Ferrari Enzo stylist gets bagged for speeding in his own design

Matt Tierney

The first non-Italian to style a Ferrari was nailed by the cops while driving one of his own creations, a Ferrari Enzo, according to The Japan Times. Kiyoyuki “Ken” Okuyama, who did stints at GM and Porsche before taking over as design director at Pininfarina in 1995, was blasting up a scenic mountain road in October 2022 in his native Yamagata Prefecture (north-central Japan) when the local fuzz busted him doing an insane 128.

Ahem, 128 kilometers per hour. Or 79 mph. Which, granted, was 55 mph over the posted limit of 40 kph (25 mph) on that road. Okuyama admitted guilt at the trial in February and argued that he needed to maintain a certain speed to keep the circa-$3 million Ferrari Enzo from overheating. Prosecutors, evidently ignorant of the cooling demands of the car’s 6.0-liter 650-hp Tipo F140B V-12, demanded four months of jail time.

“The degree of speeding was considerable and was extremely dangerous,” ruled judge Osamu Imai of the Yamagata District Court as he sentenced Okuyama to the four months—suspended, however, for two years if he keeps his nose clean. Talking to reporters afterwards, Okuyama figuratively fell on his sword in a most Japanese way, bowing and saying, “I will make sure this will never happen again and will contribute to society. I am very sorry.”

ken okuyama ferrari designer
Ken Okuyama in 2005. Vince Talotta/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Online comments in Japan were harsh—against the system. “The verdict of the redneck has been made,” said one comment (translated from the Japanese), a swipe at Yamagata City’s rural, upcountry location.

It’s important to note that Japanese generally eschew speed unless they’re riding on of the famous Shinkansen bullet trains. The country’s highest speed limit is 120 kph, or 75 mph, reserved for a few sections of its glass-smooth expressways, but 100 kph (62 mph) is far more common.

Most rural roads are limited to 30 to 40 kph (19 to 25 mph), partly because of a national law that makes setting higher speed limits very expensive. Any road in Japan with pedestrian or cyclist access or at-grade rail crossings (which are everywhere in the train-obsessed nation) must have a limit of 60 kph (37 mph) or be a controlled-entry limited access road like a parkway or freeway.

When he isn’t terrorizing the roads, Okuyama is celebrated in his native country as a global ambassador for Japanese design and culture. Besides overseeing the styling of various early 2000s Ferraris and Maseratis, the graduate of California’s Art Center College of Design worked on the angular fourth-gen Chevy Camaro, the 996-generation of Porsche 911, and the first Porsche Boxster.

He returned home to Yamagata in 2006 to establish his own firm, Ken Okuyama Design, which has developed everything from tea sets to eyewear to one-off concept cars like the Kode 61 Birdcage, a 2023 reboot of the famous Maserati Tipo 61 Birdcage racers of the early ‘60s (pictured below). The Japanese government’s official website has a page devoted to him. “Linking Japan and the world from Yamagata,” it raves, “Okuyama continues to exert international influence transcending cultural borders.”




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    “The first non-Italian to style a Ferrari…” was actually Tom Tjaarda, an American living in Italy. He designed both the 330 GT 2+2 (a series production car) and the lesser-known 365 GT California Spider (just 14 made). These are both 1960s designs.

    “One more for the road” is long gone as most of the entire world now seems to be part of the nanny society. In the late 1960s, shortly after the introduction of Britain’s 70mph speed limit, my bride and I were northbound in our 3.8 Jag Mk 2. It was dawn, the road was deserted, and 128 mph was indicated on the speedometer. There was a sudden roar and a Ford GT 40 appeared ahead of us and disappeared rapidly into the distance. Open exhaust, no plates, it passed us so fast we could have been going backwards. We were near Silverstone at the time, where I believe Ford had a race prep facility. Apparently they were using the motorway as a Mulsanne straight substitute, Silverstone not being fast enough.
    Oh, happy days!

    Sorry Aaron, but “Ken”‘s greatest shame was when he had to personally present the Art Center of Design Student’s Choice Trophy to my friend Jeff Stephan for his 1970 Miura…thereby giving credit to Bertone’s Marcello Gandini. I have magnificent photos of the historic moment. Regardless, I enjoyed your article!

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