Andy Reid
Andy Reid HalfDork
9/30/13 10:10 a.m.

When Ferrari introduced the 550 Maranello to the world motoring press at the Nürburgring in 1996, it was hailed as the great return of the Ferrari V12-powered road car. Stunning looks, tons of power, sharp handling and great road manners came together to create the perfect enthusiast driving experience.

Best of all, the 550 really looked like an update of the great Ferrari front-engined road cars of yore. It blended elements of the 250 GTO, the 275 GTB and the 365 GTB/4 Daytona into a nicely modernized form. This Ferrari unmistakably reflected its past while also embracing the designs of the present.

A luxurious interior, 199 mph top speed, Formula 1-inspired soundtrack, and conveniences like air conditioning were part of the package. The gated shifter and a raft of Cavallino Rampante emblems drove home the Ferrari message with authority. On top of that, the 550 was also the best screwed-together Ferrari in the entire history of the company, with build quality to rival offerings from Mercedes-Benz and Rolls-Royce.

Upon its introduction, the 550 Maranello sold for more than $200,000 and racked up a waiting list two years long. This was the Ferrari to have among the cognoscenti, and that kept prices in the stratosphere for a long time.

Today, these cars are just as good as they were when new—the styling has aged particularly well. Best of all, they’ve entered the affordable range. If you shop hard, you can score your own 550 for as little as $45,000; the best examples rarely sell for more than $65,000. In our opinion, this has to be the very best deal available on any used car in the last 20 years. The 550 still feels like $200,000-plus sports car, and has an imposing presence even when parked in downtown Monterey in August.

Maranello ownership has its costs. Fuel mileage is normal for a V12—think 12 mpg average. Service costs can run as high as $3000 a year. However, these cars are not likely to depreciate much further; in fact, they’ll probably start to appreciate. Get yours now before the world wakes up and realizes what a great deal these magnificent machines are.

PRICE NEW: $222,434

PRICE NOW: $45,000-$65,000

RESOURCES:

Ferrari Club of America

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