I personally think the Ferrari 456 is one of the greatest grand tourers currently available under £50K. Some might argue that it is ugly (too much of a Peugeot 406 coupe look-alike), heavy and have maintenance costs that you would need to get a loan for… However, with prices currently at the bottom of the curve, the 456 is probably one of the best options for you to get a ticket in the Ferrari owner’s club.
The 456 had a pretty long lifespan as it was produced from 1992 to 2003, which is rather decent considering that model lines nowadays last for about 5 years or less. The classic grand tourer format was thoroughly respected as it featured 4 comfortable seats and an interior tailored for long journeys, and more importantly and front engine layout with a 5.5L V12. The design was the work of Pininfarina as is respecting the GT cars standards, offering a very simple and elegant profile and a high standard interior. In 2002 Ferrari introduced its customization program through the Carrozzeria Scaglietti and used Schumacher’s very own 456M GT to demonstrate the quality level during the Geneva car show.
At 1690kg, it is rather heavy but pretty decent compared to GT standards. Performance wise, it cannot be considered slow by any means with its 436hp engine taking it to 60mph in 5.2 seconds and achieving a 188mph top speed. It was available in manual (GT) and from 1996 in auto (GTA) transmissions; although the automatic wasn’t tailored for racing (neither was the 456), it was a really good match for the car’s GT personality. It is worth mentioning that at the time of conception, it was the most powerful road-going Ferrari ever made (F40 excluded). Oh and also, it has pop-up headlights!
With prices currently starting around £45K, it is a real bargain, and you are sure to get a lot of car for the money. Of course, you need to plan accordingly with the high running and maintenance costs as they can quickly make it seem less of a bargain. But as for any Ferrari or high-end manufacturers, these costs are part of the ownership experience. As usual, previous owners, maintenance and mileage are important factors to consider in the buying process.
The 456 was replaced in 2003 by the 612 Scaglietti which received similar criticism as the 456 (actually probably worse) and is also now rather affordable as you can pick one for less than half its retail value.
But if I had to choose between those two whales, I’d have a 456 GTA in Tour de France Blue with tan leather, please! What would be yours?