Ferrari F50 Review from North America

1996 Ferrari F50 4.7 liter V12, DOHC 60 valves

Year of manufacture1996
First year of ownership2002
Most recent year of ownership2002
Engine and transmission 4.7 liter V12, DOHC 60 valves Manual
Performance marks 10 / 10
Reliability marks 10 / 10
Comfort marks 8 / 10
Dealer Service marks 10 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 1 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
7.8 / 10
Distance when acquired1300 miles
Most recent distance1600 miles
Previous carFerrari 360 Modena

Summary:

Outlandish, beyond mere words...

Faults:

No mechanical malfunctions and/or manufacturing defects to date.

At the time of purchase, I had a major service done, and many gaskets and small parts replaced. Nothing was broken, it was just a very thorough preventative maintenance. Some of the parts took months to get ahold of.

General Comments:

Words fail me in trying to describe this vehicle. It is so far above and beyond anything I have ever experienced that I simply can't put it into words. But I sure will try!

First off, I should mention that I own a 360 spider, and before that I had a 355 spider (read my reviews, they're the long ones!). So I have experience with this sort of vehicle.

That said, the F50 makes either of those cars look downright civilized, and slow. In a word, driving it is a violent experience. Handling is so tight and so quick that you've barely framed the though and you're around the next corner. The same goes for acceleration. Think it, and you're there. The ride is extremely stiff and uncompromising -- very precise, with no body roll whatsoever. But run over a pebble, and you'll feel the bump.

It is exhilarating, in a scary sort of way. It's limits are so far above mine, I doubt I'll ever come anywhere close to them. This is about as close as you'll ever get to a race car on the road.

However, it has the faults of it's qualities, so to speak. If you want the ultimate in performance, you're going to have to sacrifice plenty. There's no luggage space. None. No stereo, no electric windows, no fancy adjustable seats, no "amenities" at all aside from air conditioning. The interior is spartan, almost stark. The car is loud, so loud that your ears will ring at full throttle (sure does sound good though). And hot, very hot. That A/C isn't an option, it's there to keep you from baking.

But who cares? None of that matters in this case. This isn't a family sedan after all, or even a sports car trying to be practical. No compromises are made at all. Priorities here are speed, and handling. Everything else is not important.

Build quality is superb, as you would expect from anything at this price. Almost everything is carbon fiber, much of it unpainted. Interior ergonomics are the best I've ever seen, and everything from the seat size to the pedal spacing is adjustable. All controls are perfectly weighted, and very precise. Again, the spartan theme holds true -- no power steering, no ABS, no fancy electronic driving aids.

The barchetta to berlinetta conversion is an amazing piece of design work. Basically, the roof panel and part of the rear body work can be unbolted, and replaced with a smaller panel to convert the car to barchetta (open top) mode.

Styling is "polarizing." I love it. Curvy, perfectly proportioned, and very purposeful. Others hate it. Hey, to each their own...

Reliability is surprisingly good, for a vehicle so highly tuned. First off, there isn't a lot of extraneous gadgetry to fail. Secondly, it is not a fragile car. Very refined, very complex, but not delicate. Yes, mine barely has any miles on it, I know. But other owners and mechanics that have worked on them concur in that assessment.

Running costs are, well... As outlandish as the car itself. Insurance costs a fortune. Any sort of repair or maintenance costs a fortune. Lots of parts are hard to find, too. Tires are expensive, and don't last long. People always ask about gas mileage, which is around 10mpg on the highway. Drive with a little gusto, and it drops a lot. But, if you can afford the car, all those costs are pretty much a drop in the bucket.

That isn't just me bragging, either. I can afford it, and it took me 2 years to justify it to myself. What I paid is a number so far removed from reality that I am ashamed to think about it.

So I don't! I plan on driving and enjoying it regularly, and driving as Enzo intended -- with a little gusto. Not a lot, because that will land you in jail. I also plan on giving every kid that asks a ride. Nothing better than sharing the experience, and keeping those kids dreaming.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 20th April, 2002

21st Jun 2002, 21:05

All I can say is, your rich!!! those things cost so much! I wish I had those I wouldn't care what it lacks of (lots of laughs)

31st Aug 2002, 21:06

Thanks for the fantastic comment on my review! You're absoloutely correct -- it has everything a sports car should, and nothing it shouldn't.

Just a quick update: I've put slightly over 1000 miles on it since I purchased it, with about 100 of those on the track. Other than needing new tires after that excursion, there have been no problems whatsoever. Driving it is still a mythical experience. Forza Ferrari!

1st Sep 2002, 03:48

If you desire an F50 that badly, you should consider buying a pre-built kit car (turnkey). You can get one which looks exactly the same. It will be lacking in performance, but nothing a few (actually many) engine/suspension upgrades can't help. Over time you'll get closer and closer to the performance for much cheaper. I have been to a kit car show and I wouldn't mind driving around any of those. They definitely turn heads. Just cruising on the street, nobody can tell the difference (assuming it's decently built out of a good kit).

18th Dec 2002, 14:31

You can't and shouldn't mention kit cars when there is discussion about the passion of Ferrari. I too have a goal, to own a 355 and there is no way I would ever consider a kit car instead of the real thing!

14th Jun 2004, 11:35

I was wondering if you still own the F50? How has the car been holding up in the last 2 years? maintainence costs so far???

17th Jun 2004, 17:49

I am just wondering what car magazine you copied your thoughts from.. because I am very sure I read those exact lines somwhere else.

You have a 360sp, and F50?!

1st Jan 2005, 18:32

Ugh! I can't believe someone is talking about a kit car in the middle of a Ferrari review.

My ultimate goal in life is to own a Ferrari. It is the reason I am in college. It is the reason I plan on grad school. It is the reason of my existence.

Ferrari cars have a mystique that I simply cannot explain. Porsches and Lamborghinis are awesome vehicles, no doubt about it... but NOTHING can touch a Ferrari.

Anyway, thanks for the review buddy.

Average review marks: 7.8 / 10, based on 1 review