Recently there have been a number of front engine Ferrari V12 Grand Tourers that have appeared on different online auction sites at very tempting prices. I have to confess that every time one of these pops up, the man math and garage space games start. The purpose of this article is actually to remind myself why I should not go there again despite a Ferrari V12 being one of man’s greatest creations. We have owned four front engine Ferrari V12s and none has lasted more than 2 years in the garage. When I compare this to the average garage life of the various mid-engine V8s we have owned, it is less than half. The question therefore is why?
The four front engine Ferrari V12 we have owned are a 365 GTB/4 Daytona, 550 Maranello, 575 Maranello (manual with Fiorano Handling Pack), and a 599 GTB HGTE. The first and last of these were the 2-year cars whereas the 550 lasted about 8 months in the garage, and the 575 made it just over a year. In all four cases, the V12s were traded in for a mid-engine car. The 365 GTB/4 Daytona left when the Jaguar XJR-15 arrived. The 550 Maranello was traded in against the Ferrari F40 (Collecting the F40) while the 575 left for the Mosler MT900S (Mosler MT900S) and landed next in the hands of the #3 driver on car #188 at Garage 59. Last but not least, the 599 GTB HGTE was traded in for the McLaren 720S (599 GTB Like but not Love). With the exception of the McLaren 720S, which does both civilized and tasered cat equally well, the other three are far less civilized hard core carbon clad supercars. There might just be a trend here…….
One of our house rules is that cars that don’t get used need to depart to new homes. Three of the four V12s fell afoul of this rule and it led directly to their departures. The outlier, the Ferrari 575, actually was exactly the opposite. It was my daily driver for a year and that’s what led to its departure. As a Grand Tourer on road trips, the 575 was wonderful. The 575 had huge amounts of power, was comfortable, had lots of luggage space, and with the gated 6 speed gearbox was engaging and a joy to drive. We still have fond memories of driving the 575 across Wales and down to Reims. As a daily driver however, it didn’t like crawling in traffic on the M25 and the Fiorano Handling Pack made it teeth rattling stiff on Surrey’s pockmarked roads. As it was acquired for daily duty and didn’t thrive in the role, the 575 was moved on.
Of the other three Ferrari V12s, almost all their use was on road trips. The 550 Maranello did two epic trips in the short time it lived under our garage roof. The first was a wonderful summer jaunt from Brussels to Lisbon and the second took us from Madrid to Kassel. Had the opportunity to acquire the F40 not come along, the 550 likely would have kept its garage spot a bit longer. The 365 GTB/4 Daytona saw quite a bit of Great Britain during our time together and the 599 GTB HGTE got called to duty for multiple road trips across New York and the New England states. The catch in all these cases though was when they weren’t being used on road trips, they got very little use. For a weekend drive, each lost out to a mid-engine V8 that just happened to be a bit more engaging to drive. Hence this lack of regular use led to their departures. In the case of the Daytona, the fact that it was a good, but not great one also didn’t help, especially given one of my close friends has one of the best Daytona around. Yes, I suffered from Daytona envy. When I bought the Daytona, it was in pretty rough condition. A year later we had moved it from rough to pretty good and quite presentable. It was never going to be great though without an additional major investment of both time and money. Lesson learned, always buy someone else’s restoration project.
Looking back, the fact than none of the front engine Ferrari V12s were long termers was much more to do with my tastes than any shortcomings on their behalf. All four V12s were brilliant at what they were designed to do, crossing continents at high speed and in comfort. All had magnificent engines and sounded superb. The crux however is the demand for these attributes only happened a few times a year. In the case of the last our V12s, given the choice of a 430 Scuderia or a 599 GTB HGTE for a weekend drive, I would be grabbing the keys to the former 9 out of 10 times. Add in the fact that today we have what I consider to be the best road trip car we have ever owned, the McLaren 675 LT Spider, and the man math games on the next 550 or 575 Maranello to pop up on Bring a Trailer or Collecting Cars needs to stop. As much as I like the concept, I do know that if I bought another it would be consigned to the same fate of limited usage followed by garage expulsion 12-24 months later.
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