You may not know the name Amedeo Felisa but, if you’ve a penchant for Ferraris, you’ll certainly know his work. Signore Felisa joined as technical director in 1990 and is stepping down, 26 years later, as CEO – a position he’s held since 2008.
The prancing horse was languishing when he joined in the wake of the death of founder Enzo. But it’s now unquestionably the greatest (and most renowned) car company in the world – in large part due to these six cars, produced during his tenure, which are among the best ever to emerge from Maranello’s garages.
There’s always one Ferrari that eclipses everything else in the range (and everything else on the road). In 2002, it was the Enzo. Though the skin didn’t quite match Maranello’s other offerings, what lay under it blew them all away.
It was Ferrari’s fastest ever production car, with a body that leaned heavily on the car Michael Schumacher steered to five consecutive F1 championships. No wonder he had a pair of them in his garage.
Before pedestrian safety regulations trumped aesthetics, the coolest cars always had pop-up headlights. And the finest example was the Ferrari 456, perhaps the greatest GT of its day.
A bona fide four-seater with space for (designer Italian) luggage, it’s designed for trips from Milan to Monte Carlo, which you’ll want to undertake via the most circuitous route possible.
We’re not keen on the name – it sounds a bit too close to Lola Ferrari to really work. However, the LaFerrari is more rewarding than its moniker suggests.
It built on the Enzo’s successes, namely speed, and was capable of a staggering 217mph. But what makes the LaFerrari so legendary is that beneath the bonnet sits a hybrid petrol-electric engine. Granted, it still produces more CO2 than the average motor. But it’s proof that you can own a supercar and still save the planet. Sort of.
The California marked Ferrari’s first foray into folding hardtops. Another four-seater (though only if you associate with children or chihuahuas), it’s a very complete supercar – the sort you could realistically use every day.
And its party trick, the folding roof, means you can go from coupe to convertible in just 14 seconds. So you can see the world gawping at you with envy.
James Bond aficionados will remember the F355’s starring role in Goldeneye, the vehicle of choice for Xenia Onatopp (who could crush men to death with her freakishly strong thighs) as she raced Pierce Brosnan’s Aston Martin DB5 through the mountains.
The F355 is everything a Ferrari should be: sleek, sexy and faster than Bond’s women. It’s also about as accessible as the prancing horse gets; you can get your hands on an F355 from about £55,000. It’s the perfect step on to the Ferrari ladder.
Ferrari’s reigning top speed champ makes an equally convincing claim for the aesthetic crown. Perhaps the distillation of Ferrari’s automotive philosophy, it performs everywhere, with the perfect balance of handling and power-to-weight, in a package that satisfies even when it’s standing still.
Felisa’s final two-seater GT, it’s a fitting epitaph to an automotive legend.