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Car Tales: A Nineties Motoring Beauty, Ferrari 456 GTA

Sleek and sexy, the Ferrari 456 GTA is a V12 gem, an extremely usable everyday supercar. Cars in the 90s were either ugly or magnificent. At the time of its launch the 456 GTA was the fastest production Ferrari on the market, with a top speed of 186mph, and a 0-60 mph time of 5.0 seconds – 5.3 seconds for Automatics.
1997 Ferrari 456 GTA for sale
Whereas many cars of the 1990s were often unattractive, the Ferrari 456 GTA is so beautiful, a very stylish and luxury sports-car, a gorgeous grand tourer, a phenomenally terrific automobile.

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The 456 GT was introduced in 1992 as a replacement for the long-running 365 GT4, a 2+2 GT which had started production in 1972 and ended life in 1989. So the svelte 456 was long overdue and with its Pininfarina body was indubitably elegant. The cars are front-engine grand tourers produced by Ferrari from 1992 to 2003. The updated 456M, which was the last Ferrari model to use pop-up headlamps, was replaced in 2004 by the 612 Scaglietti.

1997 Ferrari 456 GTA side view
The name 456 derives from each cylinder displacing 456 cubic centimeters. This was the last Ferrari model to use this naming convention until the 488 GTB. Despite its exceptional performance, the 456 has a relatively unstressed engine, which has proven to be a very reliable unit.

In fact, the 5.5 liter V12 engine used in the 456 won the ‘over 4-liter’ class of the International Engine of the Year award for 2000 and 2001.

Between late 1989 and the autumn of 1992, Ferrari did not offer a V12 front-engined four-seater. But in September 1992 at the FF40 International Ferrari Celebrations in Brussels, held to honor the 40th anniversary of Ferrari’s Belgian distributor, Garage Francorchamps, the all new 456 GT was launched.

The next month a public debut followed at the Paris Motor Show. The stunning new 456 GT met with a rapturous reception. Notwithstanding an economic recession, the 456 GT’s superlative build, spacious cockpit, outstanding performance and gorgeous Pininfarina styling meant that it sold extremely well.

1997 Ferrari 456 GTA rear view
And this was assisted by the 456’s sporty demeanor. The 456 was based on a traditional tubular steel spaceframe designated Tipo F116CL; and at 2600mm, the wheelbase was 100mm shorter than the outgoing 412i. Track dimensions were widened by 110mm at the front and 94mm at the rear. A tighter appearance, therefore.

Although the 456 was designed as a world market car that could meet the most stringent safety and emissions legislation without major modification, the 456 was not offered in the USA until the summer of 1994. US versions were identifiable by their rectangular side marker lights located down each flank. However, an automatic version of the 456 – the 456 GTA – did not appear until the Geneva Motor Show in March 1996.

1997 Ferrari 456 GTA interior
Hence the car we presently have on offer at Beverly Hills Car Club was sold only just over a year after that Swiss launch. It is a 1997 Ferrari 456 GTA featured with 53,665 miles on the odometer and finished in its factory color Blu Swaters Metallic, complemented with a tan interior.
This Pininfarina-designed sports car is equipped with an automatic electronic 4-speed transmission, 12-cylinder engine, Veglia instruments, four-wheel disc brakes, quad exhaust outlets, retractable headlights, Pininfarina badges, four-spoke steering wheel, embroidered seats, and alloy wheels. Amenities include air conditioning, electric door locks, dual-side view mirrors, power seats, glove box, center console, cigar lighter with an ashtray, AM/FM radio, and sun visors with a vanity mirror on the passenger side. In addition to this equipment, this 1990s classic comes with an owner’s manual booklet, service booklet with stamps, manufacturer’s literature, copy of the original window sticker, a clean Carfax report, and service receipt copies totaling over $29,000 that has been invested into the vehicle. This is a highly desirable and collectible Ferrari 456 GTA car that is mechanically sound.

The four-speed automatic transmission used in the GTA was created in collaboration with Ricardo, who designed and built the gearbox around General Motors internals.

An electronic management system automatically adapted to different driving styles which dispensed with the need for a kick-down mode.
GTAs were given a new chassis designation: Tipo F116CLA as opposed to Tipo F116CL.
1997 Ferrari 456 GTA engine
Fittingly the interior of the Ferrari 456 GTA is as impressive as its exterior. In addition to the carpeted floors and sidewalls, along with aluminum inserts for the steering wheel and center console, practically every surface was covered in fine Connolly leather. The dash top, door caps, steering wheel rim, forward section of the headliner and A-pillars were normally housed in black leather.

Behind the three-spoke steering wheel was a curved binnacle with an appropriately sizable speedometer and rev counter along with various warning lights. Standard equipment included air-conditioning, electric windows, electric mirrors and an audio system.

And to prove we were in the modern age Ferrari had added windows that cleverly lowered slightly when the doors opened and closed, thus permitting compressed air to escape from the cockpit.

No wonder the Ferrari GTA 456 was both a sales hit and an outstanding tribute to the beauty of great motor-cars.

And a thoroughly deserved success.
-Alex Manos, Owner
1997 Ferrari 456 GTA buyer Alex Manos

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