Since the beginning of this decade, Ferrari design has been on a treacherous path downhill. The mean-mugging faces. Those ugly boomerang-shaped, LED-clustered headlights. The seemingly endless number of vents.
I grew up daydreaming about 360 Modenas and F430s, but the 458 Italia? Bleh!
The 599 GTB Fiorano is, in my opinion, the most beautiful Ferrari ever, but the F12 Berlinetta that replaced it? No thanks!
The 612 Scaglietti will forever be a timeless design but its successor, the Ferrari FF? Wouldn’t touch it!
Sure, the LaFerrari gets an exemption but, as Maranello’s top-tier hypercar, it’s basically required to be perfect—lest all hell break loose.
This car right here, though, is something else.
Meet the Ferrari J50, a dressed-up 488 Spider with a limited-edition tag. Not a thousand. Not a couple hundred. Ten.
Exclusivity sells. It’s what runs the consumer world today. Why has the LaFerrari tripled in value in the five years since its release? Because they only made 500 of them. (and because it’s amazing) Therefore, it’s safe to say that all ten examples of the J50 have long been accounted for, if for no other reason than collector cachet, with each unit essentially a bespoke. Spotting one of these in the wild—and I’m talking outside of an organized event—would be equivalent to a lifetime accomplishment.
However, it’s not the exclusive nature that makes the Ferrari J50 a wonder. It’s the fact that this droptop is simply drop-dead gorgeous. It’s everything the 488 wish it was and everything that the 488 should’ve been. Though they share much of the same core, the two look almost nothing alike besides their general silhouettes—and that’s a good thing. Many features of the J50 take inspiration from icons of Ferrari’s past. The shape of the cockpit, particularly the way it curves upwards towards the back, is plagiarism to a LaFerrari or Enzo advocate. The gradually-rising, dividing line that runs across the midsection of the J50 evokes fond memories of the F50. My favorite nostalgic bit, the twin-circular taillight design ubiquitous with Ferraris from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, makes a return after a long hiatus. Bring them back for good this time, pretty please.
Perhaps the only thing that doesn’t scream Ferrari about the J50 are the slit-eyed headlights. Apparently, they’re inspired by Japanese culture and design. After all, the J50 was penned as a memento to 50 years of Ferrari selling cars in Japan (you can figure out how they came up with that name). I’m not sure how I feel about them, but they’re certainly better than those boomerangs though, right?
Today’s white—err…Bianco Liana—example is brought to you by Looksmart, a brand that’s a paradox in itself, because wasting money on plastic cars does not, in fact, make one look smart. As a matter of fact, I expected more from this J50, especially after my positive reception to the lone other Looksmart sitting on my shelf, the 430 Scuderia (a stellar model, in case you’ve been thinking about one). From a distance, it looks great; in hand, you start nitpicking. Here, solid chunks dominate the rear fascia. The headlight inserts are paper-thin. The model is also sloppy with its decklid Ferrari badge and some of the carbon-fiber printing.
On the bright side, it’s a J50. It’s one of the best Ferraris to come out in a long time. Whether you love exotics or whether you pledge your allegiance to the Prancing Horse, you’re going to have to make room in your supercar stable.