What Do Ferrari Model Numbers Mean?
April 12, 2017
For most Ferrari-buffs, the answer to this question is elementary knowledge. To others, it may not be, as it is not as simple an answer as you might think. Much like the English language, there are no real rules when it comes to Ferrari Model numbers–the moment you see a pattern or rhythm, it changes on you, goes back to the old pattern, changes again, etc.
In general, for most models up until 1980, Ferrari used a 3-number naming system based on the car’s engine displacement. The V6 and V8 models used the displacement for the first two digits, then the number of engine cylinders as the third digit. So, for example, the 348 is named as such for its 3.4L V8 engine (3,4, and 8). The 206 and F355 follow this same pattern. The 360 Modena and the F430, however, refer solely to engine displacement, without the inclusion of engine cylinders. The 458 Italia, however, which succeeded the F430, goes back to the pattern followed originally, naming after the engine displacement followed by the number of cylinders. Other patterns were used also. The Flat 12 (boxer) models, for example, followed a naming pattern that used the engine displacement in litres for the first digit and the number of cylinders for the last two digits. Some models, such as the Mondial and Testarossa, did not follow the three-number system. This can prove to be very confusing, not just because of the changing in naming-system, but because some models share the same engine type, so most Ferraris were also given designations referring to their body style. In general, the following conventions were used:
M: Stands for “Modificata,” in Italian, (modified in English). Appearing at the end of the model’s number, a modified version of the model, not a new model entirely. 575 M Maranello, for example
GTB: Stands for, “Gran Turismo Berlinetta,” meaning coupe.
GTS: Stands for, “Gran Turismo Spyder,” meaning convertible. Convertible models are now spelled with an “I”, Spider.
*In more recent models, this is used for targa top models (i.e. F355 GTS), the 348 TS being the only exception, which is the only targa named differently.
GTO: Stands for, “Gran Turismo Omologata,” which, like M, appears at the end of a model’s number, denoting a modified version of its predecessor. The difference being that the model has been designed and improved for the racetrack, though it is still street-legal.
*Only three models bear those three letters; the 250 GTO (1962), the 288 GTO (1984), and the 599 GTO (2010).
F: Added to the beginning of all models in the mid-1990s, but was abandoned after the F355, then added again with the F430, but not with the following model, the 458 Italia.
The inconsistency of Ferrari’s naming system can be confusing, as it does not always follow the same pattern, but we can be sure of one thing: Each and every model is spectacular. So, while there is not a distinct consistent throughout that applies to all models, you can be sure there is a reason behind each model’s specific name and number.