanked by a pair of taillights, the most notable feature is the two enormous venturi channels beneath the bumper. Like the 360 Modena's, these channels are meant to evacuate the slower-moving air caught underneath the car and create a suction (downforce) effect. For the Enzo, there are two extra fins set within the venturis to keep as much air mass moving to the rear as possible with the least amount of side turbulence.
Between 37 mph and 159 mph, the rear wing will extend fully, and the 1-foot-wide flaps hidden underneath the two split radiators up front stow flush with the car's under side. As speed increases, the wing will retract gradually as the front flaps are deployed. This ensures as little change as possible to the ride height and handling stability. Ferrari tells us that at 124 mph, the Enzo can generate 758 lb. of downforce. The aerodynamic load tops out at 1709 lb. at 185 mph, then decreases to 1290 lb. for less drag so the car can reach its maximum estimated speed of 218 mph.
The Soul of The Enzo
At Sundance, Phil and I climb back into the Enzo and head south as part of a three-car convoy. Our destination is the Little Sahara Recreation Area in western Utah. On the way there, threading through traffic on Interstate 15, and finally cruising more re mote areas on U.S. Route 6, Phil and I are able to fully appreciate and explore the mighty 6.0-liter V12 mounted just behind the cockpit.
If sexy good looks first lure enthusiasts to the famous Maranello marque, then it is the racebred, free-revving and high-tech Ferrari engine that keeps us mesmerized indefinitely with its immense power and exotic exhaust tones. Codenamed the F140, the all-aluminum block and head, 65-degree-vee powerplant is a force to be reckoned with. The Bosch Motronic ME7 system controls the variable, double-overhead camshafts that actuate four valves per cylinder. The pent-roof combustion chamber design is optimized for maximum cooling efficiency. Twelve pistons reciprocate within the cylinders, each having a press-fit Nikasil sleeve with a 92.0-mm bore. The connecting rods are made of titanium, and they are mated to a newly de signed and lighter crankshaft resting on seven main bearings. Providing proper lubrication for the 496-lb. engine is an F1 wraparound-style dry-sump system.
Whether accelerating from a stoplight or negotiating morning rush-hour traffic, the Enzo is ready to serve up performance immediately. It doesn't matter if we're al ready cruising at 70 mph; we effortlessly glide past slower cars as if they are at a standstill. Operating at a 11.2:1 compression ratio, the 5998-cc engine pumps out 650 bhp at 7800 rpm and 485 lb.-ft. of torque at 5500 rpm. For street driving responsiveness, 382 lb.-ft. of torque is available on tap at a low 3000 rpm.
At idle, the Enzo barely emits any sound through its exhaust pipes. It's so quiet that you almost feel like it should be a luxury car rather than a potent exotic. But as soon as Phil dips into the throttle, the telescopic cones of the variable-intake runners short en the air path to the engine and the car comes to life with a resounding roar. As the revs build, a tremendous forward surge is accompanied by a melody that begins with a throaty grunt and then transitions to a higher-pitched bark reminiscent of F1 engines. Rated at an impressive 108.4 bhp per liter, the Enzo's powerplant still meets worldwide emissions and noise standards.
About two hours later we arrive at the Little Sahara Recreational Area. It is an amazing transformation of scenery from Sundance's beautiful greenery to desolate sand dunes. This 120 square miles of barren land is part of the Great Desert Basin that stretches all the way across to Nevada. With a smooth Sand Mountain that rises more than 700 feet devoid of vegetation, this is a popular spot for off-road enthusiasts.
It is almost an oxymoron to refer to super exotic sports cars as grand tourers. Both the F40 and the F50 are ultra-fast on the racetrack, but on the road they are noisy and uncomfortable. So what about the Enzo?
As I take my turn behind the wheel after we leave the sand dunes, I am amazed at how livable the cockpit is. The vision through the vast wraparound windscreen is spectacular. The low-slung nose gives a commanding view of the road, and the muscular fenders let you know where the outer edges of the car are. Through the rearview mirrors on the inside and the outside, I have a clear view to the back. In fact, in the driver's seat I feel like I am piloting a Le Mans closed prototype sports car.
Simplicity is the theme of the interior. The dash sweeps around the cockpit with as little structure as possible. The heat/vent/air-conditioning ducting can be seen snaking through the backside, and the steering shaft is clearly visible. The instrument cluster houses a 10,000-rpm tachometer flanked by an LCD display on the left and a 250-mph speedometer on the right. There is no radio, but there is automatic climate control. And forget power windows and door locks. The Enzo is all about the business of driving.
The instrument panel, the doors, the steering wheel, the center console and the floor are all made of carbon fiber. Leather is used sparingly on the dash, on the door handles and on the headliner. In fact, the car's entire bodyshell and cockpit monocoque structure is made of carbon-fiber and aluminum honeycomb sandwich panels, not unlike its F1 siblings. Ferrari used computer-aided engineering to optimize every inch of the composite thickness and lamination. The result is a carbon-fiber tub that weighs only 202 lb. compared with 225 lb. for the F50. Factory tests show the car's torsional rigidity exceeds design targets and meets the 37-mph offset collision safety standards.
