Ferrari 456 Buying Guide
Perhaps one of the last remaining affordable V12 Ferraris, the 456 can be a fantastic grand tourer if you know what to look out for
How much to pay
• Project £25,000-40,000 • Good £40,000-80,000 • Concours £80,000-100,000 •
• Most expensive at auction: £179,995 (delivery mileage 1999 456M GT)
Running costs ★
DIY Friendly ★
The 456GT arrived in 1992 as a replacement for the long-running and divisively styled 412. Its front-engined, four-seater configuration can be traced right back to the 250 from 1960, the powerful V12 offering impressive performance today.
Designed from the outset as a grand tourer, the Pininfarina-penned body style is elegant although lacking some of the visual drama usually associated with Ferrari’s sportier mid-engined offerings.
That’s not to say that it doesn’t deliver an immersive driving experience though. Its road manners are excellent for a long-distance tourer, and it's also one of the last Ferraris to have been offered with a manual gearbox.
The renewed interest in all things Ferrari in recent years has had a positive effect on 456 values and good ones are starting to command high prices. Maintenance costs can be prohibitive though and previously neglected cars can fast track you to the poor house.
Your AutoClassics Ferrari 456 inspection checklist
The 436bhp 5.5-litre V12 is relatively unstressed and has proven to be reliable. Other than checking for evidence of regular servicing, inspect the cam covers for signs of oil leakage as this is a weak point on well-used examples.
Cambelt changes thankfully do not require the engine to be removed, something that was common in other Ferraris of that era, and therefore the labour costs are significantly lower for this job. Budget for replacing them every three years.
Most 456s tend to have covered relatively low mileages but regular oil and belt changes should still have been carried out as sludge build-up can occur. Snapped belts will mean big bills. An oil service is recommended every 6000 miles or annually.
There were a number of recalls carried out regarding possible fuel leaks, gearbox oil radiator pipe leaks as well as a potential loss of brake fluid and handbrake issues. All should have been rectified but it may be worth double checking to avoid any unforeseen bills.
The four-speed automatics tend to be expensive to rectify. Signs of impending bills are rough gearchanges and a general lacklustre response to driver inputs.
The six-speed manual is a rare treat; despite offering a more engaging driving experience, few 456s were equipped with one. Your best bet would be one of the pre-1996 cars as the more popular automatics were only made available from that year on. A recalcitrance when shifting to second can indicate a hard life. Clutch changes are expensive.
Suspension and brakes
The 456 is a heavy car and suspension bushes and dampers tend to take a beating. Worn-out components can detrimentally affect the handling of the car and a quick underbody inspection can reveal any cracked rubber mountings or weeping dampers. Ferrari recommends new dampers every six years, and if the car feels sloppy or loose around corners then it may be time to change them.
The self-levelling rear suspension is a pricey unit to replace, though prices vary between specialists.
The largely aluminium construction of the 456 means that rust should not be an issue, however it is always a good idea to thoroughly inspect panels for evidence of accident damage and blocked drainage holes. Rotting leaves under the bonnet can cause corrosion issues.
The pop-up headlights were the last ever offered on a Ferrari. Check that they operate in synch with each other and do not judder when opening.
Electrical issues have been known to affect some cars, so take a look over the service history and see if there have been an unusually large number of invoices in that area. Electric windows in particular can cause issues and some models suffered from window gap issues, rectifiable but labour intensive.
The dashboard instrumentation tends not to give issues, however the centre console can flake and bubble in places and some switchgear can work intermittently at times. The rest of the interior is hard wearing and cars should not exhibit significant signs of wear on the leather seats and door panels.
- 1992: Ferrari 456GT 2+2 launched, replacing 412 which ended production in 1989. Six-speed manual gearbox standard as is 436 bhp 5.5-litre V12.
- 1996: 4-speed automatic transmission introduced. Engine management updated, power remains unchanged.
- 1998: Face-lift carried out with a name change to 456M. Various exterior and interior changes include fixed undercarriage spoiler as opposed to the previous electronic system, and upgraded cockpit and audio system.
- 2002: Carrozzeria Scaglietti specialisation program introduced.
- 2003: Final 456 produced with a total of 3289 cars built.
The Ferrari 456GT was billed as the world’s fastest four-seater at its 1992 launch, and with a top end of 186mph few supercars could compete on that imaginary unrestricted motorway.
Initially well received, mainly because it replaced the largely unloved 412, but its subdued styling and massive price tag kept sales numbers relatively low. Nevertheless, it has proved to be a reliable and capable grand tourer with impressive performance and the added practicality of those (admittedly small) rear seats.
Manuals offer greater driver engagement although the automatics are higher in number and slightly cheaper, while still offering strong performance. Either is a good choice. Avoid cars with patchy histories, budget a little extra for servicing and fuel and you should find the 456 a capable and thoroughly enjoyable modern classic.
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