Another grand tourer in the modern classic era. Our readers might start thinking we have a clear bias towards fancy British or Italian GT cars, and I think we might do… However, how can we not discuss these modern classics that are now “almost” affordable and still have tons of charisma? We just can’t!
Today we are talking about the glorious Ferrari 550 Maranello, one of my all-time personal favourites. Released in 1996 and designed by the notorious Pininfarina, the 550 finally renewed Ferrari’s tradition of making front-engined V12 2-seater Grand Tourers, some 23 years after the legendary 365 GTB/4 Daytona. Though some of the chassis and engine elements were shared with the Ferrari 456, the 550 is a different animal altogether. The design is obviously drastically different a more aggressive and elegant at the same time (at least in my personal opinion).
The mighty 5.5L naturally aspirated V12 not only produced 485hp capable of taking the car to the border of the 200mph mark, but also sounded incredible! It was indeed a grand tourer but the performance is closer to a supercar, even with a nearly 1.8 ton kerb weight. It also featured a limited slip diff, aluminium body panels, magnesium wheels and double wishbone suspensions in all 4 corners which massively helped the handling.
In year 2000, the limited edition (448 units) 550 Barchetta was released, and boy it looked the business! It was a proper roadster only to be used in sunny days, even though Ferrari provided an “emergency” soft top in case you got caught in the rain. Due to their exclusivity, the 550 Barchetta are well over £300K.
In 2002, Ferrari reviewed their copy and released the updated 575M Maranello which for the first time offered a 6 speed manual gearbox and mostly some important upgrades on the drivetrain and engine, taking the displacement to 5.75L and the power up to 508hp.
With prices ranging from £80K to upwards £140K, it almost seems like a bargain. Though the cheapest models are generally high-milers. But after all, this is a car designed to be driven!