Laying rubber on a nation’s cultural heritage doesn’t sound like a great way to open the throttle for automotive sales, does it? Yet that’s exactly what Ferrari unintentionally did Monday atop a 600-year-old wall surrounding the ancient Chinese city of Nanjing. A Ferrari China dealership employee did doughnuts in a $950,000 458 Italia atop the Nanjing wall in celebration of the Italian automaker’s 20 years in the Chinese market. The tire marks left behind amounted to a national incident.
Don’t (tire) tread on me
The Ferrari dealership in China reportedly rented a gate alongside government-protected cultural property at Nanjing, the former imperial capital. A limited edition Ferrari 458 Italia was lifted atop the wall, and a dealership employee did unauthorized victory doughnuts on the Nanjing wall itself, according to Chinese media source Xinhua. The driver has not been identified by name.
Mopping up a cultural mess
News clips spread across Chinese national media like wildfire of the offending 458 Italia, then the workers mopping up the rubber tracks. Many Chinese bloggers asserted that the Ferrari employee’s reckless action amounted to an insult to Chinese culture, and Nanjing city officials were blamed for leasing the landmark to Ferrari for $12,000.
“A 6 million yuan [$950,000] Ferrari versus a 600-year-old ancient city wall. … What are the Nanjing authorities doing? So sad,” wrote blogger Baobei Fei.
Ferrari responded to criticism with the expected amount of contrition.
“Ferrari has always respected Chinese traditional culture and values the protection of historical and cultural relics,” said a Ferrari representative via a Chinese-language statement posted on the automaker’s blog. “Ferrari deeply regrets the incident.”
Laying rubber, canceled event, lost job
A Ferrari celebration was scheduled after the 458 Italia’s emergence, but the event ended up being canceled once the driver performed the stunt atop the 600-year-old Nanjing landmark. While the employment status of the Ferrari driver is unknown, it is known that city employee Yang Houyin was dismissed from his position due to “incompetent supervision and management,” according to the Yangtse Evening Post.
The oldest wall in China
Nanjing wall, which was built during the early Ming dynasty (late 14th century A.D.), is the oldest intact wall standing in China today, according to the nation’s application to UNESCO for World Heritage site status.
While the response to the Ferrari employee laying 458 Italia rubber on Nanjing wall has primarily been negative, reports indicate that some residents of the city have hailed the global publicity the event has brought to the city.
The $950,000 Ferrari 458 Italia is a special edition vehicle that will be sold in China in an exclusive run of 20. The vehicle used in the Nanjing wall incident was one of the 20 458s that will be sold.
Watch the Ferrari Nanjing incident as it happened