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.
Introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in February 2006, the 599 GTB Fiorano redefined the supercar world by combining stellar speed with copious luxury. This combination didn’t come cheap: While the car’s base price was roughly $275,000, after the options were piled on most cars rang in at $315,000-350,000 or more. Carbon-ceramic brakes cost $18,000; Daytona-style seats added $4,000; carbon-fiber door panels and sills were $5,000, and a carbon-fiber steering wheel another $5,000; the nearly obligatory fender shields and colored calipers added $2,000 each; and the list went on and on. Those who had to be first in line often paid an additional $100,000 over sticker for the privilege, comfortably making the 599 the most expensive regular-production Ferrari in history.
Thanks to the miracle of deprecation, as well as the introduction of the F12, early 599s can currently be found in the $165,000 range—a fantastic bargain given the car’s capabilities. At the other end of the scale, a low-mile, fully optioned 2010 or ’11 example can run $225,000. The very desireable HGTE package adds about $10,000 to a car’s value. The rare stick-shift examples are desirable to some purists, but three pedals don’t affect pricing one way or the other. Steel brakes, while less expensive to replace than carbon-ceramic ones, deduct roughly $10,000 from a 599’s value.
While the “regular” 599 has depreciated since new, that’s not the case with the limited-production 599 GTO and SA Aperta. Examples of the former tend to hover around their original sticker prices, though a no-mile, right-colors-and-options car can still sell for more. And the SA Aperta? While there aren’t many sales to chart, these cars have more than doubled in value since new; they currently sell in the $1-million range.
No official production figures are available, but our research suggests around 3,600 599s of all stripes were
produced (about the same as the 550 Maranello), of which roughly 1,100 came to the U.S. This makes the 599 GTB fairly common, and thus unlikely to be considered a collector car in the future; not to mention the fact that GTBs have years of depreciation left. Thanks to the value-boosting power of exclusivity, the 599 GTO and especially the SA Aperta may have the potential to become tomorrow’s collectibles. —Michael Sheehan
|599 GTB Fiorano||$165,000||$215,000|
These prices are for fully serviced cars in good-to-great condition.
On the Road
While it looks and rides like a GT, the 599 GTB Fiorano offers remarkable handling to match its fearsome power. Here’s some of what we’ve said about this category-busting machine.
HEADING INTO A FAST SWEEPER, we turn the wheel and get hard on the throttle; then, realizing an instant later that there’s almost no body roll and no delay while the suspension takes a set, we give it more gas. The g forces are building, but the 599 nonchalantly accelerates while staying impressively flat; it feels like
the car is pivoting around an imaginary point somewhere near the apex. We boot the accelerator as the turn opens up, and the 599 simply launches onto the straight.
Rough roads, the bane of many high-performance cars, are handled in stride by the 599. Potholes are simply thumped over, usually creating more noise than sensation. The picture’s also good on tight, twisting tarmac…[as] the 599 shrinks around the driver. That’s due in no small part to the laser-precise steering; turn the lightly weighted wheel the tiniest amount, and the 599 responds instantly. Impressively, these quick reflexes don’t translate into twitchiness at high speeds.
“Super Turismo,” FORZA #71
THE HGTE-EQUIPPED CAR has essentially neutral handling balance, just like the regular 599, but the sharper steering, greater grip from the front tires and tad more camber translate into quicker and more stable turn-in, along with a noticeable reduction in understeer.
The really big difference, however, is the improvement in body control; the amount of roll has been reduced dramatically. Weight transfer is still evident—no surprise, as the 599 weighs more than 3,700 pounds—and while I have to take this into consideration, it does not dictate my racing line.
Some sections of this tarmac are plagued by a brutal combination of bumps, holes and loose gravel, but the car takes it all in stride, showing sufficient suspension travel to meet the challenges thrown at it. The engineers had hinted at a small trade-off in ride comfort…[but] the stiffer setup is more than acceptable in exchange for the improved body control.
