The F12berlinetta is an exciting car in its own right, but Ferrari made it even more special with the one-off F12 TRS taking inspiration from the 1957 250 Testa Rossa. Maranello’s berlinetta has once again served as the donor car for a special retro build, only this time it represents the work of an Italian coachbuilder.
Touring Superleggera has reimagined the V12-powered grand tourer with a design that hearkens back to the glory days of coachbuilding with influences from 1930 race cars.
The makers of the stunning Mini Superleggera concept and the lesser-known Artega Scalo Superelletra are back with a rebodied F12berlinetta with carbon fibre panels to shave off nearly 150 kilograms (331 pounds) over the donor car. The massive central fin extending towards the end of the car doesn’t actually serve an aerodynamic purpose as it’s there only to evoke the spirit of sleek streamliners of the 1930s.
Gallery: Touring Superleggera Aero 3
The idea behind the car’s styling was to avoid “jarring, heavily angular architecture in favour of more sweeping, harmonious, but well-defined curves.” At the front, the meaner air intake setup lends the Aero 3 a visibly more aggressive design compared to the F12berlinetta while feeding air to the same 6.3-litre V12.
The naturally aspirated powerhouse is carried over with 730 bhp and 690 Nm (509 Nm), enough for a 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) run in 3.1 seconds and a top speed estimated at 211 mph (340 km/h). The performance numbers mirror those of the standard F12 in a car extended in length by nearly 200 mm (7.9 inches).
Touring Superleggera says that aside from retaining the frame chassis and running gear, they also kept all of the other mechanical, electrical, and electronic bits. Interestingly, the Ferrari F12berlinetta isn’t actually mentioned at all in the press release, with the coachbuilder saying the Aero 3’s donor vehicle is a “premier Italian supercar.”
Only 15 cars will be converted, and while the company doesn’t say how much the Aero 3 costs, it does mention it takes up to six months to deliver the finished car.
TOURING AERO 3
Inspired by the history, designed by the wind
September’s 15th Annual Salon Privé Concours d’Elégance, to be held at historic Blenheim Palace, birthplace of Winston Churchill, will see the launch of Touring Superleggera’s exciting new AERO 3. The latest in a design concept that hails back to their historic role in developing the science of automotive aerodynamics, the AERO 3 perfectly reflects the prime directive of Carlo Felice Bianchi Anderloni, son of the co-founder and company saviour for decades: weight is the enemy, air resistance the obstacle.
Following Anderloni’s principles in fact made Touring synonymous with lightweight construction techniques, and wind-cheating bodies with tapering profiles. Employing research from their own wind tunnel, the first used by any major coachbuilder, cars clothed in Touring’s streamlined fashion excelled
in competition for various European manufacturers and earned them a solid reputation for combining aerodynamic efficiency, speed and style.
The modern generation of this streamline style is exemplified by their Disco Volante series, first shown in Coupé form in 2012 and soon recognized as a landmark in the art of producing elegant and electrifying cars in a very small series.
• From the aerodynamic heritage pioneered on milestones like their Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 and 8C 2900 B of the Thirties, the Disco Volante series of the Fifties, and the modern Disco Volantes of today, Touring has evolved the new AERO 3.Inspired by the avant-garde “streamline” designs that sprang from their own early wind tunnel, the first regularly employed by any major coachbuilder, the AERO 3 follows a clear line of design excellence directly from successes that included the 1939 Mille Miglia-winning BMW 328 Touring Berlinetta.
• GM Salvatore Stranci “extremely touched by the dedication of all my Touring colleagues who have allowed us to present a World Premiere after the difficult start of an extraordinary 2020.
• Italian V12 supercar performance with the beauty, luxury and exclusivity of genuine hand-craftsmanship by one of Italy’s most honoured custom coachbuilders, in an edition of only fifteen total units.
And if the Coupé is the cornerstone of the current interpretation of the streamline style, the Disco Volante Spyder epitomizes the Touring DNA, passed on then to what is rightly third in the series, the AERO 3: an essence of classic originality that goes beyond the concept of time.
It’s a quality appreciated by the commissioning owner of the Show example, patterned after the 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 B LM Coupé Berlinetta Aerodinamica raced at Le Mans, wearing Race Number 19. Like those phenomenal 8C 2900 B cars, production will be limited; in the case of the AERO 3, only fifteen units will be built in total.
“The Touring AERO 3 is our demonstration of resilience as an organization, our perseverance and desire to succeed”, says Salvatore Stranci, new General Manager of Touring Superleggera, “a reward after the difficulties of the first months of this year that put a strain on the entire automotive sector. I am grateful for the generosity, dedication and self-sacrifice of my collaborators, the entire Touring staff, from each and every department. We proudly present a world premiere with three units already sold of the ten that will be produced.“
Touring has long proven that cars on the cutting edge of performance and technology can still display grace and refinement, from their seminal Alfa Disco Volante C52 to their recent Maserati-based Sciàdipersia, and the AERO 3 carries on that tradition admirably. Inspired by the mid-20th Century golden age of Italian coachbuilding, it typifies the canons of Touring aerodynamic style, with flowing lines that highlight the cleanliness of the surfaces and smooth integration of the volumes into a unified whole.
