Cars

The Magic of M

The Magic of M

Modificata: to modify, enhance and evolve, in the continuous pursuit of improving overall performance. That is the ethos of the letter ‘M' when applied to a Ferrari, and this is its story at the House of Maranello
Words

Ben Pulman

The first Modificata Ferrari was, fittingly, a race car – the 512 M. A development of the 512 S, racing experience led our engineers to introduce new suspension and more powerful brakes. The lighter, more powerful V12 engine featured higher efficiency cylinder heads, and the aerodynamics evolved with sleeker bodywork.

The 512 M took to the track at the end of the 1970 season, racing for the first time at the Zeltweg circuit in Austria. A month later, at the 9 Hours of Kyalami in South, the 512 M took its inaugural victory, proving the merit of the modifications.

1970 &ndash; Ferrari 512 M: the first <em>Modificata</em> Ferrari is a race car. A development of the 512 S, with a more powerful engine, new suspension and enhanced aerodynamics
1970 – Ferrari 512 M: the first Modificata Ferrari is a race car. A development of the 512 S, with a more powerful engine, new suspension and enhanced aerodynamics

The first road-going Ferrari to wear the Modificata moniker was the most highly developed – and rarest – of the Testarossa models. Revealed at the 1994 Paris Motor Show, the F512 M featured faired-in headlights, upgraded braking and suspension systems, and the cabin was more elegant.

Just as with the 512 TR predecessor, the name referred to the 5-litre engine and the number of cylinders, in this case a 180-degree flat-12 – but a lightened crankshaft, titanium alloy conrods and new pistons increased power to 440cv.

1994 &ndash; Ferrari F512 M: the most highly developed &ndash; and rare &ndash; model in the Testarossa series, with a 440cv 5.0-litre flat-12 engine and fixed headlights
1994 – Ferrari F512 M: the most highly developed – and rare – model in the Testarossa series, with a 440cv 5.0-litre flat-12 engine and fixed headlights

A second road-going V12 Ferrari was subjected to the Modificata treatment in 1998, when Ferrari unveiled the 456M GT. A true four-seat coupé, the luxurious 456 GT was the first modern Ferrari to revert to a front engine and rear-wheel drive layout since the 1985 412.

The evolved 456M gained revised suspension, together with delicate alterations to the exquisite design. Detailed changes were made around the radiator grille and indicator lights, as well as to the bonnet and shape of the pop-up headlights.

1998 &ndash; Ferrari 456M GT: an evolution of Ferrari&rsquo;s highly successful four-seat V12 coup&eacute;, with revised suspension and subtle design changes
1998 – Ferrari 456M GT: an evolution of Ferrari’s highly successful four-seat V12 coupé, with revised suspension and subtle design changes

Early in the new millennium, Ferrari presented a V12 front-engined, rear-wheel drive berlinetta with the M moniker. The 575M Maranello was a substantial revision of the 550 Maranello, with the enlarged 5.75-litre engine marking the first time an F1-style gearbox had been used on a road-going Ferrari V12.

The design was altered only to meet the 575M’s technical demands: new intakes at the front improved the aerodynamics, and the air flow was honed around the wheels and underneath the car. A new high-performance adaptive damping system independently controlled all four wheels.

2002 &ndash; Ferrari 575M Maranello: increased performance as the engine is boosted to 5.75-litres, and the first time an F1-style gearbox is used on a road-going V12 Ferrari
2002 – Ferrari 575M Maranello: increased performance as the engine is boosted to 5.75-litres, and the first time an F1-style gearbox is used on a road-going V12 Ferrari

Most recently, and in the past 12 months no less, there have been two Modificata vehicles created by the House of Maranello, showcasing a mindset of constant evolution that comes from motorsport. One is the Portofino M, a 2+ spider with a host of new technical and design features, while the other, the 488 GT Modificata, is designed to excel on track – just as the 512 M did.

The Portofino M, as the legendary ‘M’ suffix suggests, is an evolution of the Ferrari Portofino, and most notable among the revision are an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox and a five-position Manettino, an absolute first for a Ferrari GT convertible. Power from the twin-turbo engine is increased to 620cv, and the aerodynamic performance is improved while at the same time retaining a harmonious design that is both noble and assertive.

2020 &ndash; Ferrari Portofino M: a more powerful twin-turbo V8, a brand-new eight-speed gearbox, and a five-position Manettino with &lsquo;Race&rsquo; mode
2020 – Ferrari Portofino M: a more powerful twin-turbo V8, a brand-new eight-speed gearbox, and a five-position Manettino with ‘Race’ mode

Bringing the Modificata name full circle is the 488 GT Modificata. A limited edition model, it incorporates technology developed for the 488 GT3 and 488 GTE race cars, but transcends the limits imposed by technical and sporting regulations to exploit its full potential. Freed from the FIA Balance of Performance, the twin-turbo V8 now produces in the region of 700cv, while intense development at the Nürburgring Nordschleife sees the carbon fibre body generate over 1000kg of downforce at 230km/h.

2020 &ndash; Ferrari 488 GT Modificata: the perfect synthesis of the 488 GTE and 488 GT3 race cars &ndash; but free of any technical regulations to unlock a new level of performance
2020 – Ferrari 488 GT Modificata: the perfect synthesis of the 488 GTE and 488 GT3 race cars – but free of any technical regulations to unlock a new level of performance

That is the history of Modificata so far, but precisely because it stands for the continuous pursuit of improving overall performance, it won’t be the end of the story.

Ferrari