There's always a bit of drama around the Ferrari stand come press conference time.
Skinny Italians in closely tailored Italian suits stand around with their arms crossed. Throngs of journalists press up against the railing (and no one -- no one -- gets across the railing, unless you are more important than God himself). Supremely confident models in supremely fragile dresses install themselves in front of the three cars on display, and behind them, a giant white wall hides a fireplace, a wet bar, and executives who resemble rock stars.
It is not for the faint of heart.
Ferrari, however, has always been irreversibly intertwined with the concept of drama. Their cars are not subtle, their marketing is nonexistent (those who want one, have one; those who can't afford one have little idea how to acquire one), and their future plans are almost always shrouded in the highest of I-could-tell-you-but-then-I'd-have-to-kill-you secrecy. Drama pervades the brand, it pervades Ferrari automobiles, and it pervades Ferrari history.
It's fitting, then, that a press conference that essentially told us nothing new at all could feel so special and eventlike. The main news this year wasn't really news at all; Ferrari executives, including worldwide general manager Amadeo Felisa, announced recent sales successes and revealed little of future plans. For the most part, history and retrospection were the words of the day. 2007 marks Ferrari's sixtieth anniversary, and it's also the fortieth consecutive year Ferrari sales have increased in North America. North America remains the most successful market for the prancing horse (1635 Ferraris were sold here in 2006, a 5.5% increase from 2005), and the boys in Maranello know it; over $80 million has been invested in remodeling and refurbishing the company's dealer network here in the past four years.
All things considered, little else was revealed. Ferrari has no plans to develop a successor to its storied 1960s-era Dino; of this, Felisa was emphatic. ("It's not in keeping with the Ferrari strategy," he said, "to develop a 'cheap' Ferrari.") Recently retired Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher will remain on as a consultant for Ferrari road and competition vehicles. A worldwide customer rally, beginning in Germany and ending in Italy, will feature 10,000-plus vehicles, span three months, and commemorate the brand's 60th anniversary. Given the hubbub, those facts don't seem that impressive. But it's not like that sort of thing ever really matters; Ferrari is Ferrari, and where their cars are concerned, the drama is almost reason enough.