The cheapest way into V12 Ferrari ownership

2y ago


The new 812 Superfast packs Ferrari's most powerful production V12 yet. It displaces 6.5 litres and pounds out a head-spinning 789bhp at 8500rpm – but that performance, and that noise, comes at a cost.

Yes, a literal cost: the new 812 will set you back in excess of £240,000. Not a sum of money, let's be honest, that many of us would be willing – or able – to stump up in due course.

If you've longed for a V12-engined Ferrari, however, and news of a new one merely makes your heart yearn even more, there is one sensible option. It won't be cheap, by any stretch of imagination, but it might not break your bank – well, until it goes wrong, that is. Enter the 456...

The Ferrari 456 was released in 1992. Its name derives from the fact that each of its cylinders displaces - you guessed it - 456cc.

Now, this svelte-looking V12 Ferrari might not have the cachet of the legendary F50, or the classic appeal of a 365 Daytona – but it won't set you back in excess of several hundred thousand pounds, either.

In fact, if you trawl through the classifieds or hit a few auctions, you'll see the odd 456 listed for around £45k. Yes, you could even get a six-speed manual GT version for that, in right-hand drive format. The mileage should be sensible, and it shouldn't prove too tricky to find a car that's been mechanically cared for.

Don't overlook left-hand drive cars, mind – particularly if you regularly plan to drive in mainland Europe – or GTA versions with the smooth four-speed automatic gearbox.

It's very of the era inside, but there's plenty of room – unlike, say, in the cabin of a 355.

Key things to look out for? Well, that majestic V12 is kept in check by a cambelt, which needs changing every 30,000 miles or three years. Servicing should be carried out every 6000-odd miles, too, and shouldn't prove nightmarishly expensive. You will have to remember that this is a Ferrari, however, and little is going to be cheap.

There are some others potential stings in the tail, however. The electric window regulators can wear, leading to sealing issues – so if there's any sign of damp inside, or excessive wind noise, tread carefully. If there's any sign of an issue, fixing the problem properly can end up costing a small fortune. Additionally, if you're looking at an automatic version, make sure it's had its transmission fluid changed at regular intervals.

Other common issues include jamming retractable lights and weeping dampers that require rebuilding. Take care of a 456 though, service it properly, and it should prove reliable. The trick, as is usually the case, is in buying a good example in the first place. Buy a nail, and you'll forever be fighting it. Still, at least the aluminium bodywork won't rust.

A naturally aspirated V12, a manual gearbox and rear-wheel drive. What more could you want?

If you take the plunge, however, you'll find a lot to enjoy. The 456 might not be an outright sports car, but that naturally aspirated V12 puts out 436bhp silky-smooth horsepower, as well as 406lb ft, granting the manual GT a 0-60mph time of just 5.1sec. The automatic isn't far behind, either, clocking in at a similarly decent 5.4sec. Flat out, expect either to exceed 180mph.

Then there's that spacious, comfortable interior and sublime, balanced handling. Plus, as an additional benefit, a used 456 is far more tempting than an older – and far more troublesome – 400i or 412.

Just remember to recall how good it sounds when the first major repair bill comes in....