Not since the 412’s demise in 1989 had Ferrari offered a ‘2+2’ and when the 456GT 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 456GT 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. 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. An automatic transmission version, known as the 456GT A, became available for 1997 and then two years later the model was given its one-and-only makeover, re-emerging as the subtly restyled and improved 456 M GT.
This right hand drive automatic transmission example of the latter has covered just 27,000 miles from new and comes with substantial service history with main dealers and recognised specialists, including the stamped service booklet and related bills, the most recent of which at 27,600 miles in December 2015. Finished in Grigio with red leather interior, the car is in excellent condition, as one would expect with such a low mileage example. Offered with the aforementioned service history, all handbooks, current MoT and Swansea V5.