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Michael Sheehan's Ferraris-online.com Article

THE EVERY-DAY EXOTIC

If you want a modern Ferrari that’s fast, elegant, spacious and all-around usable, look no further than the 612 Scaglietti.

As appeared in:

Forza—April 2013 issue

Buyer’s Guide

by Michael Sheehan

Ferrari’s four-seat V12 models may not have the same cachet as its two-seaters, but these 2+2s are no less worthy of the famed Prancing Horse badge. They are fast, exotic, comfortable and, despite their larger size, very enjoyable to drive. And prior to the launch of the current FF, the 612 Scaglietti, which was introduced at the 2004 Detroit Auto Show, was the best of the bunch—by far.

The 612 debuted a number of firsts for Ferrari. For example, it was the first V12-powered model to utilize an aluminum chassis. The 612 was also the first Ferrari to place its engine fully behind the front axle; this front-midengine layout, combined with a rear-mounted transaxle, gave the car an impressive 54-percent rearward weight bias. The Scaglietti, named in honor of coachbuilder Sergio Scaglietti, also ushered in a new era of driver’s aids with the introduction of CST stability control (earlier Ferraris only had traction control) and driver interaction, with buttons controlling Sport mode and stability control set directly on the steering wheel.

All of this high technology was packed into a very understated, Pininfarina-penned body. Ferrari believed that its 2+2 buyers wanted a less dramatic-looking car than the contemporary 360 Modena, and the 612 was sometimes criticized for being too bland. But the car’s interior received no such complaints, nor did its performance.

Despite measuring 16 feet long and tipping the scales at two tons, the Scaglietti could rocket from rest to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds and reach 199mph, courtesy of a 540-hp 5.7-liter V12 engine. More important, the 612’s rear weight bias and adaptive suspension allowed it to feel and handle like a much smaller, lighter machine. At the same time, the Scaglietti was a superlative cruiser—quiet, refined and comfortable—with room for four full-size adults. (For those owners willing to sacrifice some comfort for performance, Ferrari offered handling packages that bundled stiffer suspension, louder exhausts, quicker F1 gear changes and/or different wheels.)

Things only got better in March 2008, when an updated Scaglietti was introduced. While it looked virtually identical to the original, the second-generation 612 featured an electrochromic glass roof, standard carbon-ceramic brakes, a smoother, faster-shifting F1 gearbox, the steering wheel-mounted manettino first seen on the F430 and an improved infotainment system. The later Scaglietti is often referred to as a One-to-One, or OTO, a nod to Ferrari’s then recently introduced personalization program.

When new, a loaded 612 Scaglietti could easily top $300,000, with some later OTOs crossing the $400,000 mark. Today, early examples can be had for around $100,000. While that’s far from inexpensive, if you have the means we think it’s a price well worth paying, given the 612’s compelling blend of high performance, luxury and every-day usability.

MARKETPLACE

612 Scaglietti - practically a bargain
612 Scaglietti - practically a bargain

WHAT TO PAY

612 Scaglietti $85,000 — 110,000

612 Scaglietti OTO $150,000 — 200,000

These prices are for cars in good condition with roughly 10,000 miles. The Recent Listings section below shows asking prices; actual sale prices are usually at least 10-percent lower.

FOR THE FERRARI buyer with the need for both speed and space, the 612 Scaglietti was a hit. But, as is always the case with 2+2s, the market for such cars was relatively small, and the initial high demand (and premiums paid over list price) quickly faded away. Nonetheless, Ferrari built roughly 3,000 Scagliettis between 2004 and 2010—and today, the model is practically a bargain.

Compared to their original $300,000 plus selling price, early 612s can be found for less than $100,000, a two-thirds discount from new. There’s no cheaper way for buyers to get into a modern, aluminum chassis, V12-powered Ferrari, although prices may fall a bit further before reaching full depreciation. The later, OTO cars cost significantly more and have further to fall before they are fully depreciated.

