If your conspiracy theory-crazed Uncle is sure he saw an alien spacecraft during the 1970 Geneva Motor Show, you should remind him the dangers of military-grade LSD. He didn’t see a little gray alien climbing out of a fighter-jet style canopy. And he certainly didn’t see it move under its own power. What he most likely saw was the Ferrari 512S Modulo concept, which looks more like a spaceship than a car. That confusion is likely due to its sharp, wedge-like shape and retractable canopy.
In 1970, when Ferrari unveiled the Pininfarina/Paolo Martin-designed concept, it couldn’t move even under its own power. It was a rolling chassis that lacked an engine. That has finally changed, though, as James Glickenhaus, owner of Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus, bought the concept from Pininfarina in 2014 with the goal of getting it running. Four years later, and Glickenhaus plans to bring the drivable 512S Modulo to Pebble Beach later this week.
In honor of this occasion, we dug through the prolific image archive of our sister-site, Motorsport Gallery, and found these very rare images. Motorsport Gallery has millions of motorsport and automotive images in its archives, many still yet to be digitized. We're constantly finding gems like these, and occasionally ask Archive Manager Kevin Wood to go digging through filing cabinets looking for long lost shots.
Taken by famed German photographer Rainer Schlegelmilch, these images perfectly place the Modulo in the time it was designed. The way the images look with their bit of grain, the model and her outfit, and the location all come together for a scene that is decidedly and unmistakably from the '70s. Check out the full set in the gallery below.
The Modulo still looks stunning nearly 50 years after its unveiling. Its wedge-shaped design looks futuristic with its pop-up headlights and wheels tucked into the body. It's those tucked wheels that give the concept a low ride height, which only adds to its low-profile appearance. The cutout in the fender showing the top of the tires is a nice touch. The interior is just as space-age as its exterior with its wide sills, a unique steering wheel, and fighter jet-style canopy.
The late 1960s and early 1970s were a wild time for car design, and the Modulo concept is a shining example. It helped usher in the digital age of cars when sharp angles become the go-to styling element for several automakers. When Glickenhaus unveils the Modulo at Pebble Beach, it will be a sight to be seen. The Ferrari 512S Modulo is a one-off bit of automotive history that gets the treatment it's always deserved, including a working powertrain.