Ferrari calls the 550 Maranello its interpretation of a 12-cylinder, front-engine Berlinetta and describes it as discrete, understated, but typical in design and looks. Listing for $215,340, the two-seat coupe is priced a little lower than the four-passenger 456M GT, also fitted with a V-12 up front. Shoppers with smaller wallets will have to go for a 360 Modena instead, which goes for a paltry $144,620.
But shoppers with even more dollars to spend can breathe easily. Ferrari will launch a new 550 Barchetta Pininfarina in spring 2001, seen for the first time in America at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January 2001. Only 448 of these special cars will be crafted at the companys Maranello, Italy, production facility. Every last one was sold even before the cars unveiling in Detroit, with 131 of them destined for U.S. shores.
Ferrari sold about 4,000 cars worldwide during 2000, the companys eighth year of increased sales. More than 1,000 went to North America, with California accounting for 22 percent of sales. Anyone craving a Ferrari in any form can expect a spot on a dealers waiting list.
Like all Ferraris, the 550 Maranello exhibits a classic sports car profile, centered around its long-hood/short-deck shape. An eggcrate-style grille sits low in front, and side gills are visible behind the front wheels. Similar design elements have been seen on various models from the Italian sports carmaker. At 179 inches overall, the 550 Maranello is 8 inches shorter than a 456M, and its wheelbase is only 98.4 inches. The two-seater sits a little taller than the 456M, but at just above 50 inches, its still not an easy car to enter and exit. Five-spoke alloy wheels hold 18-inch tires.
Both occupants can luxuriate in wraparound seats that are leather upholstered. Both should be able to reach the climate and audio controls with ease, since theyre mounted in the center of the dashboard. As expected, storage space is limited, but a cargo shelf behind the seats makes a useful supplement to the cars 6.5-cubic-foot trunk capacity.
Under the Hood
Mounted up front, the 5.5-liter V-12 engine develops 485 horsepower, 43 hp more than the equal-displacement V-12 in Ferraris 456M GT. The rear-wheel-drive 550 Maranello is promoted as one of the most powerful road-going GT cars Ferrari has ever produced. A six-speed-manual gearbox is the only available transmission.