Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!  

Elvis Costello once sang that Accidents will happen, we only hit and run, I don't wanna' hear it, ‘cause I know what I've done. For today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Ferrari, an unknown accident may mean it's done.

The minions of neither the Samba nor the Vortex made an appearance yesterday, and hence the GTI-ish Caddy failed to runaway with the voting. Instead, the little rustbucket truck with pluck managed to just squeak by with a narrow 51% Nice Price win. As cheeky and affordable as it was, that Volkswagen appealed to a niche market who would be willing to overlook some of its more glaring issues. Additionally, that pocket rocket's pocket change price made it easy to excuse those relatively minor transgressions. Today's 1997 Ferrari 550 Maranello however, sports a price, and a history, that will require even greater allowances- both figurative and real.

Berlinetta Boxer, Testarossa, 512 TR and the F512M- from the early 1970s and to nearly the end of the last century, Ferrari offered a mid-engined 12 cylinder. That all changed in 1996 with the debut of the radically old school 550. The Maranello stood in stark contrast to the precedent F512M in many ways. Its engine, at 5,474-ccs, was 10% larger that that of the 512, and with 485, it managed 45 more ponies. Inside there was room for both people, and their heads. But the biggest change was in where the engine was located. After nearly a quarter of a century of plugging flat 12s into the midsections of their big cars, Ferrari went back to the front. The 550 rocks its 4-cam V12 under a long sexy hood, and it keeps its radiator and air intakes up there too so instead of the TR's birther hips, the Maranello displays meaty haunches out back. The 6-speed manual - actuated through a traditional gated shifter - still resides in the back, providing for 50/50 weight distribution.


You'd imagine that the specs for the 550 are super car spectacular, and you'd be right- zero to sixty takes a blink under four and a half seconds and the 3,726-lb (dry) car is good for a top speed that's a single tick shy of 200 miles per hour. The rest of the specs- all alloy bodywork, multi-setting suspension, F1-bred aerodynamics, etc, are nice, but the car's stature rests on those first two.


This silver over red 1997 Maranello is offered up by a private seller, atypical for a big prancing horse. The mileage, at 23,534, is reasonable for a 9-mile per gallon bruiser, and aside from what looks like some deformation of the driver's seat squab, the car presents itself extremely well, at least in the grainy photos. Ferrari's are ordinarily priced not by features but by when they were last serviced, and the seller of this silver bullet claims the major maintenance - including the life or death timing belt - has been recently done. That's not all, as he makes the claim of renewed brakes and a fresh set of rubber already fitted to the car. That right there represents about nine grand worth of new stuff and the labor to install it, which should be taken into consideration when you are voting.

Something else that should be made clear before you pull the lever is the fact that this Maranello is tainted with the dreaded salvage title. Dun-dun-duuuhhh. A minor accident is the claimed reason for the scarlet letter appearing on the pink slip, and the seller says that it has all been repaired, and states unequivocally that there was NO FRAME DAMAGE. If that's true, then the question remains, why is this car so damn cheap? The seller is asking $55,000 for this 550. Oh, sorry - yeah, I probably should have told those of you who hadn't read the headline to sit down before letting that cat out of the bag. If you scan the classifieds like I do, then you'll find that 550s are running in the $75K- $85K range right now, even ones with higher miles. Sure there's one on eBay for $57,500, but that car has also has been in an accident, and was off the road for over 2 years according to the CarFax.


Okay, so here's the hard question - would you take a chance on a salvage title Ferrari, even if it meant a whopping 35% reduction in the going price? After all, who'd know but you and the cops that pull you over? So, check out the ad, drool over the rocket-like Pininfarina bodywork and ruby red leather interior, and then, make your choice: is $55,000 a decent price to become a salvage boat pilot? Or, does that tainted title mean this Maranello hasn't been marked down far enough?

You decide!


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