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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Final Salute: Hot Wheels Ferrari 599xx, 599 GTB, and 575 GTC



2014 marks the final year for the current contract with Hot Wheels and Ferrari to have exclusive rights for every Ferrari model, something that no one else could do since 1999.  Now with the contract sent to Maisto/Bburago, others may finally get the chance to do a Ferrari, at least it seems.  So to give a salute Hot Wheels released only two Ferrari's for the 2015 line, and both are 599's with one being a Super Treasure Hunt again.  This was also a good opportunity to bring out the 599xx's predecessor, the 575 GTC.

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The return of front-engine Ferrari's

When the 550 Maranello was released in 1996, it was a grateful return to the front-engine, rear-drive layout that was last seen at Ferrari as the Daytona in the early 1970's.  The success moved on with the 599 GTB in 2006.  Styling went for a more swoopier look that is almost identical to the other rear-engine Ferrari in the lineup, the 612 Scalligetti (sorry if I cannot pronounce the names correctly), with vertical projector headlights, a cleaner scoop-less hood, and a larger lower air intake.  The sides show off an interesting trick:  The front fender vents send hot air out, then sweep up the beltline to just behind the rear d-pillar (or flying buttress) to flow just along the rear window to the tail.  The rear loses a round taillight and gains more rounded rear fenders with a lower tray integrating the quad exhaust.  The interior is modified to have a slightly-higher dashboard from the console which now houses the 6-speed dual clutch auto manual over the standard 6-speed manual.  The gauges now feature a larger central tachometer and well laid-out controls, including the manetto switch on the steering wheel, as does the fine leather panels and supportive seats.  The transmission, like the 550, is at the back for better weight-distribution, while the front houses the 6.0L DOHC V-12 that produces 612 hp. and 448 Ib-ft. of torque.



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One of the problems with the 599 is that it seems a bit soft on the looks, so for those looking for an aggressive version that is ready to pounce the track, then check out the track-only 599xx.  This one has a lower stance with front spoiler, larger front side scoops, huge gills on the hood that is secured with hood pins, wings added to the flying buttress c-pillar, a fixed rear spoiler on a trunk that is also secured with pins, and a larger lower valence panel with the dual exhaust moved higher and closer to the center.  Since this is a track-only car the rear taillights are gone, replaced with a fan that carries air from the scoops just ahead of the rear wheels to the taillight outlet for even more downforce.  The suspension is more robust and light, and the smooth underside also houses air jacks for quick pit stops, with wheels secured by a central lugnut.  The interior loses many creature comforts and replaces the radio and HVAC controls with typical toggle switches, gauges for a more racier digital look, supportive seats with 5-point harness, rollcage, and bare naked door panels.  The engine is still the same 6.0L V-12 and 6-speed auto-manual as the GTB, but with added enhancements (including a larger intake runner) to produce 720 hp. and a 9,000 redline.





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While the 599xx is a production, track-ready variant of the GTB, the 575 GTC is the track-based 550 that is not for sale to the general public, and has been involved in competitive races.  The front has a lower appearance with a chin spoiler and more scoops on the hood supported by pins.  The fenders are flared to accept larger tires and the exhaust now exits on the sides just below the doors.  The rear has a permanent-fix rear spoiler to the stock rear-end, minus the quad exhaust through the bumper.  The interior is more stripped-out with only one 5-point harness seat for the driver, a full rollcage, and a dashboard cleaned-out and replaced with toggle switches.  The engine is a modified 5.7L DOHC V-12 that produces 508 hp in stock 575 form through a 6-speed auto-clutch manual.  Ferrari planned to make the 575 GTC to customers in limited numbers but the ideal fell through at the last minute.



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599 GTB or 599xx?

Simple, take the xx!  The GTB was rather bland to me when it arrived as a Hot Wheel in 2007.  Not much character in the design, the interior design, and could use some weight to the light body.  The 599xx, introduced in 2010, is much different with a lower, aggressive stance with plenty of scoops, spoiler, and chisled areas to google over.  Even the spartan interior has more details than the GTB.  I did a brief test track on these two and found the xx to be more refined and controlled like a real track car, while the GTB tended to be a bit loose and unrefined; a very odd characteristic for a Ferrari in Hot Wheels 1:64 line.  The GTB goes for a cleaner look, later added with graphics, while the xx always had graphics and always looked good with them.  In 2012, the first mainline appearance, it was stock red, but as a Super Treasure Hunt it was even cooler with metallic dark red paint and 5-spoke wheels with rubber tires that definately scream Ferrari.  For 2015, the new Super is less special with black paint and blacked-out 5-spoke wheels, but the biggest surprise was the regular version done up in dark gray and man does this thing look menacing in that gray color with blacked-out rims!


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As for the 575 GTC it looks even more special, considering it was only a few bright spots in the lame 2005 First Editions line.  The base, coated in black, is metal; the side exhaust is part of the gray interior, and the headlights, which are part of the window piece, is so detailed that you can see the three round circles for the projector lights!  It's one cool-looking car that, sadly, had a short life as I don't recall seeing much of this casting after the 2009 Ferrari Race series appearance.  It's a shame because its so nice that it even upstages the 550 Maranello casting, which ironically is what the 599xx is doing to the 599 GTB Fiorano casting!



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