There are a handful of brands around the world that have achieved almost mythic status within their respective industries. There’s Apple in electronics, Disney in entertainment, Rolex in watches, and when it comes to cars, there’s Ferrari. No other automaker has caused as much lust and daydreaming throughout the past 70+ years as the Prancing Horse, and the brand has countless models that are considered motoring icons. But which rank as the best Ferraris ever made? Everyone has their favorites, but we’re quite confident that our roundup of the best Ferraris ever gives a pretty solid representation of the greatest that have emerged from Maranello.
There are a few characteristics that make Ferrari great. Perhaps the most important is performance. Ferrari was born on the race track, so naturally, their road cars have always been among the fastest in the world. But Ferraris are hardly utilitarian vehicles built purely for speed. The brand’s cars are world-renowned for their beauty and breathtaking design, and many Ferraris rank among the most gorgeous cars ever built. Then, there’s what we’ll call the X-factor. Ferrari is one of the world’s most respected brands, and the cachet that its cars offer is difficult to quantify. But it’s there, as anyone who’s ever owned, driven, or even seen a Ferrari in person will attest. Ferraris are just special, and we believe the 15 below are even more special than the rest.
The Man With The Plan
Ferrari exists today because of one man: Enzo Ferrari. Born in 1898 in Modena, Italy, Enzo became a Grand Prix race car driver in his early 20s, racking up a few wins as a pilot for Italian automaker Alfa Romeo. Eventually, though, Enzo tired of driving and desired to run his own race team — so that’s what he did. The budding entrepreneur founded the Scuderia Ferrari Grand Prix racing team in 1929. The team began as a subdivision of Alfa Romeo, and they quickly found success on the track. But Enzo was not an easily satisfied man, and he eventually determined that he should make his own cars that would be able to best the mighty Alfa Romeos that dominated the sport. And in 1947, that’s what he did. Enzo founded the Ferrari brand and built the first Ferrari-badged race car in the 125 S, and within two years the brand had both its first 24 Hours of Le Mans victory and its first road car in the 166 Inter. The rest, as they say, is history.
From The Track To The Street
Bringing F1 Tech To Your Cul-de-sac
Although Ferrari began producing roadgoing cars in 1948, the brand has never abandoned its racing origins. To this day, Ferrari’s racing division continues to compete in Formula One, and it’s the only team that has continuously competed since the class’s founding in 1950. Unsurprisingly, Ferrari has by far the most wins of any F1 team with 238 (McLaren is second with 182), and they show no signs of slowing down; no pun intended. But Ferrari’s racing and production car divisions don’t live in isolation — far from it. Ever since the brand produced its first road car, Ferrari has been borrowing technology from its race cars for use on the street. This relationship between the brands has only gotten more intimate as time goes on, with today’s Ferraris essentially functioning as F1 cars for the road. Modern Ferraris often utilize engines and transmissions from Formula One cars, along with features like carbon fiber construction and race car aerodynamics. Almost everything Ferrari does is in the pursuit of performance, and as you’ll see from the list below, they’re awfully good at what they do.
250 GT California Spyder SWB
Ferrari cranked out a number of variants on the 250 model in the 1950s and ‘60s, and they’re pretty much all considered classics today. But two versions stand out above the rest: the short wheelbase rendition of the 250 GT Berlinetta, dubbed the SWB, and this drop-top version of that car that was made for the American market. Maintaining the short wheelbase and superior handling of the hardtop version, the California continued the “race car for the road” personality of that car but managed to do so with even more style and panache. It’s no wonder that these ragtop beauties go for such outrageous prices today — one example holds the distinction of being the first car to ever sell for eight figures.
Years Produced: 1960-1963
Engine: 3.0L V12
An evolution of the 250 GT SWB, the GTO is sometimes regarded as Ferrari’s first supercar. Originally built to outperform Jaguar’s E-Type on the track, the GTO soon became the definitive race car of its brief era. While mainly built for speed and performance, with improvements in both power and handling made to its SWB base, the GTO also maintained achingly beautiful lines. And when you pair its stunning looks and legendary racing performance with the fact that fewer than 40 GTOs were homologated for the public, you get a perfect recipe for the most expensive car ever sold. And that’s exactly what the GTO is — it broke the world record in 2018 when one sold for $70 million.
Years Produced: 1962-1964
Engine: 3.0L V12
Considering what a legend the GTO of the early ‘60s was, no one would have blamed Ferrari if they had decided to retire the name once that car drove off into the sunset. But instead, the brand waited two decades until they had another supercar they felt was deserving of the name to revive it. Technically called simply the “Ferrari GTO,” this ‘80s legend was initially homologated for Group B racing. Regulations changed before it got a chance to compete, so this race car instead ending up bringing its then-state-of-the-art tech strictly to the street. Built on a 308 base, the GTO was mechanically and visually quite different from that vehicle, with far greater performance and beefier bodywork that made it look considerably more intimidating. Notably, the GTO’s 2.9L V8 was the first in a Ferrari road car to be twin-turbocharged, longitudinally-mounted, and make 400 horsepower.
