The interwebs have been ablaze the last few days with endless conjecture about a Ferrari 458 Italia said to sport a V12 engine and built by Ferrari ‘Special Projects’ for one Eric Patrick Clapton Esq. Yes, God has got himself a new Fezza.
The truth – although still interesting – is hiding somewhere in the middle of the rampant speculation.
The Ferrari 458 Italia ‘Special’ was on show at H.R. Owen in London this week – in a glass case to protect it from sticky fingers – for the launch party for the 458 Spyder and does sport the number plate SP12 EPC (‘Special Projects’, ‘Eric Patrick Clapton’, so the speculation goes). It does NOT have a V12 engine lurking behind the driver, but the exact same 4497cc V8 in the regular 458 (can you imagine the homologation issues if it didn’t?).
Yes, Ferrari has certainly had a hand in customising the 458 for a deep-pocketed, well-connected, much appreciated customer. Is that Eric Clapton? Ferrari aren’t going to say and, until we see SP12 EPC being driven by Derek down The Street in Ewhurst, we’ll probably not know for sure.
What we do know is that this Ferrari 458 has probably been created by Ferrari’s ‘One Off’ programme, rather than its ‘Tailor Made’ offering which is open to one and all (well, funds permitting). To get Ferrari to produce a ‘One Off’ for you isn’t a question of just a bank balance without a bottom, but a long-standing love, appreciation and ownership of all things Ferrari. For which Eric certainly qualifies.
Eric has not only owned an endless stream of Ferraris over the years, he’s even played for Ferrari at events. So Ferrari would be very happy to take their 458 Italia and make it look just as Mr Clapton wished, which, in this case, meant paying homage to the Ferrari 512 BB.
Eric’s love affair with Ferrari started in the 1960s thanks to his friendship with George Harrison. George arrived at Eric’s house – Hurtwood in Ewhurst – in a dark blue Ferrari 365GTC, a car Eric fell in love with on the spot (rather like George’s other prized possession – Patti Boyd).
George gave Eric the telephone number of his Ferrari dealers in Egham and Eric ordered himself the exact same 365GTC, even though he couldn’t drive a manual car at the time. He taught himself to drive the 365 on the drive at Hurtwood, starting a passion for Ferraris that still continues.
So if you have a lust for a One Off Ferrari, and deep enough pockets, start buying Maranello’s finest now and maybe, just maybe, in thirty or forty years time Ferrari may be willing to build you your very own, one off Ferrari.