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HOT WHEELS
The 612 Scaglietti cruises past Vittala Temple, Hampi; (below) the twin cars at the Mysore Palace gate. Pictures courtesy www.media.ferrari.com

This weekend, watch out for a couple of Ferrari 612 Scagliettis blazing through Calcutta streets. No, it won’t be Sachin driving his famous gift, the 360 Modena. Nor are any of the city bigwigs going to town with a grand new purchase.

The two Prancing Horses models — in liveried red and white — are being brought down by Ferrari to rough out the city roads on March 30 and 31, as part of Ferrari’s Magic India Discovery Drive, which was flagged off in Mumbai on February 25. The Ferrari team will arrive in Calcutta on March 29, drive to Bolpur on March 30 and pay a visit to Victoria Memorial and Mother House on March 31.

The Italian sports car maker picked India to showcase its flagship Gran Turismo (GT) model, the 612 Scaglietti. The cars are currently cruising the Western Ghats after burning a trail along the Mumbai-Pune Expressway and Goa beaches.

“We have 50 international journalists from Top Gear, El Mundo, Sport Auto, Corriere Della Sera and Car & Driver taking turns at the wheels. The idea is to give them a first-hand experience of the magic of India,” said Ferrari spokesman Davide Kluzer. On the other hand, Kluzer is “astounded” by the passion that the two Ferraris have evoked among Indians. The Ferrari team is also building the engine for the Indian F1 team Force India, said Kluzer.

The Magic India Discovery Drive follows Ferrari’s hugely successful 15,000 Red Miles China tour in 2005 and the Pan-American 20,000 tour of 2006. While the Pan-American tour featured Ferrari’s 599 GTB Fioranos — which travelled from the beaches of Brazil to the east coast of the US, taking in tropical rain forests, arid forests and snowy peaks across the two continents — the China leg featured two standard 612 Scagliettis that covered 24,000 km, a first for any automobile constructor anywhere in the world. “The Indian tour will cover 13,000 km. The idea is to show how Scagliettis are accustomed to Indian road conditions as well,” said Kluzer, who drove through Mumbai and Goa partly.

The 612 Scagliettis have been in production since 2004. These are large, two-door fastback coupes with 2+2 seating arrangement. The model is produced at Ferrari’s Carrozzeria Scaglietti plant, the former home of the car’s namesake coachbuilder in Modena, Italy. The car has been minimally modified for Indian conditions, fitted with an underbody protector made from 4 mm duraluminium rather than plastic and a slightly higher suspension. Otherwise, it is an entirely straightforward production car, powered by a 540 hp 65 V12 engine that delivers maximum torque of 60 kgm at 5,250 rpm. Both cars have also been fitted with a six-speed F1 gearbox and transaxle transmission.

Ferrari facts

The Scaglietti’s design, especially the large side scallops and the headlights, pays homage to the custom 1954 Ferrari 375 MM that director Roberto Rossellini had commissioned for his wife, Ingrid Bergman.

Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson drove a 612 Scaglietti in a race against co-hosts James May and Hammond, who took trains and buses from the studio in England to Verbier, Switzerland. Despite a mechanic leaning on and bending one of the windshield wipers (creating a maddening rattle) and being stopped for speeding, Clarkson beat May and Hammond to the resort lodge, passing the two a short distance from the lodge.

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