Secondhand Saint: Ferrari 456 GT/M

Ferrari 456M, by Philipe Collinet

Ferraris really are their own breed. There are other cars out there that may offer similar, or better, performance, but none can match the allure, the prestige, and the pedigree of a true prancing horse. Obviously most Ferraris are far too expensive for most people to afford, but there are a few that have dropped into the realm of possibility for those who cannot write off six figures for a car. This is the Ferrari 456, a member of the Gran Turismo lineage that stretches back to the legendary 250 GT. When it was introduced for the 1992 model year, the 456 was the first worthy Ferrari GT car since the 365 cars ended production in the 1970s. It was a breath of fresh air after the dreadful 400/412 line finally was put out of its misery after 15 years of production. Now they can be had for a reasonable price.    

Looking at the 456 in the proper context, 300hp was considered “supercar level” in 1992, and the Ferrari F40, akin to the modern Enzo, had 479hp. This made the 436hp offered by the 456’s 5.5L V12 an astronomical amount of power for its day. Today, you can see the same sort of power from the likes of a BMW M3 or a Chevy Camaro SS, still pretty fast cars by today’s standards. It will see 0-60 in around 5 seconds flat and will top out around 187mph, so the Ferrari 456’s performance is far from out dated even 20 years later.

This is not a car you buy for speed alone though, in fact there are far faster cars that can be had for under 50 grand. This is a car you buy for the Ferrari Gran Turismo experience. Aside from being pretty fast, the 456 is a comfortable and stylish car that offers an image that is unique to stallions of the prancing horse brand. In fact, I would even go as far as to say that the 456 is one of the prettiest Ferraris ever made. It has a pure, sculpted shape, not seen in modern cars that are styled purely by science, and it is on of the only cars ever built that retains its beauty while its are headlights flipped up. It is sleek, sexy, and timeless, and of course let’s not forget the sound that bellows from that glorious V12….. just listen to it:

There are two generations of the Ferrari 456, the GT and the M. The M received a slight facelift and got bumped up to 442hp. Interestingly enough though, both generations can drop as low as $48,000 or so these days. The Ms do climb higher though, up to around $80,000 (opposed to $70,000 for the GT), for cars with less miles on them.

There is a catch with the 456 though, and that is that most of them are found in automatic; not a cool paddleshift either, this is a 4 speed slush box. I realize for many people, including myself, this would be a deal breaker, but there are manual 456s out there to be found as well, and they all have a beautiful, gated 6-speed. For those who would go for the automatic, you will still find the car quite enjoyable, and quite easy to drive from what I hear. This also means that the Ferrari 456 can actually appeal to a wider variety of driver than any other affordable Ferrari out there.

With that said though, anyone looking to possibly buy one of these needs to realize that the running costs are still representative of a $200,000 supercar. Buying a 456 is one thing, being able to afford to keep it is another, so know this going in. This is a car you buy with your heart though; it takes a real passion to be willing to put forth the money and effort to keep a car like this running. In all honesty, from an objective standpoint, a BMW M6 is a far better GT car for the same money; it’s newer, faster, more affordable, and sounds just as good. However, the M6 is not a Ferrari, and for real Ferrari enthusiasts, there would be no choice to make, they would have to have the 456. So, if you live and breath Ferrari, and you crave the lifestyle that the prancing horse offers, then you should seriously consider picking up a 456 at some point because it is magnificent for a reasonable price.

-Nick Walker

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