Chris Dudman final year Automotive Design student - Why do we buy V12 Ferraris? - Ferrari Life
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post #1 of 21 Old 12-07-2013, 04:15 AM Thread Starter
 
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Chris Dudman final year Automotive Design student - Why do we buy V12 Ferraris?

Hello,

My name is Chris Dudman, I'm a final year Automotive Design student at Northumbria University. I am currently doing a research project to find out what attracts buyers to V12 engined cars, particularly Ferraris. I am trying to find out what makes a V12 so aspirational: the sound, the feeling, the raw power? And thought, who better to ask than you. Any answers will be greatly appreciated, thanks for the help!

Chris
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post #2 of 21 Old 12-07-2013, 04:59 AM
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Chris, first congratulations on making it into your final year and your coming graduation. I still remember sitting in my first semester Calculus lecture hall in 1968 where there were around 500 of us and the professor telling us how things "really" worked at university. He said something to the effect that his real job was to weed out those who weren't truly serious about being there, which he estimated to be around 2/3 of us. In this way, our parents', our scholarships and loans, and the university's resources wouldn't be wasted on deadheads. It was amazing how much drudgery we had to go through those first 1.5 to 2 years before we "finally" arrived to the really interesting and useful stuff in our own disciplines, and I'm sure you've seen the same thing during your time at university.

On to your real question. For me owning a V12 Ferrari gives me a piece of a legend, and a connection to an automotive pedigree that is unlike and unmatched by any other manufacturer in the world. Too, Mr. Ferrari himself always felt that only the V12's were "real" Ferrari's. Last but not least, the sound of the V12 is intoxicating at 7K and above.

I've worked in the R&D and engineering departments of two industrial engine manufacturers in the past, and although we built straight sixes, straight 8's, V8's, V12's and V16's, the V12's were always my favorites.

There's just something special about 12's, IMO, and for someone of my generation, 12's are always associated with Ferrari and vice versa. Perhaps for people who are 10 or 20 years younger, it's not such a strong association, so it'll be interesting to see what others say.

'99 550, Rosso Corsa / Nero, S/N:114654, Assy: 31836, Engine: 52084

High mileage, low compression, and missing on a few cylinders.....just like my cars.

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post #3 of 21 Old 12-07-2013, 05:30 AM Thread Starter
 
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Firstly, thanks for the reply John. I can't stress to you how useful it will be!

In regard to university, I can definitely say that's happened. We were a considerably smaller course than yours to begin with, but there's only a handful of us left now.

I'm also looking to gain a better understanding of the engineering behind a V12, if you could offer any insights?

I look forward to reading any other replies too, I wonder if there'll be any similarities?

Thanks again
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post #4 of 21 Old 12-07-2013, 06:09 AM
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Chris, try to find a copy of Karl Ludvigsen's "The V12 Engine". Very readable with lots of great photos and good info on V12's in general, not just Ferrari.

There's a particularly interesting supplement at the back of the book, written from an aeronautical point of view, and it discusses all the cylinder numbering conventions, and firing orders of all the known V12's. I found it fascinating from an engineering perspective.

'99 550, Rosso Corsa / Nero, S/N:114654, Assy: 31836, Engine: 52084

High mileage, low compression, and missing on a few cylinders.....just like my cars.

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post #5 of 21 Old 12-07-2013, 06:44 AM
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Hi Chris, let me echo John's congratulations on getting to the interesting part. My own recllection of my first engineering lecture was the professor telling us that his object was ,simply, to teach us how to think,as that was the most useful thing he could do for us. Everything else would most likely be out of date part way through our lives. I hope he succeeded.
I started out in gasoline piston engine R and D,many years ago but left after a number of years to pursue another career. I have always prefered straight 6 cylinder and V 12 cylider engines. The basis layout is inherantly better balanced, other configurations are compromising on engine length or cost of manufacture etc.. As a gross approximation for the same swept volume the more cylinders you have the higher you can push the rev limit at roughly the same stress level. The resulting sound is intoxicating.
So 12 beats six if you can afford it. I'm not a great fan of wierd configurations, that have been tried over the years in aero engines and car engines; W or H for example.
The v12, in my mind meets the fuindamental rule: If it looks right, it is right! Just open the bonnet of any of the V12s, that don't have the engine compartment masked in carbon fibre. The engine looks like it is there to do a job.
V12s are associated with Ferrari, and perhaps his greatest achievement was to use them on relatively small capacity engines (starting at 1.5litre), from the start of building his own cars. where most other car manufcaturers have only used V12s once the size passed 5 litres and they were really forced to do it. Jaguar, BMW and Mercedes for example.
I ended up with a Ferrari because I was looking for a V12 toy, I have always been a 12 cylinder Ferrari enthusiast and fell in love with the Maranello. I'm much less excited by the V8 cars even if their performance and looks are tremendous;. They remain for me 8 cylinder compromises and lack the aura of the V12..
Hope this rambling help.

