Eric Clapton has nurtured two seemingly very different passions since he was a boy: music and engines. Particularly Ferrari engines. We meet him on his recent visit to Maranello.
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Some say that the rumble and whine of a Ferrari is pure magical music to the ears. One such individual is Eric Clapton who visited the factory in January 2010: “I love the sound of a Ferrari and, as a musician, I can tell you that these engines really do have their own soundtracks.” He adds that the sound of a V12 is his absolute favourite.
Eric Clapton feels that there is a very strong analogy between music and engines. A deeply connection sparked by the fact that they are both deeply rooted in creative impetus. Creating a Ferrari, from its bodyshell to its steering wheel, tyres, engine to its assembly, is a highly complex and hugely precise process not too dissimilar from the process the guitarist uses to write his unforgettable songs: “When I write, when I play or when I’m in the recording studio or on stage, I can see the improvement, but I tend never to let things be. Let’s just say that I’m constantly striving to achieve perfection. I think it’s the same thing for Ferrari.”
Clapton is also convinced that the secret to making any new project, be it a song or a car design, the kind of success that separates excellence from the banal, is passion: “It’s something that comes from the heart. If there’s no emotion, it’s best just to forget about it.”
When he returned to Maranello for his first visit in six years, Clapton was blown away by the changes that greeted him, particularly the new assembly line building designed by Jean Nouvel and Marco Visconti’s new Company Restaurant. One thing that hadn’t changed however, was the emotion.
That feeling dates back to when Clapton was just a boy: “I’ve been crazy about racing cars since I started my first racing driver collection when I was five or six. It was all very simple back then because, at the time, motor racing meant Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Mercedes, Auto Union. There weren’t many competitors, but I personally felt that Ferraris were the best. Ferrari was number one. The interesting thing is that Ferrari is the only one of all of the construcors that’s stayed number one since I was a kid.”
The guitarist’s passion for the Prancing Horse burns as brightly as ever too. His garage is filled with a whole collection of classic Ferraris to which he is as attached as he is to his guitars: “My favourite car is the 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso. I’ve had it for about 40 years and I adore it. It’s a gorgeous car. The biggest and the one that I drive most often is the 612 Scaglietti. I also have a 599 that everyone thinks is better, but I personally prefer the 612. It’s a superb car.”
Having said all that, no visit would be complete without a tour of the Ferrari Classiche department, where Clapton found himself surrounded by some of the finest models to grace the Prancing Horse’ history. He also took a look in at the Formula 1 area with Stefano Domenicali, where he saw the new F10, as it waited for Alonso and Massa to give it its first tests at Valencia. Clapton also wanted to check on Felipe’s health because, aside from being a loyal fan, he’s also a close friend: “I like Felipe. We’ve become friends and we exchange emails and messages. He’s my favourite driver…but that might be partly because he drives a Ferrari!”
As Clapton left Maranello promising to return soon, he remarked with a smile: “I’ve always dreamed of being a professional driver…but for now, I’ll just stick to thinking about whether to write a song about a car…”
Published on January 2010