Italian Supercars of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s were too wide and too hard to control. Lamborghini and Ferrari supercars were considered heavily impractical due to these issues.
European streets were narrower and driving a wide Ferrari or a Lamborghini was a headache not only for the driver but also for the other drivers as they had to reverse more often to allow the large car to pass. The huge turning radius and poor rear visibility meant the cars were harder to park.
These mid-engine supercars were monstrous in nature and the recipe behind their development didn’t change from the 1970s.
However, with time the front-engine Ferrari supercars became famous and successful as the mid-engine Ferrari supercars.
Ferrari 550 was a sort of representation of the upcoming front-engine Ferrari GT cars. Ferrari 550 Maranello was eventually known among the enthusiasts as one of the biggest turning points of Ferrari history.
Ferrari 550 is equipped with a turbine-like V12 powerplant, delivering endless punch and telepathic sixth gear response. Cylinder blocks and cylinder heads were made out of aluminum alloy. Dual overhead cam per bank, four valves per cylinder. The fuel and ignition system consisted of electronic engine management and multi-point fuel injection. Bore and stroke were 88×75 mm.
The 5.5-liter V12 was mounted in the front longitudinally and was mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. All the power was transferred to the rear wheels.
This powertrain delivers 485 horsepower at 7000rpm and 415 lb-ft of torque at 5000rpm.
Ferrari 550 engine delivers elastic, velvet smooth power built up and the way the 5.5-liter V12 engine hauling hard from low revs is highly intoxicating. Other than the advantage provided by this epic masterpiece of an engine, what makes the Ferrari 550 such a magnificent road-going machine suitable for long-distance traveling. The large fuel tank with its 115-liter capacity means that you could travel a long way without worrying about the fuel stops.
The Daytona seats offered plenty of comforts to drive straightly for hours without feeling fatigued or discomfort.
The stereo system was also heavily praised at the time due to its clearer sound quality.
Ferrari 550 also has big luggage space and it was more than acceptable, but sticking to the tradition, the boot aperture was clearly designed around the squashy bag. This is a little bit restrictive but the rear luggage shelf can be used to store valuable stuff.
Interior space is more than enough for a supercar of its time, but the lack of compartments to store user goods such as mobile phones and mirror-shades shows that the Ferrari 550 has aged significantly and heavily outdated in terms of interior designing. Analog instruments instead of digital gauges, the lack of satellite navigation, and advanced electronic components further give it a modern classic feel.
The front and rear suspension systems featured double wishbones, coil springs, adjustable dampers, anti-roll bar.
Brakes were vented and cross-drilled discs, 330mm in the front and 310mm in the rear. ABS was also added as standard.
The curb weight was 1716kg, which meant that the power to weight ratio was just 287 horsepower per ton.
0-60mph was achieved in 4.4 seconds and the top speed was 199mph.
When the Ferrari 550 was unveiled in 1997, it came with a price tag of 143,685 euros.
Ferrari 599GTB Fiorano
Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano could also be fitted with optional Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes and 20-inch “Challenge” alloy wheels in the rear and front. The standard car features 20-inch wheels in the rear and 19-inch ones in the front.
F1-derived transmission was also available as an option and it is said that most of the Ferrari 550 customers opted for this transmission, meaning that only a handful chose the traditional H pattern manual transmission. Though the F1 gearbox was very popular among the enthusiasts, it was still a 10,000 Euro option.
Ferrari 599 GTB boasts a spacious interior and the boot is designed with a more unrestricted boot to offer better usability.
When constructing the Ferrari 599 GTB, carbon fiber was used extensively while machined aluminum was also used to improve the quality feel and to pay homage to the interior of the classic Ferrari GT cars.
Ferrari enthusiasts also highly praised the attention to detail and the high-quality feel. The instruments were similar to the ones in the Ferrari Enzo, which combined a big rev counter with an LCD panel.
This LCD panel was now working in conjunction with the manettino to display clearly which dynamic setting that the user has set.
When the CST-off and Racing modes selected in manettino, the driver gets the ability to perform lap timing, which could be triggered by pressing a button on the back of the steering wheel.
Ferrari 599 GTB also features Recaro seats with multi adjustability along with extra adjustable support around the driver’s hips and ribs largely due to the pneumatic bladders that squeeze the driver tight for high-speed road or circuit racing. This seating facility was less disconcerting than the aggressive active seats in BMW M5, BMW M6, and certain AMG models.
