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Mobil­i­ty with Atti­tude (MWA) — The Fer­rari 512S Mod­u­lo is a space­ship-like slice of auto­mo­tive leg­end

The Ferrari 512S Modulo is a spaceship-like slice of automotive legend

The world has no short­age of rare and award-win­ning Fer­raris, but none look so dra­mat­ic as the space­ship-on-wheels Fer­rari 512S Mod­u­lo. Cre­at­ed back in 1970 by famed design stu­dio Pin­in­fa­ri­na, the mem­o­rable one-off wouldn’t look out of place on the set of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Actu­al­ly get­ting it into the run­ning state it finds itself today, though, might have been tougher even than mak­ing Kubrick’s clas­sic.

The Mod­u­lo is based on a Fer­rari 512S, itself a rel­a­tive rar­i­ty with only 25 pro­duced. Pin­in­fa­ri­na design­er Pao­lo Mar­tin came up with a strik­ing­ly dif­fer­ent, futur­is­tic body that would even­tu­al­ly be revealed at the 1970 Gene­va Motor Show. The dri­ve­train, how­ev­er – a 5.0‑liter V12 paired with a 5‑speed man­u­al trans­mis­sion, which was to devel­op around 550 horse­pow­er and give the car a heady 220 mph top speed – was incom­plete, as Fer­rari had stripped it for parts pri­or to the design stu­dio tak­ing the chas­sis.

The engine block was present, and vis­i­ble through a cov­er punc­tu­at­ed with cir­cu­lar holes. How­ev­er it had no inter­nal parts, and the car had to be wheeled into place when­ev­er it was shown.

It stayed that way, in fact, until just a few years ago. In 2014, James Glick­en­haus acquired the con­cept car; while he may be best known as a film pro­duc­er and direc­tor, Glick­en­haus is also an avid car col­lec­tor, with a par­tic­u­lar fond­ness for Fer­raris. As the own­er of bou­tique Amer­i­can automak­er Scud­e­ria Cameron Glick­en­haus, he also had the tech­ni­cal capa­bil­i­ties to get the Mod­u­lo up and run­ning.

That took place just months ahead of Peb­ble Beach Con­cours d’Excellence, where the Mod­u­lo joined oth­er price­less vehi­cles on the lawn in Mon­terey, Cal­i­for­nia. Even almost five decades after the orig­i­nal design was revealed, it’s still an aston­ish­ing sight – and quite the atten­tion-grab­ber.

The long, low wedge shape is almost sym­met­ri­cal front to back, mea­sur­ing almost 15 feet in length but stand­ing only three feet off the asphalt. The wheels are par­tial­ly cov­ered, with bulging arch­es at the rear and cut­aways at the front. Over the top, a broad canopy roof slides up and for­ward to give access to the cab­in.

It’s no ordi­nary inte­ri­or, either. Orig­i­nal­ly fin­ished in white – with a con­trast­ing black exte­ri­or – for the Gene­va show, the Mod­u­lo was even­tu­al­ly changed to its cur­rent form: white on the out­side, with a black and red inte­ri­or. Martin’s design embraced the idea of mod­u­lar­i­ty in the cab­in, with the con­cept that what was nor­mal­ly a two-seater could be con­vert­ed into a four-seater by swap­ping in and out dif­fer­ent sec­tions.

Even with just two seats, though, it’s remark­able. The hub-less steer­ing wheel pro­trudes on three long struts, unadorned by con­trols or stalks. It’s flanked by an array of ana­log gages and tac­tile-look­ing switch­es and but­tons, along with black-topped levers for the trans­mis­sion and oth­er con­trols.

Most dis­tinc­tive are the twin half-globes, which emerge from the sills like bub­bles in crude oil. Mold­ed from bowl­ing balls, they house dif­fer­ent con­trols for the HVAC sys­tem and oth­er fea­tures.

It’s been a labor of love – and quite prob­a­bly an expen­sive one at that – but all the hard work was appro­pri­ate­ly rec­og­nized. The Mod­u­lo wasn’t just pop­u­lar among atten­dees at Peb­ble Beach: it also took the Strother MacMinn Most Ele­gant Sports Car award in the Ele­gance Awards cat­e­go­ry.

Fer­rari 512S Mod­u­lo Gallery

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