Heaven In Hong Kong: Two Years Later

Hello Speedhunters readers, it’s been a long time!

Those of you who have been lurking around these pages for a while now might remember my frequent contributions during my stint as a full-time correspondent a few years back, and if your memory does stretch that far, you might have wondered where I eventually washed ashore after disembarking the good ship Speedhunters. Allow me to give you a little back story.

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Back in 2015, my wife Taryn (another Speedhunters alumni) and I managed to talk our way into a secretive automotive facility in Hong Kong, Blackbird Automotive. What we found was a treasure trove of incredible Ferrari machinery, and I was lucky enough to thoroughly document it all on this site. The visit left an indelible impression on me, and not too long after I finished up working with Speedhunters, the team in Hong Kong got back in touch and invited us to make a permanent move to their part of the world, to join Blackbird in taking things to the next level.

So what exactly does ‘next level’ mean for a company that already counts a dream workshop, an incredible simulator lounge, busy publishing house and a fleet of badass tow trucks in its arsenal? As of two months ago, Blackbird Concessionaires became the official Ferrari dealership of Hong Kong, and, as you can probably imagine when it comes to the sort of manufacturer that ‘allows’ people to buy its products if deemed worthy, getting the nod from Maranello was no easy feat.

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Years’ worth of work behind the scenes went into making this happen and here we finally were, watching some very special cars rolling off our trucks and into the new showroom overlooking the white sandy beaches of Hong Kong’s Repulse Bay.

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It was at this point that the Speedhunters region of my brain flickered back into life; this seemed like too good of an opportunity to pass up, so I got in touch with head Speedhunter and long-time buddy Dino, and asked if I could put a post together for old times’ sake – thanks Dino!

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To celebrate the opening of the new dealership, we could have pulled any number of amazing Ferraris out of the storage facility to put in the front window; something pretty from the ’60s perhaps, maybe even an F1 car or a Le Mans veteran. But we instead decided to go a bit bigger, gathering eight of the greatest Ferraris of the last 40 years.

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As lovely and exclusive as your regular Ferraris are, these particular limited-run machines are a whole step above. Seeing them all in one place, in one very iconic colour is an almost religious experience for the enlightened.

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The oldest car on display is also my personal favourite. The twin-turbo V8 288 GTO was built specifically for Group B rally, with 272 manufactured between ‘84 and ‘87. Not one ever saw Group B competition dirt however, thanks to the series’ cancellation after multiple fiery deaths. While I’m pleased that more 288s probably survived total destruction as a result, I’d still dearly love to have seen these twin-turbo V8s mixing it up with the Audis and Fords of the day for total world domination.

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Next in the lineage is the F40 and F50, celebrating 40 and 50 years of Ferrari respectively. The twin-turbo V8 F40 is predictably a visitor favourite in the showroom; for all its brutal design elements and barely-disguised race car underpinnings, it’s still somehow immeasurably pretty and elegant. As for the F50, I have to admit that it’s never really captured my heart. The NA V12 sings the right notes and it’s certainly a very fast and very cool car, but it’s also soft in appearance – when compared to its relations, at least. Like most things built in the mid-1990s however, I’m happy to concede that the F50 is starting to grow on me.

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If the F50 could be considered too soft and smooth, its successor, the Enzo, does a full 180. Strangely, I can remember being extremely disappointed when images of the Enzo started to surface back in 2002 – I thought it was just plain ugly. It wasn’t until my first visit to Hong Kong, when I saw a black example taking pride of place in the middle of the Blackbird workshop floor, that I began to really appreciate the 660hp V12-powered F1 car-in-disguise. Now, standing in front of this Rosso Corsa example burbling away at idle, it easily comes in at second spot behind the 288 GTO on my list.

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This brings us to the two grand tourers in the line up, a 2010-vintage 599 GTO and the near-new and extremely-aggressive F12TdF. These two front-engine rear-drive V12s are positively huge in comparison. The regular versions of these two cars are brutal enough as it is, but these very limited-edition track-focused models are much more up my alley.

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It must be said that while the GTO is very cool and exceptionally fast, the TdF’s pure gym-rat-flex really puts a smile on my face.

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If the regular F12 is all about travelling the highways at warp-speed comfortably, then the lighter-weight, more powerful TdF version is all about kicking and punching its way through bend after bend. I love just how out of place details like the heavily vented fenders seem on such an otherwise-refined big boy grand tourer.

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To round out the collection, the centre of the showroom features a pair of LaFerraris, one of which is the newer open-top Aperta 70th anniversary example, currently the most valuable car out of all eight on display.

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Surveying these two nearly-1000hp hybrid hypercars up close, the quantum leap in technology that the automotive world, and Ferrari especially, has undertaken over the last few decades becomes very obvious.

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It’s impossible not to appreciate the research and development that has gone into creating a machine that is not only incredibly quick, but with its sharp creases and flowing, purposeful lines, looks undeniably amazing too.

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My day-to-day is now very much seen through Rosso Corsa-tinted lenses, and while I’ve become somewhat of a die-hard “Tifosi” Ferrari mega fan, I have to admit that prior to my first visit to Blackbird back in 2015, I had no more than a mild interest in the Italian automaker. It’s not as though I didn’t appreciate the beautiful and fast machines coming out of Maranello, it’s just that I’d never really given the 70-year-old manufacturer too much thought. To an average joe like me who grew up fiddling with cheap Japanese cars, Ferrari was out of reach.

