From the February 2012 issue of Automobile Magazine
by Jean Jennings
Photographs by: Matt Tierney
I am green with envy over the absolute fabulousness of another car magazine. I can reveal my mortifying sin -- sixth among Dante's seven deadly sins, according to my Catholic mother -- only because the magazine in question costs [euro]50 a pop (the equivalent of $67), or [euro]250 for a yearly subscription, which includes three 180-page issues and a 280-page yearbook with a [euro]100 cover price. I can't imagine how many subscriptions it serves at that atmospheric price, but the Official Ferrari Magazine is worth every euro, even at today's equivalent of $335 per year.
The magazine's editor-in-chief is Antonio Ghini, the impeccably groomed, erudite, and droll former head of Ferrari public relations who was hand-picked by Luca di Montezemolo almost two decades ago to join him in returning Ferrari to glory. Ghini proudly (in a non-sinful way) handed me issue 01 in Maranello, where I'd stopped during a 2008 vacation. And the first sick pang took hold.
Subject matter aside, the physical presence of the magazine is staggering -- 9.5 inches wide, 13 inches tall, on paper so beautiful and lavishly inked that you want to bury your nose in it. It's a large, softbound book, actually, its thick covers contrasting a matte varnish with a gloss overlay, creating a tactile lusciousness that's impossible to capture in a photograph. Frequently, the cover opens into a two-page foldout, creating a poster-worthy shot -- in the case of issue 10, for instance, of the carbon-fiber underside of Ferrari's Formula 1 car. Thank you, Ralph Lauren Black Label, for your advertising. (Speaking of which, Automobile Magazine should have these problems. We should also have ads for Sunseeker and Burgess yachts, for high-end furniture-maker Poliform, and for Borsalino hats and Tod's shoes.)
The idea was to create a magazine that would enfold Ferrari owners in the warm embrace of the prancing horse. Each issue has an overarching theme -- 12 Cylinders, Colour, Bravery, and Freedom among them -- but the core material is about the cars, past and present; about Ferrari events; and, most reverently and thoroughly, about racing, especially F1 racing. You might think it would be a stretch to come up with 820 scintillating pages of fresh, compelling Ferrari content every year, but issue after issue has been a feast of interesting features; vast quantities of fascinating photos from the archives; profiles of every important Ferrari personality, from the firm's iconic chairman Montezemolo (who opens every issue with a chatty essay) to its pop-star racing drivers (like world champion Jody Scheckter, being interviewed on his U.K. organic farm by Pink Floyd drummer and crazed Ferrari collector Nick Mason, who's listed on the masthead as a contributing editor). There are also Ferrari-tinged fashion shoots ("Gerhard wears trousers by Costume National; jacket by Louis Vuitton; polo by Ferrari; shoes by Tod's..."). The writing can be a bit spotty, but it's not all puffery. In one story, Mason writes: "It's perfectly possible to be bored to tears by one prancing horse fanatic, and find more in common with a like-minded soul with a Fiat 500."
Ferrari prints 30,000 copies of the first three issues of the year and 50,000 yearbooks. When you order a Ferrari, your subscription begins, and it continues at no cost through your first three years of ownership. Thereafter, you can choose to pay for a subscription, as can any Ferrari owner or besotted fan, through magazine.ferrari.com. There is also a new app for iPads and Droid tablets. You can find back issues on the official Ferrari site to jump-start your collection, but many are now sold out.
One of you, though, could be in luck. I have every issue but number 11, which I've ordered from eBay. When that issue and the 2011 yearbook arrive, I will have four complete years of the Offical Ferrari Magazine's fifteen issues (there were only three issues in 2008), six of which are still in their plastic wrap, including 01. The highest bidder can buy my personal collection on eBay, in an auction beginning January 10, 2012. The entire proceeds will go to the Detroit chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, so bid extravagantly, friends!
I could use a little absolution here.