Coach-built Kode57 rolls from the mind of famed car designer

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Ken Okuyama reveals the Kode57 during Monterey Car Week 2016(Credit: Angus MacKenzie/New Atlas)

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Look quickly at the all-new Kode57, and you'll swear you're looking at a Ferrari ... you just won't be able to recall the exact model name. The Enzo? Nope, this is a wide-open roadster. Maybe the all-new LaFerrari convertible? No, not quite. A Pininfarina concept car I never saw before? Getting warmer. The Kode57 is the handiwork of designer Ken Okuyama, former design director at Pininfarina. The aggressive roadster borrows freely from Okuyama's past work, including the Ferrari Enzo and 2000 Pininfarina Ferrari Rossa.

Okuyama has as impressive a sports car design background as you're likely to find, having been involved with everything from the Corvette (C5), to the Porsche 911 (996), to the Enzo, to the Maserati Birdcage 75th. Nowadays he designs stylish cars all his own. Okuyama calls his eponymous company the only carrozzeria (coach builder) in Japan, and he not only penned the Kode57 at his Tokyo studio but built it out by hand at his Yamagata factory. The company celebrates its 10th anniversary next year and now boasts a team of 50.

Okuyama's latest masterpiece borrows from the past in looking toward the future. Officially, he calls it an homage to 1957, which he defines as a banner year in racing and car making, a year that included the introduction of the always-coveted, auction record-smashing Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa. The 183-in-long (4,650-mm) Kode57 also reads like an homage to some of Okuyama's own past work.

Many a Ferrari lover will have trouble thinking anything but "Enzo" when viewing that triangular hood and triple-box front end, but the Kode57 more closely resembles the lesser-known Rossa concept. In fact, you can't move your eye around the car without immediately stumbling on something inspired by the Rossa – the long, elegant hood leaping forth from the rear quarters, the carved-out front fenders and side fins, the engine cutout in the hood, the low, rimless glass, and right into the neatly partitioned two-seat interior.

Okuyama doesn't attempt to hide this self-inspiration, mentioning both the Ferrari Enzo and Pininfarina Rossa in the opening paragraph of the Kode57 announcement. And his ideas have certainly evolved. Okuyama has sliced the nosey hood away from the curvaceous front fenders completely, opening views clean through to the tires below. Those fenders lobster-claw their way over to close off the air intakes flanking the trapezoidal grille.

The rear end is where the design splits most from the Rossa, standing as a more modern, powerful interpretation. Large taillight rings sit inside triangular cutouts on the edges of the breezy fascia and its massive diffuser. Two large-diameter pipes sit inside smaller diameter ones to create a quartet of centrally mounted exhaust tips that you can hear purr at the end of the video clip below.

The Kode57's small, suicide-by-scissor doors rest inside shallow frames, undoubtedly a nod to the small (or non-existent) doors of classic barchettas. When the doors are both open, the car has an even more striking appearance than before.

Beyond those wings, the simple but well-dressed interior includes centrally mounted instruments, sport seats with harnesses, and leather and Ultrasuede upholstery. It's a pretty spartan, track-inspired interior, but it does include modern comforts like air conditioning and electric seat adjustment.

It seems likely that the Kode57 has a 599 GTB lurking below the flashy carbon fiber bodywork, given its specs – a light, rigid aluminum space frame and a front-mid 612-hp 6.0-liter (5,999 cc to be precise) V12. Some outlets have reported that it is indeed all 599 below, but we don't see it confirmed by Okuyama himself. A 599 base would tie the car even more closely to the Rossa and Enzo, as the former was based on the 550 Maranello, a direct 599 predecessor, and the latter's engine served as the basis of the 599's.

Ken Okuyama Cars will produce no more than five Kode57s. Reports put the price around US$2.5 million and boxer Floyd Mayweather among the buyers. That's an awful lot of coin for a re-skinned version of a 600-hp car introduced a full decade ago, but buyers will be able to upgrade the engine to a 692-hp Novitec Rosso-tuned V12 - and who buying this car won't end up checking that box? Novitec will also be happy to add an adjustable front suspension offering 1.8 in (45 mm) of play.

The Kode57 debuted earlier this month at The Quail, part of Monterey Car Week. See more of it in our photo gallery and the press conference video below.

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