Ferrari 550 Buying guide

The Ferrari 550 Maranello is an outstandingly good car, excellent build quality throughout, beautiful subtle looks, a fantastic engine and a great seating position. A wonderful drive whether you drive for 30 or 300 miles, the engine is very flexible with a constant linear power delivery that just gets better and better the higher up the rev range you travel. Being front engined and rear wheel drive this car has fantastic handling and a clear break away which is easy to control when driven hard, however you cannot get away from the fact that this is a heavy GT car and not a mid engined lightweight but driven well is a very rewarding and impressive piece of machinery to own and drive.

Service history is essential to give an accurate picture of the quality of maintenance the vehicle has received,  with these cars renowned specialists often give a better quality of service than some main dealers because they actually look after more of them. There are ways of showing if a car has done more miles than indicated but leave this to a professional, cars without a documented service history should really be avoided unless they are very good value and you intend to keep it a long time to re-build a confidence in the car for resale. Make sure the service book has its first page (not torn out) with chassis numbers clearly marked and showing the original supplying dealer stamp. All service history's on these cars should be supported by a well documented history file with bills and receipts for work carried out, old tax discs and MOTS to prove what year each mileage was done and whether the car has been unused for several years.

550 Buying Guide

Gearbox is lovely and probably one of the best meaty changes that there is, however the early 1997 / 1998 cars did have a problem which is identified by the gear box not wanting to select the forward gears in the gate (1st,3rd and 5th) the gear lever should come to rest centre of the gearbox - in line with 3rd and 4th and should never jump out of gear when accelerating, lifting or pressing the clutch. Gearbox rebuilds are expensive.

Trim quality is very high, Electric seats don't usually give any trouble but check them anyway, the outer beading on the seats can go a little wavey (wonkey) along the outer edge where you get in and out this is quite usual beginning to show on cars with around 30k miles and getting quite established by 40k miles +. Steering wheel adjustment should lock tight and not drop when pulled. The glove box compartment should close with a slid clunk and should not rattle when closed, if it does the bottom pivot screw has probably been lost and replaced by a not shouldered screw. Becker Stereo units were standard, many have been removed and after market upgrades put in, please watch the leather around the stereo face as it is easily damaged, certain cd and Sat nav units with slide out screens will interfere with gear selection, Air bag covers can shrink but recovering needs to be done correctly as the the original one is scored in the back for the airbag to burst through, sometimes softening the cover and rebonding will tidy the panel up, Dash boards can shrink -  look around the edges of the dash where it disappears around the outer edge, if you can see staples then it has shrunk quite badly - this is not reversable. Heater control panel can become bubbly as they get older, an overlay to replace this is available in our website shop, the twist knob coating can go sticky either due to age, greasy fingers or heat from direct sunlight, this can only be stripped off and re plasti dipped.

550 Buying Guide

Wheels The original fitment wheels were Magnesium which are hygroscopic (they absorb water) so if the powder coating is cracked or the wheel has been kerbed the coating will be coming away from the wheel itself, this eventually causes the weights to come off. These original wheels were made by speedline (marked SL on one back face of the spokes) and were recalled to be replaced with BBS alloy wheels after a number of wheels cracked around the location inserts. All 550 wheels should be BBS - however many of the Speedline wheels still exist and we have seen many on ebay.

Engine servicing is very straight forward, cam belts are easily reached, the main costs float around the amount of oil these engines hold! Its always advisable to check the cam seals as these are prone to weeping and leak oil onto the timing belt, we have even seen a pool of oil in the bottom of the cam cover which the timing belt was running through! Usually rectified at timing belt change but check before purchase. Water leaks in the V of the engine are a re-occuring issue because of the heat in the area, later fitted shiney silicone hoses help but expect to have a leak every three to four years which involves removing the fuel injection airchamber at the top of the engine, tightening the hoses and reassembly - its a pain of a job (time scale is milage dependant).

550 Buying Guide

 

 

550 Buying Guide

 

 

 

 

Oil pressure should pick up instantly on start up, their should be no blue smoke. All in all these are tough engines that don't really have a any major problems.

 

 

Paintwork on 550's is very good, shut lines should be straight and true. It is quite common to lift the bonnet and see minor flaking on the cover (shroud) from the radiator which can easily be repainted and underneath the bonnet itself - usually minor cosmetic aluminium corrosion but nothing to worry about in most cases.

 

550 Buying Guide

Mechanical notes Steering racks suffer with play at around 30k miles and require refurbishment - not usually expensive but that will aways depend on what else needs attention. Undertray's need secure mountings or they will be pulled down at speed and break at the front. A lot of undertrays are damaged by dealers who cut the louvres out so that they do not have to remove the whole front undertray to drain oils etc which is a shame for ten minutes extra work.

Accessories should include, tyre inflator (in pack), tool kit, Spare keys and three fobs, of which two should be black and one red, its quite usual for the spare fobs to be missing as people loose them in draws etc, as long as you have either the red fob or the Alarm Anti vol slip in the history you can get additional fobs programmed.

Catalytic converters These are quite expensive items for any car, they need checking as a car with either poor cats or cats removed will fail an MOT, however we have also had reports on cars that run without the cats fitted may not be insured as they are not road legal, for the potential 5% of extra breathing capacity - its just not worth it.

Accident Damage make sure that you carry out a HPI check on Finance outstanding and any insurance accident payouts, if a Ferrari has a CAT C or D rating it will considerably affect its value, if you are considering a damaged repaired car it is essential that a Ferrari professional inspects the car for you.

WalkerSport will be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding this guide, please remember that this is a basic guide and not an manual, WalkerSport cannot be held liable for any omissions or incorrect advice given as this is our personal opinion, when WalkerSport purchase a car we carryout a thorough inspection followed up by a major mechanical check over.

550 Buying Guide

550 Buying Guide