Even outside of the automotive industry, few companies can brag about having the cachet of Ferrari. The storied Italian marque is in the same league as Rolex and Christian Dior. Sure, it’s seen its fair share of ups and downs since it was founded in 1947, but there’s not a single car wearing the Prancing Horse emblem that isn’t drool-worthy.
Looking back at Ferrari’s past models is like walking through the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We’ve chosen 15 production cars and five concepts that stand out with their design, performance, tech, or all three.
Ferrari 125 S
Built in 1947, the 125 S was the very first car to wear the Ferrari name. Under its long hood lived a 1.5-liter V12 engine that sent 118 horsepower to the rear wheels via a five-speed manual transmission, jaw-dropping statistics at the time. While it dropped out of its first race, it helped Ferrari secure its first victory during the 1947 edition of the Grand Prix of Rome.
Ferrari built only two examples of the 125 S before replacing it with the 159 S, which used a larger 1.9-liter engine tuned to produce 125 hp. The visual differences between the two models were minor, and we’re thankful for that — we just can’t stop staring.
Ferrari 250 GTO
The 250 GTO is the quintessential classic Ferrari, the Mona Lisa of the automotive world. A total of 39 examples were built from 1962 to 1964, and they collectively hold one of the most impressive racing pedigrees of all time. The voluptuous lines and timeless proportions contribute to the car’s attractiveness.
250 GTOs rarely come up for sale, and the few that do trade hands for anywhere between $40 and $60 million – yes, you read that right. Owning one means being part of a very exclusive club. The list of past and current owners includes Sir Stirling Moss, Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason, and Ralph Lauren.
Ferrari 500 Superfast
Launched in 1964, the 500 Superfast showed the world a Ferrari could be sporty and luxurious in equal parts. The name Superfast alluded to a front-mounted 5.0-liter V12 engine rated at 400 hp. Inside, the four passengers enjoyed the 12-cylinder’s sonorous soundtrack surrounded by soft leather upholstery and real wood trim.
Production of the original 500 Superfast totaled 25 units. Early cars came with a four-speed manual transmission. In 1966, Ferrari built 12 additional examples with a five-speed manual transmission backing up the V12.
Ferrari’s archives department explains the 500 Superfast was the company’s very last low-volume coupe. By the late 1960s, it became increasingly difficult for officials to justify making huge investments to build low-volume cars like the Superfast. Ferrari instead focused on series production, though we wouldn’t call any of its models “mass-produced.”
Ferrari Dino 206 GT
The Dino 206 GT was Ferrari’s first serious attempt at building a smaller, entry-level car. The model was aimed directly at the Porsche 911, but company founder Enzo Ferrari didn’t like the idea of putting his name on a car not powered by a V12. The name Dino was chosen to honor his son, Alfredo, who died in 1956.
The 206 moniker says it all – power was provided by a 2.0-liter V6 engine. Much lighter than a 12, the six-cylinder was mounted right behind the seats, and the 206 GT was much more nimble to drive than other Ferraris from its era. The 246 GT that came two years later was even better because it received a more powerful variant of the V6.
For a long time, the 206 GT wasn’t considered a “real” Ferrari due to its inferior cylinder count, and values were on the low side – at least for a Ferrari. Collectors have warmed up to the mid-engined, Dino-badged machine though, and the 206 GT is highly sought-after today.
Ferrari 365 GTB/4 “Daytona”
The late 1960s were rough years for Ferrari. The brand’s racing team had embarrassingly lost the 24 Hours of Le Mans to Ford several times in a row, and a disruptive customer-turned-rival named Ferruccio Lamborghini was making waves in Italy and abroad with a sexy mid-engined supercar called the Miura.
Ferrari fired back with the Pininfarina-designed 365 GTB/4, which was later nicknamed Daytona to honor the company’s 1-2-3 victory at the 24 Hours of Daytona. It broke ties with other members of the Ferrari lineup by adopting a more angular design that accurately previewed the styling trends of the 1970s. It was a little controversial at first, but it ultimately caught on and more than 1,400 examples were made from 1968 to 1973.
