Eric Clapton’s Ferrari 550 Maranello for sale

The manual V12 is already a stellar used prospect – even more with Ferrari's number one fan on the delivery note

By Cam Tait / Tuesday, 14 February 2023 / Loading comments

Why no one has come up with a car dealer specialising in old Eric Clapton Ferraris is beyond me. Not just because the sheer number of old Fezzas once owned by the legendary guitarist could comfortably fill a swanky showroom in Mayfair, but there always seems to be a solid rotation of ex-Claptonmobiles that’d keep the shopfront well stocked. Eric, if you’re reading this, drop me an email.

To get this somewhat niche showroom idea off the ground, we could begin with this: a Clapton-owned Ferrari 550 Maranello. Currently listed through Bicester Sports and Classics, the Cream guitarist was the first of three owners, detailed in a stack of documents with his name on it. The advert identifies God as the car’s original buyer (of course he is – you don’t have to buy anything secondhand after you’ve written and recorded Layla). And back in 1997, just a year after launch, there wouldn’t have been many secondhand Maranellos around to choose from, either. 

Of course, the Clapton effect won’t appeal to everyone; fortunately, this is a very desirable example of a very significant Ferrari anyway. The 550 Maranello arrived off the back of a particularly turbulent time for the Italian marque. In the years following Enzo Ferrari’s death, the company’s line-up consisted mostly of mid-engine models – 456 aside – with the Testarossa-based F512 M serving as the flagship 12-cylinder model. So when Luca di Montezemolo took over as company president in 1991, he set about overhauling the less-than-inspirational model range, including a new V12 flagship.

That would be the 550 Maranello; Ferrari’s first front-engined, two-seater flagship since the 365 GTB/4 some 20 years prior. Critically, though, the fundamental ethos remained the same. The 550 would be styled like a grand tourer, only with greater driver involvement. With the F1 transmission still on the horizon, the 550 would be exclusively sold with a gated six-speed manual gearbox, with the transmission itself located over the rear axle along with a limited-slip differential.

At the heart of the 550, just in front of the cabin, was a 5.5-litre naturally aspirated V12, a derivative of the 65-degree engine in the 456. Naturally, the 550 received a considerable power upgrade, with its 485hp output some 43hp up on the 456, cementing it as the most powerful car in the Ferrari range. A top speed of 199mph was not even walking pace off an F50’s V-max, while a 4.4-second 0-62mph time remains quick even today, given there are only two driven wheels, six manual gears and zero launch assists. Let’s not forget the timeless Pininfarina design, either – not warmly received at the time yet ageing very nicely, and magnificently minimalist interior free of distractions. The 550 was all about the drive, as Ferraris should be.

So whether you’re a Clapton fan or not, there are plenty of reasons to consider this gorgeous example. It’s clearly been cherished since it was first registered more than 25 years ago, with the ad claiming an “excellent history file” and a recent major service where the cambelts were changed. The odometer reading of 31,000 miles across three previous owners suggests it’ll hopefully feel just as fresh as it did 25 years ago. Granted, it’s a tad on the pricey side for a 550 at £119,500, but the Clapton association will no doubt prove its weight in gold if you ever choose to move it on. It’s not like he’s going to suddenly flood the market with old Ferraris…

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