Featured: Why Do We Always Forget The Ferrari 456?

Why Do We Always Forget The Ferrari 456?

Ted Gushue By Ted Gushue
January 11, 2017
30 comments

Photography by Ted Gushue

I finally had a chance to ask that question to a dear friend the other day when we were shooting his 911 in Bedford New York. Ben Clymer is the founder of Hodinkee.com, what I and many others consider to be the gold standard of the watch world. Ben’s had the pleasure of being in the right place at the right time for a whole number of exceptional cars, one of the latest being a very very clean 456.

Ted Gushue: Why is the 456 the Ferrari that we all like to forget about?

Ben Clymer: It’s a very forgettable car. It’s one of those cars where I’ve often said if you saw that car and it didn’t have badges on it you would think it was a mid-90s Mazda. It’s a very understated, a very kind of round, unsexy car in some ways. It is not something that gets the girls. It’s no something that gets your juices flowing in the way that a GTO or even the Enzo or some of the crazier modern cars do. It is very, very docile. It is very, very understated and it is largely forgotten, which is what I love about it.

It’s a car that has always been attractive to me ever since I was in high school. A friend’s father owned one. I was just like, “Wow, this is such a cool car because it’s completely practical and yet it’s a V-12 Ferrari.” The appeal of owning a V-12 Ferrari is very real for all of us, obviously.

TG: None of the performance, all of the maintenance, is what you’re telling me?

BC: It’s a lot of that. It has a lot of the performance at the high end. At the lower gears, 0 to 60, it’s not a rocket ship. It’s 0 to 60 in like 5.2 seconds. It’s got 450 horsepower, which for the early ’90s is a beast, but you really feel the power from like 70 to 120. It is one of the most exciting cars you can possibly imagine at that speed. 0 to 60, it’s not about that. It’s about touring and being able to travel long distances at speed and in comfort. I’ve put four people in this car and we’ve traveled for two hours.

TG: You’re still friends with them?

BC: [Laughs] It’s one of those things where, again, it is so understated. The muffler on this car is amazing in the sense that you can’t even hear it. Unless you’re really grinding it you can’t even really hear the car, which I might change down the road because it’s kind of a shame to have that much kind of beauty and not be able to hear it.

TG: What’s the community like around the 456? Have you met other owners?

BC: They’re out there. I took it to Lime Rock this year and put it out on the infield and I had two people offer to buy the car on the spot. What’s amazing about this car is you often see 550 Maranellos with six-speeds. That’s how most of them came. With the 456 it was kind of like an old man’s car even back then. The vast majority, I think it’s something like 90% of them, are automatic. I mean pure automatic. There’s no F1 transmission or anything, so to find one with a six-speed is actually quite rare.

This one is in Tour de France blue over a natural tan interior. It is, I think, the most desirable version of the car. It’s the 456 that I would’ve designed had I been buying it new. There is a small, small cult following around there, but, again, it doesn’t get people going like a 550 Maranello but I like that. It’s a true “genleman’s Ferrari”.  At the same time, it’s a little “old man”, but then again I’m kind of an old man at heart, so it works with me.

TG: Do you see the market maturing around these cars? If not, do you care?

BC: I definitely care. I’ve been watching 550s and 456s for about three years and actively had been looking to buy one. The market for the 550s over the past three years has almost doubled for a really good one. For a low mileage, one or two owner car it was going from, I would say three years ago, $75,000-$80,000. Now a really good one’s $150,000 every day of the week. The 456 has not really increased. I would say they were $60,000 three years ago and now for a good one I think $90,000. Something like that. They’re still well below even what a 550 is. I think they will mature because in my opinion, this is the last great analog V-12.

There’s no navigation, which I think is wonderful. I wouldn’t want just a dead screen in my car. I plan to keep this for decades. No navigation, real V-12, and it really is a beautiful GT. It’s a car that you can drive and have so much fun in without causing a stir and a commotion everywhere you go.

TG: I like the idea of not having a dead screen because so many of these cars from the period now are just driving around with this really awkward black screen that nobody uses.

BC: It’s terrible. That’s one of those things when I look at cars that I want to buy for myself, I never buy a car just to keep for a few years. I look for something that I would love to pass down to my children someday. Having that dead screen, it’s a nonstarter. I just couldn’t do it.

TG: There is a certain planned obsolescence that they had built into those that was very un-Ferrari. Car manufacturers found themselves putting GPS devices in their cars in the late ’90s, early ‘00s. They were and are making this very conscious decision to implement technology that would be visually obsolete in a few short years. I feel like they hadn’t made that type of decision before.

BC: Exactly. I think you really see the transition from thinking about selling a car right now to creating something that is really multi-generational and really lasting, which Ferrari and Porsche, all the great manufacturers had always been doing kind of unbeknownst to them. Then all the sudden, they started to want to sell things quickly. I think one of the most interesting applications of playing it both ways was the BMW Z8 because it has a tiny, tiny navigation screen. Probably two inches by two inches, and it’s hidden under a panel. So you can open it up and use it, but you can also put it away and nobody can see it, which I think is kind of a cute way of doing things.

TG: That’s Fisker for you.

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30 Comments on "Why Do We Always Forget The Ferrari 456?"

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Johnathan Sievers
Johnathan Sievers
I always wanted a 12-cylinder car and a Ferrari, so I bought my 456M GTA because it was the least expensive car that fit both criteria. Little did I know at the time what a wonderful choice it would turn out to be. First off, the 456 is classically beautiful with style unlike any modern exotic car. This is one of Pininfarina’s most elegant designs and it is a joy to savor how the clean, simple lines and curves flow together in harmony. Second, the 456 is comfortable and usable every day, should one wish to do so, with excellent… Read more »
Denis Spratt
Denis Spratt

What whees are on there?
And is the car lowered?

