In 2012, Ferrari revealed the replacement of the 599 GTB at the Geneva Motor Show – The F12 Berlinetta. The F12 was sharper, more powerful and most importantly, more engaging than its predecessor. Designed by Pininfarina, the F12 Berlinetta was better than the 599 in every way. More power from a 7.3L V12 – 730hp (118 more than the 599 GTB) and 509 lb-ft of torque which allows the F12 to travel from 0-62 mph in a brisk 3.1 seconds. The F12 was a revelation, this car was at the top of the Super GT market segment and stayed there for the duration of its production. It was a refined cruiser with a Jekyll and Hyde personality; you could easily cruise down to the South of France in this or storm around your nearest track trying to get the best lap times. It was described by many as ‘scary’ to drive but someone in Maranello thought it was too safe…
In October 2015, Ferrari revealed the lightweight, track-focused F12 TdF (‘Tour de France’). TdF doesn’t refer to the bicycle race but instead pays homage to the historical Tour de France Automobile which took place annually between 1899 and 1986. Ferrari claimed many victories over the years at the event with various models including 308 GTB’s, and a 365 Daytona but more significantly different variations of the 250.
The TdF has the same 6.3L V12 unit that is found in the standard F12 but has a revised power output of 769hp and 520 lb-ft of torque. The TdF also saves 110kg over the standard F12 which helps improve performance significantly. The TdF uses an upgraded 7-speed dual clutch transmission and shortened gear ratios which provide 30% quicker upshifts and 40% quicker downshifts. The F12 TdF can accelerate from 0-62mph in 2.9 seconds and in 7.9 seconds you’ll be seeing 124mph. Ferrari states that the top speed is ‘in excess of 211mph’ but then again you’d have to be mad to try and find out. Other weight saving can be found in the stripped out cabin – even the door panels are constructed of a single piece of carbon. The TdF is also the first car in Ferrari’s range to incorporate rear wheel steering to aid cornering agility.
The TdF has had revised aerodynamics too, the front bumper has more air vents and even winglets on the splitter (much like on the sides skirts of the 458 Speciale) which help direct the air flow down the side of the car. The bonnet of the car has been changed too, again with more vents to help air flow, same with the front fenders, underbody and pretty much everything else on the car. The rear quarters of the TdF has gill-like air vents reminiscent of those found on the side of the 250 TdF. All these slight modifications provide 87% more downforce over the standard F12. The interior too is your standard lightweight carbon and Alcantara affair with only the bare essentials needed although you can still spec the passenger display.
Last year I was lucky enough to shoot not one, but two Ferrari F12 TdF’s both of which went through Ferrari’s tailor made programme.
The first car was a homage to Ferrari 250 SWB chassis 2335GT. This specific 250 SWB had modifications such as a competition engine, bigger fuel tank, competition shocks and suspension and a unique dashboard which was all signed off by Enzo himself. The car itself wasn’t originally painted in Grigio, it was fully restored and painted by DK Engineering who finished it in Grigio with contrasting Bordeaux twin stripes. The car then swapped hands a few more times and was owned by its most notable owner, Sir Eric Clapton.
The F12 TdF which took inspiration from this car is finished in Grigio Ferro with a homage 250 TdF stripe in contrasting Bordeaux Tintoretto. The car itself has every conceivable bit of Carbon changed from standard to dark red Carbon, throughout the cabin, across the splitter and diffuser, even the engine bay is finished in red carbon. The interior itself had the racing seats with 4 point harnesses with matching Bordeaux Alcantara and piping. Not many cars leave me speechless but the sheer attention to detail and the quality of finish that the Tailor Made Atelier’s at Ferrari have executed is truly special. I still haven’t seen another TdF (in my opinion) that is in such a tasteful and unique spec.
The second car is finished in Argento Nürburgring with a Grigio Silverstone and Nero stripe. Much like the previous TdF, this car had every carbon option you could spec. Finding a location to capture car was difficult. I already had an underground car park in mind for moody lighting and to highlight the lines of the car but I also wanted a location that would be a simple backdrop for the car. I finally found some quiet B roads where I could shoot the car and capture the sunset in the background.
The F12 TdF is a hardcore grand tourer not for the faint hearted. This is a proper drivers car for the track and the road. All 799 have been spoken for and resale value’s have shot up, in fact at the RM Sotheby Arizona auction in January, A tailor-made TdF finished in the Azzurro La Plata livery sold for a whopping $1,325,000 (£966K). Is the TdF the last great Grand Tourer from Ferrari? Probably not, I’m intrigued to see what Ferrari do with the 812SF however the F12 TdF is the V12 Grand Tourer in it’s rawest form.