Will the 612 ever appreciate? It’s possible that some day, in the far, far future, given the model’s relative rarity and currently diminishing values, that prices will climb slightly—but I can’t see how they would ever become “collectible.” The Scaglietti is a wonderful car, but, like all other Montezemolo-era Ferraris, it’s a mass-produced one. Even the special edition 612 Sessanta, of which just 60 examples were built in 2007, isn’t likely to appreciate significantly.

Of course, that’s no reason not to buy one to drive it. The 612 is fast, comfortable, reliable and versatile. Owners in search of a more sporting experience should be on the lookout for examples with a traditional stick-shift and one of the various Handling GT packages. The former is very rare (the old-school gated shifter didn’t mesh well with the 612’s very refined, high-tech sensibilities), the latter are fairly common, and neither commands a premium in the used market.

As with any Ferrari purchase, do your research, buy the best car you can afford and have it inspected by a shop that knows the model inside and out. Given the cost of repairs, it doesn’t take much to turn a bargain into a money pit, so look for a car with a full, documented service history, even if it costs a little more up front.

No complaints here
No complaints here

RECENT LISTINGS

2005 612 Scaglietti 25,000 miles. Black with a black interior. F1 transmission. Daytona seats. New clutch, tires and brakes. Recent 25k service. Immaculate condition. Asking $95,000

2005 612 Scaglietti 26,000 miles. Silver with a red interior. F1 transmission. Heated Daytona seats, rear parking sensors, leather rear shelf and headliner. Pristine. Asking $99,000

2006 612 Scaglietti 22,000 miles. Silver with a black interior. F1 transmission. Factory three–piece wheels, Daytona seats, leather rear shelf and headliner. Excellent inside and out. Asking $110,000

2008 612 Scaglietti OTO 8,000 miles. Ivory with a brown interior. F1 transmission. Diamond leather on doors and dash. Original books, keys and car cover. Meticulously maintained. Perfect condition. Asking $170,000

2008 612 Scaglietti OTO 10,000 miles. Silver with a black interior. F1 transmission. Daytona seats, HGT2 sport package (wheels, exhaust and suspension), cruise control. All books, keys and service records. Beautiful. Asking $176,000

ON THE ROAD

The 612 Scaglietti has long been a FORZA favorite. Here’s what we said about the model when it was still in production.

A natural for everyday driving
A natural for everyday driving

THIS V12 IS THE FIRST Ferrari engine in ages where you can hear the mechanical components working. In the 550/575M, 456 and 360, you hear one sinuous sound, a beautiful note that gets louder or softer as revs rise and fall. In the 612, distinct mechanical sounds from various internal parts tickle your ears; the result is a symphonic melange that is nothing short of sensational. The noise is hypnotic, getting louder and more cantankerous as the tach sweeps towards the 7,400-rpm redline, or simply soothing as it potters along below 3,000 rpm.

Also intoxicating is the feeling of precision and nimbleness as we dart out and around slower vehicles in what seems to be the bat of an eye. The 612 feels as delicate and poised as a ballerina dancing across the floor, a surprising sensation in such a large car.

The steering is delightful under all circumstances. The steering wheel itself feels delicious in your hands, the rim meaty and solid, the thumb cutouts superb. The wheel delivers all the information you need about the road surface without overwhelming you or kicking back on rough surfaces. Steering effort is light but not in an American-car, desensitized way. – Winston Goodfellow, "Everyday Exotic," FORZA #55

OUTWARD VISIBILITY IS GOOD, the seats are comfortable, there’s plenty of head and legroom (and even a small leather–covered pad where your right knee rests against the center console) and the radio sounds good. If we didn’t know better, we’d think the 612 was just a luxury car— and that’s not faint praise for something with this kind of performance.

After a couple more days of driving, it’s clear the 612 is a natural for everyday use. For example, driveways and speed bumps, the bane of many sports cars, don’t faze the Ferrari; its ride height is real-world usable. We never hear a squeak or rattle, likely thanks in part to the car’s stiff aluminum space frame. And while the trunk is small for a 16-foot-long car, the back seats can carry plenty of cargo. – Aaron Jenkins, "Fantasy Junction," FORZA #77

THE V12 ENGINE EXCELS at revving, yet its astonishingly wide power curve dispenses plenty of horses virtually everywhere in the rev range, in any gear. Trying to find a soft spot in the power band is like looking for a quiet scene in a JohnWoo movie. In the hills south of Maranello, I discover that the acceleration is massive, but agreeably short of brutal.

