Everyone has an off day – and with a history spanning seven decades, even one of the most famous marques can get things wrong. For every iconic creation like the F40 or 250 LM, there are Ferraris that don’t hit the mark.
It’s worth remembering that this is all relevant; even the worst Ferrari still has a certain majesty. But not all live up to the high expectations created by that illustrious badge.
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1971 Ferrari 365 GTC/4
Using the chassis from the legendary 365 GTB/4 Daytona should have endowed this V12-powered GT with panache. However, despite being styled by Pininfarina, the 365 GTC/4 managed to lose most of the design flair seen in the Daytona. Its 4.4-litre twelve-cylinder engine was actually detuned to 340hp to make it better suited to a GT car.
Adding extra seats to make the 365 GTC/4 a 2+2 certainly did little to help the proportions, making it appear more like a Toyota 2000GT designed with a ruler. The rubber-trimmed front bumper is perhaps the greatest offence to the eyes, though, losing all of the delicate detailing seen in the preceding Daytona.
1973 Dino 308 GT4 / 1975 Dino 208 GT4
Created in honour of Enzo Ferrari’s son, who died at the age of just 24, the Dino brand was applied to a range of cars intended to be affordable entry-level offerings. Following on from the 206 and 246 GTs introduced in the late 1960s, the 308 GT4 made a debut at the 1973 Paris Motor Show. It was notable for being the first Ferrari styled by Bertone, who created a wedge-shaped 2+2 mid-engined V8 machine.
Whilst the regular 308 GT4 featured a 3.0-litre V8 producing 252hp, the displacement of this engine pushed the car into a higher tax bracket in Italy. To get around this, Ferrari created the 208 GT4, reducing the bore of the engine to bring it below two litres in capacity. The result was a power output of only 168hp, with top speed falling from 155mph to just 136mph.
1980 Ferrari 208 GTB / 1982 208 GTB Turbo
Once the 208 GT4 finished production in 1980, Ferrari was quick to replace it with another tax-dodging 2.0-litre special. Clothed in the body of the new 308 GTB, the 208 looked identical to its bigger-engined brother. However, a power output of 153hp meant an un-Ferrari-like top speed of 134mph.
Although the idea of a turbocharged Ferrari might seem like a modern creation, Maranello experimented with forced-induction on road cars some 35 years ago. In order to address the performance problem of the 208 GTB, Ferrari fitted a KKK turbocharger to the 2.0-litre V8. Output was boosted to 217hp, bringing it somewhat closer to the contemporary 308 Quattrovalvole.
1980 Ferrari Mondial 8 / Mondial T
Should a Ferrari ever really be practical? The modern GTC4Lusso might suggest so, but Ferrari also combined four seats and a mid-engined layout in the 1980s. Succeeding the 308 GT4, the Mondial has a reputation for being too rational, and lacking performance compared to contemporary offerings. American road tests in particular struggled to achieve 0-60mph in under 9 seconds, creating an long-lasting poor legacy.
Maranello continued to develop the Mondial throughout the 1980s, with a more powerful Quattrovalvole model introduced in 1983, along with a convertible version. Following a 3.2-litre upgrade in 1985, the ultimate Mondial was the T – introduced in 1989. The V8 engine was now mounted longitudinally, and produced some 296hp. The years of modifications emboldened the Mondial, but it still remains one of the most unloved and cheapest routes into Ferrari ownership.
1984 Ferrari Testarossa
The 1980s were the era of excess, and nothing proves this more than the sheer ridiculousness of the Testarossa. Succeeding the pretty Berlinetta Boxer, the Testarossa had the styling of a door wedge, but with added side strakes. It was also wide, impractically so, at almost two metres across due to the desire to improve interior space and mount the radiators at the rear.
Being heavily featured in the Miami Vice TV series has perhaps not aided the questionable image of the Testarossa, but the car itself proved popular at the time. Over 7,000 examples were built, all powered by a flat-12 engine with 385hp. The revised 512 TR, introduced in 1991, fixed many of the problems of the Testarossa and attracts much higher market values today.
1985 Ferrari 412
Following a lineage that began with the 365 GT4 2+2 in 1973, the 412 was the final incarnation in a series of grand tourers. It’s greatest sin was looking so very un-Ferrari-like, with straight lines making it appear subdued to the point of being invisible. This wasn’t a Ferrari for wailing around the hills in, but designed to be used in a manner in line with its sober-suited looks.
The 412 even came with the option of a three-speed General Motors automatic gearbox for its 335hp 4.9-litre V12 engine. Doing so knocked the 0-60mph time down from the manual’s relatively credible 6.7 seconds to a more lacklustre 8.3 seconds. At least there was no external badging to tell everyone you had bought the slower self-shifting version.
1989 Ferrari 348 TB / 348 TS
Creating a brand-new mid-engined V8 Ferrari from scratch should have delivered a world-beating machine. Following the successful 328 range, the new 348 used a 3.4-litre V8 with 296hp. Styling was borrowed, almost too much, from the larger Testarossa, with slats covering virtually every opening. The alloy wheels, although a classic Ferrari five-spoke design, also failed to be inspiring.
Styling aside, the greatest crime of the 348 was the fact it just wasn’t as good as the competition. The emergence of the Honda NSX demonstrated how brilliant a mid-engined supercar could be, leaving the 348 looking hamstrung. Ferrari was stung by the criticism, with the replacement F355 going on to be a world-beater – and showing just how poor the original 348 had actually been.
2004 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti
Frank Stephenson has been responsible for overseeing the styling of some highly-commendable cars, including the first MINI hatchback, Maserati Gran Turismo, and much of the current McLaren range. The styling of the 612 Scaglietti doesn’t quite compare, though, with the all-aluminum bodywork appearing clumsy and unresolved – especially in lighter colours.
The tiny rear lights also looked lost in the bulk of the rear bodywork, while the deeply scalloped sides were meant to evoke a special coachbuilt 375 MM commissioned in 1954 for Ingrid Bergmann. At least performance from 5.7-litre V12, offering 533hp and 434lb ft of torque, means bystanders don’t need to spend too long looking at the 612 as it passes.
2006 Ferrari California
Designed to appeal to a different demographic from traditional Ferrari buyers, the California offered up a range of firsts for the Italian brand. It was the first front-engined V8 model, the first to offer a dual-clutch gearbox, and also the first to use a folding-metal roof. For purists, this was all too much, especially with suspension tuned to favour comfortable cruising over cornering.
There’s also the small matter of the styling, which was intended to channel elements of the 250 GT California from 1957. The shapely rear haunches and bonnet vent replicated the classic car, although we’re confident a 250 GT didn’t use vertically-stacked exhausts with fake tailpipes. Later developments would try to improve the styling of the California, and the replacement Portofino is a much better looking car.
2006 Ferrari 575 GTZ Zagato
What do you get the Ferrari collector who has everything? A specially-commissioned version of the V12 575M Maranello, wearing bespoke Zagato-designed bodywork. Yoshiyuki Hayashi already owned several Ferraris, including two Daytonas and an Enzo, but wanted something even rarer.
Taking the 1956 250 GTZ as a starting point, Zagato clothed the 575M in a new all-aluminum body. A double-bubble roof – a staple feature of Zagato designs – made an appearance, along with two-tone grey and silver paintwork. Hayashi-san actually ordered two examples of the 575 GTZ: one to drive, and one to stare at in his garage. We think the driving option sounds better, given the car’s rather challenging looks.