Part 40 – The Modern Ferrari Road Cars
By David Cavaliere
This week’s issue features the post-Enzo Ferrari road cars. After Enzo’s death, Fiat acquired even more control over the Ferrari stock and true to their word, they have used Ferrari as its centerpiece for marketing and development in the decades that followed.
The last Ferrari that was developed during Enzo’s lifetime was the replacement for the 328 – the 348. It came out in 1989 and remained in production until 1995. By any other manufacturer’s standards, the 348 was a good performer. It was a good looking car, but it just didn’t perform well. It was neither ground-breaking, quicker than its competitors, nor particularly satisfying to drive. The engine, which produced 300 hp, was mounted longitudinally and coupled to a transverse manual gearbox, like the Mondial t, with which it shared many components. The motoring press rounding panned the car as one of the worst products to ever leave the factory at Maranello.
Many of the faults of the 348 were corrected in the Ferrari F355, which was introduced in 1994. The design emphasis for the F355 was on significantly improved performance and improved drivability across a wider range of speeds and in different environments, for example, city driving. The engine displacement increased from 3.4 to 3.5 liters, but the major difference was the introduction of a 5-valve cylinder head, bringing horsepower to 375. Total units of 11,273 made during its six-year production run made the F355 the most-produced Ferrari at the time. This sales record would be surpassed by the next generation 360 and later by the F430.
In 1992, Ferrari introduced a new V12 grand turismo – the 456. It was the last Ferrari model to use pop-up headlamps. The car was a 2+2 and although the rear seats could accommodate adults, the limited leg room would make long excursions for four a bit of a cramped drive. The 5.5 liter 65° V12 engine was derived from the Dino V6 rather than from the Colombo V12. It produced 436 hp and was world’s fastest production four-seater, with a top speed of 188 mph. In the final year of production (2003), the Carrozzeria Scaglietti Program was offered, allowing customers to create highly individualized cars with custom paint and interior schemes and choices for uprated handling and brakes.
When the Ferrari 550 Maranello was developed in the early 1990s, it was conceived to be a grand tourer in true Ferrari style. It was a front-engine V12, with luxury appointments and classic style. It became an instant classic. It is interesting that in the 20 years since the model’s introduction in 1996 that the trend at Ferrari has swung back toward mid-engine cars, making the 550 Maranello even more unique. It was followed by the 575M, which was essentially an updated version. In 2006, the 599 GTB was introduced. It used the Tipo F140 C 6.0 liter V12 engine, producing a maximum of 612 hp, making it the most powerful series production Ferrari road car of the time. Updates from the 550 included a renewed interior and substantial improvements mechanically, including bigger brake discs, refined aerodynamics and an adaptive suspension set-up.
The Ferrari F430 came out in 2004 and lasted until 2009. A great deal of Ferrari heritage was included in the mid-engine car’s exterior design. At the rear, the Enzo’s tail lights and interior vents were added. The car’s name was etched into the Testarossa-styled driver’s side mirror. The large oval openings in the front bumper are reminiscent of the Ferrari 156 “sharknose” Formula One car. The F430 featured a 4.3 liter engine of the “Ferrari-Maserati” F136 family. This new power plant represented a significant departure for Ferrari. Each of the previous Ferrari V8’s were descendants of the Dino racing program of the 1950s. The engine’s output was 490 hp. 2004 also saw the introduction of the Ferrari 612 Scaglietti, a 2+2 coupé grand tourer produced through 2010. It shared its engine with the Ferrari 575 Superamerica and was produced at Ferrari’s Carrozzeria Scaglietti plant, the former home of the car’s namesake coachbuilder in Modena, Italy. The car was designed to replace the smaller 456 M, providing more room in the rear for adults. It can propel four adults to a top speed of just under 200 mph!
The Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano was the brand’s two-seat flagship, beginning in 2006 as a 2007 model and production continued up through 2012. Styled by Pininfarina under the direction of Ferrari’s Frank Stephenson, the 599 GTB debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in February 2006. It is named for its total engine displacement (5999 cc), Gran Turismo Berlinetta nature and the Fiorano Circuit test track used by Ferrari. Its V12 engine produces over 100 hp per liter for a total of 612 ponies.
The Ferrari California is a two-door 2+2 hard top convertible. When originally released, the California was powered by a mid-mounted naturally aspirated 4.3-litre V8. In 2014, Ferrari introduced the second generation of the model – the California T. It uses a new twin-turbo 3.9-litre V8 and is the least expensive car in the Ferrari range. It was originally slated to be a Maserati, but due to its high production costs, the Fiat group branded the car a Ferrari to justify its higher price. Through Ferrari’s Tailor Made program, the California T can be customized to suit each customer.
The Ferrari FF (FF meaning “Ferrari Four” – for four seats and four-wheel drive) was the first four-wheel drive vehicle. It was first present in March, 2011 at the Geneva Motor Show. The body style has been described as a shooting-brake, a type of sporting hatchback/estate car with two doors. It was the replacement for the 612 Scaglietti. The FF has a top speed of 208 mph and can accelerate from zero to 62 mph in 3.7 seconds. 800 were produced during the first year alone. It had the largest engine powering a Ferrari at the time of its introduction – 6.3 liters using direct injection for its 65° V12, producing 651 hp.
The Ferrari 488 was introduced in 2015 as a replacement for the 458. It is a mid-engine with a 3.9-liter twin-turbocharged V8, putting out 661 hp. The body of the 488 was designed to increase downforce by 50% over the 458, while reducing aerodynamic drag. Underbody vortex generators work to reduce air pressure beneath the car, assisting the large rear diffuser to generate substantial downforce at the rear of the car.