Despite its generous dimensions, the 612 can be placed with ease; I can clip apexes without the fear of understeer sweeping me wide, even if I apply the power a tad too early. This Ferrari is perfectly balanced under braking, and even correcting my line mid-corner fails to unsettle the rear. It is a true driver’s car. – Johann Lemercier, "A League of its Own," FORZA #87

THE GARAGE

AFTER SPEAKING with service managers at several authorized Ferrari dealers, as well as a few mechanics at independent shops, I found a clear consensus on the 612 Scaglietti: It, like all modern Ferraris, is pretty much bulletproof. In fact, aside from the few things listed below, it was difficult to find any consistent problems with the model.

The biggest complaint from owners seems to revolve around the dreaded cam-belt replacement. The 612 is the last V12 Ferrari to feature a rubber timing belt (the newer engine introduced in the 599 utilizes a timing chain), which needs to be replaced every five years—although many dealers recommend a four-year interval. Expect to pay roughly $5,000 for a major service and belt change. On the other hand, an annual fluids and inspection service will only cost around $1,000, a bargain in the world of exotic cars.

Even the usual wear-and-tear items have proven pretty robust. For example, early reports on the model suggested short clutch life if the car was used regularly around town—extensive stop-and-go driving is tricky for the F1 system’s automated clutch—but my survey revealed only two clutch replacements from a field of roughly 100 cars, more than a few of which were 50,000-mile machines. (If it becomes necessary, clutch replacement costs around $8,000.)

This isn’t to say the 612 is perfect. No car, particularly a small production exotic, is, and isolated problems do arise. To date, however, the Scaglietti has proven to be as rugged and reliable as any owner can reasonably hope for.

MAJOR ISSUES

FAILING INSTRUMENT PANELS

The 612 Scaglietti introduced Ferrari’s now-ubiquitous electronic screen in the instrument panel. While the setup is generally reliable, the instrument-panel power supply, backlighting power supply and/or the dash’s motherboard can malfunction. Ferrari’s fix is to install a brand-new instrument panel, which costs $7,000-8,000. I did find one shop, F.A.I. in Costa Mesa, California, that will rebuild the original panel or supply a re-made board for $1,000-1,500.

Instrument panel
Instrument panel

F1 GLITCHES

Some owners have encountered annoying glitches with the F1 shifter mechanism. Some problems were mechanical, requiring a reset of the clutch-positioning sensors, while others required a software update. Happily, these repairs have proven pretty inexpensive, generally falling in the $1,000 range.

MINOR ISSUES

As a big, heavy car with a powerful engine, the 612 has a healthy appetite for tires. Expect to replace the rubber every 10,000 miles or so. Also, these cars’ 19— or 20—inch aluminum front wheels are only modestly protected from impacts by theirlow profile tires, and thus can be dented or bent by pot holes.

Ferrari has yet to resolve the dreaded, long-running sticky switches problem (where the coating on some interior plastic pieces becomes gooey and starts to rub off on hands, clothing, etc.), especially on cars that are stored without being used for long periods. If this problem strikes, the plastic bits will need to be refurbished or replaced.

The leather that covers the dashboard can shrink if the car is regularly left in the sun, exposing the underlying foam and metal. It costs $4,000-5,000 to remove the dash, recover it with new leather and reinstall it.

Scaglietti brakes have proven to be nearly indestructible, but it’s not cheap if the carbon-ceramic brakes need to be replaced. As with the F430, a full set of CCM pads and rotors currently runs roughly $25,000.