Ferrari enlisted Pininfarina to draw a successor to the 246 GT, its entry-level model. The Dino’s sumptuous lines were furrowed into a boxier design perfectly in tune with the prevalent trends in the 1970s. Vents scalloped into the body signaled the presence of a powerful V8 engine right behind the passenger compartment. The 308 GTB made its debut in 1975 with a fiberglass body.
During the 1980s, Ferrari expanded the 308 lineup with several variants of the coupe and convertible models. Fuel injection arrived in 1980, a V8 with four valves per cylinder made its debut in 1982, and Ferrari gave its entry-level model a new 3.2-liter engine in 1985. The extra displacement warranted an updated design and a new name — 328 GTB.
The Testarossa made its public debut at the 1984 Paris Auto Show. Its name literally means “redhead” in Italian, but it wasn’t developed as an homage to the Irish. Instead, the nameplate was a reference to the engine’s red cylinder heads, and a tribute to the original Testa Rossa race car introduced in 1957.
A 5.0-liter flat-12 engine sitting inches away from the passenger compartment made 390 ponies, but unlike its predecessor, the Testarossa wasn’t developed to hit the track. It was a touring car first and foremost, so its cabin put equal emphasis on sport and luxury. Leather upholstery and air conditioning made it the ideal companion for high-speed road trips, provided the occupants knew how to travel light.
The Pininfarina-designed lines gave it a sleek, modern look. The Testarossa was on every kid’s bedroom wall in the late 1980s, right next to a picture of the Lamborghini Diablo with its wild scissor doors pointing toward the sky.
Ferrari 288 GTO
The 288 was the first Ferrari to wear the GTO nameplate since the iconic 250 GTO. At first glance, it looked like a 308 fitted with a more muscular body kit, but this is one of those instances when you definitely shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.
The 288 GTO was developed to participate in Group B rally events. It was built around a tubular chassis, and its body was crafted out of composite materials like Kevlar and fiberglass. Power came from a 2.8-liter V8 engine that used a pair of large turbochargers to make 400 hp, which was enough to send the GTO to a top speed of 200 mph.
Ferrari initially announced it would build just 200 examples of the GTO, which was the bare minimum required to enter the car in Group B events. However, the first batch sold out so quickly that another 72 examples were assembled.
Porsche monopolized the attention of the automotive industry in 1986 when it introduced the 959. Not to be outdone by its German rival, Ferrari waited until the following year to unveil the F40, which was billed as a race car for the road.
The F40 was developed to celebrate the brand’s 40th anniversary. It made extensive use of composite materials, which was highly impressive at the time, and it offered a stripped-down interior that made occupants feel like they were traveling aboard a Le Mans prototype. The sharp, low-slung look has earned the F40 the distinction of being one of Ferrari’s most recognizable designs.
Engineers crafted a 3.0-liter evolution of the 288 GTO’s V8. The result was 478 hp instead of 390 hp, which was more than enough in a car that tipped the scale at just 2,425 pounds. Not one to mince words, Enzo Ferrari famously declared the F40 was “so fast it’ll make you shit your pants.”
Mercedes-AMG brags about bringing Formula 1 technology to the street with the upcoming Project One. It looks berserk, don’t get us wrong, but it’s not exactly a pioneer in the field. Ferrari did just that nearly 25 years ago. Its 4.7-liter V12 was an evolution of the 3.5-liter 12-cylinder that powered the Prancing Horse’s 1990 Formula 1 car.
As its name implies, the F50 was a follow-up to the F40. There were a few visual similarities between the two models, notably when they were viewed from the side, but the F50 looked markedly more contemporary than its predecessor. It perfectly illustrated Ferrari’s then-current design language. The company manufactured 349 examples of the F50 largely by hand in its Maranello, Italy, factory.
