What’s in a name? Ferrari’s about to launch its new V8-engined middie, the new 458 Italia. It’s the latest in a line of illustrious junior Ferrari sports cars. And its model number – 458: 4.5 litres, 8 cylinders – is entirely logical. Here’s a potted history of what came before.
1. Dino 206/246 GT/GTS
Ferrari created a sub-brand, named after his only legitimate son, for this V6-powered sports car – ‘real’ Ferraris had 12 cylinders. A 2.0-litre V6 (hence 206) from 1967; 2.4 litre V6 (246) from 1969. Targa-top version denoted by S for Spider.
2. Dino/Ferrari 208/308 GT4
First of Ferrari’s V8s arrives in 1975, again with the Dino badge (until 1977, when it gets promoted to Ferrari status) and mid-engined, but with angular styling by Bertone. 2.0-litre V8 (208 – you’re getting this, aren’t you?) tax-breaker for Italy; 3.0-litre V8s elsewhere. And the 4? There’s a pair of seats in row two, so it’s a four-seater. Just.
3. Ferrari 208/308/328 GTB/GTS
Okay, same numerical logic goes for the Magnum PI sports car, only this time it’s a Gran Turismo Berlinetta or targa-topped Spider. 3.0-litre enlarged to 3.2-litre 328 in 1985. Gorgeous curves by Pininfarina again.
4. Ferrari 348tb/ts
Simply a turismo berlinetta or turismo spider from 1989, with a 3.4-litre V8. Pininfarina styling but less curvaceous than before, and a reputation for evil handling.
5. Ferrari F355 Berlinetta/GTS/Spider
Updated 348 gets new engine, properly sorted chassis, smoother looks and new nomenclature. There’s an F40-style F prefix, and the newly enlarged 3.5-litre engine gets an obvious mention. As for the second 5, well, it’s a 40-valve V8: five valves per cylinder. Berlinetta coupe, GTS targa and fully convertible Spider.
6. Ferrari 360 Modena
Simple number: it’s a 3.6-litre V8. But now it’s named after the district of Italy in which it’s built. Comes as a berlinetta or spider.
7. Ferrari F430
No name, just a simply engine-related (it’s a 4.3-litre V8) number – and the F prefix is back. Except on the hardcore 430 Scuderia road racer. Scuderia? It’s Italian for ‘team’.