When Ferrari released the 456 GT it changed the perception of a high-performance 2+2. Refined and elegant comfort and performance were the orders of the day, and the Pininfarina-designed body is as intensely beautiful as the car is luxurious and fast.

Powered by a sporty 436-hp V12 engine, with a four-speed automatic (456 GTA), its aerodynamics and handling characteristics are unlike those of any other 2+2.

The 456 was the ultimate four-person conveyance, and some consider it to be the ultimate in practical supercar automotive design. This particular example is in excellent, like-new condition with less than 10,000 miles.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1998 Ferrari 456 GTA
Years Produced:456s 1995-98; GTAs 1996-98
Number Produced:all 456s approx. 1,950; 456 GTA approx. 400
Original List Price:Approx. $239,000
SCM Valuation:$85,000-$105,000
Tune Up Cost:$6,500
Distributor Caps:N/A
Club Info:Ferrari Owner's Club, 8642 Cleta Street, Downey, CA 90241. 562/861-6992 Ferrari Club of America, PO Box 720597, Atlanta, GA 30358
Alternatives:Ferrari 550 Maranello, Bentley Continental R, Aston Martin DB7
Investment Grade:C

This 456 GTA sold for $108,000, including buyer’s premium, at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction, held January 16-19, 2003.

The crash of the Ferrari market in 1990, combined with an uninspiring model lineup, just about wiped out all interest in new Ferraris during the first half of the 1990s. The flagship F40 dropped from $750,000 over its list price (approximately $389,000 plus taxes) to just sticker during this time. The Testarossa became terminally dated and, despite a race series and a warmed-over special edition, the 348 never caught on. The two- and three-year back orders of 1990 turned into warehouses full of cars by 1992.

The Ferrari line became so sale-proof by 1994 that Ferrari actually offered GM-style programs, with up to $30,000 combined in cash back and credit, to help sell cars. The program helped clean up the inventory problem but Ferrari needed more than money to get people buying cars again.

The answer to Ferrari’s problem came in a trilogy of new models. The luxurious 456 GT was first shown in 1993 and the sporty F355 berlinetta followed shortly thereafter. They were an instant hit, earning rave reviews for performance and styling. When they finally hit the showrooms in 1994, so did a steady stream of customers. The recovery had begun.

The trilogy was completed with the introduction of the 550 Maranello. The 550 marked the return of the traditional front-engine berlinetta, in the heritage of the Daytona, to Ferrari’s line. It offered superb performance with aggressive yet understated styling.

Independently and together the new trio stimulated every nerve of the buyers’ senses. The cars were fast, beautiful and fun to drive. They became immensely popular and indisputably reaffirmed Ferrari as the king of the exotic car field.

The practical part of the equation was the 2+2 456, introduced to fill the void left when the 400/412 series was discontinued. Where the 400/412 was visually stodgy and technologically dated, the 456 was fresh and exciting. It was one of Pininfarina’s best designs, a blend of elegance and performance in a package that is attractive from any angle.

Driving the 456 is a blast. Let the clutch out, get the car rolling, then floor it; the car quickly builds speed to about 3,500 rpm, then the rear tires begin to break loose. Modulate the throttle for traction, make a quick shift to second and the rubber will easily break loose again. Flick it left, flick it right, the power-assisted steering and excellent chassis follows your every move. Stand on the brakes and your cheeks will be pulled to the windshield. This is a driver’s car in every sense.

Late-model Ferraris have gotten insanely expensive to maintain. The spectacular performance of the newer cars has come by the way of exotic and expensive components. Routine maintenance will make you gasp and major repairs can be catastrophic. A fatally damaged automatic transaxle will set you back $52,000, while a new engine could run half again that much.

This blue with tan 456 GTA was sold new for $239,000 plus 20 large in taxes. First offered by RM at its Santa Monica auction on May 25, 2002, it was a no-sale at a $75,000 high bid. It was then reported sold for $120,000 a few weeks later at the 2002 Barrett-Jackson Petersen auction, reportedly to a principal of the auction company. When the owner decided he wanted a six-speed rather than an automatic, the car appeared at Barrett-Jackson.

2+2s have traditionally been the most expensive cars in Ferrari’s production line. As new cars, the 330 2+2s were more expensive than the 275 four-cams, the 400 GTs were more expensive than the Boxers and the 456s were more expensive than the 550 Maranellos.

$108,000 might seem like a bargain for a 9,000-mile, quarter-of-a-million-dollar car, but it represents the high side of early GTA values. Even with incredibly good looks and truly impressive performance, the 456 suffers from the curse of all 2+2 Ferraris: Nobody cares. Despite the highest list price of the new Ferraris, 456s are always at the bottom of late-model used Ferrari prices.

Buy a 456 and you are certain to have steady depreciation. You will also have some serious maintenance expenses and Lord help you if you break something big. On the other hand, you’ll own one of the most beautiful cars ever built and you’ll be rewarding yourself every time you get behind the wheel. Owning a 456 may cause you to question your financial sanity, but if you can afford it, just do it and don’t look back. After all, no Ferrari owner would ever maintain the best things in life are free.-Steve Ahlgrim

Comments are closed.