Exposure to a Performance Car review of the Lamborghini Countach 5000QV at an impressionable age set Dan Trent on course for a life-long obsession with cars. As editor of PistonHeads.com he’s got direct access to a classifieds repository of over 100,000 such vehicles to browse day in, day out. Temptation is never far away. He’s still some way off that Countach though.
I remember when the Ferrari 612 Scaglietti first launched thinking it an absolute minger. My appreciation of Ferrari’s more eccentric V12 four-seaters has since matured but back then it seemed to me a beached whale of a car, lacking any sense of speed or drama.
Look, maybe I just needed to grow up a bit. To me Ferraris were meant to be red, glamorous and supercar pin-up material for bedroom wall adornment. A role fulfilled by the mid-engined Berlinettas for generations, symbolic to my mind of red-blooded excitement not blue-blooded refinement.
As you read this I’ll be at the Geneva motor show banging elbows with everyone else for a first glimpse of the new GTC4 Lusso, the rather fabulously named update on the equally eccentric FF ‘shooting brake’. This is also a challenging looking car. But I think I can credit it with waking me up to the charms of ‘grown-up’ four-seater Ferraris and my better-late-than-never appreciation that these are probably more true to the brand’s aristocratic values than the mid-engined V8s.
Suitably inspired I’m now revisiting those ‘forgotten Ferraris’ I’d ignored before and, in a complete about face, now place the 612 Scaglietti above all other recent efforts. Yes, I know 550 Maranellos are much-loved and the 456 GT is pretty cool too. But lines I once thought heavy-handed and oddly proportioned now look bewitching and beautiful to me. The more so when I found out the story behind the name and influences, the 612 taking cues from Scaglietti’s first road-going Ferrari design. That this happened to be a one-off 375MM rebodied for Roberto Rossellini and gifted to wife Ingrid Bergman back in the day is pretty special, this car subsequently the first Ferrari to ever scoop the top prize at Pebble Beach. Some back-story. And a rather more reserved and tasteful tribute than the ‘Tailor Made‘ California T Ferrari unveiled in Shanghai last year.
They’re still relatively affordable too, a decent proportion of the ones for sale at the moment well under £100K and even down to the mid to high 70s. But I’ve found one far more interesting. In the context that ‘interesting’ can be read as ‘pricey’. There’s good reason though – it’s a manual! Better still it’s in the correct colour scheme for V12 Ferraris – Tour de France blue over tan leather.
This is a properly mature and stately Ferrari. But no slug either, the 540hp normally aspirated V12 capable of a whisker under 200mph and 0-62mph in four seconds dead. And just look at that proper open-gate manual with its chrome-topped shifter. I like the 612 – and this one in particular – for its respectful nod to Ferrari tradition without getting overly bogged down in sentimentality or rose-tinted nostalgia. And as one of the last manual Ferraris ever sold, in the correct colour and with suitably low miles I reckon it could even turn out to be a solid investment. Now, if I could just scrape together a hundred grand of liquidity to put money where my mouth is…
Images courtesy of Ferrari and pistonheads.com