New Breed

All-aluminum construction and a detuned Enzo engine made the 599 GTB Fiorano a different kind of supercar.

Photo: New Breed 1
January 21, 2021

Introduced in 2006, the 599 GTB Fiorano was the latest in Ferrari’s 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 hp—40 ponies less than the Enzo but 105 horses more than the outgoing 575M Maranello. 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 north of 205 mph. This, no doubt, was why the company named the car in honor of its storied test track.

In addition to being faster and more powerful than its predecessor, the 599 was larger, lighter (thanks to its all-aluminum construction), 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 brake rotors were bigger than the Enzo’s.

The 599 was also the first Ferrari to feature SCM magnetorheological shock absorbers and F1-Trac predictive traction control, both of which are standard equipment on today’s cars, 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 over, under, and through the body, including those functional flying buttresses.

Not surprisingly, the 599 was well-received. Motor Trend, for example, could barely get out of the way of its own 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.screen load">

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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 newer F12berlinetta and 812 Superfast, the 599 offers a compelling value proposition—at least for those who can afford a six-figure used car. If you have the means, the 599 GTB Fiorano deserves a serious look.

Marketplace

When unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in February 2006, the 599 GTB Fiorano redefined the standards of the supercar world—with a window sticker to match. Its base price was around $275,000, which included most of the standard luxury items its buyers would expect. However, Ferrari’s profitable habit of piling on the options easily took most cars into the $315,000-350,000 range, or higher, thanks to such goodies as carbon-ceramic brakes ($18,000), Daytona-style seats ($4,000), carbon-fiber interior door panels and sills ($5,000), a carbon-fiber steering wheel (also $5,000), the nearly obligatory fender shields and colored calipers ($2,000 each), and so on and so forth.

When the first 599s arrived at dealers in late 2006, they sold for an additional $100,000 or more over sticker, meaning that some examples topped $450,000—rarefied air, indeed. Today, thanks to the miracle of deprecation and the arrival every few years of an even-faster flagship, some of those early 599 GTBs can be found in the $100,000-$110,000 range. At the other end of the spectrum, a low-mile, optioned-up 2010 or ’11 example will command $125,000-145,000. The HGTE handling package was only offered on those late 2010-11 models, at a cost of roughly $30,000, and today it adds the same $30,000 to resale value.

My research guesstimates around 3,600 599 GTBs sold worldwide between 2006 and 2011. Breaking down the approximately 1,082 U.S.-spec cars, we get roughly 400 in 2007, 347 in 2008, 120 in 2009, 157 in 2010, and a final 58 in 2011. With 3,600 total examples built, it’s possible that GTB prices will climb slightly in the far-distant future, but they will never be “collectible” in any real sense of the word.

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That’s not the case for the other two versions. The first is the 599 GTO, a raw, track-oriented, 670-hp beast that stickered for $450,000-510,000 when new, and still sells in that range today. The second is the roofless SA Aperta, a stylish, open-air boulevardier compared to the GTO with which it shares an engine. Ferrari announced just 80 examples would be built and priced the Aperta accordingly, starting at around $515,000. Today, that rarity has caused prices to soar above $1.2 million, despite the fact that many serious serial-number watchers suspect the actual production number is significantly higher.

All 599s offer massive eye-candy appeal and more performance than most owners can master. In addition, each of these cars is comfortable, reliable, and versatile enough to use every day if desired. As with any Ferrari purchase, do your research, buy the best car you can afford, and have it inspected by a shop that knows the model inside and out. Given the cost of repairs, it doesn’t take much to turn a bargain into a money pit, so look for a car with a full, documented service history, even if it costs a little more up front. —Michael Sheehan

Model Low High
599 GTB Fiorano $100,000 $145,000
599 HGTE $155,000 $175,000
599 GTO $450,000 $510,000
SA Aperta $1,050,000 $1,250,000

These prices are for fully serviced cars in good-to-great condition as of January 2021.

Photo: New Breed 4

The Garage

AFTER SPEAKING with service managers at several authorized Ferrari dealers and a few mechanics at independent shops, I learned that the 599 GTB Fiorano is relatively bulletproof. There are few consistent problems with the model, the most common being owners accidentally overfilling the 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—and you don’t want to know how much replacing a 599’s 6-liter V12 costs.

Thanks to the elimination of the dreaded rubber cam belts, maintenance costs are surprisingly low (for a supercar). Expect to pay roughly $2,500 for an annual service, with most of that cost covering the many liters of ultra-modern lubricants required.

