It’s a tough time for everyone nowadays. Covid-19 is posing a serious threat with millions of salaried workers risking furloughs and dismissals. With prudence in mind, we should observe respective government movement regulations and endure the tempestuous economy for now. Meanwhile, we can take a look at contemporary cars that make for a good topic - race cars that are converted to be road-legal.
Make no mistake, it’s an impractical idea. Race cars aren’t made for the regular pavement, and more often than not race car conversions are too visceral for normal applications. The idea of using a genuine race car on the road is a polarising one, but you can’t deny that it’s cool. Multiple manufacturers and the aftermarket industry have delved into the world of race car conversions before. However, one that I’d love to see on the road is none other than the frankly ludicrous Ferrari FXX K.
Introduced back in 2015, the FXX K is an absurd modern proposition by Ferrari - a track day warrior that demands top dollar for very little application. But at the same time, it harkens to Ferrari’s tradition of track-readying its flagship models. It’s how Ferrari reimagines its best and somehow furthering that peak. And every single one of its track specials has been nothing short of spectacular. In fact, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that some of Ferrari’s finest concoctions have been its track specials,
Granted, some are more notable than others. For instance, the 250 GTO, 288 GTO, F40 LM and the list goes on. It’s Ferrari’s way to demonstrate what could be achieved given no boundaries. Of course, multiple other manufacturers have created noteworthy track specials given complete creative and engineering liberty. Pagani, Aston Martin and McLaren, for example, have come up with equally enthralling track offerings. But Ferrari has arguably been the most consistent at coming up with stupendous track cars.
Back onto the FXX K, it’s a culmination of Ferrari’s finest research and engineering know-how they gathered from its first hybrid project - the LaFerrari. In many ways, the FXX K resembles the F150 LaFerrari, and in some ways, it’s also reminiscent of the manic FXX. It’s an unapologetic fire breathing naturally-aspirated 6.3-litre V12 track monster with Ferrari’s F1 tech incorporated within. Of course, that V12 engine isn’t working standalone. With an assist in the form of electrification, this naturally-aspirated V12 touts over 1,000 horsepower, nigh-100 more than the ‘normal’ LaFerrari. It’s an electric motor with HY-KERS that harnesses otherwise expended energy to provide further propulsion, commonplace in Formula 1.
It’s not a new idea, this has been applied commercially prior in the form of regenerative braking. What’s different here though is how much power the FXX K can generate from its HY-KERS - sub-200, while not being over-encumbering. This means that even though the FXX K is a hybrid with a massive engine (regardless of its non-existent EV mode), its kerb weight tips the scale at just 1.3-tonnes. The FXX K’s powertrain is just part of the story. To make a proper track car you need peerless aerodynamics. Efficacy in generating downforce is the game, and the FXX K’s aerodynamics are laudably efficient, with 540 kg at 124 mph. And if that isn’t enough, Ferrari then came out with the FXX K Evo which improves 23% over the FXX K, and a whopping 75% over the LaFerrari. This is courtesy to the Evo’s massive fixed twin-profile wing that works in tandem with the active rear spoiler to contribute towards 640 kg of downforce at 124 mph.
Certainly, being rational and comparing how much downforce the FXX K makes to its competition makes little sense. It’s all down to how the car makes you feel, and even listening to the sonorous wail of the mighty V12 only tells half the tale. Few have had the fortune to drive one, but as Chris Harris puts it: “It’s theatre, it’s cars out there, the very finest.” It might not have the asphalt tearing traction of a proper race car, but the experience is unparalleled. It sounds terrifying to drive, but the deft aerodynamics and traction management mean that the FXX K is confidence-inspiring. It’s a practice of appropriate restraint and balance amidst extremes.
With all that told, despite drivability being a major concern for the FXX K project, it’s very likely that we will never see a street-legal conversion of the FXX K. At least not a Ferrari endorsed one. Ferrari actively condemns the notion of a street-enabled FXX K by barring the owner from participating in the elusive Corse Clienti events should they convert their FXX K. Given that stance, it’s likely that the idea of one will only appeal to the most eccentric of Ferrari enthusiasts.
And that is quite a shame. Nowadays, more insane track-only hypercars are being introduced and with it, more aftermarket solutions offering a street conversion package for them. The most prolific of which being the McLaren P1 GTR which has a well-established firm actively performing street conversions for - Lanzante Limited. They’re some of the best in the business, a historical racing and restoration team that also specialises in McLarens. McLaren openly collaborates with them and facilitates street-legal conversions for its willing customers. It also allows these otherwise track bound cars to be driven more frequently and enjoyed by the crowd. In fact, they’ve gone as far as commissioning a further 6 P1 GTRs to be built into P1 LMs, a nod to the cherished F1 LM. It wouldn’t be far fetched to say that the P1 LM is the ultimate evolution of the P1.
They’re not the only ones too, the Aston Martin Vulcan has also received the street-legal treatment. Renowned British motorsports and engineering firm Ray Mallock Ltd, known as RML Group, undertook this conversion and is open for requests from Vulcan customers. And these guys know their Astons well. Who could forget Pagani as well with the Zonda R which they then built a road-legal version of known as the Cinque.
Ferrari themselves aren’t exactly foreign from this subject. Although not exactly official, there is a street-legal Ferrari FXX out there, and it’s the only one known to be adapted for street applications. Previously sold by Amari Cars, they said that it took some persuasion for the work to be approved. There is also a road-legal F40 ‘LM’, but that started off as an F40, not a genuine LM model.
Back in the days though, we would see official road-legal racecars being built by manufacturers all the time. At least those that participated in FIA racing categories. These were homologation specials, with the acclaimed 288 GTO and fabled 250 GTO being developed under those circumstances. Now, their desirability and collectability are through the roof with the 250 GTO now being nearly priceless. Even the 288 GTO trades for millions of dollars.
Without these regulations and incentive for Ferrari, there really is no sense in street-legal conversions. And with us knowing how protective Ferrari is of its own image and cars, we reckon that most enthusiasts wouldn’t dream of undertaking such a project. And that’s why I think McLaren and Aston Martin, in particular, are worth plaudits for their participation in those aftermarket street conversions.
It’s not about logic, it’s the pantomime. Imagine seeing something like the FXX K rolling down the road, blasting past you on the motorway. That’d bring a smile to my face for sure, and I know how ridiculous it already is seeing a Vulcan or P1 LM meandering about the road. The experience is akin to seeing a heavily modified drag car that has somehow remained road-legal prove that they’re actually drivable on the road.
It’s likely that we won’t see a customer-owned FXX K on the streets or at automotive events anytime soon. Ferrari has an intriguing way to manage its customer base, but if you want the Ferrari experience, a Ferrari is the only remedy.