“Handling with Care,” FORZA #95
MY FIRST PEDAL-TO-THE-METAL RUN in the GTO reminds me of my first teenage kiss: a pent-up rush of pure adrenalin. I’m truly shocked at how the car explodes forward, and left grappling for adjectives. In a straight line, a 458 Italia astonishes—the GTO terrifies. It’s vicious, almost preternatural, in its fury,
The GTO is a big car which does not shrink around me like a Scuderia or 458, but it responds to inputs with such immediacy and directness that I soon forget its size and bulk. The steering is simply magnificent, an initial lack of feel disguising surgical accuracy as well as a degree of delicacy I feared might be lost in the migration to 1.5-inch wider front rims and accompanying 40mm wider tires.
Have I mentioned the sound? The V12’s howl isn’t as strident or extreme as a truly high-revving Formula 1-esque engine;
it’s better. Fuller bodied and meatier, the motor has a distinct hoarseness that makes it all the more thrilling. A Ferrari V12 hasn’t sounded this deliciously
visceral since the Daytona.
“Rush,” FORZA #106
The 599 GTB Fiorano is very closely related to the 612 Scaglietti, so it’s no surprise the two models share common problem areas. That’s nothing to be concerned about, however; after polling service managers at several authorized Ferrari dealerships, I learned that, like the 612, the 599 is as rugged and reliable as any low-production supercar could hope to be.
For example, the 599’s carbon-ceramic brakes have proven to be nearly indestructible; none of the roughly 100 cars covered by my poll had needed new brakes. That’s a good thing, since replacing all four pads and rotors will run around $25,000. While early reports suggested short clutch life if an F1-equipped 599 was used regularly around town (extensive stop-and-go driving is tricky for the automated single-disc clutch), but my survey revealed only three clutch replacements among those 100 cars, and one of those was on a stick-shift. If needed, a new clutch costs around $7,500 at a dealer.
In fact, the most common problem encountered was owners overfilling the engine with oil. Like all dry-sump engines, the 599’s V12 should be checked while idling at full operating temperature. Checking the oil with the engine off and/or cold will result in inaccurate readings, and overfilling the sump can lead to oil or oil vapors being sucked into the intake and burned. I even heard of a few cases where so much oil was sucked into the engine that it hydrolocked; you don’t want to know how much replacing a 599’s 6-liter V12 costs.
The 599 is also pretty inexpensive to maintain by exotic-car standards. The 612’s pricey cam-belt service isn’t an issue, since the 599 utilizes a timing chain. Expect to pay $2,000-2,500 at a dealer for an annual service, with a lot of that cost going toward expensive race-spec lubricants. —Michael Sheehan.
FAILING INSTRUMENT PANELS
The 599’s electronic instrument-panel screen can suffer a malfunction of its power supply, backlighting power supply and/or motherboard. A Ferrari dealer will install a brand-new instrument panel for $12,000, but F.A.I. in Costa Mesa, California will rebuild the original panel or supply a re-made one for around $1,500.
A handful of owners have encountered annoying glitches with the F1 shifter mechanism. Some problems were mechanical, requiring a reset of the clutch-positioning sensors, while others required a software update. These repairs have proven pretty inexpensive, generally falling in the $1,000 range.
The 599 has a healthy appetite for tires. Expect to replace the rubber every 10,000 miles or so. Also, these cars’ 19- or 20-inch aluminum front wheels are only modestly protected from impacts by their low-profile tires, and thus can be dented or bent by potholes.
It’s remarkable that Ferrari has yet to resolve the dreaded, long-running sticky switches problem, where the coating on some interior plastic pieces becomes gooey and starts to rub off on hands, clothing, etc. For whatever reason, this is a particular issue on cars that are stored without being used for long periods. If this problem strikes, the plastic bits will need to be replaced or refinished. Sticky No More is very highly regarded for the latter.
The leather that covers the dashboard can shrink if the car is regularly left in the sun, exposing the underlying foam and metal. It costs around $4,500 to remove the dash, recover it with new leather and reinstall it.
2008 599 GTB Fiorano
Purchased with 1,700 miles in 2008; currently has 26,000 miles
Why did you want a 599?
I’ve owned Ferraris since law school, when I had to borrow money to buy a 275 GTB. That was 1967. One day in 2008, my wife and I went to an event at Ferrari of San Francisco, where we saw a 599 GTB Fiorano on the floor. It was nice, but I just wanted to get some shrimp from the buffet. My wife kept commenting on how much she liked the car, and it soon dawned on me that she was encouraging me to buy a Ferrari! So I did.
