Cars

Christopher Lambert, the unforgettable Highlander, has a real love of cars, but today the only Ferrari for him is the Portofino M
Words – Sylvain Reisser
Photos - Gianluigi Di Napoli / Video – Oliver McIntyre

Christopher Lambert has always been fascinated by the figure of Ferrari founder, Enzo Ferrari.

For this well-travelled actor, the models proudly bearing the Prancing Horse symbol are the very pinnacle of car manufacturing, for their design, technology and the driving experience they invariably offer.


So, when he was offered the chance of spending a day behind the wheel of the Portofino M, he didn’t need to be asked twice. When he arrived at the location at Chantilly just outside Paris to try out the marque’s latest 2+ convertible, he couldn’t hide that wide grin of his, recognisable from cinema screens around the world for the past four decades. 


Go behind the scenes on the set of the Christopher Lambert photoshoot for The Official Ferrari Magazine 

Lambert’s acting career has often intertwined with his love of cars. In the 1986 film ‘Highlander’, Lambert played the hero Connor McLeod, being filmed in a Porsche 356 Speedster in the first film and then driving a Porsche 911 in the film’s sequel. But it was just after the success of his breakthrough film ‘Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes’, in 1984, that he realised that his own childhood dream of possessing a different kind of ‘legend’ – a Ferrari – was suddenly possible. 

“I often used to stand in front of Ferrari showrooms telling myself that one day I’d go in and indulge myself,” he recalls. “Each time I changed my mind, with the excuse that I’d be spending my time racking up speeding tickets.” So, as a kind of compromise, he instead chose to hire his Ferraris. His favourites? The icons of their time: the 365 GTS4 (‘Daytona Spyder’), the 512 BB and the 575M Maranello.

M for Modificata: the evolution of the model incorporates an 8-speed dual-clutch gearbox, plus a five-setting manettino


Today, it’s the Portofino M, the latest in the line of Ferrari convertibles. “Its versatility is incredible,” enthuses Lambert. “The V8 twin-turbo comes close to delivering the same sensations as a 12-cylinder engine and the sound is mesmerising. It is truly an outstanding car, one that illustrates the genius of Ferrari,” he remarks, after an unforgettable day behind the wheel of Maranello’s latest convertible.

 

 It is a genius that the accomplished actor has had ample opportunity to observe at first hand. He insists that his passion for cars has been fuelled by the people he has met along the way. In the early 1980’s, an encounter with Jean Todt, who later became a great friend, introduced him to the world of racing. 


When Todt became Scuderia Ferrari Team Principal, in 1993, Lambert became a frequent visitor to Maranello and the Fiorano circuit. It was during one of those visits that Luca di Montezemolo, the then President of Ferrari, presented him with a piston from one of Michael Schumacher’s F1 engines. 

Lambert's deep knowledge of cars meant he enjoyed the Portofino M's specifications to the full


Lambert admits to having a soft spot for Charles Leclerc. “He’s a terrific driver,” says the actor. “I admire his humility, concentration and discipline, which is remarkable for a man of his age.” Now aged sixty-four, Lambert still longs to star in a film with a plot centred around cars and the world of racing. “I’ve seen all the car films,” he says. “‘Le Mans’ is in a class of its own, because Steve McQueen was in it. ‘Rush’ (directed by Ron Howard), the story of the rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt, is a really outstanding film.” 

 

Whilst waiting for a car film offer, he will soon be completing the final part of ‘Love is Better than Life’, the fiftieth – and latest – feature film by Claude Lelouch, the veteran French film director who produced ‘Le Grand Rendez-Vous’ that featured one Charles Leclerc and Ferrari in May 2020.