What sexier place to photograph this sexiest of hot wheels, the Ferrari Portofino, than at the wildly popular MAD restaurant in River Oaks District. (Courtesy photo)
Ferrari of Houston Ferrari specialist Joe Maniaci explains the operation of the Portofino. (Photo by Michelle Watson)
Tootsies creative director Fady Armanious takes a seat with Shelby Hodge in the smashing Ferrari Portofino. (Courtesy photo)
Each buyer selects all aspects of the Portofino design from leather quality and color to seat design.
The Ferrari Portofino is a perfectly royal coach for a society maven.
The Ferrari of Houston atelier where clients select seat design, leathers and colors for their bespoke Portofino. (Photo by Michelle Watson)
The selection of steering wheels and wheels for bespoke Ferraris is ample for even the most discriminating buyer. (Photo by Michelle Watson)
Before lowering the hard top on the Ferrari Portofino, one might consider donning a hat for the high-speed turbulence. (Courtesy photo)
Ferrari of Houston's race car is just back from winning the 2019 Petite Le Mans in Atlanta. (Photo by Michelle Watson)
Yes, PaperCity Society and Lifestyle editor Shelby Hodge is in love with the Ferrari Portofino. (Photo by Michelle Watson)
Everybody loves a woman behind the wheel of a Ferrari, as I discovered while zipping around town in the stunning Ferrari Portofino. Of course, I could’ve mistaken what I imagined as personal flirtation for looks of adoration directed to the car. For certain, this baby is a head-turner and a traffic-stopper, particularly when the hard top is down.
Whether parked upfront at Brasserie 19, outside of the Galleria’s Fig & Olive or adjacent to the runway at an Elizabeth Anthony fashion show in Uptown Park, all eyes were on the silver grey steed, a serious statement car.
Thankfully, there were no constable’s eyes on the Italian sports coupe as I sped down River Oaks Boulevard at 60 mph (a mere nothing compared to what this blazing car can do) with my companion giggling like a school girl with each growling rev of the engine. For the record, I did not try the 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds as boasted in the car literature but I’m certain that speedsters will love it.
As Car and Driver noted, “Behind the Portofino’s sinister grin lies a 591-hp twin-turbo 3.9-liter V-8 that gives this prancing horse its legs.”
With that in mind, I admit that I’m not a race car kind of girl. But there was a definite thrill of being behind the wheel of the Portofino from Ferrari of Houston, Ferrari of The Woodlands, which loaned me the car for the two-day test drive. It’s user friendly, drives like a dream, is beyond sexy (as opposed to sinister) and the air conditioning is superb. That last bit might sound superfluous but Ferraris of old were hot and uncomfortable. This car rocks.
Incredibly rich and comfortable interiors set the stage for tooling around town, while the legendary performance cars like the F40 and F60 and newer iterations are meant for highways and race tracks. The Portofino’s added backseat and the spacious trunk provide plenty of room for armloads of Tootsies and Saks Fifth Avenue purchases or, if you must, groceries. As some like to say, this model is your day-t0-day Ferrari and is female friendly
As replacement of the Ferrari California, the Portofino is the Italian manufacturer’s entry level car with prices starting around $215,000. But this is no ordinary walk in the showroom, pick out a car and drive off. These cars are completely custom designed.
As general manager Tony Nevotti explained while we visited in the atelier area of the showroom on the Southwest Freeway, “We go to the extreme in personalization. Every single aspect of the car is chosen by the client.”
Indeed, we sat before a vast video screen and via computer selected the model we wanted, the Portofino. From there, it’s the buyer’s choice from the expected — wheels, paint color, and interior color — to the unexpected — the thread count of fabric, the leather quality (standard or furniture quality), color of the thread for stitching, seat design and more. On display in the atelier is an extensive range of fabrics, leathers, woods, colors and finishes to choose from, creating a unique, “tailor made” car that reflects the personality and taste of the client. The process takes five to six months from purchase to delivery, a relatively short period of time considering that the high-powered racing varieties can take up to two years to manufacture.
Beyond the showroom experience, Ferrari promotes its Tailor Made program that features visits to Ferrari’s home in Maranello, Italy, where the buyer can work with designers on creating his or her special car.
One of the cooler aspects of Ferrari of Houston is that it is home to the Risi Competizione professional racing team, which just won the 2019 Petite Le Mans in Atlanta. Giuseppe Risi, founder and racing team principal, opened the dealership in 1980 and today it is one of the premier dealerships in the country. In fact, Ferrari of Houston is the number one dealership in the world in growth year over year for the last two years. In short, you could say that business is booming.