My personal encounter with a monument, the Ferrari 512 Modulo

Just lately I had the honor and pleasure to participate in SAI’s “Six Questions with an Ethics & Compliance”.  One of the questions was about what I wanted to become when I was growing up, and I responded it with archaeologist or astronaut. One looking into the past, one into the future. This may sound contradicting, but especially my research for the book “Business Philosophy according to Enzo Ferrari”“Business Philosophy according to Enzo Ferrari” tought me something different. Most of the actual studies confirm what famous leaders and entrepreneurs instinctively do right, today, but also in the past.

Sometimes certain knowledge and skills may lose their importance, but then later they become relevant again. Especially the possibilities of Industry 4.0 and Artificial Intelligence support individualism, as they reduce the importance of economies of scope. They require again the craftsman and artist inside the entrepreneur to ensure the success of business.  Here characters as Enzo Ferrari and others have a lot to tell us, as they are as modern today, as they had been in their particular times.

"Business Philosophy according to Enzo Ferrari", written by Patrick Henz.

In 2014 I had the luck to see one of my favorite cars in person, not any one, but a one-time show car: the 1970 Ferrari 512 Modulo. Already designed in ’67, it required a courageous decision form Pininfarina to realize this radical vision and then to craft from paper first the wooden model and then finally the real car, based on Ferrari’s 512S. Even if the designer Paolo Martin stated that he not saw any science fiction movie the night before he had the idea for the Modulo, the vehicle just looks as coming straight out of Stanley Kubrik’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Of course not possible, as the movie was first time screened one year after Martin designed the Modulo. Much later, design critic Paolo Tumminelli resumed this inside his report on the 512 M: “Paolo Martin has not made a car for Pininfarina but made a monument!” Even more as you can guess from sketches and photos, but if you see this car in reality, you have to agree. One of the less Ferrari’s where you not would wish a roaming twelve cylinder engine, but instead a silent electric drive. Together with other creations, such as the Alfa Romeo Carabo, 33 Roadster (also designed by Paolo Martin) or the Lancia Stratos Zero, the Modulo ended the classic epoch of car design and opened the door for the next ones. Wedge design was born, what influenced car design up to day. As fascinating as the car itself is also its story from the first sketch to the presentation at the 1970 Geneva Motor Show.

Ferrari 512 Modulo
Ferrari 512 Modulo, by Paolo Martin. Usage defined by Creative Commons 3.0.

Thanks to Martin I could include it into the actual edition of the book. One example, that Ferrari’s history was not only written by the company itself, but in addition by many external stakeholders like designers, entrepreneurs and gentlemen drivers. A win-win situation for all sides, even if Enzo himself in the beginning was not always found of them, as another example, the Ferrari 250 SWB “Breadvan” showed.

The  journey of the Modulo keeps on, as Pininfarina sold the show car to the US entrepreneur and racer Jim Glickenhaus. SCG Cars has its garage in Sleepy Hollow, near New York City. Most readers may associate the town to the famous book, later turned into a movie by Tim Burton. It seems to be a fitting place for this surreal creation. Glickenhaus himself created with Pininfarina another one-off, the “Ferrari P4/5 by Pininfarina”, but this is another story to be told…


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