This week, we've found one of the most stylish modern Ferraris. It's a car that filled a nearly 25-year hole in the prancing horse lineup. It's also a car that's surprisingly affordable, at least by V12 Ferrari standards. The autoTRADER.ca Find of the Week is this 1999 Ferrari 550 Maranello. And surprise — it's not red!
When Ferrari replaced the 365 GTB/4 Daytona with the Berlinetta Boxer back in 1973, it stopped a part of the brand's lineup that had been running for decades. The two-seat, front-engine, 12-cylinder grand tourer. The 365 BB would become the 512, then the Testarossa, then the 512, but all had a flat-12 mounted in the back. It was still cool, but have you heard of the 365 Berlinetta Boxer, or can you picture exactly what the 365 Daytona looks like in your mind? Exactly.
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Under new company president Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, Ferrari was working on a replacement for the F512M, the last version of the Testarossa. This one would get the engine put back in the proper place for a Ferrari GT: in the nose.
It was launched in 1996, and it was a bit of a revolution. It wasn't the first modern Ferrari to drop angles for curves, that honour went to the 2+2 456, but that, well, wasn't exactly one of the brand's best designs.
The 550, though, was stunning. It was penned by Lorenzo Ramaciotti at Pininfarina, a designer who was also responsible for the Alfa Romeo Giulietta and 4C as well as the Ferrari 360 and F430. It had a long hood with one simple scoop and Ferrari's wide lower grille, giving this car a smile before the era of the angry car nose would arrive. Flaring between the wheel arches and wearing quad tailpipes and quad taillights, it's a shape that holds up exceptionally well.
Powering the 550 was a 5.5L V12 generating 478 hp and 419 lb-ft of torque and sporting a redline just short of 8,000 rpm, this was an engine that could scream the way a Ferrari needs to. It had bellow than the shriek of the V8s, but was still unmistakable. The engine was in the front, but the gearbox was in the rear and it was six-speed with one of Ferrari's final gated shift mechanisms.
While it had previously been traditional to see some exaggeration from the brand, this car seemed to put an end to that. Look at the top speed, quoted at 199 mph. Could Ferrari have easily put this car in the 200 club, knowing owners would never verify it? Certainly. Would they have embellished in the past? Probably. Did they with this car? They did not, and that was telling about the model. Contemporary reviews also praised the build quality, something that had also not always been a Ferrari strong point.
This specific one was originally sold in Japan and was brought to Canada three years ago. The seller says that it's seen some important servicing, like a recent replacement of the fuel tank and caps, a known issue with the cars. It's also sporting a Fiammenghi Engineering exhaust with a pair of handcrafted equal-length manifolds that combine with new mufflers to awaken the sound of the car. The seller calls it "an F1 sound that puts modern cars to shame," but you can still engage quiet mode thanks to the valves. The factory parts are available if you're more concerned with originality, though.
It's for sale in Vancouver, and while at $165,000 it's not exactly a bargain, the 550 is still one of the more affordable ways to get into a V12-powered Ferrari. Affordable, of course, being a relative term here, but the other options are all much more. If those tick your boxes, this one could be yours.