Having looked at the Ferrari 365 GTB/4 (otherwise known as the Daytona) in the first film (see it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFj5nAgtNBk ) , this time it’s the turn of the 550 Maranello. Once again, it was sourced by Bell Sport & Classic and seeing the two cars parked up outside their showroom I was surprised that the 550 didn’t look vastly bigger than the Daytona given the decades between them. To my eyes it’s not as attractive as the earlier front-engined, V12 supercar, but as soon as you get into the Maranello it is obvious how much things moved on between 1973 and 1996.
The whole interior is vastly better laid out and the car feels smaller and more intimate as a result. Get going and the 550 immediately feels possessed of a totally different level of performance, too - right up there with more modern machinery, in fact. It might have ‘only’ 478bhp and 420lb ft of torque (131bhp and 102lb ft up on the Daytona but 134bhp and 141lb ft down on the current junior Ferrari, the Roma) but the 550’s 5.5-litre V12 has an incredible muscularity and flexibility to it. I was genuinely stunned by just how strong it feels.
Like the Daytona, the Maranello has wishbones all round with anti-roll bars front and rear. However, the trick up the 550’s more modern wheel arches is the electronically controlled variable dampers. There are only two options, Normal and Sport, but the change in character when the firmer setting is selected is noticeable and welcome. It’s still not that firm by 2022 standards, but with a bit of extra support and control in the corners the 550 really comes alive, feeling as playful and easy to drive as an M2 CS. The fact that you can currently get one for similar money to the BMW makes it an absolute bargain in my eyes.
The Daytona is undoubtedly the more iconic car, but I think we have a huge amount to thank the 550 Maranello for. It successfully brought back the front-engined V12 Ferrari supercar at a time when mid-engined really seemed to be the only way forward. Without the huge success of the 550 we wouldn’t have had the 599, F12 and 812 Superfast and I think the motoring landscape would be a slightly poorer place as a result.
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