In the late 1990s, Ferrari began to modernize its road-car lineup with aluminum construction. The 360 Modena started the trend, trading the F355’s steel chassis for an alloy one. The 612 Scaglietti was next, replacing the steel-framed 456M for 2004, and within a few years it was time for the 575M Maranello to go. In 2006, Ferrari unveiled its all-aluminum replacement: the 599 GTB Fiorano.
Named in honor of Ferrari’s famous test track, the 599 was the latest in a long line of front-engine, V12-powered flagships. Its 5,999cc engine was derived from that of the Enzo supercar, and produced a whopping 620 horsepower—40 ponies less than the Enzo but 105 more than the 575M. While it outwardly looked like a traditional GT, the 599 delivered supercar performance: It sprinted to 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds and reached a terminal velocity just north of 205 mph.
In addition to being faster and more powerful than its predecessor, the 599 was larger, lighter and far more technologically complex. Its optional six-speed F1-SuperFast transmission could change gears in 100 milliseconds, twice as fast as the Enzo, and its optional
carbon-ceramic (CCM) brake rotors were bigger than those found on that supercar. It was the first Ferrari to feature SCM magnetorheological shock absorbers and F1-Trac predictive traction control (both of which are standard equipment on today’s models), as well as the first V12 model to have a manettino mounted on its steering wheel. It even produced 419 pounds of downforce at top speed, thanks to clever air-flow management under, through and over the body, including the functional flying buttresses.
Not surprisingly, the 599 was well-received. Motor Trend, for example, could barely get out of the way of its enthusiasm. “When the all-new Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano rolls into view, onlookers gasp the same way audiences did when a clingingly attired Sophia Loren emerged from the ocean in 1957’s ‘Boy on a Dolphin,’” the magazine began, before adding, “at its heart the Fiorano is a ravenous beast, a fire-spewing dragon, the most powerful regular production Ferrari of all time” and “the 599 may soon come to be known as the finest all-around Ferrari ever." MT was right: Staggeringly fast and astonishingly comfortable in any situation, from highway to racetrack to bumpy back road, the 599 really could do it all.
Ferrari built a few variants of the model during its production run, which ended in 2012. Today, thanks in part to the introduction of the even-faster, even-more-sophisticated F12 Berlinetta, the 599 offers a compelling value proposition—at least for those who can afford a $165,000-plus used car. For those lucky few, the 599 GTB Fiorano deserves a serious look.