Ferrari 456 M, the longest-running Prancing Horse car

The Ferrari 456 GT, at the time of its presentation, is the flagship of Ferrari technology, and years later it will become one of the longest-lived models in the history of the Maranello-based company, being produced from 1992 until 2003.

The early 90s are anything but rosy for Ferrari: on the sporting front there is a considerable technical crisis, and the recent death of the founder leaves a gap that is difficult to fill due to the strong charisma that the latter had in the automotive world.

The Maranello company is therefore preparing to make a handover that can be very dangerous for such an important company.

In 1992, the Maserati Quattroporte and Porsche 928 dominated the 2 + 2 sports car scene, while the last Ferrari 2 + 2, the 412i, was out of production for three years now. At Maranello they understand that it is necessary, if not almost vital for the brand itself, to reconfirm itself as a leader in this sector, and to do this it is necessary to create a new car.

The goal is to create a model that becomes the reference in the sector, so Ferrari entrusted the design of the car to Pininfarina, since all the 2+2 models have always been designed by the Turin company.

Under the design of Pietro Camardella and the supervision of Lorenzo Ramaciotti, the 456 series was born, a name deriving from the unitary displacement of the engine, from which all the various derivations in the following years, from the 456 GT to the 456M GT, up to the exclusive 456 Venice.

The car is officially presented in Belgium at Garage Franchorchamps, in a brand new Blue Swaters metallic color, in honor of Jaques Swaters, former Belgian Formula One driver who raced for Ferrari in the 1953-1954 seasons aboard the 500 Formula 2.

The car looks like an elegant high-performance coupe, and the commercial success is immediately remarkable.

The 456 GT also goes against the trend compared to the other Ferrari models of this era, with the engine that is placed in the front position, while all the other models have it on the rear: in fact, the 456 anticipates what will be the characteristic features of the Prancing Horse for the models in the following years.

The engine, specially developed for the occasion, is a 5.5 liter, 5 474 cm³ V12 entirely made of aluminum alloy, with four valves per cylinder, which will also be mounted later on the 550 Maranello, to which a six-speed manual gearbox.

The engine produces a power of 412 horsepower and releases 550 Nm of maximum torque, which allows the transition from 0 to 100 km / h in just 5.2 seconds, reaching a maximum speed of 309 km/h. For this reason, the power unit will win the award for the best engine over four liters.

In terms of dynamics the car is well balanced. While maintaining the DNA of a thoroughbred sports car, it allows an effective but not exasperated sporty drive, thanks also to the independent wishbone suspension, coil springs, gas telescopic shock absorbers and stabilizer bar.

The style refers to a famous Prancing Horse car, the Ferrari 365 Daytona, which gives rise to a balanced line destined to last eleven years. The 456 will therefore be characterized by a balanced mix of sportiness and elegance, evocative of the most famous front-engined Gran Turismo cars of the past until its exit from the scene.

The interior is of a high standard, with interiors entirely in fine leather, electrically operated seats and adjustable stiffness in the Sport, Medium and Comfort settings, without forgetting the introduction of the ABS system.

This model also meets the first stringent safety regulations, a normal consequence of technological progress, with a three-spoke steering wheel in satin finish aluminum, which is replaced to allow the introduction of Air Bags starting from 1995, in accordance with the European regulations adopted in that year.

The Ferrari 4 A variant of the 456 GT called 456 GTA was also made, in which the most obvious difference was present in the transmission, no longer a six-speed manual, but a four-speed automatic.

Years went by and in 1998 the 456 GT needed a restyling. Consequently the 456 M was born, with the M meaning Modified. The car has small tricks and aesthetic changes, which do not distort the aesthetic line so appreciated in previous years. The changes mainly concern the front, with the disappearance of the vents on the engine hood, the widening of the grille, some changes to the front bumper, and the choice of making the aileron under the rear bumper fixed.

The interiors are also redesigned, in particular the arrangement of the auxiliary on-board instrumentation, the central tunnel, and the seats, which are equipped with shape memory.

The entire mechanics remain unchanged from the previous model, with the addition of traction control, which improves handling.

The car remained in production until 2003 and was replaced in 2004 by the 612 Scaglietti. In 2003, thirty-one examples of the Michael Schumacher version were made, with two-tone paint (the car is silver, with the roof up to the lower line of the windows in dark gray), all equipped with a gray leather interior with red stitching and oversized brakes. The latter is presented to the press with a photograph in which the pilot sat inside the open trunk, underlining the large load capacity of the 456.

In 1996, six examples of a four-door 456 with shooting brake bodywork were built on commission from the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah. This modification therefore adds a third rear volume to the Italian coupe (in addition to the two rear doors) making it very similar to a family one; this model is called Venice in honor of the Venetian capital. The project is again entrusted to Pininfarina and approved by Ferrari. For the construction of this car the sultan spends 1.5 million dollars for each car.

The price is today's equivalent of € 190,367 for the 456 GT model, while for the 456 M GT model the price is set at € 195,221.


Car body


Two doors

Four seats

Tank capacity 110 liters

Mass in running order

1.860 kg

Towable mass max 0 kg

Length 473 cm

Width 192 cm

Height 130 cm

Wheelbase 260 cm


Twenty cylinders in V

Displacement 5,474 cubic centimeters

Fuel supply

Max power/speed 325 KW (442 hp) 6,200 rpm

Maximum torque 540 Nm

Rear-wheel Drive

Six-speed manual gearbox


Max speed 302 km/h

Acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h 5.2 seconds

Anti-polluting approval Euro 1

CO2 emissions 0 g/km


Urban 30 liters/100 km

Extra-urban 13 liters/100 km

Mixed 19 liters/100 km

Standard accessories

ABS as standard

Drive airbag as standard

Passenger airbag as standard

Standard anti-theft device

Opening from the inside of the standard tank cap

Rear central armrest as standard

Adjustable front headrests as standard

Rear headrests as standard

Six-speed manual transmission as standard

Six CD changer as standard

Central locking as standard

Manual air conditioning as standard

Partial odometer as standard

Tachometer as standard

Halogen headlights as standard

Pollen filter as standard

Leather interior as standard

Oil pressure gauge as standard

Standard audio preparation

Radio cassettes as standard

Right rear-view mirror as standard

Reg. from within series

Reg. electrically as standard

Air recirculation as standard

Power steering as standard

Active suspension as standard

Standard water thermometer

Athermic glasses as standard

Electric front windows as standard

Steering wheel reg. in standard height

Andrea Rasponi

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