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post #6 of 21 Old 12-07-2013, 06:49 AM Thread Starter
 
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Brilliant, that sounds like the ideal book, I'll have a look in my library for a copy now.

Thanks again John
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post #7 of 21 Old 12-07-2013, 07:11 AM Thread Starter
 
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Hi Nigel, thanks for the reply. Again, some brilliant insights! I greatly appreciate your help, I hadn't thought about the appearance of the engine itself being such a major factor in relation to other configurations.

John, I've managed to secure an inter-library loan for the book you suggested. I look forward to reading it.

Thanks to both of you!
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post #8 of 21 Old 12-09-2013, 05:06 PM
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Why V12: Because that is the legend and the dream. Moreover it has attained quasi-mythical status. You are in another realm of ownership with a V12 car and yet even more so if that V12 is in a Ferrari. Enzo himself ascribed ultimate status to the V12 as it became a signature engine of Ferrari.
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post #9 of 21 Old 12-10-2013, 05:17 AM
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I'm a FLAT 12 Boxer engine kind of guy, for all the reasons stated above.
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post #10 of 21 Old 12-10-2013, 09:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris.Dudman213 View Post
I am trying to find out what makes a V12 so aspirational
I have been giving this some thought since my rather cryptic reply when you asked this question in another forum.

I am not an engineer, so my reasons are less well founded in logic, more in perception and feeling.

Generally, when it comes to high performance, the more cylinders the better: 6 is better than 4, 8 is better than 6, etc. and 12 is about the most anyone has put in a car engine, with one or two notable exceptions (Cadillac and very few others). A straight 12 would pose all sorts of problems, so that really leaves a V12 at the top of the pile.

Then there are the associations with the V12 engines that have powered some of the greatest and most glamorous sports and racing cars of all time, e.g. from Ferrari and Lamborghini (not forgetting the fabulous R-R V12 aero engines that powered Schneider Trophy winners, Spitfires etc.).

For most people, Ferrari epitomises the pinnacle of high performance cars (even Lamborghini fans will surely recognise that their favoured marque would not have come into being if its founder had not seen Ferrari as the car to beat) and Enzo Ferrari always favoured V12s. So if it's good enough for him . . .

And let's not forget, just because this is a forum for owners of high performance cars, that not only do V12s power the most aspirational sports cars, they are also to be found in the world's top luxury cars, where refinement is as important as outright performance, Rolls-Royce being the obvious example today (as well as in the 1930s, with an earlier Phantom); and Jaguar in the '70s. V12s are probably the smoothest, most vibration-free of any format, closely followed by straight-6s (let's not forget the Silver Ghost, whose straight-6 engine set standards for smoothness over 100 years ago that some would say have still not been beaten), but then what is a V12 but a pair of straight-6s sharing a common crankshaft?

And it may be that it is not the engine formation that is the attraction itself, but the cars. The fact that they happen to be powered by V12 engines may for some be incidental.

Sorry if this is a bit rambling, but there is more to a V12 than its engineering qualities - it has soul!

Best wishes, John
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post #11 of 21 Old 12-10-2013, 12:28 PM Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the replies all.

John, I am producing a timeline of the most notable V12 engines throughout automotive history and their contemporaries in other engine configurations in an attempt to show their market percentage shares.

Ultimately this timeline will also show the demographics of owned V12s and when they were most popular, but most importantly whether perceptions, from an aspiring owners point of view, has in changed over time.

I hadn't thought to look into the Silver Ghost as a comparison.

Thanks again,

Chris
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post #12 of 21 Old 12-10-2013, 01:54 PM
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Very cool project. From my perspective, the really remarkable thing about the Ferrari V-12 is its history. The Colombo V-12 is the single, constant thread that has woven its way through the years that really formed the reputation of Ferrari and is the basis of the legend that it has become. A Colombo, 2-cam V-12 was in the very first Ferraris (125 and 166) and, with the exception of the 1952 and 1953 World Championships (4 cylinders), was in nearly every significant race car, and almost all of the production cars in one form or another through most of the 1950s and 1960s. I think the last production car it was in was the 365 GT 2+2 which stopped production in 1971.

