The Ferrari 456 and 456 M is a front-engined grand tourer. The 456 was produced from 1992 until 2003. It was an overdue replacement for the defunct front-engined 412 as the company's premium 4-seat V12 car. The updated 456M was replaced in 2004 by the 612 Scaglietti. It was the last Ferrari model to use pop-up headlamps.
The Pininfarina designed original 456 was available in GT and (from 1996) GTA forms. The difference in name signifies the transmission: the former has a six-speed manual and the latter has a four-speed automatic developed in partnership with FF Developments, in Livonia, MI (which was later purchased by Ricardo Engineering in the UK). This was only the fourth automatic transmission ever offered by Ferrari. The 5.5 L (5474 cc) 65° V12 engine was derived from the Dino V6 rather than the more conventional 60° V12s used in the 412 and Daytona. It produced 436 hp (325 kW; 442 PS) with 4 valves per cylinder and Bosch Motronic 2.7 engine management. It could push the 1690 kg car and four passengers to 302 km/h (188 mph) making it the world's fastest production four-seater. Acceleration to 100 km/h (62 mph) was just 5.2 seconds, with a 13.4 second quarter-mile time. At the time of its development it was the most powerful road car ever developed by Ferrari (aside from the F40).
The name 456 is derived from the fact that each cylinder displaces 456 cubic centimeters. This was the last Ferrari to use this naming convention. It is essentially a detuned version of the engine that appears in the 550 and 575. Despite its supercar performance, the 456 has a relatively unstressed engine, which has proven to be a very reliable unit.
The chassis is a tubular steel spaceframe construction with a one-piece composite bonnet and body panels of aluminium. The body panels are welded to the chassis by using a special "sandwich filler" called feran that, when laid between, allows steel and aluminium to be welded.
Approximately 3,289 of all versions were built. These consisted of the following versions: 456 GT: 1,548; 456 GTA: 403; 456M GT: 688; 456M GTA: 650.
The Modificata 456 M appeared in 1998, starting with chassis number 109589. Many changes were made to improve aerodynamics and cooling, and the interior – still featuring Connolly Leather – was freshened with new seats and other conveniences (fewer gauges on dash, and a new Becker stereo fitted in front of gearstick rather than behind as in the very shallow and special Sony head unit in the 456 GT). Some readily apparent changes can be seen in the two adjoining pictures. The 456 has a smaller grille with fog lights outside the grille. The 456 also had hood-mounted air scoops which can be seen removed on the 456 M. The undercarriage spoiler on the 456 M is fixed, where the older 456 had a motorized spoiler that began its deployment above 105 km/h (65 mph). Power was up slightly on the Modificata now using Bosch Motronic 5.2 engine management at 442 hp (330 kW; 448 PS); the firing pattern was changed for smoother running, and the torque remained the same for later versions of the 456 GT. In the final year of production 2002/3 customers could specify their vehicle using the Carrozzeria Scaglietti Program. Launched at the 2002 Geneva show using Michael Schumacher's own 456M GT as an example, customers could work with Ferrari personnel to create a highly individual car. Schumacher's car had a two colour paint scheme, custom leather interior, re-worked instruments, an uprated handling pack and cross-drilled Brembo brakes. Such cars would be thus designated as a Tipo 456M GT(A) Scaglietti.
Rare body styles
While the 456 2+2 coupé was the only version to hit showrooms, four other rare body styles exist:
- The rarest is the Ferrari 456 GT Sedan. Two 4-door sedans (saloons) were built by Pininfarina especially for Nafsas Al Khaddaja of Belgium. They are the only known Ferrari 456 sedans in existence.
- A 4-door wagon (estate) called the Ferrari 456 GT Venice was also built (an example pictured at right). Only a small handful were made by Pininfarina. Prince Jefri Bolkiah of Brunei ordered seven to be built. After Pininfarina designed and built them, the prince only purchased six. Each wagon is rumored to have costed the Sultan around 1.5 million U.S. dollars.
- A convertible version called the Ferrari 456 GT Spyder also exists. Two of these convertibles were built by Pininfarina especially for the Sultan of Brunei. There are also two aftermarket conversions made by the R. Straman Company of Costa Mesa, California. Boxer Mike Tyson bought one such convertible.
- A targa top version. An aftermarket conversion on a 456GTA once belonging to Shaquille O'Neal. Additional work included removal of the rear seats, to facilitate longer seat rails, and a custom sound system.
The 5.5 L V12 engine won the "over 4 litre" class of the International Engine of the Year award for 2000 and 2001.
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