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The Ferrari F50 Roof Removal Is Hilariously Complicated

Here’s something you probably didn’t realize: Take a look at the images above, and you see the Ferrari F50 in two stages. In one, the roof is on, and in the other, the roof is off. But if you look closely, you’ll notice an interesting difference: In the image where the roof is off, there are roll hoops where the roof would go when it’s installed — and there are no mounting points for a roof. So how exactly do you put a roof on these things?

Every roadgoing Ferrari F50 was a convertible, so what you’re seeing above is not the difference between a Ferrari F50 and a Ferrari F50 "Aperta," like in the modern LaFerrari model. Instead, these are two normal regular-production F50 models — one with a roof in place, and one without. The curious part is exactly how the roof is removed.

Here’s the basic situation: In virtually every other car made like this — the Acura NSX, the Chevy Corvette, the Porsche Carrera GT — you can remove the roof with a couple of clips and place it somewhere in the vehicle, like the trunk or behind the seats. Not in the F50. The F50’s roof removal is a serious job that requires taking off the roof, which extends far back behind the rear window to the sides of the engine cover, installing a new cover over the area behind the rear seats, then installing the roll hoops you see in the photo above, with the roof off.

Not surprisingly, this is a difficult task — and, in fact, most Ferrari dealership service departments bill two hours of labor for it. That’s right: Most Ferrari F50 owners can’t even take off the top to their own convertible, but instead must bring it to the local dealership. And even the dealership can’t do it quickly!

With that said, the F50 also came with a temporary soft top you can clip to the roof in case of emergency, if you’re ever in "open" mode and a sudden rainstorm appears — meaning a few rain drops don’t necessitate a trip inside a covered garage to wait out the storm.

A bigger question you might have, though, is: what happens to the roof once you’ve removed it? After all, it’s a massive piece, and it certainly won’t fit in the car. The answer might surprise you: Every F50 was delivered with a huge box — referred to in the enthusiast community as the "circus box," as it resembled the sort of box that carries around props in a traveling circus — to store the top. The circus box is absolutely enormous, and it can’t really be transported — but F50 models that come up for sale will often advertise having their original "crate" or "circus box," so you know you have somewhere to put your top when you remove it.

And that’s the rather unusual story of the Ferrari F50’s rather complicated roof.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. Old Mercedes SLs had a storage rack on casters specifically for storing the hard top during summer, when you can get by with the retractable softtop.

  2. C4 Corvettes came with some little Corvette branded ratchet, the hard was bolted on. Isn’t the Elise bolted on as we? No clips…

    • True, I had an ’84 way back when.  Can’t remember 100%, but the rear had 2 bolts that were not captive, and i don’t recall the situation in the front.  Either way, once all 4 corners were released the top stored in the rear.  Took about 5 minutes tops.

  3. I wonder how much the rental space is if at the dealership?  I mean if you have to go to the dealer to have taken off, then can’t transport in the car, you’ll have to leave it at the dealership.

  4. This idea probably seemed great on paper, being able to offer a coupe and a convertible at the same time, but without the possibility of a mechanized hardtop this ended up being just cumbersome. Ferrari must have realized later that they could get more money from their customers by offering a specific convertible body style like the LaFerrari Aperta.

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