Years Produced: 1984-1987
Engine: 2.9L Twin-Turbo V8
Much more than a baby version of the GTO, (the 308 came first, after all), this targa-roofed version of the 308 GTB is quite possibly the quintessential Ferrari. Sleek styling from Pininfarina, a naturally-aspirated mid-mounted V8 screaming behind you, your hair blowing in the wind from the open roof — the 308 GTS (in Rosso over tan, of course) is just perfect. Sure, its reputation and cool factor were certainly helped by the fact that it was the Magnum P.I. car, but the 308 GTS still stands impressively on its own. It’s not the fastest Ferrari, nor the rarest Ferrari, but it might be the most essential Ferrari.
Years Produced: 1977-1980
Engine: 2.9L V8
The ‘90s were kind of a strange decade for Ferrari. Though the marque was still churning out great cars (a couple of which pop up on this list), they just weren’t achieving the same kind of cult status that the brand’s ‘80s output did. So when the new millennium came around, Ferrari took a big swing at reinventing themselves for the 2000s — and this was the car that did it. As the successor to the F355 — which could trace its lineage all the way back to the 308s of the ‘70s — the 360 went a long way toward modernizing Ferrari’s lineup thanks to more aerodynamic and contemporary styling and the fact that it was the first Ferrari with an all-aluminum construction.
Years Produced: 1999-2004
Engine: 3.6L V8
365 GTB/4 “Daytona”
Though technically designated the 365 GTB/4, chances are you know this car best as the “Daytona.” That’s thanks to Ferrari cars placing 1, 2, and 3 at the 24 Hours of Daytona the year prior to this car’s debut — even though the 365 had nothing to do with the race. Regardless, the name stuck, and nobody’s complaining because few cars are more deserving. The Daytona was a front-engined V12, RWD, old-school two-seater with a unique and modern slant nose design and outrageous performance. It boasted legendary balance thanks to its rear gearbox transaxle and had a whopping 352 horsepower in the 1960s, which are just two of the many reasons why it’s considered one of the best front-engined V12 cars ever made by anyone.
Years Produced: 1968-1973
Engine: 4.4L V12
Despite the legendary success of the Daytona — or perhaps because of it — Ferrari abandoned the front-mounted V12 two-seater layout for more than two decades. They finally revived it in the mid-’90s with this seemingly underwhelming supercar. The 550 Maranello is not the sexiest car on this list by a long shot. Its styling is rather sterile (for a Ferrari), and its front-engine/RWD layout was literally conceived with practicality in mind (so much luggage space!). But all that alleged boringness goes out the window when you hear the roar of its naturally-aspirated 5.5L V12 on your way to its face-melting top speed of 199 mph. This model is quickly rising in both status and value, so if you’re in the position to buy one soon, do it. You won’t regret it.
Years Produced: 1996-2002
Engine: 5.5L V12
Unless you’ve been living under a rock on Phobos, one of Mars’s moons, you have likely noticed that gas-powered cars are not long for this world. Brands are going electric at a faster pace than expected, and in a decade’s time, few fossil fuel-sipping automobiles will be in production. And that’s what makes the 812 so special. Not only is this front-engined supercar the fastest and most powerful non-hybrid the company has ever made, with nearly 800 horsepower coming from its naturally-aspirated V12 and a top speed of 211 mph, but it also could very well be the last of its kind. If that’s the case, then the Superfast will mark the end of an era in glorious fashion.
Years Produced: 2017-Present
Engine: 6.5L V12
Dino 246 GT
We know this isn’t technically a Ferrari, but it was made by the company in its factory, so it counts. Part of the short-lived Dino sub-brand that was named for Enzo’s deceased son, the 246 GT was the pinnacle of the badge. A stylistically evolved, more powerful version of the Dino 206 GT, the 246 GT was the first mass-produced Ferrari and was a legend in its day. A nimble mid-engined V6, this Dino outperformed the Porsche 911 of its era while looking considerably sleeker and sexier. Its curvaceous body is one of the biggest head-turners ever designed by longtime Ferrari partner Pininfarina, and its engine was no slouch either — it was later used to power the legendary Lancia Stratos rally car.
