The first bespoke, limited-edition model based on the Ferrari 488 goes to Japan

Introduced in 2015, the Ferrari 488 GTB replaced the 458 Italia as the company’s entry-level supercar. On top of bringing a revised styling language to the market, the 488 also marks the beginning of new era for Ferrari’s most affordable sports car, with the naturally aspirated 4.5-liter V-12 being replaced by a twin-turbo, 3.9-liter V-8. A convertible Spider version was released at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show, while the 488 GTE and GT3 were launched to enable the nameplate to race in various events and series’ around the world. In late 2016, Ferrari presented the first-ever bespoke supercar based on the 488. It goes by the name J50 and it is based on the Spider model.

Launched during a special celebration at the National Art Center in Tokyo, the J50 commemorates the 50th anniversary of Ferrari in Japan. Created by Ferrari’s Special Projects department and designed by the Ferrari Styling Centre team in Maranello, it also marks the return of the targa body style, paying tribute to popular Ferraris of the 1970s and 1980s. If you’re not familiar with them, check out the Ferrari 308 and 328 GTS, but examples also include more recent cars such as the 348 GTS and F355 GTS.

To be sold in Japan only, the J50 is will be limited to only 10 units and each one will be tailored specifically to the customer’s requirements.

Continue reading to learn more about the Ferrari J50.

What makes the Ferrari J50 special

Ferrari J50 High Resolution Exterior
- image 698123

Although most mainstream cars that are specifically developed for a country don’t get more than special colors and wheels, the J50 is a different kind of limited-edition vehicle, featuring a significantly redesigned exterior. Up front, the J50 has very little in common with eh 488 Spider aside from the overall proportions and the pointy nose. the vertically oriented headlamps have been replaced by slim, horizontal units, while the standard bumper was redesigned to include a massive mesh grille and an aggressive splitter. The front hood section has been lowered at the center, making the raised wheel arches stand out even more. It also gained two carbon-fiber air channels that pay tribute to race-spec Ferraris.

Drastic changes are visible onto the sides too. For starters, Ferrari thought it’s a good idea to redesign the car’s beltline, eliminate the big "dent" around the door handle, as well as downsize the two-tier intake in the rear fender. This makes the car’s profile look cleaner, but at the same time it enhances the rear haunches, giving the J50 a more aggressive stance. Also, the black trim that comes with the new character line (also visible around the nose) reminds me of classic Ferraris such as the Berlinetta Boxer, which is really cool. Other changes in this area include black side skirts, redesigned LaFerrari-style mirrors, and unique 20-inch wheels.

Ferrari J50 High Resolution Exterior
- image 698120
Ferrari J50 High Resolution Exterior
- image 698124
The J50 looks like Ferrari launched a facelifted 488 a few years earlier than planned

The rear end also received a massive amount of modifications. The most obvious is the revised fascia and the quad taillight configuration. There’s a new spoiler too, as well as a redesigned diffuser with an extractor shape inspired by jet engine afterburners. The engine lid is completely new as well, featuring a large, transparent polycarbonate cover which is shaped to provide a visual extension of the two separate rollover hoops protecting the heads of driver and passenger. While most of the lid is finished in the same color as the body, the area closest to the fascia is painted black in order to match the spoiler and the mesh between the taillights.

All told, the J50 looks like Ferrari launched a facelifted 488 a few years earlier than planned...

Changes aren’t as radical inside the cabin, but Maranello crafted a new upholstery for the seats, as well as new trim on the dashboard and door panels. The model showcased here features a red-over-black interior trimmed in fine leather and Alcantara, but customers can opt for just about any color combination out there. The carbon-fiber hard targa top, which matches the rollover hoops, is divided into two pieces which stow conveniently behind the seats.

Ferrari J50 High Resolution Interior
- image 698121
Ferrari J50 High Resolution Interior
- image 698161
Changes aren't as radical inside the cabin, but Maranello crafted a new upholstery for the seats, as well as new trim on the dashboard and door panels.

