The greatest 12-Cylinder? All of them…

250 GTO

Important customers and international journalists tell us which Ferrari V12s should be a candidate for ‘part of the world’s heritage’. Lots of opinions, lots of different models. which V12 is the greatest? All of them…

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Which 12-cylinder Ferrari should be elected to represent part of the world’s heritage? When we posed this question to journalists and Ferrari owners, the answer was unequivocal: it’s impossible to choose. Because more or less everybody would vote for a different one. ‘My 3815GT [collectors refer to a SWB car by its chassis number] has metallic paintwork and the original Connolly leather interiors,’ says Giuseppe Lucchini, a Ferrari customer. ‘Of all the Ferraris I have owned this is certainly my favourite, both in terms of the bodywork design and its fantastic engine. In my opinion it is the best of all time, part of the history of the car.’ ‘The old GTO is the most thrilling of all Ferraris. It’s an old-fashioned racer, and feels it. The engine snorts and snarls; brake and clutch require real leg strength; the steering needs manhandling,’ says motoring journalist Gavin Green without hesitation. Roberto Cera, a 12-cylinder Ferrari purist adds, ‘[The GTO’s] engine is a triumph of technology, pleasure and passion. Every Ferrari engine has a charm that no other has ever been able to imitate.’

The 12 cylinders are not like the 12 apostles: they never betray

Andrew English, motoring editor at UK’s The Daily Telegraph, goes even further; he talks about the charm of the ‘Gioachino Colombo’ 12-cylinder, the SWB, the GTO, and even the 212 Inter of 1951. ‘An early ’50s 212 Inter is certainly not the fastest, the rarest, or even the prettiest V12 Ferrari, but it is one of the purist and closest to what drove Enzo into the road-car business in the first place. It gets my vote.’ He sums it up with a perfect description of what a Ferrari was able to transmit in those days: ‘You could see the road through the gaps round the doors, but that’s how Ferrari made them back then. Just lean back in the leather bucket [seat], grip the wooden wheel and relax to the sound of the 2.6-litre Colombo V12 as it crackles up the scale, shivering the Veglia instruments in their housings.’ Albert Obrist, a collector who has test-driven almost every Ferrari, remembers in particular the 315 S, the sports model driven by Piero Taruffi when he won the last Mille Miglia in 1957. ‘It is difficult to describe the feeling that the 315 S gives. I remember a vibration going through my whole body, probably caused by the engine and sheer excitement. No other car has ever done that to me.’ To complete this era, how can one forget the California? Its easily stand the test of time, comments Sabatino Gianni, Ferrari owner, who recalls, ‘The sound of the 12-cylinder Ferrari is the soundtrack of a lifelong love, from the season of dreams to the excitement of the dreams that come true, right up to the age when dreams become memories. Music that always sends a shiver down your spine.’ Mauro Tedeschini, Editor-in-Chief of Italian monthly magazine Quattroruote, says: ‘The 12-cylinder Ferrari has occupied the engine compartment of the most beautiful Berlinettas ever built. Contributing to the fascination of this magical story has also been the use of the swept volume to define the 250, 330 and 456 models. My favourite? The 275 GTB, but also the Daytona is right up there with it.’ This is what Phil McNamara, Editor of the British CAR magazine, thinks of the 365 GTB, universally known as the Daytona. ‘There are faster V12 Ferraris, others with greater agility [and which are] more valuable. But none are cooler than the 365 GTB/4 or Daytona. As a child of the ’70s, the Daytona’s outrageous, missile shape burrowed into my head during a Herbie film.’ There are those who love the models with a central engine. ‘The noise, the incredible flexibility, this perception that every new model improves on the one before, is surprising,’ says Lorenzo Benigni, another loyal customer, who adds, ‘being the owner of a high- technology company, I understand that this excellence goes to become part of the company’s genetic stock… Which Ferrari would I choose? I would say the BB – magical memories.’ Journalist Richard Bremner has another unforgettable memory: the time he took a 512 TR to Morocco. ‘The car was collected from the surprisingly acquiescent factory. We hadn’t quite bargained on the two hours of dirt-track driving necessary to get to the desert’s edge, nor the astonished face of a trepidatious Mercedes G-Wagen driver as we effortlessly drove our 512 TR up the bank of a dried-out river bed. Problems? We had none.’ That for him is the Ferrari of all time. Conor McNicholas, Editor of Top Gear magazine is another fan of the modern models: ‘I’m plumping for a V12-hearted machine that’s one of the most majestic Ferraris ever made. The massive, brooding 612 Scaglietti still snaps heads on the street six years after its release but does it with an elegant teardrop form that is the essence of restrained, confident styling.’ Rik Bryan, an FXX owner, describes the thrill of his car with similar enthusiasm. ‘You squeeze the lever and guide the door upwards. You slide into the seat, being careful not to hit your helmet on the roll-cage. Your technician assists and you are strapped in. You raise the cover, glistening red in front of you, and flick the switch underneath. The dashboard comes to light and the screens awake. You pull the paddles towards you in unison. You are at one. Your technician gives the thumbs up. You press the start button. There’s silence, then vibration, before the bellowing deep roar hits you from behind. You flick the right-hand lever and ease the pedal gently downwards. The connection is instant. Your 30 minutes of heaven have just begun.’
Nick Trott, Editor of Evo magazine, votes for the Enzo, after Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason allowed him to drive his Enzo from London to Maranello. ‘All my memories from that trip are accompanied by a soundtrack – the sparkling, living, breathing soundtrack of Ferrari’s greatest V12 engine.’