Photo: New Breed 5

The 599 GTB Fiorano is very closely related to the 612 Scaglietti, so it’s no surprise the two models share common strengths and weaknesses. For example, early reports suggested short clutch life if either car was used regularly around town; extensive stop-and-go driving is tricky for the F1 system’s automated clutch. However, my survey of 599s revealed only three clutch replacements (two F1-equipped examples, one very rare stick-shift) from a field of roughly 100 cars—essentially the same as the two cars that needed clutches in my 100-car 612 survey. If required, a new clutch costs around $8,000.

Similarly, the 599’s carbon-ceramic brakes have proven to be nearly as indestructible as the 612’s; none of the Fioranos, which are generally driven much harder than the Scagliettis, 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 the 599 GTB’s about as reliable and well-built as anyone could ever hope a low-production exotic to be, it’s not perfect. As with the 612, the 599’s electronic instrument-panel display has suffered from power supply and/or motherboard malfunctions. A Ferrari dealer will install a brand-new instrument panel for $15,000, but F.A.I. in Costa Mesa, California will rebuild the original panel or supply a re-made one for around $1,500.

Some owners have encountered annoying glitches with the F1 shifter mechanism. Some problems were mechanical, requiring a reset of the clutch-positioning sensors, while others needed a software update. Happily, these repairs have proven pretty inexpensive, generally falling in the $1,000 range.

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599 HGTE: Although the Handling Gran Turismo Evoluzione package was a $30,000 option when introduced in 2009, cars so equipped are widely described as a separate model. The reason? The HGTE’s upgrades—which include different wheels, stickier tires, stiffer suspension, sharper steering, a faster-shifting F1 transmission, and sport seats—result in a very different, and much more sporting, driving experience. 620 hp | 3.7 seconds 0-60 mph | 205-mph top speed

As a big, heavy car with a very powerful engine, the 599 has a healthy appetite for tires. Expect to replace the front rubber every 10,000-or-so miles, the rear at around 5,000. 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 both curbs and pot holes.

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.

Last but not least, the leather on the dashboard can shrink if the car is regularly left in the sun, exposing the underlying foam and metal. It costs $6,000-8,000 to remove the dash, recover it with new leather and reinstall it. —Michael Sheehan

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.

Full-throttle upshifts are blink-of-an-eye fast, the power interruption barely noticeable. Downshifts are paired with perfect matching blips of the engine, freeing up a bit more mental horsepower to focus on the road, which is going by shockingly quickly.

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599 GTO: Ferrari applied the high-performance lessons learned from the track-only 599XX to the road-going 599 GTO. Those lessons were extensive: Compared to the 599 GTB, the GTO boasts 50 additional horsepower, 220 fewer pounds, more aggressive bodywork that doubles the downforce, wider wheels and stickier tires, second-generation SCM suspension and CCM brakes, a 430 Scuderia-style stripped interior, and much more. Production was limited to 599 examples built in 2010 and ’11. 670 hp | 3.4 seconds 0-60 mph | 208-mph top speed

The 6-liter V12 pulls steadily from 2,000 rpm, but really starts making power around 4,000. The engine’s growl gets louder as the revs rise, then changes to a roar around 7,000 rpm, as a second surge of power arrives.

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 a 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.

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SA Aperta: As it had done with the earlier 550 and 575M, Ferrari built a limited-edition, open-air 599. Named in honor of Sergio and Andrea Pininfarina, and incorporating the Italian word for “open,” the 2010 SA Aperta combined the GTO’s frantic engine with the GTB’s more-relaxed chassis setup, new bodywork, and an emergency-only fabric top. Only 80 examples were produced. 670 hp | 3.6 seconds 0-60 mph | 202-mph top speed

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

I pull the right paddle, wait for all the LEDs to light up, and pull it again. The transmission thumps me at every full-bore upshift, the engine wails away madly, the intense, relentless acceleration blurs the scenery…and it all adds up to one of the most viscerally thrilling driving experiences I’ve ever had. In an age when turbocharging has become, with few exceptions, integral to the supercar, the GTO’s instant communication between throttle and engine is a real joy, especially if you enjoy the finer nuances of driving. Put simply, it’s something only a normally aspirated engine can offer.

This behavior is also apparent when I lift off the accelerator. I’ve never driven a Ferrari with so much engine braking; it’s as if the GTO responds to my inputs as quickly as I think them. The result is an intricate, precise connection between man and machine.

As the road ebbs and flows though the countryside, I’m able to look beyond the astonishing engine and explore more of the car’s behavior. Steering weight is neither too heavy nor too light, and feedback through the wheel is spot-on. The rack is quick, and the Ferrari’s nose swings quickly in my chosen direction.

The large carbon-ceramic brakes also go about their business with ease and grace. Scrubbing serious speed is as easy as pressing firmly on the left pedal, which communicates exactly as it should. —“Triple Crown,” FORZA #150

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