Also, having had both a 1968 V-12 Ferrari and a 1972 V-12 Jaguar, it is amazing how differently they sound.
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post #13 of 21 Old 12-11-2013, 06:56 AM
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... The Colombo V-12 is the single, constant thread that has woven its way through the years that really formed the reputation of Ferrari and is the basis of the legend that it has become. A Colombo, 2-cam V-12 was in the very first Ferraris (125 and 166) and, with the exception of the 1952 and 1953 World Championships (4 cylinders), was in nearly every significant race car, and almost all of the production cars in one form or another through most of the 1950s and 1960s. I think the last production car it was in was the 365 GT 2+2 which stopped production in 1971...
There is something magical and almost mythical about the Ferrari V12! I am talking about the entire family of the Ferrari V12 engine from 125 to F12. From what I understand, the Colombo V12 was significantly modified by Lampredi after Colombo left Ferrari after only a year or two. The "small" V12s were known as the Colombo engines while the "big" V12s were known as the Lampredi engines. There was a mixing when very early 250 3 litre engines were attributed to Lampredi and later 250 engines designated Colombo. However I understand that Lampredi and others virtually redesigned the Colombo engines after Colombo's short tenure at Ferrari.
To the best of my knowledge Ferrari have never won a F1 world championship with a V12. 4,6,8, 10 and flat 12 cylinders yes but not with a V12.

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Past: 246gt, 512BB, 308 GTB "Michalone" and a few 911's
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post #14 of 21 Old 12-16-2013, 08:51 AM Thread Starter
 
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Hello everyone,

I cannot stress how much I appreciate your enthusiasm in responding to my question. The project is coming together brilliantly and your responses have more than helped.

I am now starting the next part of my study. It requires images of user groups and their respective V12 cars as a method of mapping the demographics of who owns them. If anyone is willing to help out, it would simply require a photograph of you and your V12 Ferrari. Feel free to private message me if you want any further explanation.

Thanks again for your help,

Chris
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post #15 of 21 Old 12-16-2013, 11:47 AM
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here you go; me in my former 1968 Ferrari 365 GT 2+2, and a pic of the 2-cam, 4.4 liter V-12.

Bryan
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post #16 of 21 Old 12-16-2013, 02:59 PM
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Great pic showing off the beautiful lines of the 365 GT 2+2! Magnificent and exotic in nero.

David

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Past: 246gt, 512BB, 308 GTB "Michalone" and a few 911's
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post #17 of 21 Old 12-17-2013, 07:19 AM
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Thanks, David - as much as I liked the nero, it was a nightmare to keep looking good,- especially when you have about an acre of it on a QM.

I love the tipo 245 motor. I was able to drive a good friend's 330GT on a regular basis, and was surprised every time by the remarkable increase in torque that the extra .4 of a liter seemed to give; pretty important on a big beast like the QM. That said, the 330GT's tipo 209 motor is a sweet, nicely-revving motor and perfect for the smaller 330.
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post #18 of 21 Old 12-17-2013, 10:54 AM
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Dudman,

The best GT V12s still wear a Ferrari badge. Even though they are virtually twice the size and weight compared to their "ancestors" they are still more agile, more balanced, lighter and more magic than the competition.

The trouble is the weight and indeed the size of today's Ferrari V12 cars. Up to 250s, 275s and perhaps 330s they were small cars with small V12s. If there will be a day when Ferrari makes a modern V12 GT the same size as a 250 with a three litre V12, that day would be absolutely glorious. It wouldn't have to be faster than any other Ferrari, just very exclusive, very expensive, very elegant, very well made and fitted with a very exclusive little V12 - perhaps only a total of 1.000 cars of each generation.

Back in the day, a V12 Ferrari was something extraordinarily exclusive and special whereas a modern equivalent is not so to the same extent. But I try to capture that ancient spirit of exclusivity and driving pleasure when I buy a modern Ferrari V12 because this is as good as it gets for earthly money. A Pagani or a Koenigsegg perhaps have an edge as far as exclusivity goes but they are very uncompromised and mainly focused on extreme performance. You can't take them up the gravel road to an old Relais & Chateax without whamming the carbon race track attributes into the ground.

Ferrari has announced they will put a limit to maximum annual production. This is very good as they are on their way to become a Porsche-like giant and in fact diluting the Ferrari brand. V12 Ferraris don't mean anything to me if they are churned out by the bundle in Porsche numbers.

