6 Times Ferrari Made Less Than Perfect Cars

Car Culture / 14 Comments

The horse isn't always prancing.

Ferrari is the most desirable car brand globally and owns a long list of modern and historical cars that collectors will pay crazy money for. It also has a long list of customers who will jump through the hoops Ferrari holds up to buy its latest and greatest models. Besides that, there's the brand's long and storied history in racing that has never rested on its laurels. However, although we can enjoy spectacular models like the SF90 Stradale and F8 Tributo today, Ferrari has never been perfect. It's impossible for any brand or person to consistently be at the top of their game over decades, and Ferrari is no exception. Mistakes have been made, and these are the more interesting ones from Ferrari's storied history.

Ferrari

1. 1989-1995 Ferrari 348

Let's start with the most obvious - the Ferrari 348. It's that bad that Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, chairman of Ferrari from 1991 to 2014, more than once described it as one of the worst cars to wear a Ferrari badge. It was the car that came into existence in the wilderness between Enzo Ferrari's death and di Montezemolo taking the helm.

The 348 didn't get overwhelmingly negative reviews across the board, and we suspect part of that is because of an old-school unwillingness to criticize Ferrari - particularly in Europe. However, a Car and Driver review pointed out that "This car feels as if it had four-wheel steering-with the rears steering in the wrong direction." A MotorTrend review revealed that "Its 0-60 mph time of about 6 seconds can be bested by such lesser-priced machinery as an L98 Corvette. Its slalom speed of a little over 63 mph is flat blown away by the humbly priced Nissan 300ZX Turbo."

Besides its lack of performance, the 348 had a hefty yet fussy manual transmission. While this would have typically been forgiven, the first-generation Honda NSX - known in the USA as the Acura NSX, of course - was showing everyone how a supercar could change gears. As for the 348's design, it was let down by zero-effort wheels and taillight designs.

Ferrari
Ferrari
Ferrari
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2. 1980–1993 Ferrari Mondial

The Mondial wasn't Ferrari's first mid-engined four-seater car. The 308 GT4 got a lot of stick in the 1970s, and Ferrari should have learned some lessons but still made something that looked even more awkward. You could, however, argue it shouldn't be on this list as it was in production for 13 years and around 6,000 were sold. The problem was that what it gained in practicality and reliability, it lost in performance. The engine was based on the 308 GT4's 3.0-liter V8, so it was well developed if lacking in power. At the time, independent testing showed that the Mondial took over eight seconds to hit 60 mph - a yawn-inducing number for anything with a Ferrari badge.

Over the years and variations, Ferrari improved the power with larger variations on the engine, and the reviews were generally favorable for power and performance.

Ferrari
Ferrari
Ferrari

3. 1980 Ferrari 312T5

When it comes to Formula 1 stinkers, there have been worse. However, the Ferrari 312T5 was one of the worst to carry the prancing horse logo. In 1980, the 312T5 was primarily responsible for one of Ferrari's worst Formula One seasons to date. It failed to finish in 10 of the 15 races that year and managed to score exactly no poles, no podiums, and no wins. Its highest finish of 5th place was a heroic drive by Jody Scheckter, who had won the F1 driver's championship the year before. The car was outclassed by just about everyone and didn't develop at all through the season. It was a shame, as it was the final iteration of the successful 312B3 race car from 1974 and replaced entirely for 1981, and the car's designer, Mauro Forghieri, was demoted. It was another two generations of the race car before Ferrari got its real mojo back with the F1/86 for the 1986 season.

Ferrari
Ferrari

4. 2004-2011 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti

The essential ingredients of a Ferrari are performance and style. The 612 Scaglietti had performance, although Car And Driver managed to both praise and condemn it in a single sentence by describing it as "a naturally graceful car to drive slowly." It was fast, though, due to its potent V12, and it had the grip and handling you expect of even a four-seater Ferrari. However, style is even more important for an "executive 2+2," and, frankly, the 612 Scaglietti's front end is where all the damage is. It looks like it could have been generated by early 2000s-era Chrysler designers after learning they were getting a pay cut. The good news for those who aren't offended by its looks is that it's nice to drive, fast as hell, relatively reliable, and still comes up for sale often enough.

2008-2010 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti Front View Ferrari
2008-2010 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti Front Angle View Ferrari
2008-2010 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti Rear Angle View Ferrari
2008-2010 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti Engine Ferrari

5. 1966 Ferrari 330 P3

Not only one of Ferrari's prototype series of race cars, but the 330 P3 is also one of the brand's most beautiful race cars, following on from the 330 P2 and preceding the legendary P4. However, the 330 P3 was not a reliable race car, particularly when it came to the transmission. It wasn't generally unsuccessful, but we're talking about it here because it's the car that allowed Ford to own Le Mans in 1966 and embarrass Enzo Ferrari personally in the process. "I remember being worried about the transmission on the P3 and I knew that the Fords had clocked the best times during practice and would set off at speed," recounts Ferrari driver Jean Guichet, "... and, to make it to the finish, I knew we needed to take care of the car early in the race. I was fifth after four laps, but after the sixth hour, the car was hit by one problem after another. We were the last Ferrari P3 to remain on the track, but we had to pull out in the 17th hour."

Ferrari
Ferrari
Ferrari

6. Ferrari 250 GT Coupe

Enjoy the comments from people who aren't reading the words but know that the 250 was an incredible road racer and the most valuable cars in the world are from the 250 series. The misstep here is that it used a tractor clutch that cost 10-lira and charged a customer with two 250 GT Coupes that built tractors called 1000-lire to replace. In a first-hand account to Car And Driver, test-driver Valentino Balboni said that Ferruccio Lamborghini told Enzo Ferrari, "You build your beautiful cars with my tractor parts." An infuriated Ferrari insulted Lamborghini, saying, "You are a tractor driver, you are a farmer. You shouldn't complain about driving my cars because they're the best cars in the world."

Lamborghini responded by telling Ferrari he would build a sports car himself and show Ferrari how it should be. To be fair, most Italian sports car makers were using the same clutch, but it was Enzo Ferrari's arrogance that brought forth his company's greatest rival when it comes to selling road cars.

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