In accordance with time-honoured Touring practice, the AERO 3 avoids jarring, heavily angular architecture in favour of more sweeping, harmonious, but well-defined curves. While the sculpted flanks give the shape dynamism and suggest power, and the large, muscular bonnet fires the imagination with promises of invigorating performance, the emphasis is on Touring’s signature balance of proportions and lightness of touch.
Similarly, the rear fin, often called a shark fin on the outright racing cars where they are now commonly found, reflects pioneering “wind profile” studies into aerodynamic theories of that golden age by Touring in the industry’s first wind tunnel. This detail, while a characterizing feature of the current design and a strong statement on the company lineage, is nonetheless artfully blended into the visual satisfaction of the overall machine.
“The idea of a fin was born as a prominent but very natural extension of the teardrop shape of the passenger compartment”, according to Louis de Fabribeckers, Head of Design for Touring, “and the purest way to illustrate the essence of Streamline Style. In the case of the AERO 3, it has no aerodynamic function in itself, but it evokes Touring’s aerodynamics legacy, from the 1930s onward.”
In effect, the Touring Superleggera personality is not so much trapped in a formal design language that cannot be violated, but dedicated to reaching a pleasing rapport of visual weights and purity of line, regardless of where design inspiration leads.
The result is a creation that goes beyond the notion of any compromise between dynamism and elegance of shapes and celebrates the concept of aerodynamics in every detail.
As for the specific finishing of the Show example, the exterior color follows the lead of Disco Volante Coupé Number One, with the dazzling and popular Stratosphere Red. This is repeated inside the cockpit as highlights against the black soft-furnishings, along with tasteful flashes of polished aluminium, black matte aluminium and matte carbon fiber detail fittings. Foglizzo leather and the distinctive fine Italian hand-workmanship accentuate the feeling of comfort and luxury an automobile of this calibre deserves.
The Touring AERO 3 retains the donor car’s space frame chassis and running gear (sourced from a premier Italian supercar), fully maintained in its mechanical, electrical and electronic characteristics.
BODY ENGINEERING AND PRODUCTION PROCESS
Before any physical construction begins, Touring conducts an engineering study of every detail with particular attention to safety, structural evaluations, and naturally, aerodynamics. All the chassis-bodywork coupling parts are drawn via CAD, to ensure build quality and absence of vibrations; critical load-bearing elements are also subjected to FEM modal analysis. Studies using CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) optimize airflow across the AERO 3’s contours and ensure excellent vertical pressure in the tail area.
As with mass production practice, a bill of materials and a routing document is created. Tolerances, clearances and other quality indicators are standardized and recorded. The production process is fully documented and reproducible, to guarantee a constant quality level. Assembly is carried out using a reference cage to perfectly position the components in three dimensions.
This rigorous process ensures the correspondence to the design of each point of the body with tolerances of less than 2mm. Touring Superleggera craftsmen and engineers dedicate over 5000 hours of highly qualified work to each unit produced.
Forever cognisant that weight is the enemy, Touring Superleggera has chosen carbon fiber for the AERO 3 body. The thicknesses and orientation of the fibers are designed for the best weight/stiffness ratio. In the preparatory phase, the optimal use of materials in terms of weight, strength, surface appearance and quality was studied, including ease of repair in the event of an accident. For maximum precision and quality, each CFRP element is produced by vacuum infusion at 120 °.
FINISHING AND QUALITY CONTROL
Quality control processes include static and dynamic tests before the car is approved for road use. A static test protocol requires compliance with high standards of panel alignment and play, quality of paint and polish, as well as stitching and interior finishing. Functional tests are conducted in a climatic chamber.
The dynamic tests on the test track concern air and water tightness, and the control of noise, vibration and harshness, in addition to driveability, braking and all functional aspects. Tests include top speed, wet handling and behaviour on various rough surfaces.
The Touring AERO 3 is EU certified according to the European directive relating to small series production: EU-Directive 2007/46 EC.
DELIVERY TIMES AND COSTS
Pricing for the AERO 3 is provided on request, and as each car can be trimmed and fitted to the buyer’s individual preferences, may vary accordingly. Touring Superleggera is able to deliver the complete car within six months after receipt of the donor car.
Every part manufactured or modified by Touring Superleggera is covered by an unlimited mileage two-year warranty, subject to the usual terms of industrial production. The availability of parts produced or modified by Touring is guaranteed for life.
Length: 15.7 feet
Width: 6.4 feet
Height: 4.2 feet
Wheelbase: 8.9 feet
Fuel tank capacity: 24.3 gallons
Weight: 3,619 pounds
Front: 255/35 ZR20
Rear: 315/35 ZR20
Cylinder / type: V12, 65°
Cubic capacity: 6.2 liters
Nominal output: 730 HP 8250 rpm Maximum torque: 509 ft lbs Emission level: Tier 3AERO 3
Rear wheel drive - 7-speed, electroactuated sequential gearbox with paddle - shift control and automatic mode
Top speed (est.): 211 MPH
Acceleration (est.) 0-100 Km/h: 3,1 sec
City: 10.5 MPG
Hwy: 21.4 MPG
Combined: 15.7 MPG
CO2 emissions (combined): 1.2 lbs/mile
COACHBUILDING IN 2020
Touring Superleggera’s work responds to an ever-growing demand for personalization and exclusivity that comes from all over the world. But the modern coachbuilder’s task does not only require originality and beauty: if the “made-to-measure” car allows one to discover unexplored areas of form and function without the limits of mass production, nevertheless they must of necessity be immediately producible.
