Universally held as the most illustrious auto marque on the planet, the brand that Enzo Ferrari built is one of the oldest names in motorsports and one of the few automakers that can honestly call their cars works of art. But which Ferraris most truly represent the brand? Which are the best? It’s a difficult question to answer.
In addition to their legendary style and performance, Ferrari builds many different models. It’s not uncommon for an exotic marque to limit production to only a single model. Lamborghini currently offers two, not counting convertibles. Ferrari offers seven, and while this wasn’t always the case, the brand has produced enough one-offs to fill books without ever mentioning a production car.
So, which of these cars best capture the artistic flair and sporting lineage that make the prancing horse an icon? Read on to find out.
10. 488 GTB
Today Ferrari’s lineup has few, if any, weak spots, but there are some who questioned the decision to use a turbocharged V-8 in the successor to their lauded 458 Italia.
You could make the case that the 458 belongs on this list, since it can tear up a mountain with ease, but the fact that its offspring has preserved that car’s telepathic handling and essential Ferrari flavor, whilst delivering an extra hundred horsepower, proves that not only is Ferrari competent, but they’re also progressive.
9. 365 GTB/4
Daytona is a track you associate more with NASCAR than with Ferrari these days, but when Ferrari’s P4 race cars finished first, second and third in the 24 hours of Le Mans at Daytona, they felt qualified to use the name.
Hence the 365 GTB/4 was born, and it went into battle with Lamborghini’s shapely Miura, armed with lightweight alloy body panels and a 352 horsepower V-12 able to vault it to 174 mph — faster than the Lambo’ would go. It’s considered the first “modern” Ferrari.
8. 512 TR
Certain cars were made to grace the walls of children’s bedrooms. In the 1980s, the Lamborghini Countach was the best-known of them, but for buyers who couldn’t handle the Frank Zappa submarine styling of the Countach, Ferrari offered a classy alternative in the 512 TR Testarossa. It featured a flat-12, producing nearly 500 horsepower, and an iconic shape with its defining side vents.
Its name, a tribute to another beautiful, race-winning Ferrari, means “red head.” Sultry.
7. 275 GTB/4
How do you follow the most beautiful car of all time? If there’s anyone who can answer that question, it’s Enzo Ferrari and the 275 GTB, which made a fitting next step after the legendary 250 GTO. It featured a larger 3.3-liter V-12, aggressive bodywork, a revised drivetrain and a dry-sump lubrication system for racing.
It was even good enough to make Nicholas Cage’s list of cars in “Gone in 60 Seconds”, that’s got to be worth something, right? Extra points if you can find a NART Spyder version — it’ll cost you a kidney.
Say what you will about its name, the LaFerrari is simply one of the most overwhelmingly dominant cars on the road today. Its 9000 rpm V-12 alone produces 788 horsepower, and that’s before you factor in the help from its electric motors and F1-derived KERS system, along with a number of other technological marvels.
As we edge closer to the end of an era where driver involvement actually matters, we could be looking at one of the auto industry’s finest achievements in the LaFerrari.
5. Dino 246 GT
Enzo Ferrari and Henry Ford had more in common than a fierce passion for racing — they both lost sons. For Ferrari, that son was Alfredino, heir to the Ferrari racing empire. Enzo launched the Dino brand in tribute to his late son, and the second of two models released by the Ferrari offshoot was the 246 GT.
While some refuse to acknowledge it as a “true” Ferrari, you can’t deny its beauty and foreshadowing of later, mid-engine cars like the 355, 360 Modena and 458 Italia.
4. 330 P3/4 Berlinetta
Ford’s GT40 is the stuff of legend, thanks to the Cinderella story of Carrol Shelby’s and Ken Miles’ efforts to defeat Ferrari at Le Mans. But even though they lost, Ferrari produced a formidable and seductive competitor in the 330 P3/4.
Considered one of the most beautiful racing cars of all time, the P3/4 was a nimbler and more reliable car than Ford’s sledgehammer GT, and while it didn’t end up taking the checkered flag, it’s still remembered as an accomplishment from racing’s golden age.
3. 288 GTO
If the F40 is the prototype of the modern supercar, the 288 GTO is its grandfather. The 288 resembled Ferrari’s Berlinetta boxer and 308 of the early ‘80s, but a closer look revealed the shorter body, stretched wheelbase and flared fenders of a Group B racecar. That’s exactly what the GTO was, but sadly it never spun a wheel in anger.
Its 2.8-liter twin-turbo V8 and basic skeleton would go on to form the basis for the groundbreaking F40.
Ferrari and Porsche defined the modern supercar in twelve months in an arms race that gave us the whale-tale 959 and perhaps Ferrari’s most recognizable car, the F40. A pioneer of lightweight carbon fiber construction, the F40 famously eclipsed the 197mph top speed of the 959 by breaking the 200mph barrier in 1987.
Even today, it’s considered one of the most visceral driving experiences, bar none.
1. 250 GTO
Quite possibly the most beautiful car ever created. The original “Gran Tourismo Omologato” derived its beauty from purpose, and that purpose was speed. Using Ferrari’s Columbo V-12, the GTO delivered Sir Stirling Moss and the Scuderia team several racing wins in the early 1960s, all while making sweet, sweet music from its legendary gem of an engine.
There are enough flavors of the 250 out there to fill this list by themselves, but for the sake of variety, we’ll just put this here and let you do the searching.
With a list like this, there’s bound to be some difference in opinion. Let us know what we got right and what we got wrong in the comments!
Scott Huntington is a writer and car fanatic from Harrisburg, PA.