This post comes from Autoblog Open Road, our contributor network. The author is solely responsible for the content, and any opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Autoblog and its editors.
The design of the Maranello (as well as many features) harks back to the 275 GTB. The long nose, short deck proportions are undeniably timeless. It was also created in an era when an open greenhouse and thin pillars were very much en vogue (and legally permissible). While the design features predictable parting-lines between the bumpers and openings on the body, the forms blend very well. Also, the vehicle's design is pure without extraneous decoration or surfacing embellishments.
Many of the most valuable classic Ferraris are front-engined cars. While the mid-engined layout has proven to be a successful formula for racing; the FR layout models have proven to be truly unforgettable. The classic 275 GTB, the GTO and the California all feature this layout. Additionally, the Maranello's engine is naturally aspirated which will become rarer as forced-induction increasingly dominates the marketplace. Sergio Marchionne has also mentioned that ALL Ferraris will incorporate hybrid systems by 2019. This fact will certainly affect the value of the Maranello (see: https://www.autoblog.com/2016/11/08/ferrari-wants-more-hybrids-report/).
The gated shifter
This feature is iconic to Ferrari. It evokes competition and prototypical, Italian supercar design. The gated shifter also symbolizes the analog driving experience. Currently, Ferrari is abandoning these shifters which creates a certain nostalgia for the full, manual experience. Consequently, many enthusiasts will continue to believe that a traditional Ferrari must have a gated shifter. Fortunately, for collectors, the Maranello's is present and also mated to a six-speed transaxle.
The 550 was designed by Pininfarina while Sergio Pininfarina was still operating the company (his grandson ran operations after 2001). This is significant since the company and design has changed noticeably since that time. Whether the changes have been good, bad or in-between is completely irrelevant. It's a car produced that represents a historical milestone. Cars, much like many products, are physical representations of the eras in which they were produced. For Pininfarina, this was the end of an era and the beginning of a new one.
The cars were produced in the nineties, but with many techniques utilized from traditional, Ferrari engineering. These elements include aluminum bodies and space frame chassis. Again, this represents an era that would eventually evolve far beyond the established standard. Ferrari would soon transition to more carbon fiber intensive manufacturing and carbon fiber tubs would eventually supersede the steel space frames.
It's worth noting that, by this time, suspension and tire technology far exceeded anything prior. As a result, this era of Ferrari had better handling on both the road and track than previous models from the eighties. All of this is in addition to better build quality, brakes and crash safety.
Pop cultural impact
Like many outstanding cars from Ferrari, the Maranello made a massive impact on enthusiasts of the time. Much like the 275 GTB, it would be praised by automotive journalists for its astonishing pavement panache. It would also win accolades like being awarded the international engine of the year award (4.0+ liters) in 2000 and 2001. Later it would appear in the Hollywood film "Bad Boys 2". Of course, being featured on film never hurts a car's popularity...just ask Matthew Broderick.
In addition, it's been widely rumored that the front-engined layout was preferred by Enzo Ferrari himself. Enzo even taught his son how to drive on the front-engined 275. The Maranello could easily be seen as a successor of the 275's design and engineering ethos.
Many 550s are available for less than $200k USD. While obviously not a low-priced car; among Ferraris it's a decent value. Low mileage units have depreciated minimally with some even commanding prices equivalent to the original purchase price. Convertible and later versions have also faired well in the marketplace. Once Ferrari has completed their plan to implement hybridization of every model, it's going to increase the value of these vehicles significantly.