Coenraad Erasmus
Coenraad Erasmus

Wrong wheels make it a little less tasteful, unfortunately..

bill lee
bill lee

Most came with automatics that was the down side

Sam Hancock
Sam Hancock

So wonderful to hear all these lovely comments, I thought I was alone in loving these cars! I own Rowan Atkinson’s old green one, pre-‘M’, with pillar-box red interior and I just can’t get enough. I personally cherish originality and the designer’s intentions, so am not a fan of after market wheel changes – although I wouldn’t say to to a tiny bot more volume from the exhausts. Seems a shame to mute a superb V12! (ps: would love to hear more about the Japanese owner’s club!) Have a feeling the 456 may soon have it’s deserved resurgence.

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Peter Lukáč
Peter Lukáč

I like very much design of this car. It´s not what I would call stunning, but I like very much it´s elegant and decent look. That´s what I call timeless design!

cbell92129
cbell92129

Beautiful!

Joesph Smif
Joesph Smif

This article is awesome in every way. Love the 456…

Paul Eisenberg
Paul Eisenberg

Love my Blue Beast. Tubis, Badges, and some HLW wheels make it pop a little more. Lots of fun.

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Amir Kakhsaz
Amir Kakhsaz

You couldn’t give the M/T version of this car (or any Ferrari for that matter) away when new. Now, the only ones worth getting are the M/T.

I’m not a fan of the wheels (Novitec?), but the color combo is excellent and Ben most definitely needs to open that exhaust up a bit.

Put me down for a fully-depreciated 612 with M/T in a couple years 🙂

Bruno Laranjeira

Amazing. I have a longstanding appreciation for this car. I own the pseudo-brother Peugeot 406 Coupe that was inspired by the fantastic design of the Ferreri 456 GT. When does Petrolicius take a photo reportage of the Peugeot 406 Coupe? I love your reporting. Here I find excellent texts and photographs. My sincere congratulations. I’m waiting for a report from the Italian Peugeot. Best regards from Portugal.

Hashimoto Jun

hello.
I’m fix only 456GT in japan.
many 456GT and 456M live in japan.
I have owners club only for 456 in japan.

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Sam Hancock
Sam Hancock

This is fantastic! I own Rowan Atkinson’s old green one, pre-‘M’, with pillar-box red interior and I just can’t get enough. Would love to hear more about your club. I could organise one in London..

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Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger
A damn good question … and one I do not have the final answer for. Because lets face it .. if we were to be honest placing all F1 wanna be and excess terminal velocity pretense aside we’d have to admit that the 456 was the last truly beautiful .. never mind elegant Ferrari design to of been built . Ever since then its been one generic Cosmic Jellybean after another in the vain search for unusable aerodynamics in the quest to provide a fake F1 experience . The best answer I can offer is that much like its older… Read more »
Maarten Coelingh
Maarten Coelingh

Is “of” a new auxiliary verb?

Dieut et mon Droit
Dieut et mon Droit

that shifter

Zizou
Zizou

Own a 1995 456GT, all early 456s were 6 speed manuals. I too was at the Ferrari weekend at Lime Rock in Sept 2016. Able to take the car on the track that day, high RPMs on No Name Straight and the engine comes alive. Intoxicating. Then drive home in the Gentlemen’s Ferrari.

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Jonathan WC Mills
Jonathan WC Mills

I haven’t either! But I’ve always preferred the other old man’s car…the 612 Scaglietti (pre-black screen edition of course)

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Sam N
Sam N

GS, I would expect nothing less than a Cosby quote from you.

F40nut
F40nut

The 612 is a stunning specimen rolling down the boulevard, and a masterpiece inside. It truly embraces the prize fighter dressed in a tuxedo essence. I would gladly add one in black/tan to my own stable, space willing.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger
Old man’s car my *** sonny boy ! All bets are the 456 is so beyond your capabilities it isn’t even funny ! As for the 612 … its a joke .. and a very bad and expensive useless joke at that . And to come back to the ‘ old man’ snipe . A little wisdom junior … ” Old age , experience , cunning and guile beats out youth and enthusiasm every time ” Or to put it in my own words … which I have on many an appropriate occasion .. Yeah son … I probably am… Read more »
Merrill Aldrich
Merrill Aldrich

I haven’t forgotten … wonderful car

Matthew
Matthew

550 Maranellos only came in manual. There was no F1 option

Jack B
Jack B

Yes, you’d think it shouldn’t be necessary to make that point.

308GT4 Dino
308GT4 Dino

Great pictures, Ive always liked the 456

Per Eldh
Per Eldh

Funny, I testdrove a worn but fantastic manual 456 before I bought my BMW Z4M Coupe. I thought it would feel big and heavy but it felt like a pretty rapid Miata – astonishing!
I should have bought the Ferrari but I take comfort in that I chose a completely analogue Z4M, without nav screen.

Sam N
Sam N

Horological machine BC was sporting for the interview/shoot?

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange

Only about a 1/3 of the total production of all 456s were autos and for the M version featured here it’s about 50/50.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

Thats telling them Mr Lange ! Make that two thumbs up … if the system’d allow me to .

Winston
Winston

Great car , fun to drive . At Kaguna Seca was a thrill !

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