Few, if any, can hold a candle to Ferrari when it comes to building evocative cars. The sight of a prancing horse emblem will rouse the attention of anyone with a heartbeat, and the Ferrari Monza SP1 is possibly one of the best-looking and most exotic machines the company has ever built. Forming part of a new special vehicle series called 'Icona', Italian for 'icon', the Monza SP1 is roofless, doesn't come with a windshield or any notable comfort features, and, unlike the McLaren Elva and Aston Martin V12 Speedster, only has one seat. But it does come with the factory's most potent 6.5-liter V12 gas engine under the hood producing 799 horsepower, a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, and rear-wheel driving, possibly making this one of the best Ferraris ever built. In a world slowly being dominated by electric cars, this cutting-edge nod to the heydays of open-top racing is a breath of fresh air. Only 499 Monzas - including the two-seater SP2 that we review separately - will be built, and while neither is street-legal in the US, you can bet your bottom dollar that American collectors will be lining up to buy one regardless.
The Monza SP1 is a limited edition super sports car targeted at dedicated collectors. Using the underpinnings of the Ferrari 812 Superfast, the stunning bodywork is inspired by classic racing Ferraris like the 1948 166 MM, the 750 Monza, and the 860 Monza. Besides the stunning looks, the SP1 is highlighted by its single-seater layout and Ferrari's most powerful naturally-aspirated V12 yet.
Forget about the monstrous V12 hiding underneath; the main attraction of the new Ferrari Monza SP1 has to be its fantastic exterior design. According to Ferrari, the inspiration for the design of the Monza SP1 was drawn from the Ferrari barchettas of the 1950s, and while there are some nostalgic references, no design elements were borrowed directly from the classic cars. The car features a Kevlar and carbon fiber body, an all-carbon one-piece hood-wing assembly, a door that opens upwards to a single exposed seat, LED headlights, and perhaps most curiously, 21-inch front and 20-inch rear five-spoke wheels. The SP1 isn't like other convertibles, either, because this isn't a convertible at all - there simply is no roof. To prevent frostbite and general discomfort in the absence of a regular windshield, Ferrari developed a Virtual Wind Shield. Integrated into the fairing positioned ahead of the instrument panel, this system deviates the airflow and creates a low-speed bubble around the driver to the fin-like hump behind their head, supposedly improving comfort.
The Ferrari Monza SP1 measures 183.3 inches in length and is 78.6 inches wide. This sleek racer is only 45.5 inches tall and rides on a 107.1-inch wheelbase. The front track is 66.5 inches, while the rear track measures 66.1 inches. The dry weight of this Ferrari is approximately 3,307 pounds, making it one of Ferrari's lightest modern vehicles.
The engine used in the Monza SP1 is one of the best-sounding and most powerful V12 engines to ever come out of the Ferrari stable. This 65-degree 6.5L naturally-aspirated V12 mounted up front delivers 799 hp and 530 lb-ft of torque to a rear-wheel-drive system via an F1 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. Despite being naturally aspirated, the Monza SP1 still delivers more power than its twin-turbo V12 competitor, the Aston Martin V12 Speedster, which produces a mere 690 hp. With a relatively low curb weight and all that power on tap, the Monza SP1 can dart from 0-62 mph in a claimed 2.9 seconds, sprint to 124 mph in only 7.9 seconds, and sail on to a magical 188 mph top speed. The downside is that with an open cockpit, the glorious noise the V12 produces is all but inaudible above 40 mph, which seems almost criminal given how good it sounds to everyone else you'll pass.
The main focus of the SP1 is to deliver a driving experience unlike anything you've ever experienced before, and to a large extent, it delivers. Its stiff chassis and all-wheel steering borrowed from the 812 Superfast makes this car feel even more nimble around a corner than its already lithe dimensions might suggest. The lack of a front windshield and the induction noises from that V12 engine combine to create one of the most visceral driving experiences you can have on four wheels, although above 40 mph, the engine noise is replaced by the sound of wind rushing past your ears. On the road, there are similarities to the RWD 812, which it is based on, but there is a definite focus on cornering performance, which translates into a stiffer ride. The massive forged wheels don't help much either. Then again, comfort was obviously hardly a priority considering the absence of a windshield. As an engaging track tool, it's one of the best.
Gas mileage figures for this type of car are entirely inconsequential, but for those who want to feel better about the fact that they drive a hybrid, the Monza SP1 will manage best figures of 17 mpg on the highway, worst of 9 mpg in the city, and a combined figure in city/highway driving of around 14 mpg. A fuel tank capacity of 24.3 gallons affords this Ferrari a maximum range of around 340 miles if you behave yourself. You won't find any EPA claims for the Monza SP1, though, as this is a car that isn't street legal in the US.
The Monza SP1 is one of the few cars in existence in which the interior is technically also the exterior. Getting in and out of the SP1 isn't as simple as getting into a Honda Civic, and taller or horizontally challenged drivers will have an interesting time entering this vehicle through its single, upward-opening door. Once seated, the leather-clad carbon-fiber bucket seat grips tightly. There's enough legroom for six-footers, and headroom space is very, very generous. If it isn't obvious by now, every trip in the SP1 will be a solo adventure as there is just a single seat.
To many, it will come as a surprise that this seemingly uncompromised driving machine actually comes with a sort of trunk. Lift the rear trunk lid, and you're offered a space large enough to fit a backpack or two, or if you're at the track, a trio of helmets. Unlike its two-seat sibling, the SP2, the SP1 only offers space for a single driver, and small-item storage is limited, to say the least. There's a small cubby alongside the driver with space for the key and maybe your wallet, but we'd recommend keeping your keys and cellphone in your jean pockets.
