Building on the warm reception given his ultraprestige, ultra-performance 400 Superamerica, Ferrari in 1964 introduced a successor. Unveiled at the Geneva Auto Show, the Ferrari 500 Superfast was even more luxurious than the 400 SA and, as the name implied, was more powerful and delivered a higher top speed.
The Ferrari 500 Superfast marked the end of the custom-ordered Ferraris.
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The car’s lines derived from the 400 Superamerica “aerodinamico” coupes, which were kindled by 1960’s groundbreaking Superfast II. But the Ferrari 500 Superfast rode a longer wheelbase than any 400 SA, and its V-12, the largest found on a road Ferrari to that time, was unique to the model.
Bore and stroke measured 88mm and 68mm, giving the V-12 a displacement of 4961cc. As with the 400 SA, the engine’s total displacement served as the name for the model (500 for 5.0-liters). Horsepower was rated at 400 at 6500 rpm.
The Ferrari 500 Superfast also marked a watershed moment in Ferrari series production. Unlike the custom-designed 400 SA, each Ferrari 500 Superfast body was identical, save minor differences on items such as door handles and taillights.
The Ferrari 500 Superfast surpassed the 400 Superamerca in speed and power.
The custom coachwork era of the 1950s was slowly and quietly coming to a close. Clients favored sophistication and refinement over one-off exclusivity, and standardized production was the only way to meet these expectations. Labor rates also increased, making true one-offs, as seen on the 400 SA and earlier Ferraris, dauntingly expensive.
Ferrari and Pininfarina clearly knew what interested this audience -- comfort without compromise. The 500 Superfast’s interior was extremely well-appointed, and the car was so exclusive a sales brochure was never printed.
The first run of 25 had a four-speed gearbox and was followed in late 1965 by a second series with a five-speed. Production concluded in summer 1966. The Ferrari 500 Superfast accomplished its goal, embraced by an ownership that included captains of industry and genuine nobility. The Shah of Iran, for example, owned two.
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