And today, to be feasible, even a custom-built car must respect the standards of quality, safety and usability required of production cars, if not exceed them, and offer unparalleled levels of prestige and quality in materials.
This is why Touring Superleggera designs and tests parts, accessories and systems with the most advanced engineering techniques. In manufacturing, out-of-the-ordinary craftsmanship skills are not sufficient to guarantee quality and reproducibility; Touring therefore adopts computerized processing techniques and sets very high demands for finishing and precision.
Touring takes extreme pride in their reputation as a style centre and manufacturer of the highest proficiently, among the few able to carry out the entire cycle of creation and construction of an exclusive car, from manual design to surface engineering, to structural calculation, to style models and prototypes, up to and including small series production.
Touring Superleggera’s achievements show that the profession of coachbuilder has a great future if done with rigor, respecting the engineering and quality requirements of today’s automotive industry.
THE HISTORY OF TOURING SUPERLEGGERA
Carrozzeria Touring was established in 1926 by one of the world’s foremost car designers, Felice Bianchi Anderloni, and the company immediately sealed its position as a creator of the finest designs of the time, winning the most prestigious concours d’elegance then extant, at Villa d’Este, among a host of others. The wealthiest individuals and the most exalted brands came to Touring to have their special coachwork designed and built; brands like Alfa Romeo, Isotta Fraschini, Lancia and BMW. In the post-war period virtually all
of Europe’s top sports and luxury car makers sought out Touring for their landmark cars. Ferrari (until 1952, the bulk of that firm’s production), Lamborghini, Maserati, Pegaso, Aston Martin and Bristol are just a few of the many great names whose cars were dressed by Italy’s most distinguished couturier.
The patented “Superleggera” (or extra light) construction method allowed Touring’s designs to excel on the race track, and an unprecedented 11 outright wins on the Mille Miglia, together with victories in Grands Prix, Le Mans and every other major series are ample testimony. Some of the better-known masterpieces from Touring include the Isotta Fraschini Flying Star (1931), the Alfa
Romeo 8C 2900 (1937), 2500 Villa d’Este (1949), and Disco Volante (1952), the Maserati 3500 GT (1957), the Ferrari 166 MM Barchetta
(1949), the Aston Martin DB4, 5 and 6 and the Lamborghini 350GT (1963).
The back catalogue is truly one of the most noble and extensive of any coachbuilder.
More recently the historic name was purchased by a private European group specialising in luxury car brands.
This led to the Maserati Bellagio (2008), the A8GCS Berlinetta, winner of the “Best Supercar of the Year” award in 2009, and the Bentley Continental Flying Star (2010).
In 2011 Touring Superleggera created the Tornante, a supercar commissioned by Gumpert, and in 2012 a new Disco Volante was unveiled to celebrate the 60th anniversary of that bona fide icon of automotive design, the Disco Volante C52. True to form, Touring used innovative shapes and volumes to create a stunning new design, which debuted in production form at the Geneva Salon in 2013. Based on the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione, the car went on to win the prestigious Design Award at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, before displaying at Pebble Beach and the St. James Palace Concours of Elegance and again winning at Chantilly.
In 2014 Touring was commissioned by MINI to produce a new concept, exploring fresh frontiers of automotive design.
The MINI Superleggera™ Vision was displayed at Villa d’Este before winning the coveted “Best Concept Car of the Year” awards at Salon Privé and the Automobile International Festival in Paris. MINI Superleggera™ Vision displays Touring Superleggera’s potential to offer manufacturers turn-key projects delivering creativity and flexibility as much as rigour in engineering and executing.
In 2016 The Alfa Romeo Disco Volante Spyder, based on the 8C Spider, was debuted at the Geneva Salon before winning the “Design Award for Concept Cars and Prototypes” at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este and the “Spirit of Motoring” award at the Windsor Castle Concours of Elegance.
For 2017 Touring Superleggera collaborated with Artega on a new project using an electric powertrain, and the new Artega Scalo Superelletra was debuted at the Geneva Salon. This car, with incredible performance, blends perfect styling from Italy’s leading coachbuilder with technological efficiency from Germany.
The Sciàdipersia Coupé was unveiled at the Geneva show in 2018 as a novel vision of the Gran Turismo concept. Based on the Maserati Gran Turismo, this is a true four-seater in which to fully relish longer journeys. One year later, Geneva also saw the launch of Touring’s Sciàdipersia Cabriolet, a glamorous, fast, open-top luxury tourer imminently suitable for la dolce vita.
All of Touring’s products are designed and manufactured at the headquarters in Terrazzano di Rho, just outside Milan, Italy.