The unveiling of the Ferrari 456 GT at the 1992 Paris Auto Show marked a shift in Ferrari’s thinking. Balance and refinement replaced the excess and flamboyance that dominated the company’s design direction and product personality during the second part of the 1980s. The 456 embodied the new direction.

The 1995 Ferrari 456 GT.
The 1995 Ferrari 456 GT marked a shift from Ferrrari's 1980s flamboyance.
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Many of the greatest Ferraris were front-engine berlinettas, the last being the early 1970s Daytona. The Ferrari 456 GT picked up the baton beautifully.

“It has been 20 years since we had a car like this at Ferrari,” company CEO Luca di Montezemolo noted at the introduction. “I don’t think it will bring speculators back to our order books -- this is not a car for them.”

He was right. Ferrari’s traditional clientele queued up to buy the model for the right reasons. “(The Ferrari 456 GT) is more refined, more comfortable and a sight more sophisticated than any car ever to be built at Maranello,” said Autocar in its 1993 road test. “Whether you look at it, sit in it or drive it, it all adds up to one simple fact: The 456 is the greatest grand tourer the world has ever seen.”

Rear view of the 1995 Ferrari 456 GT.
The 1995 Ferrari 456 GT was hailed by critics as sophisticated and sleek.

Indeed it was. This was Ferrari’s first true four-seat model since the 412. Its aluminum coachwork was welded to its steel tube chassis using a new process. The 5474cc V-12 boasted 442 horsepower (436 for America) and a new six-speed manual transmission that was housed in unit with the transaxle. Top speed was listed at 185 mph.

A four-speed automatic joined the lineup in 1996 as the Ferrari 456 GT Automatic. The automatic was also housed in unit with the transaxle and added about 170 pounds to the car. Road & Track said the GTA “gets the job done, but without the tautness and direct mechanical sensitivity of a manual Ferrari gearbox.” The $255,000 test example did 0-60 mph in 5.1 seconds.

In all, said R&T, the GTA was “a calm, civilized traveling companion with lots of power on tap, allowing fast travel with few demands on the driver.” Ferrari sold nearly 2,000 Ferrari 456 GTs and Automatics in six years.

The 2000 Ferrari 456 M GT.
The 2000 Ferrari 456 M GT modified various features of the original 456 GT.

In 1998 came the Ferrari 456 M GT and GTA. The “M” was for modificata, and marked revised coachwork with new bumpers, a crisper edge along the front fenders, and an updated interior. Clients also had the option of customizing the car with Ferrari’s new Carrozzeria Scaglietti program.

The M closed out the Ferrari 456 GT run in 2003. The line was in production 11 years, confirming the strength of Pininfarina’s original shape, and how well Ferrari had designed and engineered the car.

Learn about these other great Ferrari Road Cars:

166 MM
250 GT SWB
365 CaliforniaTestarossa
212 Inter
400 Superamerica
365 GT 2+2
F40
340 America
250 GTE
365 GTB/4 Daytona
348
375 America
250 GT/L Lusso
365 GTC/4
456 GT
375 MM
330 GT 2+2
512 BBi
F355
250 Europa GT
500 Superfast
400i
F50
250 GT Boano
275 GTB/4
308 GT4
550 and 575
410 Superamerica
275 GTS
308 and 328
360 and F430
250 GT Coupe
Dino 246 GT
Mondial
Enzo
250 GT Spyder California
330 GTC
288 GTO
612 Scaglietti

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