All the Enzo's vital controls are within easy reach. The turn signal, the LCD settings, front-end ride height, damper settings (Race Mode), ASR (traction control) and reverse gear are all mounted on both sides of the steering wheel so your hands will never have to be somewhere else. Behind the steering wheel are the shift paddles—left for downshifts, right for upshifts. The only complaint here are horn buttons right next to your thumbs on the steering wheel. You can hit those accidentally while turning.
Driving on U.S. Route 50 and then High way 72 toward Torrey in southern Utah, the Enzo's ability to provide a supple ride over road imperfections is amazing. Driving over larger gaps on the asphalt, I hear no creaks or groans from the carbon fiber, just sense the remarkable stiffness of the structure. At cruise, the Enzo is perfectly happy, exhibiting minimal wind and engine noise. With little insulation, the only notable sound coming into the cabin is from the Bridgestone Potenza RE050 Scuderia tires (245/35ZR-19 up front and 345/35ZR-19 at the rear).
As our route begins to wind through the mountain ranges, the Enzo's road-hugging ability really shines. The car's all-around upper and lower A-arm suspension design tracks the curves with great poise. The horizontally opposed pushrod coil springs and adjustable damping tighten quickly with larger side loads and keep body roll in check. With nicely weighted and accurate steering, an electrohydraulic-assist paddle-shift 6-speed transmission, the driver enjoys complete confidence and takes turns with utmost smoothness and precision.
Around high-speed bends, the Enzo is rock-solid. Traveling in excess of 120 mph is like cruising at 60. The car is stable and never gives a hint of losing grip. And because much effort has been paid to maintaining ride height at all speeds, the downforce generated can hardly be felt because the vehicle's attitude never detectably changes.
Race-car Performance for The Road
After a night's stay near Torrey, we turn on Route 12 and drive one of the most scenic highways in the country. Winding through various mountain passes at more than 9000 ft. and then descending into red canyons with majestic rock formations, the Enzo convoy stops in St. George for another night before heading back to our offices in Newport Beach in Southern California.
The drive through Utah was exceptional. The Enzo proved to be a capable grand tourer, not a temperamental supercar. We have already put almost 1500 miles on the Enzo, and the odometer now reads 1926 miles. So the remaining question is, Just how fast is the Ferrari Enzo on the track? After all, it is Maranello's super performance car.
On the drag strip, the Enzo is lightning fast. Period. Turn off the ASR, set the dampers in Race Mode and put your left foot on the brake pedal. The super Ferrari goes into a launch-control mode. Slowly dip into the throttle. Watch the engine revs build. And as soon as the tach needle sweeps past 2100 rpm, let go of the brake pedal and the clutch snaps into place.
Immediately the muted idling rumble from the V-12 opens up fully and emits a snarl that grows to a higher-pitched thumping note. The prancing horse gulps in as much air as possible and turns all those air molecules into 650 bhp and 485 lb.-ft. of torque. The rear tires spin momentarily, and fight to bite into the asphalt. Easy and smooth on the throttle here because too much wheelspin slows the car down and loses precious time on the clock. Just before the first shift at 44 mph, get to full throttle. In Race Mode, the F1 transmission will swap gears in as little as 150 milliseconds.
Zero to 60 mph: 3.3 seconds.
Quarter-mile run: 11.1 sec. at 133.0 mph.
The Enzo has just recorded the best Road & Track acceleration run ever for a road car. Its 0-60-mph run equals the fastest time logged just a month ago by the all-American Saleen S7. And its quarter-mile time and speed pulverize the mighty McLaren F1's numbers of 11.6 sec. traveling at a mere 125 mph past the quarter-mile mark. Wow!
When the time comes to stop–by the end of acceleration run the Enzo is racing down the track at about 150 mph—the ample 15.0-inch vented carbon-ceramic discs slow the car with authority. There is never any hint of fade. The brake pedal travel is confidently short and actuation effort is firm. Panic stops from 60 and 80 mph show the Enzo needing only an excellent 109 and 188 ft., respectively, to come to a complete halt. Of note, the 188 ft. is another record, shared with the 360 Modena.
In the handling tests, the new Ferrari supercar status is once again validated by Road & Track's best-ever run of 73.0 mph through the slalom. The steering is quick and smooth, as though responding telepathically. The Enzo react to driver input instantly withheld understeer. Through the cones, it likes to be pushed a bit, but never loses composure. The rear stays firmly planted on the asphalt. With just a light dip of the throttle, the car can be lured to step out a bit and help turn in. And around our 200-ft.-diameter skidpad, little effort is needed to generate an amazing 1.01g of lateral acceleration. Remember, the Enzo is a road car, not a race car!
A Civilized Super Exotic
The myth that a super sports car with exceptional performance cannot be civilized at the same time has been broken. The Ferrari Enzo is both an ultra-high-performance car and a capable grand tourer. Just as when each speed record set at the Bonneville Salt Flats invites another challenger to go even faster, Maranello has entered the Enzo into another supercar realm where the rest of the world has to catch up.