CC Capsule: 2001 Ferrari 456M GTA – How The Other Half Lives

Life is tough for some, but not for everyone. The owner of this Ferrari, though, are probably not going to worry about having a roof over their head or rice in their belly, though fortune can be fickle. Judging by what I found next to this handsome 456, though, it seems that the dough’s still rolling in.

It’s always nice to snoop around the ritzier parts of town – provided they don’t set the hounds on you, of course. That’s how one can catch some choice CCs, both foreign and domestic (Mitsuokas are popular in those parts too – there was a very nice one just around the corner). Visiting the projects can also result in some unusual and interesting finds, but Ferraris are less likely to be parked there.

And that’s fine – classic Toyotas or Mazdas in a state of disrepair make for some great CC posts. But one cannot survive on Corollas alone, and the desire for the odd exotic V12 supercar (or two) can be overwhelming. Not that one can necessarily scratch that itch at will, but in certain parts of Tokyo, the likelihood of finding a car you’ve only seen in magazines before is relatively high.

As alluded to previously and evidenced by the previous pic’s outrageous photobombing, our featured Ferrari had a noteworthy neighbour – perhaps its replacement? – in the shape of this Aston Martin DB11. It’s a bit too recent for my liking, so I’ll stick to the other millionairemobile for this post, thank you very much. Still, this little toy is available with either a Mercedes-sourced 500hp 4-litre twin turbo V8 or Aston’s own 600hp 5.2 litre V12.

By comparison, the 20-year-old Ferrari’s 5.5 litre V12 only churns out 436hp. Both the Aston and the Ferrari weigh about the same, so I assume that this, plus the GTA’s old-fashioned 4-speed automatic, must make the English newbie noticeably brisker. But the Ferrari 456 was always more of a comfortable GT than a speed demon anyway.

That’s probably why the Sultan of Brunei, who I’m sure is a family man, ordered so many 456GT specials. He had three saloons and six wagons made by PininFarina and also took a couple Spyders, with the bespoke rear end, for those times when Mr Sultan wants a suntan. Three cars were made into convertibles by a Californian outfit after the fact (bottom right), but those were not paid in petrodollars. The standard coupé, for its part, was made in just over 3000 units from 1992 to 2003 – the longest-lived Ferrari model ever.

One look inside this Connally-clad cabin confirms that this “family Ferrari” is no racer, if there was any doubt. The lack of an iPad-sized touchscreen embedded somewhere in the dash really dates this interior more than anything else. How last century.

PininFarina’s design must have looked excitingly modern when this car arrived on the scene back in 1992. Hidden headlamps were at the height of their moment and the overall shape was re-used by PF for other cars, especially the Peugeot 406C. Maybe that’s why the car hardly changed at all in over a decade in production. The only noticeable external change, when the “M” for modificata was added to the model number in 1998, was the slightly smaller grille with fog lamps.

Front-engined Ferraris are legendary beasts. As far as I’m concerned, they’re all works of art – the most recent ones (such as the 812 Superfast) are a bit too brusque, as are all performance cars nowadays, but from the 166 Inter of the late ‘40s up to the 612 Scaglietti and the 599, what a spectacular lineage. Owning one is sheer madness, so I’m glad there are some folks in this city who have much more money than sense – more yen than zen, if you will – and just leave V12 supercars lying about. Gives us CCers something to salivate over, if nothing else.