Under the hood is where Ferrari left things unaltered as far as the 488 Spider’s drivetrain goes, but the turbocharged, 3.9-liter V-8 did receive a mild upgrade. Specifically, the unit now cranks out 681 horsepower, a 21-horsepower increase over the standard model. Torque remained unchanged at 560 pound-feet. The mill enables the 488 Spider to hit 60 mph in three seconds and 124 mph in 8.3 clicks, the same as the coupe version. Top speed is rated at 203 mph versus the 488 GTB’s 205-mph estimate. Ferrari had nothing to say about the J50’s performance, but it’s safe to assume that the extra oomph and revised aerodynamics could shave a tenth-second off the 0-to-60 mph sprint..

There’s no word on pricing either, but considering the extensive modifications and the exclusivity of a ten-unit run, the J50 should be a lot more expensive than the 488 Spider, which retails from around $275,000. My best guess is that each example will fetch in excess of $450,000 before options. And, if several bespoke models from the past are any indication, the J50 is probably already sold out.

Press Release

During a special celebration held at the National Art Center in Tokyo to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Ferrari in Japan, Ferrari revealed a new strictly limited series of bespoke cars, the J50.

The Ferrari J50 is a two-seater, mid-rear-engined roadster that marks a return to the targa body style evocative of several well-loved Ferrari road cars of the 1970s and 1980s. Created by Ferrari’s Special Projects department and designed by the Ferrari Styling Centre team in Maranello, just 10 examples of the J50 will be built and, in the spirit of Ferrari’s fuori serie tradition, each one will be tailored specifically to the customer’s requirements.

Ferrari J50 High Resolution Exterior
- image 698120

Based on the 488 Spider, the J50 is powered by a specific 690 cv version of the 3.9-litre V8 that won the overall International Engine of the Year Award this year.

The bodywork is all new and heralds a radically futuristic design language, with a highly distinctive personality that suits the tastes of a clientele that seeks the utmost in innovative styling. The design approach was led by the desire to create a very low-slung roadster, encapsulating intrinsic Ferrari values of nimbleness and agility. To achieve this, a strong dynamic was imprinted on the flank of the car by the converging interplay between two main guiding lines: the slanted top edge of the side window, continuous with the windscreen, and the raked black swage line which dramatically rises from the low-set nose until it vanishes in the air intake aft of the doors.

While the “helmet visor” effect, which spawns from the window graphic, is reminiscent of Ferrari’s open competition barchettas going as far back as the 1950s, the black dividing line is a novel interpretation of a recurring Ferrari styling cue seen on iconic models such as the GTO, F40 and F50. Circling around the front of the car below knee height, it is a key element which alters the perception of the beltline, setting it at a much lower height than usual, transforming the J50 into a barchetta.

Ferrari J50 High Resolution Exterior
- image 698123

The bonnet section is lower at the centre with raised wheelarch crests giving the emphasized muscularity typical of Ferrari mid-engined sports cars. Two carbon-fibre air channels in the front bonnet create an even more diminutive and sharper looking front mass underlined by the full LED headlights that feature a specific and very dynamic profile.

The J50 benefits from detailed aerodynamic development with a number of significant functional solutions. Firstly, the radiators have been positioned closer together, and the front bumper has been completely redesigned. The windscreen header rail has been lowered allowing more airflow over the aero foil and thus over the rear spoiler.

The sophisticated tail section is dominated by the artful interplay of graphic design themes and three-dimensional elements. The engine is framed by a transparent polycarbonate cover which is intricately shaped to provide a visual extension of the two separate roll hoops protecting the heads of driver and passenger. A transverse aero foil projects as a bridge between the hoops, effectively revisiting one of the most distinctive features of Ferrari sports prototypes of the 1960s.

Ferrari J50 High Resolution Interior
- image 698121

The rear is decidedly aggressive in nature, with the quad taillight design widening the car visually under a high-downforce wing profile. The rear diffuser features an extractor shape inspired by jet engine afterburners, giving the car a powerful stance. 20” forged rims of unique design were crafted specifically for this limited-edition model.

Inside the cabin, specific trim adorns the sports seats, echoing the design of the rear bonnet contour to provide a unmistakable signature feature. The carbon-fibre hard targa top is divided into two pieces which stow conveniently behind the seats.

The J50 presented at the launch in Tokyo is finished in a special shade of three-layer red with a red-over-black interior trimmed in fine leather and Alcantara.

View the full press release Hide press release
Press release
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: