Car News: Oversteer
Here's How You Can Tell Apart the Ferrari 550 Maranello and 575M from the Outside
A few weeks ago, I posted a review of the Ferrari 550 Maranello, which is a front-engine V12-powered Ferrari that was built from the late 1990s through 2001. It was replaced by the 575M, which got a slight power boost and the subtlest of exterior modifications -- along with a newly optional "F1" paddle-shift transmission, which was installed in most 575s.
In my video review, I gave you a quick clue if you're ever trying to tell apart the 550 and the 575, by way of some unusual facial expressions. A few of you told me you appreciated the information because you didn't know how to tell apart the highly similar-looking 550 and 575 -- so today, I'm going to teach you all three visual cues you can use to tell the two cars apart.
Before I get into these ways to tell apart the 550 and 575M, a word on the most obvious differences: the wheels and the badging. The easiest way to tell the two cars apart is the wheels, as they had different (and very distinctive) wheel designs. Additionally, despite the fact that Ferrari doesn't usually put model badges on its cars, many 575M models left the factory wearing "575M" emblems on their trunk lids. But those badges aren't on every car -- and wheels can easily be changed. So here are the ways you can be absolutely certain whether you're looking at a 550 or a 575M.
1. The Front End
As I mentioned in the video last week, the easiest way to tell the 550 Maranello apart from the 575M is the front end design. Simply put, the 550 Maranello looks like it's smiling, while the 575M just isn't. The 550 Maranello also has fog lights integrated into its smile, while the 575M has no fog lights to speak of. If you approach the cars from the front, this is the easiest way to tell them apart.
2. The Rear Bumper
But what if you approach the cars from the rear? Interestingly, there's a tremendously subtle difference between the 550 and 575 in back that was pointed out to me a few years ago by my friend Andrew. In the 550 Maranello, there's a small cutout in the middle of the rear bumper, below the trunk lid, for you to insert your fingers so you can open the trunk lid. In the 575M, that cutout extends across the entire top of the bumper and bottom of the trunk lid. If you ever approach one of these cars from behind, you can be absolutely certain which one you're looking at with a quick glance at the rear bumper.
3. The Headlights
Finally, you can tell apart the 550 and 575M by looking at their headlights. While both use the same shape for their headlight housings, the 550 Maranello's actual physical headlight bulbs are surrounded by black trim -- while the 575M sheds this black trim in favor of a more modern body-colored look. If you look very closely, you can see that the design is different, too: The 575M uses three more distinctively shaped (and separated) lights within the housing.
And so, there's your cheat sheet. If you ever find yourself at Cars and Coffee and you aren't sure whether you're looking at a 550 or a 575M, just fumble around with your phone, search for a signal, Google this story, wait for the page to load and read all the differences. Or, you know, just ask someone. Like an amateur.
Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.