Back in the summer of 2007, Ferrari celebrated its 60th anniversary with a technical symposium at its Maranello HQ.
There it unveiled a model of the Millechili concept (which looked like an 70 per cent scale model of the Enzo), a medium-term project to build a scaled-down supercar that weighed just 1000kgs.
So it’s interesting to see that, this evening, Ferrari has announced that it has inaugurated the ‘MilleChili’ laboratory at the engineering department of the University of Modena.
Ferrari says ‘It is a lecture room equipped with hardware, software and chassis from Ferrari to study research projects developed by the faculty’s undergraduates, aiming at a weight reduction. Eight undergraduates will work at the “MilleChili” laboratory. They can rely on the support of their teaching staff and some Ferrari engineers.’
The 2007 Millechilli concept proposed some very radical ideas. Aside from a chassis made of very hi-tech aluminium/lithium alloys or laminated aluminium/carbon composites, it also proposed a complete rethink of the rest of the car. The driver sat in a fixed position, with an adjustable wheel and pedal box. All the vehicle controls were fitted to the steering wheel boss.
Downsized engines – possibly even a turbo V6 – a super-compact transmission with an in-built electric motor (for boosting shift times and acceleration) and even aerodynamically shaped suspension components were also on the menu.Perhaps most radical of all was the ‘active’ aerodynamic technology, which included a proposal to pump air out of small holes in the car’s body in order to reduce drag.
While the Millechili had fans of super high-end engineering drooling (me included), I was sceptical that the average Ferrari buyer would be interested in driving a much smaller car, with a smaller engine.Surely most buyers want the sheer visual drama offered by the typical Ferrari, as well as the sublime driving experience?
I wonder if any supercar manufacturer will be brave enough to turn away from ever bigger and ever heavier designs and build a cutting-edge car that’s really light and agile?
Or maybe really serious drivers should just leave conventional supercars to the Monaco set and wait for Porsche to launch a lightweight Cayman...