In late August, the rolling greens of the Quail Lodge and Golf Club on the Monterey Peninsula in southern California are transformed into a blue ribbon car show for motorsports fans and collectors from around the world. The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, as it’s called, is the perfect place to reveal a world premiere concept with a difference.
That’s exactly what Ken Okuyama has done this year with his stunning Kode57 supercar. Now, those smitten with supercar design will know that the internationally-renowned Japanese designer led the styling team that penned the mighty Enzo Ferrari.
As creative director of famed Italian design house Pininfarina in the early-2000s, he also oversaw the styling of the Maserati Quattroporte, as well as one-off concept cars including the Ferrari P4/5 and Maserati Birdcage 75th.
Today, as head of his own design company, Ken Okuyama Design, he pens everyday things like the 300-kph Shinkansen “Bullet” train, bespoke furniture, eyewear, and tractors, as well as his own brand of rare exotic automobiles. Cars like the Kode57.
Sitting on a highly rigid aluminum chassis, the Kode57 is propelled by one of the world’s most powerful V12 engines – generating around 600hp – mounted directly behind the front axle in a front mid-ship configuration. Sound mysterious? Well for now at least, the outspoken designer wants aficionados and industry types to focus on the radical exterior and cockpit styling and not its powerplant, although he says that all will be known in due course.
Okuyama calls the super coupe a “few-off” – not a one-off – as he expects to hand-build several examples over the next year or so employing state-of-the-art techniques in a very limited edition run.
The name Kode57 pays homage to the year 1957, an iconic year in which many legendary cars like the Jaguar XKSS and Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa were born and motor racing gained a strong worldwide following.
With its classic proportions of long-nose-short-deck, it is easy to see where he gets his inspiration. Front air intakes, fins positioned behind each tire, and a large rear diffuser maximize internal airflow and cooling. Employing race car-like aerodynamics, the two-seater takes on a Formula car-like appearance with its bold “see-through” fenders and sleek silhouette.
To save weight, Okuyama tells us that the Kode57 incorporates an aluminum space frame and carbon fiber body panels. With its low-cut windscreen and long side proportions, the roofless coupe features a driver-oriented cockpit with bespoke individual color themes defining each seat. It’s extremely rare rear-hinged scissor-type doors that open backward up and away from the A-pillar, give the driver surprisingly easy entry and exit.
The V12 engine and suspension settings can be tuned to suit the owner’s tastes thanks to a collaboration with German specialist Novitec Rosso. This partnership allows the front ride height to be adjusted by up to 45mm using a dedicated switch to assist during parking and other driving situations. For a coupe of this caliber, you’d expect nothing less than extra grippy Pirelli P-Zero tires all round, and Okuyama has, as expected, fitted the widest rubber the dimensions would allow.
Okay, let’s be honest. I am as intrigued as you are by the heavy focus on the car’s design and overly brief one-line explanation on what powers this radical machine. But rest assured Okuyama will reveal what’s under that hood when the time is right. Stay tuned