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Tazio 8; Flying low in Colin McRae’s Ferrari 550 GTS Maranello

Beauty can hurt. The sound of the naturally-aspirated 5.9-litre V12 is both damaging and addictive at the same time. Do we have any more gears?

At a little over 280 kph, the limiter cuts in, signalling play is over. I have still more than half a runway in front of me. At Le Mans, this car would have hit about 320 kph on the Mulsanne straight, but since its racing days are over, the need for that long Le Mans gearing has gone as well. Notwithstanding, the way the 550 accelerates right into sixth gear, is quite unnerving. This is such a fast car. And – the sign of any good Ferrari – you really want that engine to keep on giving. It’s effortless in the way it revs.

Photo Dirk de Jager


This car came about when businessman/racing driver Frédéric Dor handed over his troublesome, Italian-built Ferrari 550 race car to his friends at Prodrive, to see if they could sort it out. A sobering answer followed; ‘best if we start on an all-new basis.’ Whereas the Ferrari 550 Millenio remained a problem-child, the Prodrive-built Ferrari 550 GTS Maranello quickly became the car to beat in the FIA GT racing series. And at Le Mans, it scored a class win in 2003.

Photo Dirk de Jager

Colin McRae

This very car, chassis CRD03, participated five times in the Le Mans 24 Hours. It’s undisputed ‘moment de gloire’ came in 2004, when rally champ Colin McRae drove it in his only appearance ever at Le Mans. Together with Rickard Rydell and Darren Turner, they ended up third in class (and best of the 550s).

See Also

Photo Dirk de Jager

GT1 hero

The Ferrari 550 GTS Maranello is one of the most breath-taking cars that lived in the GT1 era in the early 2000s. The Prodrive-built Ferrari turned out to be a more successful car than its Italian-built successor, the Ferrari 575 GTC.

CRD03 is currently owned by Girardo & Co. and DK Engineering in the UK, who were kind enough to let us have a go. The full story is now available in issue 8 of Tazio Magazine, dedicated to 100 years of the Le Mans 24 Hours.

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