Reduced production numbers are one way forward to where it becomes decisively easier to verify my reasons for continuing buying modern V12 Ferraris. Another important way is to reduce the size significantly and emphasise on elegance. If I want an extreme modern Ferrari I buy a V8 mid engined Ferrari. I own both a modern V12 and a modern V8. They fulfil different needs that I have. I also own two classic Ferraris but none is a V12 due to the prohibitive cost. My V12 is a 612 and it is a marvellous car but it is huge, unfortunately. I love it all the same because its design is free from extreme track-like attributes and high performance aero-widgetry which disrupt the line flow. I don't need to fly at illegal speeds in the 612 I just happen to do it but very rarely. In the 612 I need to go with class and elegance with occasional performance bursts. In my 430 on the other hand, I do need to fly at illegal speeds but I'm holding myself back because of reality.

Ideal is a 275 GTB or a 250 SWB but they don't make them anymore.

To conclude, cars like Ferrari, Lambo, Aston, Pagani will have a future with V12 engines. In fact it would be harmful to sales to eliminate the V12.

The big V12 cars - different story:

Heavier V12 cars like RR are pleasant and the V12 is there for smoothness and silence. But they are so silenced and "upholstered" that you would have to focus to tell its a V12. In fact, an S-Class today is silky even with a six pot - DIESEL! My Rolls Royce is a V8 and of course I wouldn't have objected at all if it were born with a V12. That would in my case have been an additional attraction point but I am a dinosaur. The weight of my Roller is not a problem for me since it isn't performance oriented. Incredible but true, my beloved Rolls Royce Corniche is A LOT easier to swing around in a tight public garage than my 612.

Big V12 cars are not very politically correct. They consume much fuel and that can be a turnoff. But we like them all the same. That is why I think a small V12 petrol engine in a small car would be successful. On the other hand I believe future limousine owners will almost all buy six cylinder Diesel engine limos with the Ecotech badge clearly visible so as not to cause a stir downtown, at work or when picking up their environmentally conscious kids at school. For that same reason, any big executive looking car might be tricky to sell with a big V12. Diesel V12 is an option and Audi tried it but the engine is huge and with Audi's unfortunate engine position the car is front heavy. The same performance is achieved by a BMW six cylinder three litre Diesel engine placed behind the front axle, not in front of it as the Audi.

I think for Rolls Royce and perhaps also for MB S-Class however, a three litre Diesel V12 with four turbos could be a refined option which would be attractive and special. It would be very silky and yet environmentally friendly. Also, the engine would have to be visible in its complete mechanics, no plastic covers - in fact, no plastic at all. Think of it as a handcrafted Swiss clockwork, you admire it not only when opening the bonnet looking at it but also by just knowing it's there ticking beautifully.

This is my take on V12 ownership, I hope it is helpful.

Good luck with your thesis and surely it will be read by the decision makers of V12 car manufacturers.

Salve,
Capo

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Last edited by il Capolino; 12-18-2013 at 07:32 AM.
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post #19 of 21 Old 12-17-2013, 01:35 PM
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Dudman,

The best GT V12s still wear a Ferrari badge. Even though they are virtually twice the size and weight compared to their "ancestors" they are still more agile, more balanced, lighter and more magic than the competition.....


.....This is my take on V12 ownership, I hope it is helpful.

Good luck with your thesis and surely it will be read by the decision makers of V12 cars.
Quite the thesis yourself Capo! A most interesting read on your take on the V12 and Ferrari in general.

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post #20 of 21 Old 12-18-2013, 01:27 PM
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Quite the thesis yourself Capo! A most interesting read on your take on the V12 and Ferrari in general.
Thanks, Barry!

Another take on big V12s is that they qualify to a target group subject to destructive envious quasi-green fanatics and tag-along sabotage groups and individuals. In some European cities people have gathered in the name of saving the Earth only to roam the streets smashing up parked SUVs because of their CO2-print. It's been on the news not long ago with interviews of these vandalising crusaders in action. You may see more of such sinister destruction under false Templar Flag as the recession keeps claiming its victims and as Police stand short handed due to insufficient government spending.

The SUV symbolises excess and is often driven by up street successful men and women with families. These people are really the target because of their success in life, not so much because of the opulent SUVs they drive. Reality in Europe unfortunately dictates that some people will intrepidly smash up great cars rather than stand at the assembly line making them.

Big V12 cars easily fall into this bracket in the eyes of the envious. Amongst the wealthy I think you will see a tendency away from being falsely targeted as "anti-Earth". The daily means of transport of the wealthy will be much more modest because of this. The radical and extreme cars for weekend use will thereby increase in sales in order to restore balance in the wealthy's desire to experience exquisite sports cars. I therefore believe that cars like the V12 Ferrari FF will decrease in sales on the European and some parts of the American markets whereas cars like the Speciale will be even more desirable. By this rationale, a Ferrari with a small size body and a small displacement V12 would find buyers.

Salve,
Capo

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The good news: I'm the pilot

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