In the late 1980s, Ferrari made headlines by introducing the Testerossa. This 12-cylinder sports car turned the heads of many car enthusiasts. The Testorassa was the successor to the Berlinetta Boxer. The Testorossa was produced between 1984 and 1991 (later the modified 512 TR and F512 M were also introduced). Both the 512 TR and F512 M were produced between 1992 and 1996. These vehicles were all designed by Pininfarina, a well-known Italian auto design company. Approximately, 10,000 Testarossas, 512 TRs, and F512 Ms were produced in all. These vehicles eventually became some of the most-produced Ferrari models. These vehicles were not cheap either, the average price was around $220,000 per unit. Ferrari still managed to sell them rather quickly, especially to true auto enthusiasts.
By 1996, Ferrari executives realized that they had to come up with a new design for their next vehicle. There had been rumors that the designers wanted to use a V-12 engine in the front of the vehicle for a change. Many successful auto companies with this specific layout included Aston Martin and Bentley. Even though some of these models may have not been quite as sporty as other vehicles on the market, they still sold large amounts of units. Furthermore, they had the ability to only produce these types of vehicles and never had to focus directly on “specific exotic looks”.
It was eventually decided that the new vehicle would be a 2-seat grand tourer. Eventually, the name of the vehicle became Maranello, the town where Ferrari's headquarters is located. Introduced in 1996, the 550 Maranello was a coupe with a front-engined V12, which produced around 500 horsepower.
The car used a 6-speed manual gearbox located at the back and a transaxle layout. The model number 550 refers to total engine displacement which is 5.5-liters.
The 550 Maranello featured a roomy interior with more leg room than other models. The interior was also luxurious. It featured leather upholstery, luxury suitcases positioned behind the driver and passenger seats and a high-quality stereo system. In all, around 3,500 units were produced. The vehicle's chassis was manufactured with tubular steel and light aluminum bodywork.
The 550 Maranello can reach a top speed of 199 m.p.h. and can accelerate to 60 m.p.h. in just over 4 seconds. The car is known for its quick acceleration and excellent handling, especially at high speeds.
The company introduced another version of the 550 in 2000. This was a convertible version of the 550, which made the vehicle a true roadster. The factory did provide a soft top, but it was intended only for temporary use as it was cautioned against using the top above 65 m.p.h.
In 2000, the Ferrari Rossa was produced, in celebration of the 70th anniversary of Pininfarina. The vehicle was produced by Ken Okuyama, a designer at Pininfarina.
In October of 2009, Zagato and Ferrari collaborated and unveiled the GTZ. The GTZ was created to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the long collaboration between the two Italian companies. The GTZ was based on the design of the 550 Barchetta Pininfarina. In total, five models were only built, which all sold for over $1 million each.
In addition to the GTZ, there were an array of other modified variants of the 550 Maranello. The 550 GT, another version of the vehicle, made an appearance at the 24 Hour Le Mans Series in 2003.
The 550 Millennio, another modified variant of the vehicle, was developed and entered the American Le Mans Series in 2002. The 550 Maranello also caught the attention of German entrepreneur and engineer Franz Wieth, who launched another racing version of the 550, developed by Baumgartner Sportwagen Technik. He entered this car in the 2001 FIA GT Championship in 2001, 2003 and 2004.
Lastly, a company by the name of Prodrive, built a racing version of the 550 for various sports car series. These vehicles were completely built by Prodrive without any support from Ferrari. In total, ten vehicles were built and raced at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. These vehicles were very succesful the event and won several races, including the FIA FT Championship.
In 2002, Ferrari launched a different type of the vehicle which was called the 575M Maranello. This vehicle was produced through 2006, until production came to a halt. It offered some more horsepower (moving up to about 510) and a 5.7- liter engine, compared to the 5.5 in the standard Maranello.
The 575M still had yet another version available on the market in 2005. This was the final version of the vehicle and it was called the Superamerica. It featured an electrochromic roof, which was made out of glass. Moreover, the engine was still a front V12, but it produced a whopping 533 horsepower. The car claimed a top speed of 199 m.ph. (just like the stock 550 Maranello). Ferrari attempted to sell the vehicle as a strategy to lengthen the life of the Maranello model. It was marketed as the world's fastest convertible. In total, 559 Superamericas were built. Today, one of these cars with low mileage can cost around $500,000, while older models can still cost around $250,000.
The Ferrari 550 Maranello may not look just like a Ferrari F40 or Enzo and it may lack the fancy looking doors and super flashy rear spoiler, but the vehicle definitely sounds and looks like a Ferrari. Many believe it was designed for more casual driving than some of the previous models. Overall, the 550 Maranello is a magnificent vehicle that still delivers everything that a Ferrari has to offer. In 2000 and 2001, the car's engine received the International Engine of the Year award. According to EVO magazine, the vehicle also received the "Best Sportscar of the 1990's" award.
Car and Driver reviewed the 550 Maranello and compared it directly to the Aston Martin DB7. Car and Driver had stated “In this comparison test, the impeccably made and finished 550 is the reliable establishment, and it is the Aston Martin that holds the uncertainties. Perhaps that is why, without reference to the individual scores, we agreed on the critical issue. Given a quarter-million bucks, we would buy the Ferrari”.