Grand Touring Icons: Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano

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With the combined abilities of being both ridicuously fast and a comfortable daily driver, the 599 GTB was everything a Ferrari GT car should be.

Before the technological marvel that is the 458 Italia, there was the 599 GTB Fiorano. Since the cars have two different applications, most people didn't take note of all of the technology crammed into the 599 the same way they did with the 458. This makes a certain amount of sense, the 458 is used for going fast, so the effect of the technology can be expressed in numbers, but the 599 is rather harder to explain. But a good GT car should be difficult to explain.

There are a few other factors as well, but the quality which keeps you smiling for hours or even days of continuous driving is not one which can be found on a chart. One might say the 612 was really more of classic GT, but we've decided to include the 599 here because, with the exception of offering rear seats, the 599 did everything the 612 did just as well, even though you might expect it not to. Doubts as to its true GT prowess would be reasonable. Few descriptions of the car left out the words "F1 style", and one might think that Ferrari had pushed the performance angle just a bit too hard and ruined the car's civility.

The beauty is, somehow they didn't. To start with, you have some options when it comes to all of the go-fast parts. The carbon fiber steering wheel with LEDs to indicate engine revs and shift points is an option, and Ferrari will include a leather-wrapped normal wheel as standard equipment. The paddle-shifted sequential gearbox is also an option, and unlike the 458, the 599 was offered with an old-fashion three-pedal manual. This makes a difference because, although a sequential gearbox has clear advantages on a track, it can be thoroughly unpleasant in traffic.

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The chassis settings can be adjusted for comfortable driving too, and on the 599, it really is surprisingly comfortable. The amazing thing about the 599 is that supercar performance is there when you want it, but it can still be instantly transformed into a comfortable and easy to drive cruiser with the push of a couple buttons. As the name suggests, the engine in the 599 displaces almost exactly 6.0 liters. It is actually the V12 out of the Enzo, but here produces 612 rather than 651 horsepower. Ferrari insists that this is not detuning, but simply retuning for better road use.

Ferrari says a lot of things, but the V12 in the 599 really does offer a smoother torque delivery across a broader rev band, so perhaps there is something to this statement. Perhaps more importantly, even with a lower power rating, Road & Track clocked the 599's 0-60 time at 3.2 seconds, and that is just plain faster than an Enzo. The 599 is built with as much aluminum as possible, but GT cars are never all that light, and neither is the 599. At 3,721lbs, the 599 is actually one of the lighter of the modern cars in this series, certainly quite a lot lighter than a Bentley Continental GT. But it is also one of the more expensive.

Base price is $278,345, but most 599s sold optioned up to about $320,000. That's quite a lot, but that's just the price for the standard car, there are some ways to spend a whole lot more money on a 599. The first of these is the 599 SA Aperta. It was a convertible version of the 599 designed by Pininfarina (as was the standard car) and was used by Ferrari to commemorate the company's 80th anniversary. As such, just 80 units were produced. Then there is the infamous 599 GTO. This car created a problem for some of devoted fans of the brand. Ferrari had only produced a couple of cars with the GTO badge in the past.

This is supposed to be reserved for true racing cars, cars which were only sold to the public to meet homologation requirements. True, the 288 GTO hadn't actually been raced, but the intent was still clearly there. The 599 GTO was not a homologation car, though thoroughly track focused, many people said that it did not deserve to wear the GTO badge. Nonetheless, it was insanely fast, weighing about 200lbs less than the standard car and having the power bumped up to 661 horsepower. It is so far the fastest road-going Ferrari ever, and can lap Ferrari's test track a full second faster than an Enzo.

Unlike so many other cars, the 599 does not make you choose between all-out performance and an easy and comfortable driving experience, you can have them both in the same car. Of course, it still costs as much as those two cars might have, but the 599 is still amazing for being a car without compromises. It is spacious, well-equipped and fast as hell. It has also now been replaced, but we'd bet the F12berlinetta will be all that the 599 was and more.


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