Years Produced: 1969-1974
Engine: 2.4L V6
If you name a car after the company’s founder, you’d better be sure that it’s deserving of such a lofty title. Thankfully for Ferrari, the Enzo was. The car represented the peak of performance automotive technology when it was released, having borrowed heavily from Ferrari’s successful F1 team. The Enzo was essentially an F1 car for the road, with a carbon fiber body, advanced aerodynamics, and an automated manual transmission. Even the cabin felt like an F1 car, with a racing steering wheel festooned with buttons and switches, seats made from carbon fiber, and all unnecessary weight jettisoned. Power came from a brand-new 6.0L V12 that was longitudinally mounted behind the driver, and the top speed of 217 mph was the best ever seen in a Ferrari road car up to that point. Enzo would have been proud.
Years Produced: 2002-2004
Engine: 6.0L V12
There are supercars, and then there’s the F40. Despite the fact that this car is now almost 35 years old, there are many who still point to it as the pinnacle of Ferrari. And it’s not hard to see why. While subsequent Ferraris run circles around the F40 performance-wise, there is a pure brutality to the car that may never be matched. Built to commemorate Ferrari’s 40th anniversary, the F40 was the last car to be approved by Enzo. And like the car that would bear his name a quarter-century later, this was a race car for the street. From its outrageous styling and sparse cabin to its rigid chassis and mid-mounted twin-turbo V8, there wasn’t anything about the F40 that suggested it was a street-legal production car. And yet, thankfully, that’s exactly what it was.
Years Produced: 1987-1992
Engine: 2.9L Twin-Turbo V8
One can’t help but feel a little bad for the F50. Released as the first post-F40 supercar from Ferrari, and with a name that suggested it was that beloved car’s successor, the F50 never quite found the love and respect of its predecessor. Well, it’s getting it now from us, because the F50 was an incredible machine. Easily the greatest Ferrari of the 1990s, the F50 was yet another example of Ferrari taking the absolute best racing technology of the day and cramming it into a limited series production car. The car eschewed modern luxuries like power steering, power brakes, and ABS, opting for an old-school feel to complement its F1-derived construction and aerodynamics — not to mention its naturally aspirated V12 engine that was taken directly from a 1990 Ferrari F1 race car.
Years Produced: 1995-1997
Engine: 4.7L V12
Like the Enzo before it, the LaFerrari didn’t do itself any favors by having such a lofty name — LaFerrari is Italian for “The Ferrari” — but also like the Enzo, it lived up to expectations. The first hybrid from Ferrari, the LaFerrari utilized the F1-derived HY-KERS system which combined an electric motor producing over 160 hp with a V12 making 789 hp. That was easily enough to make this not only the most powerful Ferrari ever, but one of the most impressive supercars of all time, too. Indeed, it was the release of the LaFerrari — along with its fellow 2013 high-performing hybrids, the McLaren P1 and Porsche 918 Spyder — that brought about the term hypercar, as supercar just seemed too pedestrian a label for this machine.
Years Produced: 2013-2018
Engine: 6.3L V12 Hybrid with One Electric Motor
The LaFerrari’s trailblazing tech led directly to the creation of this, Ferrari’s current flagship supercar — sorry, hypercar — and the fastest and most powerful car the company has ever built. Named in honor of the 90th anniversary of the founding of Ferrari’s racing division, Scuderia Ferrari, the SF90 is the latest example of a true race car built for the road. The marque’s first plug-in hybrid, the car boasts considerably more electric power than any other car with a Prancing Horse badge. Two independent electric motors sit on the front axle, with a third located at the rear between the engine and the gearbox. The electric motors combined with the mid-mounted 4.0L twin-turbocharged V8 engine make close to 1,000 horsepower, allowing the SF90 to go from 0 to 62 mph in just 2.5 seconds — a Ferrari road car record and one of the fastest times in the world.
Years Produced: 2019-Present
Engine: 4.0L Twin-Turbo V8 Hybrid with Three Electric Motors
One of the most iconic and popular Ferraris ever made, the Testarossa was the literal poster child for the brand in the ‘80s — thanks to the fact that many a kid in the decade had an image of the car plastered on their bedroom wall. Everything about the Testarossa was, as the kids say, “hot” for the time period. It had a mid-mounted naturally-aspirated V12 that was the most powerful production car engine at the time and that sounded like guttural angels singing. Its Pininfarina-designed body smoothed over and modernized the popular wedge shape of the era and added dramatic trademark side strakes that made the car look like it was going 150 mph when it was parked. And the idiosyncratic lack of a passenger-side mirror hinted that this was a dangerous machine not to be trifled with. No wonder it made such a popular poster.
Years Produced: 1984-1991
Engine: 4.9L V12
The 16 Most Iconic Italian Cars Of All Time
Many fans would label Ferrari as the greatest automaker from Italy, but it’s hardly a cut-and-dry issue. The modestly-sized Mediterranean nation has a number of legendary marques that could also lay claim to the throne, like Lamborghini, Alfa Romeo, and Maserati, and you’ll find all of them well represented in our guide to the most iconic Italian cars of all time.