Once the big red Engine Start button on the steering wheel is pressed, the 6.0-liter V12 comes to life with a roar. Due to the addition of bypass valves, the sound of the engine is a little bit slower, but with slight pressure on the throttle, it comes to life with such a feral aural ferocity. This engine is derived from the V12 engine from Ferrari Enzo.
Maximum power output is measured at 611 horsepower at 7600rpm and maximum torque was 448 lb-ft at 5600rpm.
Following the traditional engine building method, the cylinder heads and the cylinder block is made out of an aluminum alloy. Dual overhead cam per bank, four valves per cylinder. Bore x stroke is 92×75.2mm.
The engine is mated with an electronic engine management system, multi-point fuel injection to increase efficiency and to maximize power delivery.
The official curb weight of the car was measured at 1688kg. So, the power to weight ratio is 367 horsepower per ton.
From the start-up, the transmission is set to automatic mode as default. But the user can set it to manual mode with just a press of few buttons. F1 gearboxes are normally hopeless when it comes to self-shifting. F1 Superfast paddle-shift gearbox equipped in Ferrari 599 GTB was impressive in many ways as it neither short-shifted excessively nor stubbornly hanging on to a low gear.
This F1 Superfast paddle-shift gearbox also allowed cleaner starts, and reverse with the touch of a button instead of relying on a fiddly T bar. Low-speed maneuvering was easier than it was ever before.
The F1 SuperFast paddle-shift transmission punches the upshifts with such accuracy and urgency that it feels like a fully sequential racing car with no interruptions in acceleration. Downshifts are equally telepathic and a three-gear downshifting, from fifth to second takes only a fraction of a second.
Both front and rear suspension systems featured double wishbones, coil springs, and SCM adaptive dampers.
Due to the magnetorheological dampers, the reaction time was minimal, and uniquely clipped action to adjust the suspension. Shunning gas or oil-filled dampers with electronically controlled valves, the new Delphi dampers were filled with a special fluid that alters in viscosity when subjected to an electronically controlled magnetic field. This results in a damper that reacts four times faster than the previous damper systems. This new system could also be infinitely adjusted, and despite all the advantages, contained fewer moving parts, resulting in relatively lower maintenance costs.
The new suspension setup was just the start of the good stuff. F1-derived traction control setup developed by Ferrari was called the F1-Trac. This was their latest take on stability control and traction control. This system uses ideas and software developed for the Scuderia Ferrari’s Formula One cars.
Brakes were vented and cross-drilled disc ones, 353mm in the front and 328mm in the rear along with ABS and EBD.
Ferrari 599 GTB got a dynamic model stored in the control systems, and using that model, the F1-Trac is acting as a predictive system that estimates the optimal grip by continually monitoring the speed of both front and rear wheels. Then it compares the real-time data feedback with the data stored in the dynamic model, F1-Trac is able to modulate the power delivery for optimal acceleration, which results in a 20% increase in longitudinal acceleration out of a corner. According to Ferrari, this system results in a 1.5-second reduction in lap time at their Fiorano test track compared to a car relying on conventional ASR.
Manettino is now located on the steering wheel. Manettino was first introduced to the Ferrari F430, and this little switch allows the user to unlock the Ferrari 599 GTB’s true potential as well as its many personalities. There are five stages, and each is accompanied by specific damper settings, throttle mapping, and the F1-Trac sensitivity tailored specifically to suit the conditions.
The first two settings are Ice and Low Grip, turning on the traction control and stability control systems to make it easier to drive. The third setting is Sport, which is suitable for asphalt on a warm day, where the traction isn’t an issue through fast and smooth corners or tight hairpins.
The steering is sensitive and telepathic. It is quick to react and the steering sensors are in contact with the throttle and engine management system, and the V12 engines in full power, delivering as much torque as the steering angle allows. Even when the race mode is on, but because the threshold is now has been lifted, the driver could let the car’s rear wheels spin a little and its tail slide under more power.
The speed-sensitive steering is perfectly weighted and geared for quick corrections and the engine is also very responsive, so even from low revs, the driver has plenty of power and control.
However, when driving on a twisty road it can be an absolute riot as the car can quickly change directions, so the driver has to correct the steering just enough as adjusting too much could result in spinning the car.
Manettino also offers the CST-off mode. This mode shuts down the F1 stability control and F1-Trac traction control system, allowing the driver to take full control of the car. When this mode is on, the driver’s ability is what keeps the car on the road without crashing.
According to the Ferrari, Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano could reach 0-60mph in 3.7 seconds and the maximum speed was recorded at 205mph.
When it was unveiled in 2006, the Ferrari 599 GTB carried a price tag of 171,825 Euro.