Ferrari 456/456M: Buying used

By: Joe Kenwright

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Ferrari 456/456M Ferrari 456/456M Ferrari 456/456M
Ferrari 456/456M Ferrari 456/456M Ferrari 456/456M
Ferrari 456/456M Ferrari 456/456M Ferrari 456/456M

Ferrari's big, fast, four-seat 456 is great value at one-fifth of its new price...

Ferrari 456/456M: Buying used
Buying used: Ferrari 456/456M


From Unique Cars magazine #343, November 2012

Buying used: Ferrari 456/456M


Ferrari’s more upright four seaters changed direction with the 456 GT after it drew heavily on two-seater Daytona styling and revived the engine/transaxle layout of classic front-engined Ferraris. Released locally in September 1994, it was still built on a tubular chassis but featured an all-new V12 with 325kW/550Nm and 456cc per cylinder, hence the badge.

Despite its size and weight, the 456 was fast and agile, helped by electronically-adjustable dampers, direct steering, and great balance. As a bridge between the old and new, the side rear intake ducts of mid-engined Ferraris were cleverly reversed to mark the front engine location.

Slats in the lower rear spoiler that adjusted airflow according to speed were a variation of the more common adjustable rear wing. It was available as the six-speed manual GT, with notchy, mechanical change and direct sixth gear, or GTA with programmable four-speed Ricardo/Ferrari automatic transmission.

The M (for ‘Modificata’) update from October 1998 introduced a smoother carbonfibre bonnet without the vent, bigger front intake, fixed centre duct in the lower rear spoiler, extra rear cabin space, different dash with round centre vents, revised suspension and different engine firing order for extra smoothness. Because the 550 Maranello was effectively a shorter, two-seat version of the 456, ongoing improvements applied across both models. RHD examples remain rare and are now exceptional value.


Almost $500,000 new, the 456’s starting price has fallen to just under $100,000 for private imports while the best Australian-delivered early examples start at around $110-120,000. Later 456 M coupes fetch a premium and peak at around $200,000 for the best of the last.


Check for excessive wind noise around doors as side window regulators, electric motors and other parts were weak from new and expensive to rectify. All electrics need careful checking.

Cam belt interval is much lower than normal cars, even for those cars that have been stored. Some oil seals are usually replaced at the same time for a big dollar service.

Valve guides and seals wore prematurely in early engines and should have been replaced. Look for blue oil smoke, especially after the engine has been idling.

Not all engines will have properly bedded-in so a compression leakage test is essential.

Check that adjustable lower rear spoiler slats on earlier cars work.

A manual transmission circlip can let go, causing problems in reverse. Graunching, a heavy clutch action or any unusual noises must be addressed before the whole transmission is affected.

Unique auto transmission is expensive to repair. Its cooling lines and heat exchanger need checking.

Pricey front-mounted radiator and other heat exchangers are vulnerable to driveway or kerb damage, despite undertray.

Adjustable shocks can leak and fail at relatively low distances. Choose between hefty replacement cost or reconditioning.

Power steering system pressurises rear self-levelling so hydraulics need to be checked front and rear.

GTAs were especially susceptible to engine-mount failure. These were revised for the 456 M.

Thanks to Ferrari dealer Lorbek Luxury Cars (03) 9998 4832



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> Buyer's guide: Ferrari 400i

> Past blast: Ferrari 550 Maranello

> Ferrari 612

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