Ferrari 550 Maranello–Video Test Drive with Chris Moran

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A sexy black Ferrari 550 Maranello…complete with Tubi exhaust! Presented by D&M Motorsports and hosted by Chris Moran

Marking a return to a front-engined layout for flagship sporting Ferraris, the 550 Maranello sparked a revival of more usable Ferrari models. With a layout harking back to the Daytona of the Seventies, the 550 backed up its position by carrying a stick the size of a giant redwood. With 485bhp to call upon, it was at least two seconds quicker around the Fiorano test track than the Ferrari F355 itself no slouch. With used models now starting to appear, can a 550 Maranello justify itself on any rational basis? Find out here.

Leaving aside the question of depreciation, performance or running costs, the less tangible aspects of Ferrari ownership come to the fore with the 550. Take the interior for starters. Theres a refreshing lack of pretension in its execution, a firm understanding of Ferrari heritage and whats necessary and whats mere frippery. No pompous walnut veneer here, no mock-F1 style carbon fibre.

Nor are there modern niceties like steering wheel stereo controls, dimming mirrors or cup holders. Can you imagine the late Enzo Ferrari ever specifying cup holders in one of his cars? The very thought of trying to drink while at the helm of a Ferrari. The great man would turn in his grave. No, a Ferrari cockpit should always be designed for driving – and this one is.

That doesn’t stop it from being an automotive work of art, however, swathed in leather with careful chrome touches here and there. Take the polished gear-knob – it looks and feels extraordinary. Alone, it must be worth £500; or maybe even £1,000 – who can tell? Though the exterior styling may be more Beckham than Barrichello, this is a car for people who love Ferraris and don’t mind others knowing. Perhaps it is this more than anything else that marks the 550 Maranellos greatness. You can’t imagine someone who might otherwise consider, say, a Mercedes SL or a Jaguar XK8 buying this car; it’s too wild – too extreme. But, unlike the F360 Modena, not so wild and extreme that you couldn’t really use it as everyday transport. Which, by almost any justification, is about as good as it gets.

That the Ferrari 550 Maranello can now be had for five figures rather than six is probably not going to prompt a buying stampede, but it nonetheless makes the car look conspicuously good value against admittedly newer rivals. In many ways, the beautiful thing about the 550 Maranello is that with a private plate on, only a true Ferrari anorak would ever know which model year it was. When used valuations vary by over £50,000, theres a pragmatic sort of appeal to this course of action. Opening values for a 550 are around £43,000 for a 1997 P-registered car, whilst a more recent 2001 X-plated model will fetch in the region of £62,000.

Insurance? Youd be disappointed if it were anything other than Group 20

The 550 Maranello is an astonishingly reliable car. In order to demonstrate its durability, a team of British journalists drove one from Buenos Aires to Tierra del Fuego, a trip of over 3000 miles on a mixture of tarmac, snow and dirt tracks. Despite the merciless pounding the car received, the only reported fault was a broken temperature sensor on a catalyst, testament to the 550s mechanical ruggedness. Using four valves per cylinder instead of the increasingly common Ferrari five, the Maranello is a surprisingly uncomplicated beast.
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The Ferrari 550 Maranello was introduced in 1996. It’s 5.5 L V12 produces 485 hp and 568 Nm of torque. 0 to 100 km/h takes just 4.4 seconds.

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