Despite an asking price of around $1,800,000, the Ferrari Monza SP1 comes with basically no features. Sure, you get a ton of carbon fiber, that excellent body design, and a massive V12 engine, but forget about luxuries such as traffic sign recognition or a 16-speaker Bose sound system.
Basically, what you get here is a single carbon-shelled leather-upholstered seat - which can be opted with heating - automatic headlights, and air conditioning that doesn't do a very good job of keeping your feet warm while your head freezes. There are sleek paddle shifters, Ferrari's red engine stop/start button, an adaptive damper button, and a manettino dial on the steering wheel to switch between various driving modes. On the center stack, you'll find switches for the power-adjustable seat, cruise control, rearview camera, engine auto stop/start, parking sensors, and power windows. In a nod to some form of convenience, the SP1 also has a nose lift system to allow you a little more grace when mounting speed bumps.
Behind the steering wheel, you'll find a digital display on each side of the dominant tachometer. These multi-function screens display both driving and infotainment data and can be controlled by a couple of buttons and knobs on the center stack to scroll through modes and favorite radio stations. Ferrari offers optional Apple CarPlay, but Android Auto does not make the cut. There is a sound system, but with such a small cockpit, speakers are few and ineffective. It's a redundant system, which is about as audible as the big V12 at speed; not at all.
The Monza SP1 has not been recalled and comes with a three-year base warranty (extendable to 5 years with bumper-to-bumper coverage), a three-year powertrain warranty, regardless of miles covered in that period, and a seven-year free maintenance program. Needless to say, if you can buy one, you're likely on a first-name basis with your Ferrari dealer principal, so any issues should be taken care of rather promptly.
Despite a lack of most modern driver assistance features, the Monza SP1 should be safe enough. Both the NHTSA and IIHS have declined to review the Ferrari Monza SP1, and we thank them for sparing one of these beautiful pieces of art for the sake of a safety rating. The SP1 comes standard with electronic stability control, traction control, F1-Trac, an electronically operated limited-slip differential, and SCM-E with twin solenoids.
There is no doubt in our minds that the Monza SP1 is one of the greatest Ferraris ever built. Coming from a brand that takes great pride in its motorsport legacy, the SP1 combines all that we love about Ferrari: tradition, passion, speed, and excess, and combines it into what you see before you. The SP1 might just be one of the most beautiful cars built in the last decade, but under its skin lurks one of the most ferocious V12 engines ever put into a production car. The result of this is a car that is frighteningly fast yet easy to drive at high speeds. The fact that you're driving a roofless vehicle with no windshield makes the experience even more intense and allows the driver to get a real sense of speed without really going all that fast. Sure, the Monza SP1 is light on tech and luxury features, but if that's a concern to you, you should go bark up another tree.
"More than you can afford, pal… Ferrari." If you're lucky enough to get your hands on one, you're most likely going to pay more than the original asking price of the Ferrari Monza SP1 - around $1,800,000 - before speccing individual options, as all of these have been sold. The good news is that if you manage to bag one, you'll only see a return on your investment (if you take care of it, of course). It's worth noting that with no windshield, the Monza SP1 supercar has not been homologated for road use in the USA so importing one would require a special Show or Display permit. However, you get exclusivity that few can compare to. Just 499 Monzas will be produced, with the split between SP1 and SP2 determined by customer demand.
There's only one model on sale, and they've all been sold, so good luck, buddy. If the option to buy one comes up, take what you can get.
McLaren is a relative newcomer to the supercar scene, especially when you compare the British automaker with the cult that is Ferrari. But despite this, it has managed to deliver some epic performance cars in the past few decades and the Elva has to be one of the most exciting. Only 149 of these cars will be built, making it technically more exclusive than the Ferrari. The exterior of the Elva takes a more contemporary approach to the roofless speedster design, although we find it to be a bit too similar to the rest of the McLaren lineup. Under the engine cover, you'll find a 4.0-liter twin-turbo engine producing 804 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. The performance figures show a 0-60 mph time in under three seconds and a time of 6.7 seconds to the 124 mph mark, making this Brit faster than the Ferrari. Notably, the Elva can seat two people and can be equipped with a windshield, making it not only a more practical proposition but the only one of the three current speedster models that's legal for road use in the USA. The Elva might be quicker, but the Ferrari's design is timeless, and the comparatively muted V8 of the Elva can't match up to that Italian's V12.
The V12 Speedster is Aston Martin's attempt at reliving the heydays of motorsport, and for the most part, it has succeeded. The V12 Speedster, unlike the SP1, offers seating for two, which is a significant advantage in our books, because the best experiences are only real when shared, right? Under the gorgeous bodywork hides a 5.2-liter twin-turbo V12 engine producing 690 horsepower and 555 lb-ft of torque, which is somewhat disappointing, seeing as the Ferrari's specs show more horsepower and close to the same amount of torque without the need of forced induction. Power is sent to the rear wheels via a more traditional eight-speed ZF automatic transmission. The 0-62 mph sprint is pegged at 3.5 seconds, making it considerably slower than the Ferrari. The Aston's only saving grace is its $950,000 price tag, about half the cost of the Ferrari Monza SP1. But then again, those shopping at this price level don't care about these types of figures. The Ferrari is the more special car, but who are we kidding, if you have one on order, you likely already have the other in your garage.