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1996 - 2001 Ferrari 550 Maranello

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The 550 Maranello is Ferrari’s interpretation of a 21st Century 12-cylinder front-engined sports berlinetta.

Technicians were given a particularly demanding brief: design and build a car able to meet the needs of Ferrari customers seeking sensual driving and exciting performance without foregoing driveability or comfort. Ferrari customers are attracted by state-of-the-art technical solutions from a company which has always treated design as an aesthetic response to the demand for performance, and has always built its cars with sophisticated craftsmanship.

The Ferrari 550 Maranello provides superb response to every dynamic requirement, exceptional quality of life on board, and styling efficiency that combines an extremely modern concept with the best of Ferrari tradition. In short, it is the finest two-person GT car available today.

Design

Pininfarina designed the 550 Maranello with features that announce this return to the classic front-engined berlinetta as a great sports car. By adopting sober, functional cues consistent with today’s tastes and requirements, Pinifarina’s bold understatement respects Ferrari’s styling traditions.

The 550 Maranello is styled to be fast and sinuous, its dihedrons stretching the soft surfaces of the sheet metal, creating strong impressions from every angle. The lines are clean and functional, not smoothed or tapered: the car’s physical presence underlines its performance.

Fine pillars make the unusually high roofline less visually obvious and stress the importance of the car’s body. The optical center of gravity is also lowered by original elements such as the shallow, narrow air intake whose complex shape creates an aggressive interplay between auxiliary lights. The Maranello is the first Ferrari designed with visible, integrated front light clusters, themselves further highlighted by the engine’s functional air scoop that links this car to its heritage.

Typically Ferrari, the side aspect shows forceful dynamism in the relationship between the long bonnet, small rear cabin, and smooth link with the high tail. Similarly, two outlets for engine bay air in the front fender reference the classic front-engined berlinettas. The rear is simple and powerful: it is higher in the middle where it links to the roof with a small spoiler. The double round lights are characteristic Ferrari design.

Drivetrain

The 550 Maranello engine is a 5.5 liter, 518lb unit with 12 cylinders in a 65° V, that delivers almost all its torque from 3000rpm. Maximum power is 485bhp at 7000rpm, peak torque is 419lb-ft at 5000rpm, compression ratio is 10.8:1, all controlled by a Bosch Motronic M5.2 management system. The cylinder block, head, and oil sump are light alloy. The damp press-fitted aluminum cylinder liners are of Nikasil. The crankshaft is supported by seven journals on anti-friction bearings. The con rods are light titanium alloy allowing counter-weighting of the crankshaft to be lightened, improving response and balance. The Mahle-forged aluminum alloy pistons enhance thermodynamic efficiency. Lubrication is by a cooled dry sump system. The four-valve per cylinder head is fitted with hydraulic tappets. This system helps to curb emissions, makes periodic adjustment almost unnecessary, and guarantees consistent engine performance.

Intake

Ferrari developed a torque- and power-enhancing variable geometry intake for the 550 Maranello’s engine. The Ferrari patented system alters the fluodynamics of the intake system through a third chamber linked to the manifold by 12 throttle valves with electropneumatic control. The additional chamber shapes air flow to enhance power and efficiency. The intake, like the injection and ignition systems, is managed by a Bosch Motronic 5.2 system for each row of cylinders, linked by a high speed serial line.

Exhaust

The Maranello’s insulated stainless steel exhaust system employs variable back pressure through bypass valves situated on the rear silencers. The bypass valves are electropneumatically actuated by the engine management system, based on engine speed and throttle opening. Varying back pressure makes it possible to optimize engine efficiency in various conditions. Greater back pressure allows higher torque under average load, while lower back pressure enhances full load engine efficiency.

Transmission

For optimal weight distribution the 550 Maranello employs a transaxle system with integrated gearbox and differential. Drive is transmitted by the clutch to the gearbox through a three-bearing propeller shaft housed in a rigid steel tube linking the engine and the gearbox. The hydraulic single-plate dry clutch is flywheel-mounted. The gearbox has six dual-cone synchronized speeds, plus reverse, with pressurized and cooled lubrication. Gearbox control is the classic Ferrari type with an aluminum knob, lever and grooved selector; commands are transmitted by a rigid shift.



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