Ferrari Factory Tour 2002 Maranello, Italy
Photography is strictly prohibited within the manufacturing facility, so will do my best to inform through words the Ferrari tour experience. At first i was treated to an overview map of the quite large facility. Various sections of the plant work in concert to make approximately 3,500 cars each year. While Ferrari could easily sell over three times the amount of cars they produce yearly, production numbers are kept realistic to insure quality and super-high performance. In fact the United States has been allocated only 70 Enzo cars, yet they have over 220 orders for the car! The facility is quite complete from engineering and wind tunnel testing to actual construction/production and painting.
During the beginning of the inner factory tour i saw the crankshaft manufacturing section where only sixteen Ferrari and five Maserati crankshafts can be produced per day. The raw crankshaft of a 12 cylinder car starts as a 72kg piece of metal, yet when finished weighs only 22kg. Reduction in weight while
ensuring a lengthy reliability and precision is key in a proper sports car.
The engine assembly facility not only build Ferrari engines, but also those for their sister company Maserati. Being able to view the Ferrari 8 cylinder engine compared to the Maserati version was a very rare sight! It was surprising how much more compact the Maserati engine was by comparison! Then again a Ferrari engine is more demanding on sheer performance while the Maserati has a good dose of performance, yet with some advantages of their own. One advantage of the Maserati over the Ferrari engine is with the use of bench tested dual cam chains over the Ferrari's cam belts that needed changing every 12,000 miles… and at considerable costs. Eight cylinders are constructed as a team effort while the 12 cylinder models have only two people carefully constructing the complete engine. Each engine is tested for three hours with gradually increasing speeds. Everything from the usual torque and power curve to air/fuel is carefully monitored, as in exhaust (emissions).
At the assembly line for their "basic" 8 cylinder cars (dare we call them "basic"?) begins with fitting windscreens, side glass, interior carpeting dashboard, etc. to the base frame. This step also includes the electrical system and seats. During assembly every car has its own dedicated parts rack that rolls through assembly to
ensure each car is constructed to the owners specification. Each rack is checked for proper parts acquisition from a parts list. These racks are also marked with the car's serial number, a type of birth identification if you will.
Stepping back a bit, i was privy to seeing the many seamstresses who hand cut the leather, then sew the various sections that eventually become a complete interior or seats. It takes 2.5 cowhides to make the interior of the Ferrari 360. Each step is a painstaking process that is time consuming, yet there is obvious more an air of care rather than speed at the cost of quality. The interior leather is carefully glued to the dashboard while a heat gun assists to
ensure a proper fit. During the tour we were free to talk and joke around with those who were carefully crafting Ferrari cars.
The main assembly line consists of 31 stations in total for Ferrari's 8-cylinder products. It takes approximately three days to go from the beginning to the end as each station installs various parts while carefully checking for proper fit and finish. Assembly of these 31 stations is roughly in this order:
Fitting the pedals and brake lines
Both front and rear suspension
A ready-to-drive Ferrari now awaits a road test. Unlike most automobile manufacturers, Ferrari tests each and every vehicle for approximately 150km to
ensure quality. If we include bench testing the engine, there is a total of 500km of life on a brand new Ferrari before it reaches the hand of its first owner. As a side note, a different manufacturing line is utilized for right hand drive cars than the more normal left hand drive cars.
The Enzo production line had only eight cars, with production of each car taking a staggering three months to produce! Four weeks alone are for assembling the
various parts to the core chassis. Looking at the assembly line i could see the construction from raw car to a complete, computer-diagnosed product. Then each Enzo is tested on the Ferrari track for 300 km. or so. In fact, to my eye, the Enzo only really begins to take shape by the fourth assembly station where the engine, transmission and other critical parts have been fitted.
A rare joy was to see not just an actual Enzo, Ferrari's newest ultra-high performance sports car, but watching them hookup a computer diagnostic system and analyzing the data. I asked our tour guide, after informing her of the three F50GT cars that are contractually not allowed to be raced, about the possibility of a GT version of the Enzo for racing and the answer after much prodding was a firm "maybe". During the visit i heard one of the Enzo cars and it a very, very deep growl. Virtually no higher-pitched overtones could be heard. Instead, just an ominous low rumble that was quite intimidating.
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