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Ferrari Under the Skin Exhibition Delights London

Report from Keith Bluemel. The Design Museum was founded by Sir Terence Conran in 1989, and was originally housed in an old warehouse on the south bank of the River Thames near Tower Bridge. In 2016 it moved to its current premises, a Grade 2 listed building, the old Commonwealth Institute, in Kensington High Street in West London. The building was redeveloped and remodelled by the renowned architect John Pawson to provide a 21st Century museum space, offering three times the exhibition area than its previous location.

The Ferrari Under the Skin exhibition was the initiative of renowned Ferrari and Ferrari literature collector Ronald Stern, who worked closely with the museum curators to bring the exhibition to fruition in Ferrari’s 70th Anniversary year. It had its inauguration at a by invitation soirée on 15 November, where Ronald and the museum director welcomed guests and explained its theme, essentially a time line of Ferrari the man and the company he created, through a spectacular display of rare photographs and other memorabilia from the Ronald Stern’s massive library and collection of Ferrari ephemera. This was complemented by a fine array of cars produced by the company through the years. The Ferrari company supported the exhibition with the loan of exhibits, including the replica that they built in 1990 of the first car to carry the Ferrari badge, the 125 S model from 1947, and a clay styling buck of the Japanese market only J50, which was built in only 50 examples to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Ferrari sales in Japan. They also loaned a F2000 F1 car, the model in which Michael Schumacher won the 2000 World Drivers’ Championship, the first time that it had been won by a Ferrari driver since Jody Scheckter in 1979.

There was also spectacular quartet of unique specially commissioned scratch built quarter scale models from Ronald’s collection, featuring a 156 “Shark Nose” F1 car, a 250 GTO, a 330 P4 and a 312 P(B). There had to be a 250 GTO, as he once owned chassis # 3757 GT, which he sold to Nick Mason, who still owns it to this day. There were also rarely seen full scale items, like the 365 3 Posti wooden body buck, a 250 LM bare aluminium body and a 250 GTO wire frame “mascherone” body buck. The exhibition of cars was also impressive, running to 13 examples, plus a pre-war Alfa Romeo, including a pair rarely seem on UK shores, kindly loaned by American collectors. One of these was the supremely elegant ex-Peter Collins 250 GT PF Cabriolet, with a number of unique features, the most notable of which being the cutaway to the driver’s door. The other was the smoothly styled 250 GT SWB Berlinetta “Speciale”, in which (Sir) Stirling Moss took the GT class win in the Daytona 3 Hours Race in February 1962.

The exhibition runs from 15 November 2017 to 15 April 2018, and further details regarding entry fees and opening times can be found on the Design Museum website - Allow yourself plenty of time for the visit, as you will be engrossed, even mesmerized, by the rare artefacts on display.

Images from Keith Bluemel. More images and a chart of the Ferraris will be in Cavallino 223, the February 1 issue.

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