Ferrari J50 celebrates 50 years in Japan

Article by Christian A., on December 14, 2016

Italian sports carmaker Ferrari marks a milestone for having been in Japan for 50 years. In celebration of this fact and as a tribute to the country that is one of Ferrari’s precious markets, the sports carmaker is launching a limited series model exclusive to Japan – the Ferrari J50.

This limited series model was unveiled at Ferrari‘s special 50th anniversary celebration at the National Art Center in Tokyo, Japan. Only 10 examples of the Ferrari J50 will be produced and each will be built according to the taste and preferences of their respective owners – as per Ferrari’s fuori serie tradition.

The Ferrari J50 is derived from the Ferrari 488 Spider, and a number of modifications were made to transform this sports car into a limited series vehicle celebrating the carmaker’s 50 years in Japan.

Power is provided by a 3.9-liter V8 engine that is tuned to provide 20 hp more output to 690 hp. Torque levels of the engine in the J50 are undisclosed, although is expected to exceed or be at par with the 760 Nm generated by the powerplant in the 488 Spider.

Exterior Design

This sports car – a two-seater, mid-rear-engine roadster with a targa body -- was designed by the Ferrari Styling Centre team and built by the carmaker’s Special Projects department.

One of the objectives of the design team was to create a very low-slung roadster – a barchetta in particular – that exemplifies Ferrari’s long-developed values of agility and nimbleness. To this effect, Ferrari lowered the center section of the bonnet and raised the crests of its wheelarches – resulting to a J50 that looks more muscular than the sports car from it was derived.

Ferrari also installed two carbon-fiber air channels in the front bonnet and changed the design of its full LED headlights – making the J50 look more aggressive and more athletically dynamic. This effect was further accentuated by a black dividing line that circled around the front extremities of the J50.

Since this black line – reminiscent of a Ferrari styling cue found in the GTO, F40 and F50 -- is positioned on the front end at below knee height, it changes the perception of the beltline and thereby effectively morphing the roadster into J50 into a barchetta.

Together, the J50’s windscreen and its side windows seem to form a continuous glass – thanks to a blacked-out A pillar -- that wraps around the occupants of this limited series car. This results to the so-called “helmet visor” effect, which is reminiscent of Ferrari barchettas decades ago. Gone is the folding metal rood found fitted for the Ferrari 488 Spider. It has been replaced with a two-piece carbon fiber targa top that is stowed behind the seats when not deployed.

Following the “form follows function” design mantra, the new Ferrari J50 is full of several aerodynamic solutions that also make the limited series car elegantly sporty. For instance, Ferrari lowered the windscreen header rail to allow more air to flow over the aero foil and over the rear spoiler. The carmaker also positioned the radiators close to each other and redesigned the front bumper.

On the rear, the new J50 features a high-downforce wing and a jet afterburner-inspired rear diffuser. Completing looks of the new J50 are its new quad taillights and 20-inch forged wheels with spokes designed like Sakura (cherry blossom), which is regarded as one of the symbols of Japan.

Press Release

World Premiere of the Ferrari J50

During a special celebration held at the National Art Center in Tokyo to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Ferrari in Japan, Ferrari revealed a new strictly limited series of bespoke cars, the J50.

The Ferrari J50 is a two-seater, mid-rear-engined roadster that marks a return to the targa body style evocative of several well-loved Ferrari road cars of the 1970s and 1980s. Created by Ferrari’s Special Projects department and designed by the Ferrari Styling Centre team in Maranello, just 10 examples of the J50 will be built and, in the spirit of Ferrari’s fuori serie tradition, each one will be tailored specifically to the customer’s requirements.

Based on the 488 Spider, the J50 is powered by a specific 690 cv version of the 3.9-litre V8 that won the overall International Engine of the Year Award this year.

The bodywork is all new and heralds a radically futuristic design language, with a highly distinctive personality that suits the tastes of a clientele that seeks the utmost in innovative styling. The design approach was led by the desire to create a very low-slung roadster, encapsulating intrinsic Ferrari values of nimbleness and agility. To achieve this, a strong dynamic was imprinted on the flank of the car by the converging interplay between two main guiding lines: the slanted top edge of the side window, continuous with the windscreen, and the raked black swage line which dramatically rises from the low-set nose until it vanishes in the air intake aft of the doors.

While the “helmet visor” effect, which spawns from the window graphic, is reminiscent of Ferrari’s open competition barchettas going as far back as the 1950s, the black dividing line is a novel interpretation of a recurring Ferrari styling cue seen on iconic models such as the GTO, F40 and F50. Circling around the front of the car below knee height, it is a key element which alters the perception of the beltline, setting it at a much lower height than usual, transforming the J50 into a barchetta.

The bonnet section is lower at the centre with raised wheelarch crests giving the emphasized muscularity typical of Ferrari mid-engined sports cars. Two carbon-fibre air channels in the front bonnet create an even more diminutive and sharper looking front mass underlined by the full LED headlights that feature a specific and very dynamic profile.

The J50 benefits from detailed aerodynamic development with a number of significant functional solutions. Firstly, the radiators have been positioned closer together, and the front bumper has been completely redesigned. The windscreen header rail has been lowered allowing more airflow over the aero foil and thus over the rear spoiler.

The sophisticated tail section is dominated by the artful interplay of graphic design themes and three-dimensional elements. The engine is framed by a transparent polycarbonate cover which is intricately shaped to provide a visual extension of the two separate roll hoops protecting the heads of driver and passenger. A transverse aero foil projects as a bridge between the hoops, effectively revisiting one of the most distinctive features of Ferrari sports prototypes of the 1960s.

The rear is decidedly aggressive in nature, with the quad taillight design widening the car visually under a high-downforce wing profile. The rear diffuser features an extractor shape inspired by jet engine afterburners, giving the car a powerful stance. 20” forged rims of unique design were crafted specifically for this limited-edition model.

Inside the cabin, specific trim adorns the sports seats, echoing the design of the rear bonnet contour to provide a unmistakable signature feature. The carbon-fibre hard targa top is divided into two pieces which stow conveniently behind the seats.

The J50 presented at the launch in Tokyo is finished in a special shade of three-layer red with a red-over-black interior trimmed in fine leather and Alcantara.

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