In the 1960s and 1970s, the Ford Pinto was dubbed “the barbecue that seats four.” The gas tank, located in an unfortunate location in the back of the car, had an even more unfortunate habit of rupturing, and exploding, if the car was rear ended.
Recent news reports suggest that the new Ferrari 458 Italia may have a similar flame-broiled propensity. According to Ferrari, the heat shield located in the wheel assembly of the car could become deformed, “bringing it too close to the exhaust system and igniting.”
The company has recalled the cars so that the glue adhering the heat shield can be replaced with metal fasteners, because if the adhesive ignites, it could “render the vehicle inoperable and possibly result in a crash,” according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Yes, we imagine so.
Which begs at least two questions–first, what possessed the designers of this 4.5 liter, 570-horsepower, $230,000 automobile to forgo the metal fasteners in the first place and use glue to adhere the heat shield to the car? And, second, can we choose a Pinto rental while the Ferrari is being fixed? At least the Pinto will be going far slower than 120 mph when it explodes.