Autoblog remembers its favorite Ferrari models of the Montezemolo Era
The Editors Make Hard Choices, Alliances Are Formed, Feelings Get Hurt
With the departure of Luca di Montezemolo from Ferrari being fresh on our collective minds today, your friendly team of editors started pleasantly discussing which of the cars launched during his era was our favorite. The conversation was rousing, so we thought it would be entertaining to put the choices to a quick ranked vote, and bring you a sort of Editors' Choice list for road-going Ferraris from the 1990s through today.
Then, of course, all hell broke loose.
A schism between defenders of the LaFerrari and the Enzo essentially nullified each others' votes (with five points awarded for a first place selection, down through one for a fifth). Meanwhile, the F12 consortium was aghast at the gall of the 599 supporters. And, though none of us are speaking to each other anymore, we did find collective love for a model you might not guess on first glance (it received only one first place vote). But you'll have to scroll down to read for yourselves how it all went down. God help us.
One of Montezemolo's early hits, the Ferrari 360 Modena cut rather sleek figure when it was launched in 1999, representing an about-face of company design from edges and creases, to flowing lines and curved surfaces. Larger and more rigid than the F355 it replaced, the 360 was nevertheless lighter and more powerful, thanks to its aluminum spaceframe chassis and 3.6-liter V8 engine. The 360 line would ultimately spawn convertible and race-ready variants, with the performance envelope expanding right up till it's replacement by the F430 in 2004.
Rapid, rocking a staggeringly powerful V12 engine out in front and undeniably lovely, when the 599 GTB debuted in 2006 it seemed destined for instant-classic status. With 612 horsepower coming from its naturally aspirated 12 cylinders, it represents one of the most impressive non-forced-induction engines of all time, where specific output is concerned. In fact, in 2006, the 599's V12 was the most powerful normal-production car in Ferrari's history.
3. F12 Berlinetta
More of our judges voted for the F12 than the 599 overall, but the lovers of the earlier car assigned more points – a glorious argument for two successive and worthy Ferrari GTs. The F12 followed on the 599's heels in 2012, with a 6.3-liter V12 under its arching front deck that's good for 730 hp. The mill was impressive enough to net an International Engine of the year Award in 2013, and quantifiably mind-blowing for offering a top speed between 210 and 225 miles per hour (depending on who you believe). The same V12 lives under the more controversial hood of the FF, too, which got a handful of votes on our list, but not quite enough to crack the top five.
The 360 Modena may have constructed the template for the 21st Century mid-engine Ferrari, but the 458 Italia perfected it. The 4.5-liter V8 offers one of the most harmonious songs in the automotive hymnal when it's running flat out, with the chassis underneath it one of the most precisely controllable to ever wear the prancing horse badge (outside of F1 cars, of course). From 2009 to today, with each variant seemingly more intriguing than the last, the 458 has earned a lasting spot in the hearts of the faithful. Arguably (as our whole list is), one of the most beautiful works of the Montezemolo Era.
Yeah, that one surprised us a little, too. The two-door GT was one of the first launches during Luca's tenure as Ferrari chairman, and it's a car whose subtle styling and classic proportions helped to reign in the finned and scooped wildness of the 1980s design. Another V12-powered tourer – this one a 5.5-liter unit with some 436 horsepower – the 456 only received one first place vote from our bellicose crew, but just about every man-jack of us had it on our list somewhere. Go figure.
As it happens, there's something suave and understated about the 456 that, while not nearly as impressive on the Enzo or LaFerrari scale, does seem to suit Luca di Montezemolo a bit better. Thanks for the memories, Mr. Chairman.
Okay, your turn. Take a walk through the last 20-odd years of Ferrari history, and give us your top five list below, in Comments.
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