- Can’t swing a 550 Maranello or one of the rare manual-transmission 575s? Here’s an overlooked GT that delivers the full Ferrari experience.
- Front-engined Ferraris aren’t exactly cheap to own, but servicing costs are far below most of the smaller mid-engined cars.
- Searching for a suitable comparison vehicle, Car and Driver once put the 456 up against an airplane. You can get your hands on your own V-12 long-distance missile, now up for auction at Bring a Trailer until Wednesday, December 14.
Let the maxim be written: there are no cheap Ferraris. Not even the Mondial. However, there are a few stallions from Maranello’s stable that have been somewhat overlooked: either not as pretty as Pininfarina’s best work or not as quick around a racetrack as the mid-engined stuff. Here’s a great example of the full-fat Ferrari experience without (potentially) the big-ticket expense: a 2002 456M, up for auction this week at Bring a Trailer.
The 456M is a proper GT car from Ferrari, one of the front-engined V-12–powered machines that sucks down interstates with Luciano Pavarotti–like virtuosity. And with much the same soundtrack: with the click-clack of an exposed metal gate on its manual transmission and a 440-hp 5.5-liter V-12, the 456M loves to belt out operatic arias from the golden age of internal combustion.
Basically, we’re talking a 550 Maranello for people who missed out before those cars started climbing in value. This one looks especially elegant in black and is from the final years of 456M production. It’s subtle-looking, but with a Tubi exhaust fitted, it will surely be capable of shattering all wine glasses in the vicinity when the throttle is vigorously provoked.
With just 24K miles on the odometer, this car should also be considered an opportunity to right a wrong. Like Car and Driver, Bring a Trailer is part of Hearst Autos. When, in 1995, the Car and Driver team got their hands on the keys to an early 456, they called up another Hearst magazine, namely, Flying. “Wanna race this Ferrari versus one of your beloved planes?” was the challenge.
Spoiler alert: the Ferrari lost, but only by nine minutes over 263.8 miles. The thing was a monster for carrying speed.
Fuel will not be cheap. Replacement parts will not be cheap. But the maintenance on a front-engined Ferrari is much less expensive than might be expected, at least when compared to the smaller mid-engined cars. Where the latter seems to be Step A: Remove Engine for pretty much anything, the front-engined Ferrari GTs are a bit less needy. Happily, this one has new Continental ExtremeSport tires, and the timing and accessory belts were all replaced just two years ago.
There is, however, a little work to be done on the interior. The listing notes sheepskin seat covers, which are probably very comfortable, but they look like the car has been upholstered in labrador retriever. So toss those in the dumpster.
Then, settle back in your stylish black-on-tan Ferrari ICBM and point that sleek nose at the horizon. Sure, your buddy with the private airplane might get there a few minutes ahead of you. But you’ll be having all the fun. With just six days to go, bidding sits just north of $42,000.
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