How the Ferrari Modulo Was Born

Designer Paolo Martin talks about one of the most extraordinary and innovative dream cars of all time, unveiled to the public at the 1970 Geneva Motor Show. Through the backstage and with details of its genesis, he explains how it was born, but also how it should have remained. Because from the author’s point of view, the version implemented by the current owner is like tampering with a work of art.

Photos and Drawings courtesy of Paolo Martin Archive

It all began in 1968. Ferrari had sent Pininfarina two chassis of the 25 built for the type approval of the Ferrari 512 S. The chassis had remained unsold, and were sent to Turin to be used to develop a couple of prototypes for a possible future production. One was handed over to Filippo Sapino, my colleague from the style team who at the time was working in Grugliasco, and one to me. The input we had received was to think of a show car – then known as a dream car – suited to that chassis, without any great demands. I made my proposal, a small sketch on an A3 sheet; while Sapino did something better: a beautiful figure. His proposal was chosen. They still weren’t ready for mine, it was considered a rather strange “thing” while Sapino’s was “more feasible”, more of a real car. Although I had tried to make my idea a bit more attractive, it was decided that it wasn’t right and was put to one side for the time being.

And so August 1969 arrived, and I decided to give some three-dimensional shape to my idea. I ordered eight square metres of polystyrene, unloaded it and started to scratch and saw, until I had a car in scale 1:1.

Returning from the holidays, which I missed because I was working on my idea, Sergio Pininfarina and the engineer Renzo Carli – Sergio’s right-hand man and brother-in-law – were quite perplexed and indeed even a bit annoyed.

They didn’t agree with the idea that I had come up with, so out of the ordinary: “What planet are you on, how did you get the idea of doing something like that?” they asked me.