After the days’ of 365GTB/4, Ferrari took a gap of nearly 20 years to introduce a successor in the FR Grand Tourer series. Result of such a long wait had to be a sweet one like 550 Maranello. First two digits in 550 denoted its 5.5L engine while the Maranello was the headquarter town for Ferrari. Product positioning of 550 was quite right and clever too. It was launched with a top speed of 199 miles per hour, just a mile off from 200mph super class. For a road-legal car, top speed beyond 150 mph doesn’t make much sense as people hardly get the chance to redline the speedo. For a road car, more important is the overall performance and comfort. Ferrari 550 Maranello proved it mettle in every single category. This 2-door 2-passanger, GT came out in 1996 and 3083 units left factory till 2001. Base price was quite hefty at $202,000. In 2000, a version of 550 Maranello, the Barchetta (convertible roadster) featuring a soft top was showcased in Paris Motor Show.
Ferrari tried and succeeded making 550 Maranello a perfect road car with fine combination of performance and comfort. It was not a cut throat speedster and not at all a slob plush on wheels. Cabin design was practical and lavish. Central console panel was linked with contoured fascia. All controls were in easy reach from the steering including the ball-head gear shift lever. Sporty bucket seats were adjustable in 16 different ways for ensuring maximum comfort to driver and passenger. Airbags were used as a standard safety measure. Along with that, 550 sported thermostatic in-cabin climate control. Behind the front row, there was a leather strapped shelf for storage.
Among the noteworthy luxury features, it had a 6-CD changer Sony in-car music system offering an entertaining ride. For anti-theft mechanism, it had engine immobilizer, activated over radio frequency. For braking, it sported vented and drilled disc brakes with anti-skid mechanism. Steering was rack-pinion type with variable power assist. Braking distance was 118 ft. For comfortable ride at break-neck speed, it sported double wish bone with coil spring and anti-roll bar.
The car was quite good looking with stretched rear boot and streamlined side body. Inspiration was derived clearly from Daytona or 365 GTB. Despite long and stretched, rear trunk was not that spacious as it was not very deep. Light weight aluminum body was bolted on to tubular steel structure, which made the car light and sturdy. It sported 18” wheels. Dimension-wise, 550 was 4550 mm long with wheelbase of 2500 mm and curb weight of 3726 lb.