Not since the 412’s demise in 1989 had Ferrari offered a ‘2+2’, and when the 456 GT debuted at the Paris Salon in October 1992 it was obvious that the long awaited newcomer eclipsed all Maranello’s previous four-seat Grand Tourers. Although new from stem to stern, the 456 GT incorporated elements familiar to generations of Ferrari cognoscenti – front-mounted four-cam V12, rear transaxle, tubular steel spaceframe chassis and all-independent suspension – while making an appearance for the first time were electronically-controlled adaptive suspension and a six-speed gearbox (there was also an optional automatic). Essentially a de-tuned version of that powering the 550 and 575, the new 5.5-litre V12 unleashed no less than 442bhp at a lowly 6,250rpm yet remained smooth and tractable from idling speed to red-line thanks to its state-of-the-art engine management system. F40 excepted, the 456 was the most powerful road car developed by Ferrari up to that time, yet despite delivering supercar performance this relatively unstressed engine has proven to be very reliable.
For the 456, Pininfarina worked its magic once more to create a subtly beautiful curvaceous body contrasting with the hard edges of its predecessor. Although bereft of extraneous aerodynamic devices, the 456 remained stable up to its maximum of around 190mph, a figure that made it the world’s fastest production four-seater passenger car. Acclaimed on its debut, the 456’s styling has not dated and is a tribute to Pininfarina’s farsightedness in creating one of most successful designs of modern times. An air-conditioned interior, sumptuous Connolly leather trim, perfectly weighted power steering and Porsche-rivalling build quality all combined to make the 456GT a worthy competitor for Bentley, Aston Martin and Mercedes-Benz.
This example is finished in a wonderful and unusual colour combination. The Ferrari has been used sparingly, and has, for its most recent history formed part of a collection of Ferraris in Surrey. Maintained by marque specialists, and as one would expect is described by the vendor as in generally good condition having had over £7,000 spent on it this year. With useable room in the rear, the 456 GT is one of the most practical of Ferrari Grand Tourers; the majority on offer boast relatively high ‘mileages’ so a little used and well looked after example such as this is truly a rare find.