A break from the usual mainstream models this time as we look at thoroughbred Italian exotica – the gorgeous Ferrari 550 Maranello. Arguably the last truly beautiful Ferrari on sale (relentless drive for aerodynamic efficiency seems to have ruined the way newer models look), the 550 Maranello may not be an instant classic worthy of a mention in the company’s illustrious history. But, famously named after Ferrari’s hometown, the 550 marked a significant change in the sportscar maker’s design philosophy.
As the 355 was the first modern-day Ferrari, the 550 Maranello was the first car adorned with the iconic Prancing Horse logo that can be used everyday. After the dramatic heyday of the mid-engined 512TR (which ended in a sorry state with the form of the hideous 512M), Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemolo insisted on making a car that would be more usable and practical on a day-to-day basis, hence the move towards the front-engined layout.
Gone were the Testarossa’s air strakes across the sides, replaced by elegant and simple contour lines and pronounced rear haunches. It’s a look that worked brilliantly, epitomising the Ferraris of that era. It may be a little short on drama, yet the sleek outlook remains as one of the most recognisable shapes in motoring since the days of the Lamborghini Miura.
Ferraris have never been made for anyone else other than those in the high-income society, but you’d never have guessed it sitting in a pre-550 model.Covered in Italian leather, the 550’s interior was also Ferrari’s first luxury-oriented cabin, even surpassing the 4-seat GT variant in Ferrari’s model range of that time, the 456 GT.
Owning a Ferrari, regardless of its age, is never going to be cheap, so only the most financially well-endowed should think having one. Looking after the 485-bhp 5.5-litre V12, capable of propelling the 550 to a genuine 320 km/h, will need frequent visits to a Ferrari specialist – which, of course, will not be cheap. Replacement parts will be hard to come by and even when available, will most likely carry a hard-to-swallow pricetag which is why you must have enough money.
There was a silver example spotted in our classified listings going for less than RM400,000. That is still a lot of money for an 11-year old car but at this level, logic often flies right out the window the moment you see it in the flesh! There may be faster options out there for the same money but the badge up front does not say Ferrari, does it? [Hafriz Shah
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