An elegant Prancing Horse: the Ferrari 456
Despite the elegant body, the 456 was a beast underneath
After killing off the 412i in 1989, Ferrari was left with no front-engined car in their lineup. The company’s name wasn’t at stake, but the fact that they were missing a significant piece in their puzzle meant that they were behind the competition. At the same, their vintage models began breaking auction records, so the only logical thing to do was present a new model.
The 456 GT was a 2+2 coupe, which was a beauty on the outside and a beast on the inside. It was rather big car, but with a new 5.5-litre V12 engine, it could easily reach 302 km/h. The output was 442 HP, which was enough for 0-100 km/h time of 5.2 seconds. With this model, Ferrari set new standards for their GT range, and the 456 was made with great quality. The similar engine was used later in the 550, 575M and the 612 Scaglietti.
Interesting fact: the first 456 imported to UK was owned by none other than Rowan Atkinson.
Rowan Atkinson's former 456 GT. Credit: Petrolicious
Another interesting fact is that few custom units were commission by the Sultan of Brunei. Some of them were converted to convertibles, and some to shooting brakes (aka 456 Venice). Sadly, only one 456 Venice was spotted on the streets few times, meaning that others are probably rotting in the Sultan’s garage.
In 1998, Ferrari gave us a redesigned version called 456M, which was even better. Apart from manual transmission, Ferrari offered both versions with automatics too (these were named GTA). In total, 3.289 units were made (1.548 units of the 456 GT, 403 units of the 456 GTA, 688 units of the 456M GT, and 650 units of the 456M GTA).
The 456 is a nice collector’s item, and this refers to all versions. The prices for the 456 models are not too high, but they are still high compared to other Ferraris of that time. I guess this is because there are very few of them painted in red. Today, the 456 is priced between $37.000-$90.000, which is a rather decent price for a V12 Ferrari.