I’ve always been a fan of front-engined Ferraris. Maybe because they make so few of them or maybe it’s because I like grand touring cars. In that category, the Ferrari 599 is one of the best. I still remember the first time I saw one in person. It was at the dealership I was getting my Porsche 911 serviced at. There sat a black Ferrari 599 looking absolutely menacing. It was one of the best looking Ferraris I had seen up to that point. I still find it striking and I find myself looking for used examples on the internet. It was the fastest car Ferrari released to that point, dominating their test track. Keep in mind, this car was released after the Enzo! Grand Tourer indeed!
The Ferrari 599 uses the same engine from the previous Ferrari Enzo, a 5,999 cc V12 masterpiece. If you were wondering, yes the 599 comes from the displacement figures above. The Tipo F140 C engine was one of the most powerful naturally aspirated engines at the time cranking out over 100 horsepower per liter for a total of 612. Although it was down nearly 40 horsepower to the mighty Enzo, the 599 was faster to 60 miles per hour (3.2 seconds) and faster around Fiorano (with the GTO). Hell, even the “base model” Ferrari 599, the GTB, lapped faster than the Ferrari F50 by half a second. Ferrari’s grand tourer was anything but a slouch. A lot of that success comes from the trick suspension.
The Ferrari 599 uses the same trick-magnetic suspension Chevrolet used on the Corvette, Cadillac CTS-V, and the Camaro. That’s right, a bunch of hillbillies from Kentucky built a better suspension that the most successful racing manufacturer of all-time. Now, Ferrari claims that they developed their own but they went to the same manufacturer GM used for their magnetic shocks. Either way, the Corvette was first, Ferrari was second. Still, I would much rather have the Ferrari 599. This was the first production Ferrari to use an aluminum chassis which helped keep the big grand tourer around 3,700 pounds. The 599 was also one of the first production cars to offer carbon ceramic brakes. Even the standard brakes were massive featuring nearly 14 inch discs up front and 13 in the rear.
Did I mentioned that you could get the Ferrari 599 with a proper six-speed manual? I’m a big fan of rowing my own gears and I imagine it’s really fun in a Ferrari. They have long had the best looking manual transmission shift gates in all of human history. Yes I know it’s slower but man it looks like a lot of fun in a Ferrari. How rare is a manual-equipped 599? They only made 30 of which 20 are in the United States. I must meet those people! Ferrari has long had one of the best flappy paddle gearboxes ever created and the 599 is no exception. It featured the debut of the vaunted F1 SuperFast transmission that would shift gears in a scant 100 milliseconds. A Ferrari F1 car does the deed in 50 milliseconds. That’s pretty impressive.
The 599 shares some of the design features from the 2+2 seater 612 Scaglietti. Mainly the large front hood with a mid-mounted engine underneath, two doors and rear-wheel drive. Unlike the 612, the 599 is only a two-seat roadster. It also features functional brake ducts behind the front wheels and in front of the rears. One of the coolest features are the little wings on the b-pillars. The 599 GTO added a meaner looking hood with many slats and some underbody aero changes and badging changes. All variants have one of the best side profiles of any car. It’s raked design looks incredible and the front brake ducts give the car great lines. Despite being 12 years old, the car has aged exceptionally well. The same can’t be said for all Ferrari models (looking at you Mondial).
Ferrari 599 Variations
The base model of the Ferrari 599 is the GTB Fiorano named after the Ferrari test track. It features 612 horsepower, hits 60 in 3.2 seconds, and has a top speed of 205 miles per hour. The 599 HGTE or Handling Gran Turismo Evoluzione featured numerous suspension upgrades including retuned magnetic suspension. It also further improve the transmission, made the exhaust louder, and added more carbon fiber bits. This cut about 30 pounds out of the weight of the car while increasing handling. The best and most iconic variation is the Ferrari 599 GTO. Only the third time Ferrari has used the GTO moniker and it more than lived up to the hype. Unlike previous GTO’s, the 599 GTO wasn’t built for a racing series but was a detuned race car.
Based off of the insane 599XX, the 599 GTO upped power to 661 horsepower and top speed to 208. Ferrari cut 18 pounds out of the transmission and another 7 out of the brakes. Overall, they were able to cut 220 pounds from the cars standard weight. As mentioned above, the car also had several visual cues that set it apart including that awesome hood. They only made 599 of the 599 GTOs with only 125 coming to the states. Speaking of the car in which the 599 GTO is based, the 599XX is the most insane version. The track only 599 makes over 700 horsepower with a 9,000 rpm redline. Shift speed was increased to a near F1-level 60 milliseconds. A sprint to 60 now happened in under 3 seconds and a 599XX lapped the Nurburgring in under 7 minutes.