What do you use your Ferrari for?
I am deeply involved in trap-shooting competition, and drive the Ferrari, my Bentley or my SL63 AMG to do so almost every day [70-80 miles round trip]. One thing I won’t do with the Ferrari is go to the grocery store. I’m fearful of someone parking six inches away and slamming the door into my car—all that damage, and me going to jail for murder.
What do you like most about the 599?
The power. The car is a little bit overpowered at very low speeds, you get some wheelspin and stuff, but when you’re going 55 or 60 mph and you want to go around a guy, the car just goes. You’re out, past the guy and back in almost instantaneously. It’s an unbelieveable ride from 60 to 100 and beyond.
The car’s a little noisy—the tires make a real racket at 70-80 mph—and a little stiff for long trips, anything over four hours. It’s very difficult to back up, particularly if you are backing up a hill, which I have to do to get out of my driveway. You have to keep tapping on the throttle and try to modulate what the computer is doing with the clutch; the F1 is not at all like an automatic transmission where you don’t have to think about it. Give it too much gas and you’ll end up shooting backwards.
Like many Ferraris, the front end’s clearance requires attention. The problem is not the bodywork, but the two black aerodynamic pieces that hang down in front of the tires and can make contact with the ground. The really offensive part of this problem is the noise that you hear when you grind one on something; the damage itself doesn’t have a lot of significance, and you can’t see it unless you get down on your hands and knees.
How reliable has your 599 been?
I recently told a guy that the car doesn’t give me any trouble at all, but when I pulled out of his driveway a minute later I got a check-engine light. About $2,000 later, the PCV and mass-airflow sensor issue got sorted out; Ferrari has a package to fix it. Since then, the car has run like a sewing machine, like it always had. It’s not a car that’s always in the shop needing this or that fixed.
Would you recommend this car to a friend?
It depends on what he wants and his experience. If he’s getting out of a Mercedes or a Lexus and just looking to take a step up, something smooth, comfortable and expensive, he’s going to be in for a surprise. If the guy has some experience with high-performance cars, I’d say absolutely. It’s powerful and bangs you around a little bit, but if you’re prepared it’s a hell of a car.
2007 599 GTB Fiorano
Purchased with 15,000 miles in 2012; currently has 27,000 miles
Why did you want a 599?
I had a 550 before this that we put 45,000 miles on. It was the best Ferrari I’ve ever owned in terms of ease of ownership and reliability, but I wanted something a little newer. When Ferrari loaned to the Ferrari Club of America the 599 that went around the country [to celebrate the FCA’s 50th anniversary], we were one of the chapters that got it. We raised over $10,000 with that car. I thought it was a lot of car for the money, and I wanted to stay with a 12-cylinder car. I liked the fact this one had steel brakes, because I don’t like the idea of spending all that money for a set of rotors.
What do you use your Ferrari for?
Just for fun, but since I’m the director of the Crescent Classic, the largest Ferrari rally in the United States, the car has spent a lot of time on the roads working on the rally.
My car’s not stock. We’ve put on factory GTO wheels, GTO side skirts, lowering springs, a GTO stripe. It sounds like I’m a poseur, trying to make a GTB look like a GTO, but I’m not. The GTB wheels are just too small for the car; it has too much push. The fronts are what matters, since they’re an inch-and-a-half wider. I don’t like the original star wheels, but everyone has Challenge wheels for these cars and I didn’t want to put on an aftermarket wheel.
What do you like most about the 599?
It sure has a lot of power; I’d be lying if I said anything else. It’s got a lot of torque, and it’s very driver-friendly in that you can put it in third gear and just go where you want. It’s unlike the V8 cars, where you really have to be up on the cam. The 599 is a great long-distance touring car, and that’s how I drive it.
I haven’t experienced anything yet: The car’s been bulletproof reliable. If there’s any dislike, it’s that this is a big car. I wish it was a little smaller, a little lighter.
How about wear and tear?
It’s been very similar to the 550. The only things we’ve done are respray the front bumper and put a clear bra on the front. The seats are holding up well. The car certainly doesn’t look like it has 27,000 miles on it, but I cheat: I have a professional detailer that comes in every month.
Would you recommend this car to a friend?
Absolutely, without reservation.