Does a road car necessarily have a central engine? In Maranello the goal is to dispel this myth, demonstrating that the position of the engine does not affect the performance of the car. The result? The Cavallino presents a jewel called Ferrari 550 Maranello, a car with a front engine and ASR, which immediately demonstrates its performance qualities, superior and not a little compared to those of the F512M. Officially presented in 1996, the 550 Maranello amazes both for its aesthetics, for its efficiency, and for the technology offered to passengers.
For over two decades, production Ferraris with the most extreme performance have been designed with the power unit in the center position, but in 1996 the introduction of the 550 Maranello completely changed the cards. The Ferrari 550 Maranello, in fact, has the drive unit in the front position like the 456 GT, developed by exploiting the technological advances and innovations introduced on the latter car, with the aim of obtaining formidable performance, combined with impeccable road behavior.
The 550 Maranello makes its official debut during the event dedicated to Ferrari which took place in Germany, on the Nurburgring circuit, in July 1996. The event is organized exclusively to advertise the new car, and can count on the presence of two official Scuderia Ferrari drivers, Michael Schumacher and Eddie Irvine, who push the new baby to the limit on the legendary German track. The two World Champions Niki Lauda and Jody Scheckter, true legends of the history of the Prancing Horse, also participate in the event.
The aesthetics of the bodywork, designed by Pininfarina, recalls the aforementioned 2+2 456 GT. The car, however, also has elements peculiar to the classic models of the Prancing Horse, such as the double air vents on the front fenders that recall the masterpieces of the sixties 250 GTO and 275 GTB, while compared to the 456 GT the configuration of the rear lights it is even more similar to the one used on the fabulous 365 GTB/4 Daytona.
In any case, despite the resumption of characteristic details of other cars, the new model manages to create an identity of its own, with a wide and shallow air intake for the radiator located on the nose, which combined with the front spoiler it looks like a hungry shark, ready to attack: and this is exactly the sensation experienced by those who see it approaching in their rearview mirrors.
However, the Ferrari 550 Maranello, overall, shows an aggressive appearance that does not immediately convince all fans, perhaps because someone expects, from an aesthetic point of view, a more decisive style, not immediately appreciating the shark lines.
The same thing about performance can no longer be said: practical, dynamic and comfortable, with a large space for luggage, the 550 offers performance and emotions no different from those of the famous F40, renamed the road racing prototype, born less than ten years old. before.
The technological advances made in these few years, in particular in the suspension department and computerized traction control systems, have allowed front-engined cars to easily match the handling qualities typical of mid-engined cars.
A variation with respect to the F512M consists in the use of high intensity homofocal covered front light clusters: this makes it possible not to install retractable headlamps, as on the 456 GT, and gives the 550 Maranello a homogeneous and balanced line that remains so. regardless of whether the lights are used or not.
The bodies are mounted on a chassis with a 2.500 millimeters wheelbase, which is only a hundred shorter than the 456 GT 2+2 model. The front track is 1.632 millimeters, the rear one 1.586 millimeters. The frame is built using traditional steel tubing, and incorporates the sub-structures that support the mechanical parts and the bodywork.
Its internal reference number is F133 AB. The model is available, on request, with right-hand drive or normal, while the steering with power assistance is part of the standard equipment. The car body is made of light aluminum alloy, welded to the steel frame with a specially formulated material, known as Feran, which allows welding between two different metals.
The nose and tail are made of pre-formed composite material.
The suspensions are all independent wheels with front and rear anti-roll bars, while the shock absorbers boast electronic control, with the possibility of choosing between two modes, Normal or Sport.
Everything is integrated into the ASR control system, that istraction control.
When the Normal mode is chosen, the car's electronic intelligence focuses on stability in relation to road conditions, reducing power to the drive wheels via the engine management system, or by activating the ABS braking device, all in order to ensure maximum traction.
On the other hand, when Sport mode is chosen, the car's computer allows the driver to control the management of the car only with his own actions.
