I have to confess that I am obsessed with all things Italian: The food, the language, the women, and of course, the Ferraris. Ah, Ferrari! No marque captures my imagination as does the cavallino rampante from Maranello. Yes, I am well and truly pazzo for Ferrari.
Armed with this knowledge, you can imagine how my eyes bulged when the F12berlinetta was unveiled February 29th. It’s too soon to say whether this car will become legendary as those below, but if it lives up to its hype, it’s a shoe-in.
Choosing and assigning rank to my Top 5 Ferraris is a nearly impossible task. Top 50 might be more appropriate, but I would run out of superlatives long before completing even 10. Ah, such an embarrassment of riches. Here’s my list…
5 – 2003 Ferrari Enzo
Let me be frank: The Enzo is kind of an ugly car. I know this will draw howls of protest from the tifosi, but I don’t care. It is utterly devoid of the graceful, flowing lines expected from Pininfarina. Perhaps this was intentional. For whatever sins were committed in the design studio, the car is mechanically sensational. Just 400 copies were produced and they rarely change hands for less than a cool million. The car’s numbers and performance stats are all well known, so let’s just say that any car that can turn a lap at the Nürburgring in 7:25 is a winner in my book. Even if it is hideous.
4 – 1963 Ferrari 250 Lusso
Where Ferrari got the Enzo styling all wrong, the Lusso is absolutely exquisite. Its 3.0-liter V-12 was spirited to the point it made the car the world’s fastest at the time though it did develop a reputation as troublesome. So what. This was a car not meant for racetrack use so much as it was for decadent sunny days in Provence or on the Côte d’Azur. Preferably with Sophia Loren riding shotgun. If you don’t get that, there is nothing I can do for you.
3 – 2011 Ferrari 599 GTO
I really wanted to include the 599XX, but as it isn’t a street car, it’s out. In its stead: the 599 GTO. This is the car that bested the Enzo in every regard: power, performance and styling (duh). With 661 horsepower, it’s the most powerful Ferrari to date, F12berlinetta notwithstanding. Taking just 3.35 seconds to attain 60 mph, it’s also the quickest. And a 1:24 lap at the Ferrari Fiorano test track makes it the fastest there, too. And then there’s the styling. It’s not the best-looking Ferrari ever produced, but it’s awfully close.
2 - 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO
The 250 GTO is perhaps the most desirable and collectible Ferrari ever constructed. The aluminum body, which is arguably the most lovely of any Ferrari, benefited from extensive wind tunnel development. Powered by the SOHC aluminum 3.0-liter V-12 from the Testa Rossa, the 2100 pound GTO had 300 horsepower and hustled to 60 mph in just over 6 seconds. Only 39 250 GTOs were constructed between 1962 and 1964 making the possibility of ownership little more than far-flung fantasy.
1 – 1989 Ferrari F40
In many ways, this was the last of the bare-bones, balls-to-the-wall Ferraris. While the late 80’s weren’t exactly banner years for most performance cars, old man Enzo’s swan song may be my favorite. Rather than rely on electronic gadgetry, focus instead was on maximizing the car’s power-to-weight ratio and capitalizing on aerodynamics. Power came from a DOHC, twin-turbo, 2.9-liter V-8 that produced 471 horsepower. Pininfarina developed the carbon fiber, Kevlar and aluminum body while Lexan replaced the window glass. Carpet, audio system and door handles were deemed unnecessary and allowed the F40 to tickle the scales at just 2,425 pounds making 60 mph possible in 3.7 seconds with 100 mph done in just 7.6. The F40 was the first street-legal production car to achieve a top speed greater than 200 mph.
Photo Credits: Benson Chiu, Darin Schnabel, Troy Wood and Ralph Lauren Car Collection