Words: Richard Bremner
The Carrozzeria Scaglietti’s production lines marry cutting-edge robotic technology with a human touch
A true metalworking artisan, Domenico Corigliano has worked at the Scaglietti plant for 37 years and is able to spot things that few of us would ever notice. And, on those occasions when he does see some sort of defect, no matter how minuscule, he knows exactly what to do.
Hammers, rasps and star-shaped gauges have long been the tools of coachbuilders. Yet only a few metres from Corigliano you will find robots at work, applying the self-piercing rivets that lock a 488’s bonded exterior panels to its inner structure.
It’s this mix of traditional skills and advanced technology that makes Ferrari’s Scaglietti body plant unusual, and the source of a sizeable slice of the pleasure of owning a Ferrari. Located in Modena, Carrozzeria Scaglietti and Ferrari have been linked since 1947, when Enzo Ferrari asked Sergio Scaglietti, who ran a car body repair workshop at the time, to make a pair of mudguards for a car entered in a 1600km endurance event.
A year later Scaglietti repaired a damaged barchetta for Ferrari, leading to orders for a 2.0-litre sports car and, in 1952, a body for the Mondial 4.0-litre. Work on the landmark Testarossa followed, along with a move to a new factory in Via Emilia Est, Modena, part-funded by Enzo. The two became friends, with Sergio also becoming close to Enzo’s son Dino, who was often to be found at the Carrozzeria.
Today, there are three Scaglietti production lines: the Team V8 builds the 488 GTB and Spider and the California T, the Team V12 the F12berlinetta, F12tdf, the GTC4 Lusso and the (V8) GTC4 Lusso T, while the Team Serie Speciale works on the LaFerrari.
The two lines building the aluminium-bodied cars follow essentially the same principles, using high-precision robots for dimensionally and structurally critical assembly and highly skilled craftsmanship to achieve a perfect aesthetic finish.
The body assembly process for the V8 and V12 lines begins with the arrival of the core chassis units. It takes around 10 hours to turn a V8 model’s chassis into a paint-ready body, and double that for the V12 models.
The inner structure is built using a mixture of robots and hand-welding, a crucial element being the laser measurement of tolerance-critical dimensions by Perceptron robot, 301 of them in the 488 GTB’s case. Every body is Perceptron-measured to ensure accuracy.
Claudio Gambarelli, head of the body-in-white shop, explains how the young people who join the Company are trained at the Scuola dei Mestieri [School of Expertise] to learn the techniques of every stage of production. At Ferrari, more than the cars, it is the workforce, with their passion and expertise, who make a difference.
The traditions and processes that are passed down the generations make the final product truly unique. That’s even more true of the Serie Speciale area.
The LaFerrari requires 50 hours of high-calibre assembly and finishing, the carbon fibre tub clothed with its exterior panels, several with perfectly aligned exposed weave. Scaglietti make the LaFerrari’s aluminium front and rear modules, producing bodies at the rate of one a day, each of the five work stations lavishing them with 480 minutes of attention.
In a huge glass room nearby sits an F12tdf on a solid steel plate. This is Scaglietti’s new metrology centre, which measures 1200 datum points on each car, as Marcello Baldelli explains: ‘We do four cars a day, and take two hours in total for each car. This dimensional data is stored in an archive, and goes back in time.’
It’s a world away from the days when Corigliano was hand-beating entire panels. Now, the best of those artisanal skills is combined with the robust accuracy afforded by modern technology. It’s pleasing to know that all this occurs in the factory of one of Enzo’s close friends.