It’s been at least six years since I last drove a Ferrari 575M Maranello. The front-engined, V12 grand tourer went out of production in 2006 when it was replaced by the 599 GTB Fiorano, but the 575M and its 550 Maranello predecessor remain right at the top of my personal list of all-time favourite Ferraris (that I’ve driven).
So it’s a real treat to have the chance to climb back behind the wheel of one at Rockingham Motor Speedway and remember what a deeply desirable car the 575M was, and still is.
Our black 05-plate test car is no ‘ordinary’ 575M, either. As part of the Ferrari Approved used car scheme, it has been subjected to an extraordinarily rigorous set of checks and returned to such immaculate condition that it can now be sold with a full, official 12-month Ferrari warranty.
Although it’s getting on for five years old, the 575M’s Nero Daytona paintwork and Crema leather interior look like they belong to a brand new Ferrari – even when you start to look closely. In short, it’s gorgeous – the epitome of an exotic front-engined GT.
Ferrari Approved was introduced in the UK in 2007 but is now being rolled out across Europe, the objective being to provide a consistent standard of used cars for Ferrari buyers and let them enjoy the same experience they would get if they were buying a new car.
Eligible cars must be no more than nine years old, have less than 56,000 miles on the clock, not be modified in any way and have an unblemished service history. Ferrari goes to great lengths to check each car’s provenance and gives it a 190-point check that reveals any blemishes in the car’s bodywork, interior or mechanicals, all of which are sorted before the car gets to be called Ferrari Approved.
At Ferrari dealer Graypaul Nottingham we are shown a red, three-year-old F430 that has just come in and is being assessed for inclusion in the Ferrari Approved program.
On the face of it the F430 looks pretty tasty, but a closer inspection reveals that it’s actually had an extremely hard life. Not only is the cream leather on the driver’s seat badly stretched and scuffed, but there is also evidence of bodywork repairs to both rear wings, the front end and even the roof – paintwork that looks a little flat in places, overspray on the underside of the car, little cracks in the sills and bumpers that have been painted over.
As it stands the car is well short of meeting the Ferrari Approved criteria, but other than the cosmetic flaws it’s fundamentally sound, and Graypaul seem confident that once they’ve finished with it, the used F430 will be as pristine as a new one.
At Rockingham there’s a selection of Ferrari Approved vehicles lined up in the pit lane, ranging from ‘our’ 2005 575M (14,000 miles, asking price £69,850) to an 09-plate 612 Scaglietti F1 (2000 miles, £199,950) and including a number of F430 coupes and spiders. They are all immaculate and gorgeous.
Despite the fact that it’s the oldest car there, the black 575M is the one that keeps drawing my attention. It’s fitted with an F1 flappy-paddle gearbox, and I’m half-expecting the car to feel like a bit of a truck to drive in comparison with the more contemporary Ferraris, but not a bit of it.
It’s much more comfortable to sit in than the mid-engined F430s, the V12 is particularly strong and sounds glorious, it still handles like a sports car (thanks to the Fiorano handling pack) and its steering, in particular, is a joy: meaty and full of feel. I’d happily drive one of these every day and love every minute of it.
Given the time and money expended on ensuring that Ferrari Approved cars meet the exacting standards of the scheme, and the fact that they come with a factory warranty, you can expect to pay top dollar for the privilege of buying one of these beauties.
It’s no surprise to discover that the black car we’ve been driving is the most expensive 575M coupe for sale on Auto Trader at the time, but it’s also one of the newest, and the price premium is not excessive. If you’re going to buy a used Ferrari, it makes sense to buy the best one available, surely. Then all you have to worry about is how much it will cost to run it.