Ferrari Challenge Stradale
The Challenge Stradale offered enthusiasts genuine race car-like performance and features in an accessible, street-legal package. Starting with the 360 Modena, Ferrari engineers removed all equipment deemed superfluous in order to shed weight, lowered and stiffened the suspension, and fitted massive alloy wheels. Inside, the two passengers were treated to bucket seats with racing harnesses and Plexiglas windows.
Many automakers brag about packing race tech in a production car; Ferrari actually did it. The 360 Challenge Stradale used a 3.6-liter, 425-hp V8 bolted to a five-speed automatic gearbox. Visually, it was instantly recognizable thanks to a green, white, and red band embedded in the middle of a white stripe that ran down the center of the car.
You know a car is going to be a big deal when it’s named after the company’s founder. It’s the kind of homage a brand can only pull off once if it wants to retain its credibility. Luckily, the limited-edition Ferrari Enzo lived up to the hype.
In the early 2000s, Ferrari’s dominance of the hypercar market was under attack by Porsche, Lamborghini, and Mercedes-Benz. The Enzo had to beat the competition and make a bigger splash than the F50. The first of 399 examples broke cover at the 2002 edition of the Paris Auto Show.
Highly aerodynamic, the Enzo was characterized by a more angular look than other members of the Ferrari lineup. In hindsight, it previewed the company’s next design language. Power came from a fast-revving, 660-hp V12 engine mated to a six-speed sequential gearbox that trickled down from the world of Formula 1. The massive shift paddles mounted behind the steering wheel made even a mundane run to the store feel like a lap around the Monaco Grand Prix circuit.
The LaFerrari was the latest in a long line of high-tech, face-meltingly fast hypercars built by Ferrari. Its name means “the Ferrari” in Italian, and it took the company forward by introducing new technology previously seen only on prototypes, concepts, or race cars.
Notably, it was the first street-legal hybrid produced by Ferrari. The gasoline-electric drivetrain was built around a 789-hp, 6.3-liter V12 engine capable of revving all the way to 9,350 rpm. It worked jointly with a 120-kilowatt electric motor, bumping the system’s total output to 949 hp. Mamma mia!
Only 499 examples of the LaFerrari were built, and they sold out in the blink of an eye in spite of an extremely selective buying process that favored loyal Ferrari customers. Last year, buyers who missed out on the coupe were given the opportunity to buy a topless model named Aperta.
At its launch, the FXX was the most technologically-advanced Ferrari by a long shot. It was a more extreme evolution of the Enzo developed with input from star Formula 1 pilots like Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello.
It came equipped with a 6.3-liter V12 engine that sent a whopping 800 hp to the rear wheels through an F1-derived automatic transmission. Model-specific tires developed by Bridgestone and Brembo brakes kept that enormous amount of power in check, while an on-board telemetry system recorded up to 39 different parameters in real-time. The information was sent back to Ferrari headquarters and used to develop future models, like the LaFerrari. FFX customers were, for all intents and purposes, beta testers.
The downside to the FXX was that it wasn’t street-legal; in fact, Ferrari continues to refer to it as a prototype. Just 38 examples were built, ensuring it’ll be one of the most sought-after cars of its era.
Ferrari 488 GTB
Bradley Iger/Digital Trends
The 488 GTB opened a new chapter in the history of Ferrari’s V8-powered, mid-engined machines. Born from the 458 Italia, the 488 received a twin-turbocharged 3.9-liter V8 engine that made 661 hp at a screaming 8,000 rpm and 561 pound-feet of torque at 3,000 rpm. It boasts 169.4 hp per liter of displacement, a record for a road-going Ferrari. Floor it and you’re at 60 mph in about three seconds.
Now that you’ve seen the specs, you’re probably wondering “why 488?” The engine’s displacement is precisely 3,902 cubic centimeters. Divide that by eight and you get 487.75, which Ferrari rounds up to 488. Now you know.
