Narrowing down a list of Ferraris is a lot like choosing your favorite pet or child. There have been some truly spectacular cars from the new Ferrari LaFerrari to the classic 250 GT Coupe. There have also been some misses such as the Mondial which made our list of worst cars of all time. Choosing my favorite was easy, that hasn’t changed in thirty years. Ferrari snobs will probably dismiss my list for excluding many of the classics. Younger readers may be angry at the lack of more modern Ferraris on my list. But to me, if I had the money, these are the five Ferraris I would buy. These are the five finest Ferraris that have stood or will stand the test of time.
The newest entrant on the list, the Ferrari 458, debuted on showroom floors a decade ago. The 458 was such an advancement over the previous 430 that it helped propel Ferrari to their current age of greatness. While there isn’t a V12, the 458 has a gorgeous sounding 4.5 liter V8 that revs to 9,000 rpm. The car makes 562 hp and has a top speed of 202 mph. Unlike in the previous 430 and 360 before, Ferrari really nailed the flappy paddle gearbox utilizing a double-clutch system. The launch control system is also improved pushing the car to 60 mph in just 3.2 seconds. The 458 also looks much better than the 360 and 430. Both of those were just missing something that Ferrari captured with the 458. Jeremy Clarkson called it one of the all time greats and I have to agree.
Ferrari 288 GTO
Any time that Ferrari uses the GTO name is has the be special. GTO stands for Gran Turismo Omologata and meant that this model was made just to satisfy the 200 production models requirements for Group B racing. Unfortunately, these regulations changed so Ferrari built a low-production race car with nowhere to race it. That didn’t seem to matter in 1985 with the 288 GTO selling out before production even began. While slow by today’s standards, the GTO kicked out 400 hp out of a miniscule 2.8 liter V8. Ferrari took a 308 and improved everything including the looks. The car was more aggressive from every angle and included the incredible 5-point star Speedline wheels. Only 272 of these beauties were built with current prices hovering around $2.1 million.
Ferrari 250 GTO
One of, if not the, most iconic Ferraris of all time. Like the 288 above, the 250 GTO was built to go racing. FIA regulations at the time stated that companies needed to produce at least 100 models in order to go racing. Ferrari only built 39 and to hide the fact they didn’t make 100, chassis numbers would jump to make it look like they had. In the 250 GTO’s race debut at the 12 Hours of Sebring, F1 World Champion Phill Hill piloted it to a second overall finish. Not second in their class but second overall behind a purpose built race car. Ferrari would go on to win the GT Manufacturers championship for three years in a row. Because these cars were so rare and because of their racing pedigree, examples flirt with $50 million dollar price tags.
If you want a car that truly embodies the 1980’s there are only really two; the Lamborghini Countach or the Ferrari Testarossa. Nothing quite looked like a Testarossa at the time. Named after a famous Ferrari race car from the 1950’s, the “redhead” captured imaginations everywhere. Those giant side skirts led to side-mounted radiators and gave the car its iconic wedge look. Ferrari loved the look so much they tried to copy it in the 348 the 512 and, to some extent, the 355. The cars were equipped with naturally aspirated, flat 12 engines making 385 hp. Surprisingly, this and the 250 GTO are the only 12 cylinder cars on my list. Because more of these were produced they go for a more reasonable $150,000.
To me, the number one spot will always go to the incredible F40. This was the last car approved by Enzo himself and it truly was a race car for the street. This car actually used the same engine from the 288 GTO above but this version made 478 hp. In the F40 Ferrari stripped away everything that didn’t matter. It has windup windows, door pulls, no carpet, and plastic windows. The words used to describe the car are visceral and terrifying. I like these words. All the Ferraris that came afterwards are tame in comparison. Sure, it’s slower than many cars you can get for $50,000 now but none of them will be this cool. It also had two of my favorite things, NACA ducts and pop-up headlights.