Ferrari 550 & 575M Maranello
The first production front-engined two-seat Ferrari since the Daytona, the 550 Maranello was, like almost all its predecessors, designed by Pininfarina and features various design cues from classic Ferraris. With extensive work in the wind-tunnel a drag coefficient of 0.33 was achieved whilst (perhaps more significantly) a car capable of well over 300km/h was developed without any wings or prominent aerodynamic devices. The body is a steel frame to which are welded light alloy panels.
The engine is an all alloy V12 with 48 valves, four camshafts, variable inlet geometry, a variable back pressure exhaust system, dry-sump lubrication, titanium conn-rods, etc.... The transmission is mounted together with the differential in the transaxle at the rear of the car to improve the weight distribution, the latter being almost 50:50. Traction control and selectable electro-hydraulic suspension are fitted, as is power assisted steering, ABS and an electronic brake distribution system.
At the Paris Motorshow in 2000 Ferrari unveiled an open version of the 550, called the 550 Barchetta. This is mechanically the same as the coupé; visually the roof is removed, the cockpit features carbon-fibre trim, the windscreen shortened and a revised upper rear bodywork fitted, the latter including two fixed, leather clad roll hoops. These revisions increase the drag coefficient from 0.33 to 0.41. Out of sight, the structure has been strengthened to compensate for the loss of rigidity due to the lack of the roof, whilst the windscreen surround has been reinforced to act as a roll-bar in the case of the car rolling. No proper soft-top is provided, there being only an 'emergency' roof in case of adverse weather conditions, only usable up to 80km/h.
April 2002 saw the 550 replaced by the 575M Maranello, the M standing for 'Modificata' (modified). Basically a heavily revised and developed 550, the main change is the increased engine capacity, up to 5748cc. The new unit gives a significant increase in power, up to 515bhp @ 7,250rpm. The electro-hydraulic F1 type gearchange becomes available (for the first time on a V12 Ferrari), whilst adaptive suspension also makes an appearance, with 'Sport' and 'Comfort' settings for the independently controlled damping.
Other modifications include an improved braking system, modified wheels, an electronic tyre pressure monitoring system, modified headlights, redesigned instrumentation and revised air ducting in the front spoiler. The drag coefficient remains the same at 0.33.
Late 2004 saw a new 575M-based concept appear, the Superamerica. Using a novel rotating electro-chromatic roof it was a coupe-convertible with a difference. Click here for images.
Engine 5474cc (85x77mm) 65° V12 48V dohc (per bank) with 485bhp @ 7,000rpm (550)
5748cc (89x77mm) 65° V12 48V dohc (per bank) with 515bhp @ 7,250rpm (575M)
Suspension front : double wishbones and coil springs
rear : double wishbones and coil springs
switchable dampers with 'Sport' and 'Normal' settings
wheelbase : 2490mm
Brakes ventilated discs all round (diameter : front 330mm, rear 310mm)
all with Brembo 4-pot callipers, servo assistance and ABS
Transmission 6 speed manual plus self-locking diff
electro-hydraulic system with steering-wheel paddles optional on 575M
Steering rack and pinion with speed sensitive power assistance (ZF)
2.2 turns lock-to-lock (575M : 2.1)
Kerb weight 550 : 1,690kg (both Barchetta and coupé)
575M : 1,730kg
Various pictures of the FIA GT 550 in action. See our picture gallery index for images from museums, motorshows and events.
There are also wallpapers/desktop backgrounds available to download, including the GT 550.
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