Buyer’s guide: Ferrari 550 Maranello

| 28 May 2024
Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Ferrari 550 Maranello

Why you’d want a Ferrari 550 Maranello

After two decades with a mid-engined supercar as its top high-performance offering, Ferrari shocked the pundits with the front-engined 550.

Placing the V12 in the nose makes it easier to achieve ideal aerodynamics while packaging a practical, usable super-GT: the 550Mʼs Cd is just 0.33.

Pininfarinaʼs styling was inspired by the 456GT, with the addition of a shark-like nose, 250GTO-style twin air slots, and 275GTB- and Daytona-aping tail-lights.

Electronically adjustable suspension was controlled by an ECU, monitoring steering angle, road speed, braking and acceleration to optimise settings within switchable modes.

Ferrari claimed that, with ECUs controlling the carʼs suspension and traction, the handling advantages of a mid-engined layout could be negated – and proved it by lapping the Fiorano test track 3.5 secs quicker in the 550M than the F512M could manage.

Near 50:50 weight distribution was achieved by mounting the V12 well back and driving through a rear-mounted transaxle, and the layout offers much better accessibility for servicing and repairs.

Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Ferrari 550 Maranello

The aluminium body was welded to the steel chassis using Feran, an aluminium-steel sandwich material that so far shows excellent durability; composite mouldings form the nose and tail sections.

The interior was trimmed in leather, with the option of sports seats and other features from the Carrozzeria Scaglietti collection.

Twin airbags, air-con and electric seats, windows and mirrors were all standard.

In late 1998 Ferrari boosted the 550ʼs appeal by setting three World Speed Records in Ohio, following it up with a limited-edition WSR model, of which just 33 were built (although all of its extra features bar a numbered console plaque could be optioned on a standard 550).

The 550 Barchetta was introduced in late 2000. The uncompromising roadsterʼs lower windscreen was designed to provide adequate weather protection as long as you kept moving: it was supplied with a pair of helmets and the soft-top was only for use when parked, being declared unsuitable for use above 70mph. Just 460 were made and it is now highly collectible.

In 2004 Evo magazine voted the 550 as the Greatest Driverʼs Car of the past decade, saying: ʻThereʼs never been a supercar thatʼs so exploitable and so rounded in its abilities.ʼ

Images: James Mann

Ferrari 550 Maranello: what to look for

Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Ferrari 550 Maranello

Trouble spots

Please see above for what to check for before you look at any Ferrari 550 Maranello cars for sale.

Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Ferrari 550 Maranello


The superb four-cam, 48v V12 was well sorted by the time Ferrari built the 550M and delivers its 479bhp with great flexibility, aided by Bosch Motronic fuel injection and engine management.

It is smooth from low revs and really takes off once above 4000rpm.

The only real criticism from road testers was its significant thirst for fuel.

Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Ferrari 550 Maranello


Check the clutch for a high biting point, or a noisy release bearing: either can signify imminent replacement.

Clutches should last 40-50,000 miles, unless abused.

Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Ferrari 550 Maranello


Tactile plastics that go sticky are common on doorhandles, switches and elsewhere.

Solutions are available, so view this as a negotiating point only when looking at examples of the Ferrari 550 Maranello for sale.

Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Ferrari 550 Maranello


Original Speedline alloys (‘SL’ on back) were recalled for cracking and replaced with BBSs: check all are BBS.

A flaking finish is common, so check the condition.

Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Ferrari 550 Maranello


Classiche certification is a real plus: it shows the car has been well cared for and brought up to outstanding fettle throughout, but is rarely seen on Ferrari 550 Maranellos.

Ferrari 550 Maranello: before you buy

Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Ferrari 550 Maranello

A car thatʼs been used regularly is likely to be less troublesome to maintain, at least at first, than one that has been stored for long periods.

The dry-sump engine is regarded as quite a tough unit, but you should definitely be looking for a comprehensive service history.

Budget £2500-3000 a year for servicing, but keep up to £10,000 aside for unexpected bills.

Check for leaks everywhere: power-steering racks leak at the front, coolant leaks in the vee of the engine under the inlet manifold (due to failing hoses), oil leaks from the top and rear of the engine, fuel tanks leak (especially 1997-ʼ98 cars) and the transmission oil cooler leaks.

Vibration from the engine when driving is probably a delaminating crank pulley.

Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Ferrari 550 Maranello

Check for signs of clutch wear – it should last 40-50,000-plus miles if not abused.

The gearchange shouldnʼt be obstructive like some Ferraris when cold, but it can be stiff going into second until it has warmed up.

Many cars now have aftermarket exhaust systems, but beware cat-deletes, which wonʼt pass a UK MoT.

Expect 10-15,000 miles from a set of tyres – less if you drive hard – and be prepared to have to hunt for the correct Pirelli P Zero 225/40 and 295/35 ZR18s to replace them.

