This Is Why Ferrari Uses Numbers To Identify Their Cars

Ferrari names… they might seem a bit controversial or randomly made-up, but there is a thought out system behind the designations…

Photography: Mercedes-Benz, RM Sotheby’s, Michael Carrozzo, Khalid Bari, Ferrari, Max Lammers

But first, a bit of history

Let’s take a look at how it all began in the car industry. The first car was called the ‘’Benz Patent-Motorwagen’’. Karl Benz, founder of Mercedes-Benz, applied for the patent of the automobile on the 29th of January 1886, it was therefore a logical choice to name it after himself and his patent. He revealed it to the public in July of that year.

1886 Benz Patent Motorwagen

When Ford began production in 1903, they started with Model A. The Model B and C followed and the next production Ford was the Model K. Henry Ford mainly used lettering designations between C and K for development and prototypes. Model N, R and S were also production cars and in 1908 the Model T was revealed.

Why Ferrari uses numbers to identify their cars

The reason why manufactures use a certain method is to keep the bloodline quite simple. Because of the innovations in every Ferrari the names are easy to create but there are no real rules when it comes to numbers. The moment you discover a pattern or method, it’ll change to a new or an old one. Below are some of the various methods used.

Engine capacity divided by the cylinders or ten

The first Ferrari, the 125 S, was named after its engine (a 1500 cc V12): if you divide 1500 cc with 12 you’ll get 125. Not only the V12 cars were designated by this method. The first four-cylinder Ferrari, the 500 Mondial, featured a 1985 cc 4-cylinder. You can do the math. Slightly unusual, but this type of designation was used until the Ferrari 456 (5473 cc / 12-cylinders = 456) was replaced by the 612 in 2003.

1947 Ferrari 125 S

Most of the rounded designations, such as the 400 Superamerica and 500 Superfast received their name after the engine-capacity was divided by ten. The 550 and 575 also received their name after the Italians grabbed their calculator and divided their engine capacity (5500 cc and 5750 cc respectively) with ten. The 599 features a 5999 cc V12, hence its name.

Although you have to do some math, this method was all fine when Ferrari primarily produced race cars. The designation was to name the cars and weren’t created from a marketing point of view. However, when Ferrari started building more road cars and they needed to market them, a new system had to be designed.

Engine capacity plus amount of cylinders

This new method still consisted of three numbers, but the first two represented the engine-capacity and the third represented the amount of cylinders. The first production mid-engine Ferrari featured a 2.0-L V6 and was therefore named the Dino 206 GT. Click on the blue words to learn more about the Dino marque. This method continued until the Ferrari 348 and was also used for the 512 BB (5.0-L flat-12).

Engine capacity plus amount of valves

When the successor of the 348 arrived, called the 355, a new method arrived as well: the first two numbers refer to the capacity of the engine (3500 cc), but the second 5 refers to the amount of valves per cylinder.

Ferrari F430

Its successors, the 360 and 430, were named after their capacity was divided by ten. The 458 was named after its engine capacity + the amount of cylinders and the 488 received its name from the capacity of one cylinder (488 cc).

Other methods

Ferrari cheated a little with the 612 Scaglietti. You would assume it’s powered by a 6.0-L V12, which it isn’t, because it has a 5.8-L V12. The reason why Ferrari named it 612 is simply because they rounded it up a bit higher than usual.

Both the GTC4Lusso and GTC4Lusso T just have one number referring to the amount of seats. The F in F12 refers to Ferrari and 12 refers to the amount of cylinders. The 812 Superfast is named after its rounded power output (789 bhp became 800) and the amount of cylinders.

Ferrari GTC4Lusso

Ferrari revealed the Ferrari 275 GTB with a four camshaft engine in the late 1960s and it became known as the 275 GTB/4. 275 refers to the capacity of one cylinder (275 cc) and 4 refers to the more powerful 4 camshaft engine.

Limited editions

Both the F40 (1987) and F50 (1995) refer to the 40th and 50th anniversary, respectively. The reason why Ferrari celebrated their 50th anniversary earlier was because the US emission laws were planned to get tightened. The Enzo was revealed in 2002 and wasn’t called the F60 because it was too much of a gap with 2007 (60th anniversary). The F60 name was used for a Formula 1 car and for the F60 America, which celebrates the 60th anniversary of Ferrari in America.

Ferrari F40 and Ferrari F50

Let us know in a comment below if you would like us to write an article about the origins of names such as the Superfast, MM, Monza and more!

Written by Max Lammers

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