Imagine designing one of the most iconic supercars of all time and then getting busted by the cops for overspeeding while driving a rare example of your very own creation; sounds wild, right? That’s exactly what happened to the legendary Japanese industrial designer who led the team responsible for designing the Ferrari Enzo. According to The Japan Times, Kiyoyuki “Ken” Okuyama was nailed by the cops in October last year for blasting down a scenic mountain road in Japan in his Ferrari Enzo supercar. The 63-year-old was reportedly booked for driving at 128km/h (~79mph) on a rural backroad in his native Yamagata Prefecture (north-central Japan) which has a speed limit of 40km/h (~25mph).
The matter went up for trial earlier this year in February where Okuyama pleaded guilty to the charges. However, the world-renowned designer came up with a unique reason to justify his over-speeding in the $3 million supercar. Okuyama argued in court that he needed to maintain a certain speed to avoid the Ferrari Enzo from overheating. He claimed that driving under the speed limit would not have fed the supercar’s 6.0-liter V12 with enough air to keep it cool. Unimpressed by the logic, the prosecutors demanded four months in prison.
“The degree of speeding was considerable and was extremely dangerous,” ruled Judge Osamu Imai of the Yamagata District Court while sentencing Okuyama to four months in prison, as prosecutors demanded. However, the designer was given a suspended sentence, where he would be able to avoid jail time if he keeps his nose clean for the next two years. While Okuyama narrowly escaped going to jail, he’ll have to be very careful not to carelessly get throttle-happy behind the wheel of his own creation. Immediately after the court order was announced, Okuyama told reporters: “I will make sure this will never happen again and will contribute to society. I am very sorry.”
Ken Okuyama and his illustrious design career
Born in 1959, Okuyama spent his early years in Yamagata, a picturesque portion of Northern Japan known for snow-covered fir trees, impressive ski fields, and hot springs. He later moved to the United States to study car design at the Art Center College of Design, after which Okuyama started his career as a designer at General Motors. During the four years he spent at GM, the industrial designer is said to have shown his talent working on the fourth-gen Chevrolet Camaro. After his stint with the American manufacturer, Okuyama was hired by Porsche where he was responsible for designing the 996-generation of Porsche 911 and the first Porsche Boxster. But his career reached new heights when he took a job with the famous design firm Pininfarina in 1995. He not only became the first non-Italian to style a Ferrari model but also headed the team that created the Ferrari Enzo.