The Real History Of Ferrari V12 Convertibles

Since its debut in September, the 2020 Ferrari 812 GTS has been heavily marketed as the first open-top, front-engine V12 since the 365 GTS/4 Daytona Spider, which dates back to 1969. While many buyers will love this romantic “first in 50 years” claim, the truth is that Ferrari has hardly gone a decade in the last 50 years without building an open-top V12. They’ve just been rare and expensive, even by Ferrari standards.

365 GTS/4 Daytona Spider

Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona Spider

Designed by legendary coachbuilder Leonardo Fioravanti – who would later give us the 288GTO and F40, among other treasures – the Daytona Spider is famous for its unmistakable front end. The long, sharp nose looks shark-like, and as Ferrari’s first 4.3-liter dual-overhead cam road car, its beauty was matched with groundbreaking technology.

Ferrari F50

((Photo by Leo Goria / Ferrari Kroymans)

Ferrari F50

Something many people forget is that the Ferrari F50 isn’t just one of the Big 5; it’s a convertible...basically an open-top F1 car for the road. The car's targa-style roof can be left in the garage to better experience those engine acoustics. So, while the F50 wasn’t a production car in the sense that there was one in every Ferrari showroom, the company did make 349 of them, which is more than some of the other examples below.

Ferrari 550 Barchetta

Ferrari 550 Barchetta Pininfarina

Believe it or not, the 550 Maranello was Ferrari’s first two-seat, front-engine V12 production car since the Daytona. A few years after its debut, the coupe got a haircut and was unveiled at the 2000 Paris Motor Show as the 550 Barchetta, which promised 478 HP from the 5.5-liter V12. Just 448 examples were built for the entire global market. (The 550 also served as the base car for the Ferrari Rossa, a one-off, open-top concept that inspired ideas for the Enzo, among others.)

Ferrari 575M Superamerica

Ferrari 575M Superamerica

The 550’s successor, the 575M, also got the topless treatment, but this time with perhaps the coolest retractable hardtop ever designed. The roof of the 2002 575M Superamerica is one piece of electrochromic glass mounted to a large hinge behind the cabin. With the push of a button, it rotates 180° backwards, coming to rest atop the trunk. This concept first appeared in the 2000 Alfa Romeo Vola, a concept car designed by the same man who designed the Superamerica: Leonardo Fioravanti.

Ferrari 599 SA Aperta

(Photo by 戴顗倫 / ATD Cartography)

Ferrari 599 SA Aperta

In 2006, the stunning 599 GTB Fiorano replaced the entire 550 bloodline, but for whatever reason the company decided that its next few front-engine V12 convertibles would be ultra-exclusive. The 599 SA Aperta came out in 2010 and just 80 examples were made to honor 80 years of Pininfarina. The car contains the 599 GTO's 661 HP engine and a modified version of the 599XX exhaust…so, yeah. It screams. The 599 was also the basis for a few special projects: Edward Walson’s P540 Superfast Aperta and Peter Kalikow’s Superamerica 45. (Read my roundup of the best and worst one-off Ferraris here.)

Ferrari F60 America

Ferrari F60 America

Here is where the numbers start to get a little silly. Based on the F12 Berlinetta, which stickered for about $325,000, just 10 examples of the F60 America were offered to top customers at a price of $2.5 million each. That’s quite a markup for a droptop with the same 6.2-liter V12 as its donor car. And yes unsurprisingly, all 10 were bought before production even began.

Ferrari LaFerrari Aperta

Ferrari LaFerrari Aperta

The limited-edition LaFerrari, with its windswept curves and menacing hybrid powertrain, got even more exclusive when its open-top counterpart debuted in 2016. Like the F50, it's not a front-engine design, but it’s just too beautiful not to mention. Just 200 LaFerrari Aperta examples made it to market at a price of more than $2 million each, and as with any limited-edition Ferrari, every allocation was spoken for by a major collector before production even started.

Ferrari Monza SP2

(Photo by Ferrari Kroymans)

Ferrari Monza SP2

And finally, I have to mention the front-engine V12 with two seats and no roof that came out less than a year before the 812 GTS – the Monza SP2. Like all of its limited-edition siblings, this model wasn’t even offered to the general public. All examples of both the one and two-seat Monza versions immediately sold out, and one can see why. It’s barely hit the road and already the design looks utterly timeless.

Written by Christian Cipriani

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