Rumors have been swirling that Ferrari is planning on bringing out a lighter, faster, and hotter version of the F12berlinetta—which some have dubbed the "F12 GTO." Well, turns out the rumors are right, although the car almost certainly won't be called the F12 GTO. While the name is still under wraps, one current favorite is Ferrari F12 SWB.
Yes, SWB. As in "short wheelbase." But it's not what you think.
Unlike those SWB Ferraris of yore, the hot new F12—currently being referred to as "F12 VS” (for “Versione Speciale”) until an actual name is chosen—seems to have a wheelbase just as long as the model it's based on. The SWB name stems from two tricks—one visual, one technical.
Visually, the F12's rear-quarter windows are gone, tossed out in favor of body-colored sheetmetal, which serves to visually shorten the car from the side. The front and rear of the car doesn't make it look any shorter, but they do pay tribute to the 1964 Ferrari 250 GTO, which was based on the short wheelbase version of the 250 GT. (Here's hoping one super-rich buyer will see if Ferrari can tack the rear end of the FF onto the new car to create a 21st Century Breadvan.)
The technical version of virtua-shortening, though, is more interesting. Reportedly, the F12 SWB features Ferrari's first use of rear-wheel steering. Turning the rear wheels in the opposite direction as the front ones at low speeds has the handy effect of decreasing the turning radius—just as shortening the wheelbase would.
The F12 SWB also gets a nice little power bump. The 6.3 liter V12 is juiced up to 780 PS (or 769 SAE ponies) and 535 lb-ft of torque, according to reports. (That power comes solely from modifying the V12, by the way—all reports say the F12 SWB is not a hybrid.) It’s purported to be 222 pounds lighter than the F12, thanks in part to broader use of carbon fiber—the bumpers and doors are made out of the stuff. The seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox is supposed to fire off shifts 30-percent faster than the regular car’s transmission. The F12 SWB is also believed to score a split front bumper, adjustable rear diffusor flaps, a redesigned underbelly, and tiny wings in front of the rear wheel wells, all of which add up to double the downforce of the regular F12. Put it all together, the F12 SWB will supposedly lap Fiorano less than two seconds behind the more powerful, mid-engined LaFerrari.
As for price, the F12 SWB should come in around 400,000 Euros in Germany, including taxes. A regular F12 costs around 330,000 Euros there after VAT; run some quick math, and it seems the F12 SWB will cost about a quarter more than the F12berlinetta—which seems downright reasonable, considering how closely the F12 SWB seems to nip at LaFerrari's heels.
Not that you're likely to snap one up if you're reading about it here for the first time. As is usually the case for Ferrari's special-edition cars, the F12 SWB is being offered only to Ferrari's elite customers—the kind of guys who've bought at least three new Ferraris in a row, maybe played in the Corse Clienti racing league for a season or two. Reports suggest 650 F12 SWBs are scheduled to be made, all for the 2016 model year; private previews are underway across the globe this summer, so expect all 650 cars to be called for by Labor Day. Ferrari might show it at the Frankfurt Motor Show; then again, they might just release the info on their website and have it casually sitting on their stand at Geneva three months after the cars start hitting wealthy peoples’ driveways at the end of this year.
They're Ferrari. They do what they want.