Gerhard Berger qualifying at Hungary ‘94. Photo Credit: Anton Want/ALLSPORT/Getty Images

This week on Top Gear, Chris Harris called the V12 engine the heart and soul of Ferrari. Listen to this engine and you will not disagree.

Now, V12s are not the be-all, end-all of Ferrari. I will be the first guy to tell you that one of their coolest and most successful motors was an inline four.

Advertisement

But I can also point you to this video, of Ferrari testing their 1994 F1 car at their private test track, Fiorano. It’s called the 412 T. It’s easy to mix up with its 1995 successor, the 412 T2. But the 1995 car had a 3.0 liter V12, whereas this 1994 car had a full 3.5 liter one. These were not the most successful race cars Ferrari ever built. Far from it. But still, hear it. Know it to be true:

The way that the sound collapses over itself makes it so hard to describe in words alone. At one moment, it sounds animal. In the next, it sounds beautifully and recognizably mechanical. And as the revs climb to double, nearly triple what an ordinary family car redlines at, the sound distances itself from any other frame of reference we have. The kind of volume produced by 3.5 liters, spread across 12 combustion chambers, operating at 15,000 rpm is just beyond our human register. It touches the infinite.

And that’s sort of the distillation of Ferrari right there.