Make sure the red controller fob comes with the car as well as the two black alarm fobs: a missing red fob makes coding a new alarm expensive.

In contrast, alarm and airbag lights not going out may simply be down to internal battery failure, and relatively cheap to sort.

Ferrari 550 Maranello price guide


  • 550 Maranello: £60,000/80,000/110,000*
  • 550M WSR: £n/a/100,000/125,000*
  • 550 Barchetta: £n/a/200,000/300,000*

USA/European prices c20% higher than UK

*Prices correct at date of original publication

Ferrari 550 Maranello history

1996 550 Maranello launched

1998 World Speed Records set in Ohio: 100 miles at 190.2mph, 100km at 188.9mph, one hour at 184mph

1999 33 550 WSRs built: leather-trimmed rollcage, suede wheel, carbonfibre buckets, race harnesses, WSR plaque on console

2000 Pininfarina Ferrari Rossa concept shown at Turin, based on 550M. Barchetta Pininfarina roadster added: 448 built (48 UK RHD) plus 12 prototypes

2001 Production ends, replaced by 575M

2003 Prodrive 550 GTS wins GTS class at Le Mans; 2nd in American Le Mans Series

The owner’s view

Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Ferrari 550 Maranello

Ferrari owner and enthusiast Nigel Kelly says: “Harry Metcalfe’s write-up in Evo sold me on the 550.

“When I was getting my 328 serviced at Lovett’s 11 years ago, there was this car – yellow in a sea of red – and I had to have it!

“My everyday car now is a California T [also yellow], but I love the 550. It’s a cliché but it’s true: the more you drive it, the better it gets.

“We drove it all the way down to Italy to visit the Ferrari factory, where we were welcomed with open arms.

“It’s not a screaming V12 Ferrari – it’s quiet, comfortable and grown-up – but for a V12 to spin to 8000rpm is quite something.

“The car came with 20,000 miles and a thick file of bills; I’ve taken that up to 34k and spent £9k getting it Classiche’d: they replaced every belt, pulley, pipe, fuel pumps and more.

“I had an unusual problem with the engine’s top end and one head had to come off, but apart from that it has been reliable.”

Also consider

Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Ferrari 550 Maranello
Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Ferrari 550 Maranello

The Aston Martin Vanquish (left) and Lamborghini Diablo are alternative buys

Aston Martin Vanquish

Ian Callum-designed super-GT with a 460bhp 5.9-litre V12 giving 0-60mph in 4.5 secs and 190mph, with a six-speed automated manual transmission. Good value now.

Sold 2001-’05 • No. built 1492 • Price now £40-80,000*

Lamborghini Diablo

Marcello Gandini and Tom Gale combined to pen the Diablo, whose 485bhp V12 gave 0-60mph in 4.5 secs and 202mph, rising to 595bhp and 3.3 secs to 60mph. Superb, but hard to live with.

Sold 1990-’01 • No. built 2903 • Price now £100-250,000*

*Prices correct at date of original publication

Ferrari 550 Maranello: the Classic & Sports Car verdict

Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Ferrari 550 Maranello

The 550 is immensely capable and exhilarating to drive without ever being exhausting, making it the thinking person’s Ferrari classic car.

Owning one will never be cheap, but should prove hugely enjoyable.

A comprehensive, especially recent, service history is really important – expect big bills if it’s not available.

Classiche certification is rare and raises prices, but hugely reassuring.

Expert inspection is strongly advised: a specialist will probably know the car already.



  • The Ferrari 550 Maranello is a consummate high-performance grand tourer that’s much more usable and affordable to run than earlier supercars from the marque
  • There is good spares availability and excellent specialist back-up



  • It’s still a Ferrari, so it needs to be specialist maintained
  • The costs can rack up, especially if it’s been neglected in the past

Ferrari 550 Maranello specifications

  • Sold/number built 1996-2002/3083 (including 457 RHD)
  • Construction aluminium body welded to tubular steel spaceframe chassis
  • Engine all-alloy, dohc-per-bank, 48v 5474cc V12, with Bosch Motronic M5.2 fuel injection and management
  • Max power 479bhp @ 7000rpm
  • Max torque 419lb ft @ 5000rpm
  • Transmission six-speed manual transaxle, RWD with switchable anti-slip control
  • Suspension double wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar f/r
  • Steering Servotronic speed-sensitive power-assisted rack and pinion
  • Brakes 13in (330mm) front, 12¼in (310mm) rear drilled and vented discs, four-piston calipers
  • Length 14ft 11in (4550mm)
  • Width 6ft 4¼in (1935mm)
  • Height 4ft 1½-2⅓in (1277-1258mm)
  • Wheelbase 8ft 2½in (2500mm)
  • Weight 3725lb (1693kg)
  • Mpg 11-17
  • 0-60mph 4.2 secs
  • Top speed 186-199mph
  • Price new £149,701/172,530 (550M/Barchetta, 2001)


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