Ferrari 812 GTS vs 550 Maranello: tracing the V12 bloodline

Ferrari 812 GTS vs 550 Maranello: tracing the V12 bloodline

The manettino steering wheel made a first appearance in this group, and an early, quick but crude F1 paddle-shift gearbox became the default for all UK cars, with the classic opengated manual never to return.

Even in more hardcore HGTE form, the 599 offered an intoxicating mix of everyday drivability, searing performance and unimpeachable chassis control. It was – and still is – up there with the all-time GT greats.

That the F12 Berlinetta that followed it got more power (731bhp) from its now 6262cc V12 was no great surprise. That it was lighter, shorter, narrower and lighter by 70kg was a refreshing reversal of an industry-wide trend for ever heavier and larger cars.

Designed in-house for the first time, with a chassis developed in conjunction with Scaglietti, the F12 had its engine mounted behind the front axle – becoming therefore front-mid-engined. Distinctive scallops in its bonnet, known as the Air Bridge, diverted air from the windscreen and used it to reduce drag around the wheel arches. 

Despite the F12’s weight, which we measured as 1715kg full of fuel, its steering was light and, being quick-geared, belied the car’s size.

When the F12 was replaced by the 812 Superfast in 2017, there was no mistaking that this was an evolutionary shift forward, right down to the internal code for the model changing from F152 to F152M for ‘modificato’. But while the engine was still essentially the F140 that had served in the previous two models, to generate the slightly lunatic 789bhp and 530lb ft of torque (of which 80% was available from just 3500rpm), it had enough new internals for it to be effectively a different unit.