Ferrari Japan is in a festive mood nowadays as it’s blowing the 50th candle on its anniversary cake, but that’s only half of the story. To celebrate the important milestone, Ferrari took a 488 Spider and turned it into the “J50,” the latest special model of which only 10 units are ever going to be made. As you would imagine, each and every one is going to be tailored to the exact specifications given by the owner. This one was presented in Tokyo wearing a lovely three-layer red exterior combined with an equally nice red-over-black cabin dipped in Alcantara and leather.
Work started on the outside where the Maranello-based Ferrari Styling Centre team fiddled with the 488 Spider’s body to give it a “highly distinctive personality that suits the tastes of a clientele that seeks the utmost in innovative styling.” The main idea behind the changes was to lend the droptop supercar the appearance of a low-slung barchetta, which is why the J50 has received a more aggressive and sleeker front end with slimmer full-LED headlights and a set of beefy side wings for the redesigned bumper. The hood has been lowered and is now flanked by a pair of raised wheel arches to make the fascia seem more muscular.
In addition, the hood has received a pair of carbon fiber air ducts while the windscreen appears to have a wraparound configuration. Gone is the folding metal roof as instead Ferrari has installed a two-piece carbon fiber targa top, which when not in use is stored behind the seats. Another feature that separates it from the regular 488 Spider is the black dividing line reminiscent of iconic models such as the GTO, F40, and F50.
The rear end has also been subjected to a few changes, with the most important one being the adoption of double taillights as a nod to previous models. A new rear diffuser has also been implemented and it hosts a pair of very cool exhaust tips that take inspiration from jet engine afterburners.
A fresh set of tailor-made 20-inch forged wheels has also been created, along with a transparent polycarbonate engine cover. Speaking of which, the biturbo 3.9-liter V8 no longer churns 670 horsepower as it does in the regular 488 Spider as Ferrari’s engineers have managed to extract an additional 20 hp for a grand total of 690 hp. There’s no word just yet about torque, although the upgraded eight-cylinder engine likely generates a tad more than the 760 Newton-meters (560 pound-feet) offered by the donor car.
Ferrari has not published any details about the car’s performance, but it should be in the same ball park as the 488 Spider’s capabilities, a model that hits 62 mph (100 kph) in three seconds and maxes out at 203+ mph (325 kph+).
If you are a big fan of the exterior, we have some good news. Ferrari mentions the J50's body "heralds a radically futuristic design language," so this bespoke 488 Spider-based special edition is a sign of things to come from Maranello's talented design team.
Gallery: Ferrari J50
Tokyo, 13 December 2016 – During a special celebration held at the National Art Center in Tokyo to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Ferrari in Japan, Ferrari revealed a new strictly limited series of bespoke cars, the J50.
The Ferrari J50 is a two-seater, mid-rear-engined roadster that marks a return to the targa body style evocative of several well-loved Ferrari road cars of the 1970s and 1980s. Created by Ferrari’s Special Projects department and designed by the Ferrari Styling Centre team in Maranello, just 10 examples of the J50 will be built and, in the spirit of Ferrari’s fuori serie tradition, each one will be tailored specifically to the customer’s requirements.
Based on the 488 Spider, the J50 is powered by a specific 690 cv version of the 3.9-litre V8 that won the overall International Engine of the Year Award this year.
The bodywork is all new and heralds a radically futuristic design language, with a highly distinctive personality that suits the tastes of a clientele that seeks the utmost in innovative styling. The design approach was led by the desire to create a very low-slung roadster, encapsulating intrinsic Ferrari values of nimbleness and agility. To achieve this, a strong dynamic was imprinted on the flank of the car by the converging interplay between two main guiding lines: the slanted top edge of the side window, continuous with the windscreen, and the raked black swage line which dramatically rises from the low-set nose until it vanishes in the air intake aft of the doors.
While the “helmet visor” effect, which spawns from the window graphic, is reminiscent of Ferrari’s open competition barchettas going as far back as the 1950s, the black dividing line is a novel interpretation of a recurring Ferrari styling cue seen on iconic models such as the GTO, F40 and F50. Circling around the front of the car below knee height, it is a key element which alters the perception of the beltline, setting it at a much lower height than usual, transforming the J50 into a barchetta.
The bonnet section is lower at the centre with raised wheelarch crests giving the emphasized muscularity typical of Ferrari mid-engined sports cars. Two carbon-fibre air channels in the front bonnet create an even more diminutive and sharper looking front mass underlined by the full LED headlights that feature a specific and very dynamic profile.
The J50 benefits from detailed aerodynamic development with a number of significant functional solutions. Firstly, the radiators have been positioned closer together, and the front bumper has been completely redesigned. The windscreen header rail has been lowered allowing more airflow over the aero foil and thus over the rear spoiler.
The sophisticated tail section is dominated by the artful interplay of graphic design themes and three-dimensional elements. The engine is framed by a transparent polycarbonate cover which is intricately shaped to provide a visual extension of the two separate roll hoops protecting the heads of driver and passenger. A transverse aero foil projects as a bridge between the hoops, effectively revisiting one of the most distinctive features of Ferrari sports prototypes of the 1960s.
The rear is decidedly aggressive in nature, with the quad taillight design widening the car visually under a high-downforce wing profile. The rear diffuser features an extractor shape inspired by jet engine afterburners, giving the car a powerful stance. 20” forged rims of unique design were crafted specifically for this limited-edition model.
Inside the cabin, specific trim adorns the sports seats, echoing the design of the rear bonnet contour to provide a unmistakable signature feature. The carbon-fibre hard targa top is divided into two pieces which stow conveniently behind the seats.
The J50 presented at the launch in Tokyo is finished in a special shade of three-layer red with a red-over-black interior trimmed in fine leather and Alcantara.