The standard equipment includes a leather-covered interior with electrically adjustable seats and, behind them, a large platform for luggage. The equipment also offers two airbags, air conditioning, and a stereo system with CD player, in addition to the windows and side mirrors, adjustable with electric controls.
Sports seats and a wide range of accessories included in the Carrozzeria Scaglietti personalization program, introduced in 1997, are available on request, which allows customers the possibility to customize the car to their liking, approaching the various individual needs.
The adjustable shock absorbers are equipped with electronic control that monitors various conditions in real time, such as the steering angle, speed, braking and acceleration, optimizing management according to the various driving situations.
The steering is servo-assisted, Servotronic, with variable intervention according to the speed: at slow speeds its help is evident, and is reduced with increasing speed. The standard light alloy wheel rims are a reinterpretation of the traditional Ferrari design, which recalls the shape of a five-pointed star, with elegant convex spokes and five-bolt fixing. The diameter is 18 inches, the width of the channel 8.5 inches on the front axle and 10.5 inches on the rear.
The braking system consists of four ventilated discs with four-piston light alloy caliper, equipped with four-channel ABS and integrated with the previously mentioned ASR driving system.
The engine derives from the power unit designed for the 456 GT, of which it maintains the displacement. In this case, the model name is inspired by the total displacement of 5.5 liters, from which 550, and no longer, as on the 456 GT, from the unit displacement of the single cylinder.
The power unit is a 65° V12, with a total displacement of 5.474 cubic centimeters, bore and stroke of 88 by 75 millimeters, four valves per cylinder, double overhead camshafts per cylinder bank and dry sump lubrication. The engine block, cylinder heads, sump and various other castings are made of light alloy, the cylinder liners are Nicasil treated and the connecting rods are made of titanium alloy.
A Bosch Motronic 5.2 system manages ignition and injection, while the exhaust system, made of stainless steel, has variable counter-pressure. The declared power reaches 485 horsepower at 7.000 rpm, and finally the transaxle gearbox consists of six ratios plus reverse gear.
Length 4550 mm
Width 1935 mm
Height 1277 mm
Step 2500 mm
Front track 1632 mm
Rear track 1586 mm
Weight 1690 kg in running order
Front engine, longitudinal, 12V 65 °
Bore and stroke 88x75 mm
Unit displacement 456.16 cm³
Total displacement 5473.91 cm³
Compression ratio 10.8:1
Maximum power 357 kW (485 hp) at 7000 rpm
Specific power 89 hp/liter
Maximum torque 569 Nm (58 kgm) at 5000 rpm
Double camshaft distribution, four valves per cylinder
Bosch Motronic M5.2 electronic injection
Mono ignition, Bosch Motronic M5.2 static electronics
Single plate clutch
Independent front suspension, wishbones, coil springs, telescopic gas shock absorbers, stabilizer bar
Independent rear suspension, wishbones, coil springs, telescopic gas shock absorbers, stabilizer bar
Six-speed gearbox + RM
Steering pinion and rack
Fuel tank capacity 114 liters
Front tires 255/40 ZR 18
Rear tires 295/35 ZR 18
Maximum speed 320 km/h
Acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.4 seconds, from 0 to 400 meters in 12.5 seconds, and from 0 to 1000 meters in 22.5 seconds
Consumption and emissions
ECE urban cycle (Euro 2 version) 35.6 liters/100 km
Extra-urban cycle EUDC (Euro 2 version) 15.5 liters/100 km
Combined consumption ECE + EUDC (Euro 2 version) 22.9 liters/100 km
Combined CO2 emissions (Euro 2 version) 530 g / km
ECE urban cycle (Euro 3 version) 38.2 liters/100 km
Extra-urban cycle EUDC (Euro 3 version) 16.4 liters/100 km
Combined consumption ECE + EUDC (Euro 3 version) 24.4 liters/100 km
Combined CO2 emissions (Euro 3 version) 558 g/km
Simone Pietro Zazza