There’s no such thing as a bad Ferrari. Far from it, in fact, as any debate around the automobile and sporting icon’s model range tends to be a matter of splitting hairs between engineering masterpieces. Head online and you’ll see those debates in full flow, from ‘top 20 best ever Ferraris’ lists (because a top ten wouldn’t be enough) through to the ‘best shades of Ferrari red‘ – and there are a few.
Perhaps the most objectively interesting debate on The Prancing Horse stable, though, is a matter of speed versus style, both of which have always come naturally to the brand. Granted, neither quality is likely to be lacking in any Ferrari creation, but there are certainly some models more revered for their track pedigree and others for their design, with countless standouts in both categories found across the back catalogue.
With that point of contention in mind, we’ve picked out four Ferraris of note to discuss – two historical legends of the Ferrari family, and two potential future legends that headline the Italian manufacturer’s current offering.
Historical style: Ferrari Testarossa
If there was a poster boy for the cultural impact of Ferrari through the years, the Testarossa would be it. Quite literally so, as the Testarossa did find itself on the bedroom walls of many a young Ferrari fan back in the day. The Pininfarina design of the early to mid-90s represents one of the brand’s most mass-produced and popular models, selling around 10,000 units in total.
Never the fastest, never the most powerful (although the 5.0l, 390bhp, flat-12 engine was no slouch), the Testarossa’s legacy lies in its iconic design and wider impact for the brand. The streamlined, future-ready front section and signature side vents make it instantly recognisable to Ferrari fans as the model that brought Ferrari truly into the global mainstream.
Historical speed: Ferrari F40
Ferrari celebrated their 40th birthday in 1987 by creating the F40, a true laboratory-built road racer with a design rarely seen anywhere other than on over the top toy race cars. At 470bhp, the V8 F40 was the brand’s most powerful model ever at the time of its release. Featuring a huge rear spoiler and striking Kevlar shell, the F40 was released to rival Porsche’s more classically styled 959.
A poster-worthy creation in itself, the F40 is likely to divide opinion in design terms among Ferrari fans. The speed and power, however, cannot be disputed, with the racer capable of touching 200mph flat out.
Modern style: Ferrari SF90 Stradale
The culture within the automobile world is certainly changing, and Ferrari has made a tangible attempt to move with the times by creating the SF90 Stradale, the manufacturer’s first plug-in hybrid (PHEV) option. In design terms, beyond the aesthetic, the SF90 is a truly incredible engineering achievement, balancing combustion and electric power to offer eye watering performance. From a visual-only perspective, the SF90 offers a stunning modern perspective on the Ferrari look.
With electric assistance comes unbelievable power, and the SF90 is something of a cheat code in that it also now qualifies as Ferrari’s most powerful and fastest production car ever. Boasting 986bhp and 0-62mph and 0-124mph times of 2.5 seconds and 6.7 seconds respectively, the new SF90 Stradale is a true engineering triumph for 2021.
Modern speed: Ferrari 812 Superfast
For the purists who may object to electric assistance, the 812 Superfast came not long before the SF90 as the brand’s then fastest and most powerful release. The 789bhp V12 offers comparable performance, with a 2.9 second 0-62mph and top speed of 211mph. Like the power behind it, the design of the 812 Superfast is a touch less electrified and truer to Ferrari designs of old, but neither the performance or aesthetic are in any doubt.
Such is the strength of the manufacturer; the question of what Ferrari is best is an entirely subjective matter that often comes down to the particular leanings of the fans who adore the brand. What is without doubt is the four models above are consensus top contenders from both a style and speed perspective, with the new models setting benchmarks yet to be seen before, built on the success of the legendary designs before them.