The worst-kept secret of the year is that Ferrari will be introducing a new car - one that the company insists will not be called the Dino, after the firm's legendary GT - at this fall's Paris auto show. The best-kept secret of the year is what, exactly, that new Ferrari will be.
Thanks to our spy-photographer friends, however, we do know a few things about it. Like, for example, that Ferrari's newest sports car, which is known internally as the F149, has a normally aspirated (although probably direct-injected) V-8 engine in its nose. "If you think the F430's acceleration numbers are impressive," said one Ferrari insider, "just wait."
There's been a lot of speculation that the F149 will be a hardtop convertible, but close inspection of spy photographs leads us to believe otherwise. The F149's A-pillars appear too thin for open-topped rollover protection, and the convex rear glass looks too large to store in the trunk. Rumors also abound that the F149 will be a scaled-down version of the soon-to-be-discontinued 612 Scaglietti two-plus-two, but judging by the looks of the sloping roofline, the rear seats would hold little more than your wallet. (Uh, it's a Ferrari: make that your amply padded wallet.)
Ferrari continues to maintain - as it always has, even in times of woe - that the brand will never abandon its exclusivity in favor of higher volumes. Logically, then, the easiest way to put the brakes on the company's rapidly rising sales is to make its hugely desirable sports cars even more expensive. Thus, the rumors you've heard about the F149 being the "entry-level Ferrari" are true - but such a thing won't happen right away.
VERY CLEVER, THOSE ITALIANS: The front-engine F149 will likely be priced higher than the current mid-engine F430, which for now is the entry-level Ferrari. However, due to the use of more costly lightweight materials, the F430's replacement will be significantly more expensive than the current car. This leaves the F149 to take over the entry-level role. That's a neat sleight of hand - by making the price of entry into the Ferrari club even higher and keeping sales numbers suitably low, the cars from Maranello become even more desirable.