Review of 'Ferrari: Under the Skin'

A fan of Formula 1 and of the Ferrari brand (yes, I have been to Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi) I could not pass up the “Ferrari: Under the Skin” exhibit at the Design Museum. A tremendously popular exhibit there was a queue to get into the exhibit and it was crowded throughout though it did not help that I attended on it's last weekend.

1 Enzo Ferrari and His Cars

The first section covers Enzo Ferrari's beginnings as a racing driver into his career building cars first with Alfa Romeo then own his own featuring some amazing artefacts including material from the origins of Ferrari the first Ferrari, the “125 S”.

2 The Form of a Ferrari

Half and Half

Here the design process followed for every Ferrari is explored including a striking display of a Ferrari car split in half - One half the final appearance and the other the original clay model that is manually moulded to the final shape. A video here features the designers explaining the process.


Another section showed older methods of modelling that were used by Ferrari including an amazing full-sized wooden car skeleton. Beside this the smaller models used for wind tunnel (aero-dynamic) testing appear in several display cabinets.

3 Bones

This section focuses on the design aspects that extend to each and every component of a Ferrari. Each is a piece of art and amazing in their beauty.

Engine Blocks

4 Clienti

This room features Ferraris owned by famous people over the years and shows the various customisation options available to buyers that you can try for yourself including steering wheels, fabrics and seats.

On a wall Claude Lelouch's controversial short film “Rendevous C'était un Rendez vous” (1976) played in a loop to fascinated exhibit attendees. This film features a car (originally believed to be a Ferrari but later revealed the sound of a Ferrari used in the soundtrack) drives at unbelievable speed through the streets of Paris often a hair's breath from causing an accident. An interesting choice of film for the exhibit.

5 Racing

First British GP Winning Ferrari

This section includes a dynamic display of several cars from the history of Formula 1 racing including the first Ferrari to win the British Grand Prix and one of Schumacher's cars.

Schumaker Ferrari

Later in this section there is a collection of crash helmets from over the years from the first shockingly thin leather helmets of the early days to the massive shiny helmets of today. A nearby display case includes a

Fire Suits

6 Design and Engineering

Hybrid Engine

This small final section features the modern engineering that goes into Ferraris with a hybrid engine and the car it features in.

Hybrid Ferrari

7 The Future

A video discusses the possible future of Ferrari in an age of driver-less technology and electric vehicles including some thoughts from Ross Brawn (Formula One Managing Director of Motorsports and technical director) who strongly believes that Ferrari is an essential part of Formula 1 that must always be preserved.

Somewhat poignantly, I feel, on the wall are two photographs of the Ferrari factory: One from it's early days and one from now showing that the original factory buildings have been preserved with the new expanding around it showing that Ferrari will never forget it's origins and it's passion.

An interesting and insightful display for those, such as myself, that know woefully little about Ferrari. Some amazing looking cars, of course, but also some intriguing material about the brand and technology it uses. Often I felt as if it was a big promotional brochure and that I would be given an order form by some salesman standing off to the side but this is a brand that still inspires the imagination. Most definitely an apt show for the Design Museum - Works of art and passion.

I skipped on the audio guide and this turned out to be a good decision as there is so much material here to read and listen to without it, it made it largely superfluous. The exhibit was, as to be expected, massively busy but I did manage to take my time and take in everything over the course of several hours. Lots of visuals and videos really brought the exhibit alive along with, of course, some fabulous cars.

A great exhibit for fans of Ferrari or, simply, of great design.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2018-04-14

The Design Museum

Location: London (England)

Address: 224-238 Kensington High Street, London W8 6AG ENGLAND

Public Transport: TUBE High Street Kensington

Telephone: +44 (0) 20 3862 5937


A wonderful modern new building on the south side of Holland Park with free permanent exhibits and paid exhibitions. The building itself is an exhibit with it's clean lines and unusual shapes.

As far as facilities, there are two interesting gift shops (one in a separate building just off Kensington High Street). There is also a small cafe in the main building that is often very crowded and has free water available.