Tiny Ferrari on ice? Oh, to be a rich kid
Wrapped up against the Alpine cold in thermals, woolen sweater, ski jacket, beanie, gloves, and boots, my ability to turn a steering wheel is somewhat restricted.
That could be a problem, judging from the amount of steering input that Adrian Newey’s racing-driver son Harrison is having to put in to negotiate the tight, twisty circuit laid out on the frozen lake of swanky Swiss ski resort St. Moritz, the same circuit I will soon attempt.
It’s not just the track that’s tiny, though—the cars I’m to drive are all scaled down as well. On offer is the full range offered by the Little Car Company: Bugatti Baby II, Aston Martin DB5 Junior, and Ferrari Testarossa J.
These are all beautifully rendered, limited-run replicas of acclaimed classic cars, each sold as an official products by the manufacturers of the real things. Size-wise, the replicas go from 75 percent for the Bugatti and Ferrari to 66 percent for the Aston Martin. They are all, however, driven exclusively by electricity aimed at wealthy car collectors and their lucky nepo-babies. Each is priced accordingly.
I’ve driven the Little Car Company’s catalog before, on a test circuit at the company’s Bicester Heritage base in the U.K.. But the chance for another go in the glamorous surroundings of The ICE concours event is not to be passed up. Especially since the Ferrari is kitted out with a new Pacco Gara, or race kit, that increases power to 14kW (19 hp) and adds a faster steering rack, adjustable dampers, drilled brake discs with adjustable bias, and a roll cage. For today’s freezing conditions, hundreds of studs have been hand-screwed into each tiny tire as well.
I watch Newey Jr. slide (and spin) for a few more laps, and then it’s my go on the ice. It’s even more of a squeeze to climb aboard with my winter clobber on, but it’s still easier for me than others, as I’m not much taller than the 14-year-olds the car was designed around.
I switch the dash board’s rotary dial—manettino, in Ferrari speak— to race mode, and stab at the accelerator pedal, the same as you’ll find in a new F8 Tributo. The rear wheels immediately spin up.
The track has a tight right, then a left, another right, a short straight, and a sweeping right-hander so it’s not tricky to learn. However, it is quite difficult to get around without under- or over-rotating the car. Go into a corner too hot, and the front tires slide; too slow, and the instant torque of the electric motor can whip the rear end ’round.
After a few laps, I reckon I have the method sussed. Brake early, turn in way before the corner’s apex, and nail the throttle to get the rear moving, then throw in all the opposite lock I can manage and keep my foot planted. My face is performing its own maneuvers, alternating between intense concentration and giggling hilarity. Being so close to the ice, and so instant to respond to any steering or pedal input, this small car is just ridiculously amusing.
I pull off the track slightly sweaty, out of breath, and grinning from ear to ear.
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