The 599 GTB Fiorano is generally indicated as the worthy heir of this fantastic story. For Maurizio Donelli, Motoring Editor at Corriere della Sera, it’s the sound of the 599 that’s so special. ‘The first, the only association with this engine, are the pipes of the organ of the Chiesa di Nostra Signora di Loreto [Church of Our Lady of Loreto] in Genoa where I grew up. I used to look at them as a child, shiny and out of reach.’ The renowned film producer Aurelio De Laurentiis does not want to choose because: ‘the 12 cylinders designed by Ferrari play like Stradivarius violins: they are one of a kind. Even the smallest diversity creates the uniqueness and the extraordinary nature of imperfect perfection, just like a suit made by hand by a great tailor’. So it seems impossible to single out one Ferrari for
world heritage. Football coach Claudio Ranieri states, ‘In the 12-cylinder Ferraris there is all the excitement of a work of art and the adrenaline of the champions.’ But Umberto Zapelloni, Deputy Director of La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper, provides the best conclusion: ‘The 12 cylinders are not like the 12 apostles: they never betray. They sound like an orchestra and they intoxicate you with
their power. They represent the number that Enzo Ferrari wanted for the first official Ferrari in history, the 125; they have written pages of Ferrari’s sporting and commercial history. When you see them, one next to the other, two by two, you think of a work of art. When you listen to them for the first time, you never forget them. When you drive them for the first time, you never want to do without them again. Their voice is full, rounded, deep, lacerating and goes straight to the heart with an adrenaline rush.’

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  • Gonzo Di Dottore

    the 512 BB. (  As much as I like the 365 GTB, (especially the convertibles), the BB is my absolute favorite 12.

  • brandon sajdak

    their is no doubt in my mind that the greatest 12 c ever in the history is any one of the gto’s. whether it is the 250,288 or even the 599.  the gto’s are just the most powerful and most accomplished v-12′s

  •é/651529334 Juan José

    I love the Daytona

  • Alvaro Maureira Campos

    the 250 lusso, syle of the 60′s, and Steve Mcqueen 

  • Alvaro Maureira Campos

    the 250 lusso, 60′s style and Steve Mcqueen had one

  • Alvaro Maureira Campos

    the 250 lusso, 60′s style and Steve Mcqueen had one

  • Christian Ian Thomas