This stunning Ferrari 599 GTB was kindly provided, and is currently for sale by Gilmour Collection
Have you ever run into an old friend somewhere? So you tap them on the shoulder and as they turn around you realise it’s someone completely different! Or maybe you booked tickets to a romantic movie called “Love and Roses” which turned out to be a horror flick about an axe murderer who kills couples and leaves roses on their bodies. Perhaps you fell for the ever cliched judgment of a book, having only seen its cover? It’s human nature – when we see something from the outside, we kind of form a picture in our minds of what the experience might be like in reality.
Sometimes, we’re pretty good at making that guess. Other times, we couldn’t be more wrong.
the 599 is a fast, comfortable Grand Touring car
Take for example when I first saw the Ferrari 599 GTB. It’s a front engine V12 Ferrari. It has a reasonably sized boot and some more luggage space behind the seats. Clearly this is going to be a fast, comfortable Grand Touring car. And to a certain extent it is, and it is an excellent fast, comfortable GT car. However, when you flex your right toe just slightly, it becomes something else. The 599 GTB becomes an absolutely unhinged, maniacal psychopath that feels like it would eat you alive – bones and all.
When the 599 looms into view it looks very imposing. It sits low and strikingly wide. The long bonnet and sloping back make it look very sleek and powerful. On this particular example, this look is accentuated by a carbon fibre splitter, side skirts, diffuser and boot spoiler. Not to mention the massive 21 inch front, and 22 inch rear wheels. The black roof also makes the car appear lower, and slightly sinister. It’s a very hard car to miss and certainly stands out in a crowd. Even amongst other supercars, this car would leave an impression.
If anything, the interior is even better. Trimmed in stunning cream leather, you sink into the ultra-supportive carbon fibre Daytona bucket seats and instantly feel at home. The dashboard layout would be familiar to anyone who’s driven any other Ferrari from this period, but it’s still a stunning place to be. The entire cabin is filled with a feeling of craftsmanship and luxury. Even if there is the odd sticky button that plagued many Ferrari’s of the time, they are easily overlooked.
the 599 screams and barks
Turn the key and hit the start button and you are quickly reminded of those 4 Akrapovic exhaust tips poking out either side of the massive diffuser. The system starts with the valves open and as the car settles to idle, the valves close and things become slightly more civilised. The 6L V12 has quite a satisfying, deep humming sound when driven with a light right foot. When the throttle opens and the exhaust valves with it though, it screams and barks like an old V12 Formula 1 car.
The power and thrust that goes with the noise is scarcely believable. With your foot hard down in any gear lower than 4th, you have to hold on for dear life. If you lose respect for this car for just one second it could really bite you. Even with the massive, wide contact patches giving huge amounts of grip, the laws of physics truly struggle to keep up with the engine’s intent of braking traction.
It is properly frightening and at the same time hugely addictive. The steering is quick and very responsive, as is the throttle, meaning that if you do lose traction, you will be able to catch it. Despite its exterior size and the fact that threading it through a narrow street requires some concentration, the car feels very light and agile under you. The ride is firm, but certainly forgiving enough to do huge mileage in. Having seen the low profile of the tyres I was initially convinced the car would be quite skittish, but it actually feels very planted – that is until the engine tries to twist the earth around the rear wheels like a piece of taffy.
hill starts with an F1 gearbox
Being a slightly older Ferrari, the 599 is fitted with the single clutch automated manual transmission. Again, my mind ran wild with preconceived ideas of clunky gear changes. Convinced I would suffer some form of whiplash injury from simply trying to move away from a traffic light smoothly. And of course, we all know that hill starts with an F1 gearbox are impossible.
The list of surprises from the 599 continued though! The car pulls away from the line smoothly, even on hill starts. Gear changes are obviously not PDK smooth, but certainly not the spine shattering horror stories we read about in all the magazines that tested these cars. The changes also seem to get smoother, the faster you go. There is undoubtedly a skill to driving one of these gearboxes smoothly. As much as I still love my manuals, I must admit it’s nice to have to learn new driving skills to drive one of these smoothly. It keeps the driver involved in the process.
a playful beast of a car
So, far from my expectations of a benign and harmless comfortable GT car, the 599 manages to be all of that PLUS a truly exciting sportscar. It can comfortably cruise down the highways, eating up mileage at obscene speeds. But tickle it the right way and it feels like a much smaller, lighter car. With far too much power on tap, it is a playful beast of a car.
Whilst the big wheels and carbon fibre bits may polarise opinion, they absolutely suit the character of this car. Yes it can be the big puppy dog that takes you on long road trips. Flex your right toe though, and this puppy’s bit absolutely matches its bark.
This Stunning example of the Ferrari 599 GTB is currently for sale by Gilmour Collection. Please contact them for more info.