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Ferrari 456: The Next Big Thing

The beautiful 456 signalled a return for the front-engined V12 Ferrari, and they're great value today

There aren’t many hard and fast rules when it comes to predicting The Next Big Thing, but if there’s one thing you can rely on it’s the power of the prancing horse. We’ve spoken about the increasing demand for the 360 Modena, but that’s simply the tip of the iceberg. The Ferraris that have always offered the cheapest entry points, like the 308GTB, Testarossa and even the truly unloved Mondial to an extent, are all looking a lot more pricey recently, with the best examples making significant amounts of money at auction and through dealers.

With that in mind, the market is already looking to the next generation, and it seems the Ferrari 456 is starting to ruffle a few feathers. The 1990s wasn’t famed for its exciting or ground-breaking styling, and the 456 is a reflection of that. It’s subtle, understated and – to my eyes at least – utterly breathtaking, without shouting too loudly about it.

Given the 456’s primary function as a comfortable and user-friendly grand tourer, about half were bought with the automatic gearbox option – meaning you’ll now pay a slight premium if you want that iconic open-gate six-speeder. Retailing for north of £150,000 when new this classy coupe was seriously expensive, but did offer 442bhp, 188mph performance from its all-new 5.5-litre 48 valve V12 engine.

It also represented a return to the classic front-engined layout for Ferrari, offering a cozy 2+2 interior. Thanks to the use of a transaxle and a sophisticated electronic damper system, ride and handling are excellent, if not quite as focused as the 550 Maranello. It’s unusual for a Ferrari, but you’re also quite unlikely to find one in red…

Today, prices start at less than £30,000 for a well-used example, although you could spend up to £100k on one of the best later cars (production didn’t stop until 2003 for the 456M). Like the more modern 612 and 599 Ferraris, the 456 has so far proven to be more pretty robust, although the usual warnings apply. Clutches wear quickly, and the electrics are not particularly reliable. Prices bottomed out a while ago, and while it’s still possible to pick up a bargain, the days of the £30,000 Ferrari 456 are well and truly numbered.

Read the full Ferrari 456 buying guide, and browse the classifieds here

Also consider…

Aston Martin DB7 V12 Vantage
If it’s classy looks and a V12 engine you’re after, this British alternative has a lot to offer. Just as fast, and actually more of a bargain from around £27k.

Maserati 4200 GT
In a lot of ways this V8 Maserati offers the same understated appeal as the 456, with slightly more bearable (although not by much) running costs

Peugeot 406 Coupe 3.0 V6
No, we’re not kidding. This Peugeot coupe looks a million dollars, thanks to its Pininfarina styling. Just don’t try sticking Ferrari badges and bodykits on it like so many do…

Words: Matthew Hayward // Images: evo magazine

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