A Swiss Army knife - Made in Italy
A Swiss Army knife - Made in Italy

OWNERS’ TAKES

Eric Hawley
2005 612 Scaglietti with 42,000 miles
2008 612 Scaglietti OTO with 35,000 miles

What do you like most about the 612?
The space. We wanted to be able to pack a huge amount of luggage and stuff in the car and take off for six or eight weeks. We would spent 10 to 12 hours a day in the car, and it would just lope along happily. It was also nice to be able to cram people in it and go out to dinner.
It was the best of both worlds: It rides really comfortably, the seats are really comfortable, but when you want the power it’s just instantaneous. What’s not to like about a Ferrari V12 engine? That kind of torque, there’s just no substitute for it.

What do you dislike most about it?
Nothing, really. They’re just wonderful, comfortable, reliable cars.

How reliable were your two Scagliettis?
We had one of the first cars in the country, and for the very first month had an intermittent starting problem that turned out to be a bad connection to the battery. And once it was skipping shifts and needed a minor adjustment to the F1 actuator. Other than that, the cars would just go in for regular services; they just chewed up tires and drank gas and gave us a lot of fun. When we sold the first car, it still had 70-percent or more life left on its original clutch and [steel] brakes.

Would you recommend this car to a friend?
Absolutely I would. It’s the same with all the late model Ferraris: Get one that’s been regularly used by someone, not one with low miles, and has a few owners. I think both of our 612s felt better, drove better and sounded better at 20,000 miles than they did before 20,000 miles.
The problem is that you need time for hidden problems to appear. If you don’t put miles on it and a problem doesn’t service, the next owner’s gonna encounter it and there’s nothing inexpensive about fixing a Ferrari. Plus, the price drops precipitously for high-mileage cars, and you’re not gonna have any problems that a guy with a 2,000-mile car doesn’t have.

Garrett Gafke
2006 612 Scaglietti with 23,000 miles

What do you like most about your car?
It’s versatile; it’s the Swiss Army knife of Ferraris. When it wants to go, it’s incredibly fast, it’s got a lot of torque, but it’s got a lot of room, a usable back seat and a usable trunk, and anyone can drive it. I’ve had adults in the back and they’ve been comfortable, and we have two kids, one of whom took his first-ever car ride in it. But I really bought it because I wanted something with style. It’s beautiful, it’s one of the most elegant looking Ferraris.

Any dislikes?
Honestly, there’s none. Anything I could name would be things you want when a newer model is introduced: faster shifting, a better stereo, bigger wheels, stuff like that. There’s not a single thing I think they did wrong with this car.

How reliable has your 612 been?
It’s a bulletproof car, very reliable. I had a seatbelt potentiometer that went out a long time ago, and something went wrong with part of the fuel system…but, honestly, I’d have to look in my records to find anything else. I’ve had other Ferraris that have had problem after problem after problem, and I could go on and on about them, but that’s just not the case with this one. There are a few things that can happen, like in all Ferraris. The dashboard [leather] can shrink back, some guys knock the window switches off—they’re kind of fragile—and sometimes in really heavy stop-and-go traffic, when it’s really, really hot out, the clutch wants to slip a little. But even then, it’s still all under control, feels like a normal car, you can keep the air-conditioning cranked up. If they have a few miles on ’em and you’re on top of the services, they’re really good.

Would you recommend this car?
Oh yeah, without a doubt.

Ed Baalbaki
2006 612 Scaglietti with 11,000 miles

What’s the best thing about the 612?
I really like the V12 engine; it’s fantastic. And I like the look of the car. It’s more of a gentleman’s car, not too showy, it’s got that classic look. The thing I like most is the interior. I’m 6-foot-3 and I’m comfortable sitting in the car. It’s very comfortable, the speed is excellent and the handling is great.

Any dislikes?
Nothing, really. I changed the wheels for 599 wheels, that made the car look much better.

How reliable has it been?
I have never had any issues with it, but one: a problem with the F1 sensor or actuator. Twice in two years, I drove down to LA, and twice in two years the transmission got stuck in fifth gear. The first time, I had to drive it for a mile through stop–and–go traffic and the clutch was smoking really badly, but the clutch still has 80-percent life on it. I was amazed.

Would you recommend this car to a friend?
I wouldn’t recommend paying what I paid when it was new, but yeah, for sure. I’d definitely recommend it for someone who has kids.