Few engines are capable of providing greater thrills than those built by Ferrari. We find the five cheapest ways of experiencing one

Few cars enjoy such a hallowed status as Ferraris, but getting into one of your own is notoriously expensive. If you're prepared to do some digging, however, prices suddenly take a tumble on used models. Here's our top picks.

1 - Fiat Dino Coupé (1966 - 1973)

The badge may say ‘Fiat’, but under that curvaceous bonnet beats a quad-cam Ferrari V6, the same unit found amidships in the two-seat Ferrari Dino.

To help Ferrari to homologate its car for racing, the V6 was shared with this beautiful Bertone-designed coupé, where it gave 158bhp at 7200rpm in 2.0-litre form and 177bhp in the later 2.4-litre versions.

Lovely to look at and sit in, the Dino Coupé was also a tactile delight on the road and as good in the corners as it was on the straights.

For years it’s been an overlooked gem, but prices have recently taken off. Tatty examples can be had for £10k-£20k, but you’ll need £30k or more for a good one. Shop carefully, and expect bills to be large, but don’t let the badge put you off.

2 - Ferrari 456 GT (1992 - 2003)

Some thought this big, front-engined GT too tame and were only happy when the harder-edged 612 Scaglietti replaced it. Others saw it for what it was: beautiful, elegant, understated and fast.

With 436bhp from that lovely 5.5-litre V12, the 456 could run to 62mph in 5.1sec, and at the time it was the world’s fastest four-seater, with a top speed of 188mph. On the road it was supple, sophisticated and user-friendly; it also had a sumptuous leather interior and room for a couple of children.

Early examples can be had for around £30k, especially left-hand-drive or automatic models. It has a good reputation for reliability, but parts are extremely pricey, so look for a full history and check for accident damage.

3 - Lancia Thema 8.32 (1987-1992)

Here’s a real wolf in sheep’s clothing: a front-wheel-drive, four-door saloon with a Ferrari V8 under its bonnet.   

Based on the engine found in the 308 Quattrovalvole, this 2.9-litre unit turned the Thema into a bit of a hot rod. With 212bhp to hand, it could polish off the 0-62mph sprint in 6.9sec and go on to 149mph. It was good to drive, too, with neutral handling and a supple ride, all accompanied by that wonderfully sonorous V8 soundtrack. The opulent interior has room for all the family, too. 

Finding one might be a problem, though. Few were made and fewer still imported, but examples crop up from time to time for as little as £10k. Set aside plenty of money for maintenance

4 - Ferrari Mondial (1980 - 1993)

Some enthusiasts view the Mondial with disdain, unable to overcome its entry-level status and 2+2 layout, but ignore them: on the road the V8 sings and the chassis is a delight, with many thinking it sweeter in the ride and handling than the equivalent two-seat models. Later models boast four-valve heads and larger engines for more performance.

Find a good one and you’ll get one of Ferrari’s most reliable and inexpensive cars. You can put a prancing horse in your garage for under £20k, but you’ll have to be quick; prices are on the up. 

Beware, though: buying a cheap Ferrari doesn’t mean cheap running costs. Proper maintenance is vital. 
Rust is the most common problem, so ask a specialist to check the sills and wheel arches carefully.

5 - Ferrari 400 / 400i (1976-1985)

It may be hard pushed to keep up with a Vauxhall Astra, but don’t dismiss the 400 (and the later injected 400i). The weight of this large, luxurious four-seat grand tourer inevitably compromised performance and agility, but the elegant Pininfarina lines still look great today, and the 335bhp 4.8-litre V12 imbued this car with the heart and soul of a Ferrari. 

Although the automatic gearbox option (a Ferrari first) made purists weep, it went on to outsell the manual by two to one. Later models had suspension tweaks and improved handling.

Early 400s can be had for £20k-£25k, and good ones for £30k. Running costs will be high, though, and a history and a specialist inspection are desirable. 

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Our Verdict

Ferrari F40 1987-1992 review
The twin-turbo F40 is arguably one of the world's most iconic supercars; we drove it on 18 May 1988

Ferrari's F40 was built to celebrate the firm's 40th anniversary, and in 1988 Autocar got behind the wheel to find out just how good it really was

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Comments
7

4 May 2015
I never knew the 456 had a good reliability record, I always got the impression that they were a bit flakey?? Was one of the first cars I truly coveted when I was young

TBC

4 May 2015
A local builder, who had always had models from BMW and Porsche decided to try a Ferrari. He purchased a new Mondial. I think he kept it for 6-9 months, then gave up and bought a new 911. Apparently having the Ferrari mechanic out every other day to fettle it wasn't what he had bargained for......

4 May 2015
The Maserati 3200 is also between £10-£20k.

www.KOOOLcr.com

 

5 May 2015
I bought a 2-year old Mondial T from Maranello (Egham) and I can safely say it was the most unreliable lump of junk that I've ever had the misfortune to own. It cracked its windscreen (twice) when it was backed out of my drive at an angle, it had rust....on its roof.....its security system never worked...and the flat-plane crank engine sounded rubbish other than at full tilt...its interior had clearly been built by a bloke using a knife & fork whilst suffering from a Chianti hangover. A good friend of mine went through two 3200s and a further two 4200s before, on a threat from this solicitor, they (Maranello again) gave him his money back. Apart from the odd 360 Stradale I'd avoid anything from Ferrari before the 430....Witness the prices of Porsche 911s prior to the 996: people want and respect engineering integrity and Ferrari, pre-430, was simply not good enough....

BertoniBertone

5 May 2015
No-one would recommend a Mondial who has lived with one, unless he thought you wanted to buy his.

5 May 2015
...a journo who's not done his homework....The Mondial is 'affordable' because it is......er.....crap.

BertoniBertone

8 June 2015
@kcrally;

the Maserati 3200gt is not Ferrari powered, but uses the final incarnation of the venerable Maserati V8.

It's successor, however, the 4200 is and uses a detuned version of the Ferrari 430 engine.

These are available for around £12k - £15k.

Sorry to seem pedantic, but as a 3200 owner I had to say something!

Antony

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