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The Ferrari 550 Had One Of The Most Luxuriously Pointless Options A Sports Car Can Have

Photo Credit: Ferrari
Photo Credit: Ferrari

I never liked the Ferrari 550 very much when I was growing up. I should have. It was a powerful, stylish, front-engined not-quite-supercar with a gated manual transmission, a V12 and, unbeknownst to me at the time, one of the most pointless and luxurious options a sports car can have.

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Now, it’s a little difficult for me to talk about this feature with any kind of certainty. Ferrari is always a little secretive or selective about who can buy what, and how many of each car or option made it out of the factory. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

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The Ferrari 500 was a sporty car, but it was luxurious as well. These things cost $204,000 when new, so I guess they had to be. It should come as little surprise then, that when Ferrari offered an interior roll bar, it wrapped it in leather.

Photo Credit: Ferrari
Photo Credit: Ferrari

This is, to me, the perfect blend of functionality and uselessness. Yes, it makes sense to put an integrated roll bar in a car that can knock on the door of 200 miles per hour. No, it makes no sense to line it in leather other than it fits in with the rest of the leather-lined interior.

And you’re not wrong in noticing those four-point belts in this picture, either. Those are the optional sport seats for the 550, which apparently could be ordered with those extra-safe belts. There’s no fifth point to prevent you from submarining into the dashboard, but a belt in your crotch isn’t the most luxurious thing imaginable.

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The reason why I was cagey about this information is that it was initially offered on two special editions of the 550, the Michael Schumacher edition and the World Speed Record edition. The first commemorated Ferrari’s not-yet-all-conquering F1 driver.

Here, in fact, is a picture of Schumacher doing some testing in a 550 at Fiorano, Ferrari’s test track.

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Photo Credit: Ferrari
Photo Credit: Ferrari

The second commemorated Ferrari’s production car record for average speed over 100 kilometers, which the company set at the track where Honda now tests its cars in Ohio. I honestly don’t know if the picture I have of that interior is a Schumacher car or a WSR car; I believe that WSR cars only had red interiors, but I can’t find any definitive proof of that.

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Only a few dozen of these cars were ever made out of the few thousand 550s built in total. That said, it’s not hard to find 550s popping up for sale with the optional seats and four-point belts. There may be other leather-cage 550s out there, but I don’t know about them.

But I can say that I do love them, quite a bit.

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.

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DISCUSSION

potbellyjoe
PotbellyJoe and 42 others

I had a customer come in to buy an H2 as a tow rig for his toy trailer. He arrived in a yellow 550 with his son (about 11- or 12-year-old)

They parked in the customer delivery parking, which, meh it was a slow night but there’s a reason those spots were empty (and the sign in front of them said “reserved for customer delivery”)

He jumped out and stood by the door for a few seconds and then his son got out but didn’t shut the door. His dad walked around and suddenly I realized why he had stood near the driver’s door for a bit before walking around.

He put his hand inside of his shirt and used the cotton shirt to push the door closed.

Mind you, he had just driven on a 55 mph highway (and a few county roads) on his way to our dealership.

Ferrari ownership is a confusing dichotomy of reality and eccentricity.

Also, I really wanted one of our lot boys to pull a car around for delivery and ding his 550 while we finished paperwork, solely because I’m a jerk like that and wish those kinds of things on people who use their t-shirt to shut their car doors.