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But I was failing to see the bigger picture; to see the history, the culture and the raw passion behind this brand. Working closely with these beauties and the people that love (and in some cases create) them over the last year has truly changed my perspective. From thrashing brand new high-tech supercars in the hills behind Maranello, to taking in the scent of aged leather and 50 years’ worth of race gas in an ex-Stirling Moss 250 SWB, I’ve fostered a fierce but manageable habit for all things Ferrari.

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If you’d like to see what else we get up to here in Hong Kong, you can find us on Facebook and Instagram, or if you’re local, please feel free to come down to our showroom to see these incredible rolling artworks in person (ideally before we replace them with cars we’re actually selling!).

Only one question remains: if you could pick one, and only one of these cars to take home with you, which would you choose?

Words by Peter Kelly

Photos by Kimio Ng & Chris Lim

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44 comments

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1

288 GTO, no more words!!!

2

This post needs a NSFW in the title - serious automotive porn right there!

I know its cliche - but I've gotta go with the F40. Such an amazing car! In my opinion, nothing else comes close

Author3

There's a reason they're a fan favourite!

4

Great pics and thanks for the story. Got some good wallpaper pics too!

5

I'd have to go with the F50, as it's a car that I fondly remember from my days of playing the classic-era NFS games as a kid.
Especially the awesome showcase video it had in NFS II: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KNvOAsisbE

Author6

Oh man, that brings back memories...

7

Can I confirm Blackbird welcomes visitors to come in their showroom whenever they're open? I will never afford one and will be taking a bus to visit if you do allow anyone and everyone in. Thank you

8

Yes, the showroom is open daily from 10am - 7pm.

10

288 aeropack

11

If I could choose one, it would be my childhood dream, the F 40! I can´t describe, how I love this car and how sad it is, that I will never own one. Just saw two of them in my life till today, moments I´ll never forget.

12

Welcome back, even if it's just for once. First off, if I had to take on home it would be the F40 (obviously) or the 288 GTO. Older cars are somehow much better to look at. They create a much more sensational setting when you're around them. New cars can be bought, but older supercars can't. They are so out of reach. And if you replace all eight, I will take the 599 GTO with me as well if I have too.
Can I just ask (if you're allowed to tell), what are the requirements from Ferrari to become an official dealer?

Author13

I've not been involved so intricately in that side of things - it was well underway before I showed up. That said, from what I know of it, I would take me many moons to write such requirements down! It's not just about being eligible though, it's about being the right fit and truly understanding the brand and everything it represents.

14

288 or F40 hands down, OLDER is BETTER. Besides the timeless styling, they are not over-powered, they don't have electronic assistance devices like newer ones, for one who had real handling skills can fully enjoy every bit of its performance. Raw, but SENSATIONAL.

15

Simply the best gathering of (red) super cars. Period.

16

damn tried to visit black bird in hong kong in January and couldn't find anything...

Author17

Now that we have a dealership that's open to the public, you're more than welcome to come over to Repulse Bay for a visit.

18

The F40 is the greatest. To quote Chris Harris "it's the one".

However, I can't think of many 2000s cars that have aged as well as the Enzo.

Author19

Agreed, its almost like it was ahead of its time, and now its coming into its own. I'm sure it gets cooler by the day...

20

Amazing article! I've always been more towards JDM than any market, but you really do see the passion and heritage of Ferrari. If I could have any of these cars... it would be the Enzo hands down!

21

Pure sex <3

22

I would take the F40 over any other car in the world, hands down!

23

the 288 is pretty rad

24

The TDF took some inspiration from the 80's 288 GTO, with the vents.

25

I would probably take the Laferrari OR F40.

26

F40, just look at it!

27

Why does the 599 GTO have two different wheels?

Author28

I'm not sure it does, does it?

29

On second look, it doesn't LOL. This angle through me off though.

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30

458 speciale

31

F50, mid mount V12 paired with a gated 6 speed, also i think it looks really good

32

Never seen so much red in a set of photos before. So hawt.

33

Be careful with the cars or that place is gonna be *cough* *cough* "REALLY HAWT"...

34

F40 or Laferrari to compare the old and new.

35

It's not my favorite looking of the bunch, but having a V-12 screaming behind my head will always be a dream of mine. For that reason, I would have to go with the F50

36
philippe holthuizen

Whoa, love it! Totally want to coma and have a look, until when will the cars be there?

Author37

Not too much longer sadly, we don't have an exact date but would expect them replaced with cars that we can actually sell by the end of the month haha!

38

288 GTO or it's mean version F40

39

Aah... miss you guys on SH! You left only a few months after I started reading... Your new job's just as enviable though XD

Author40

Thanks for follow Mayank, follow Blackbird's social channels if you do want to keep up with what we're doing!

41

Good to hear from you again Pedey, glad you and Taryn are enjoying your new ventures!

One 288 GTO to go please. Would dress up as a priest for a cross country run in that in lieu of the 308 GTS Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr rode in the Cannonball Run.

Author42

Thanks! Yep we're doing our damnedest!

288 is definitely a bit of an upgrade from the 308 so no complaints there...

43

Firstly F40....
Secondly, what is your role with Blackbird? What an amazing place to work I have to know what your job is!!

Author44

I wear a few hats here, lots of editing print productions etc, but my official title is "Digital Content Producer". It's a pretty incredible place to work to be honest - even our office is a work of art with a bunch of ex-Scuderia F1 engines, old body shells and other things around the place. Here's a quick live video I took the other day, though it only shows a small portion of all the goodness: https://www.facebook.com/pedeyk/videos/10155020178306089/

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