Colani Ferrari Testa d’Oro
You’re probably thinking, “Why the long face?” First, because the Colani Ferrari Testa d’Oro was designed in 1989, and this was precisely what the car of the future looked like at the time. Second, this wasn’t just another mundane supercar. It was envisioned as a Ferrari capable of setting speed records on Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats.
The car wasn’t actually designed by Ferrari, though the brand played a part in making it a reality. It was the brain child of industrial designer Luigi Colani. He started with a Testarossa platform and enlisted a firm called Lotec to work hand-in-hand with Ferrari and design a more powerful evolution of its flat-12 engine. With 750 hp on tap and a wind-cheating body, the Testa d’Oro hit 218 mph on the Salt Flats in 1991. There’s no evidence it ever raced again, and it probably spent the 1990s and the 200s tucked away in a Tuscan warehouse, but it recently came up for sale in Ferrari’s home town with a $1.7 million price tag. Ouch.
Ferrari displayed the Mythos concept at the 1989 edition of the Tokyo Auto Show. The venue choice made a lot of sense. At the time, the brand’s popularity was swelling to unprecedented proportions in Japan. Italian design house Pininfarina started with a Testarossa and gave it a forward-thinking design that borrowed a handful of styling cues from the F40. The car remained a one-off but the design loosely inspired the F50.
The Testarossa shared its formidable 4.9-liter V12 engine with the Mythos. Mounted behind the passenger compartment, it sent 390 hp and 261 lb-ft. of torque to the rear wheels through a five-speed manual transmission. Ferrari and Pininfarina estimated the Mythos could hit 180 mph, and the car was fully functional, but Ferrari never released full performance figures.
Like the Mythos, the Rossa raced out of Pininfarina’s headquarters in northern Italy. The model glamorously celebrated the design house’s 70th anniversary, and it was introduced at the 2000 edition of the Turin Auto Show. How times have changed! The Turin Auto Show is little more than a regional event today, and Pininfarina recently joined the Mahindra group after teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.
Back to the road. The Rossa (which means “red” in Italian) cribbed the 550 Maranello’s bones and used its 5.4-liter V12 engine, a unit that produced 485 hp in this configuration. Inside, Pininfarina chose to ignore Ferrari’s reputation for building luxurious cars. It instead highlighted the brand’s racing heritage by installing bucket seats, a simple instrument cluster, and a three-spoke steering wheel.
Ferrari built the GG50 to mark 50 years since Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro began drawing cars. The four-seater made its debut at the 2005 edition of the Tokyo Auto Show. Engineers started with the 612 Scaglietti and added technology gleaned from the world of Formula 1, like a multi-function steering wheel, to up the performance quotient. Rumors claim Giugiaro drew the coupe in just 15 minutes.
The GG50’s long hood hid a 5.7-liter V12 engine tuned to produce 540 hp. It was bolted to a six-speed sequential transmission, a real novelty at the time. Inside, the big news was a satellite navigation system provided by Pioneer. The only GG50 in existence is safely tucked away in Giugiaro’s personal collection of cars.
Unveiled at the 2013 Geneva Auto Show, the Pininfarina Sergio concept paid homage to the company founder’s son, whose name was Sergio. He took over Pininfarina after his father, Battista, died in 1966. He is responsible for numerous designs including the Ferrari F40, the Fiat Dino, and the Peugeot 504 coupe/convertible. He also helped draw the Ferrari 360.
Pininfarina built the Sergio on an existing platform. Notice a pattern? This time, the 458 Spider served as the donor vehicle. The concept’s design stood out with a long hood that flowed into a low front end with thin LED headlights. Ferrari built six units of the Sergio, each priced at approximately $3 million. The production cars received design tweaks, a windshield, and a removable hard top.
Update: We’ve added five concepts to the list.
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