If you think that the 550 Barchetta Pininfarina doesn’t really fit with the other millennium-era vehicles, the designers would be very happy. One year before production ended on the 550 Maranello, Ferrari introduced the Barchetta at the 2000 Paris Motor Show. Meant as special tribute to Pininfarina, they wanted to stylistically separate the car from the rest of their line-up at the time. It is fitting, then, that the designers took as inspiration such icons as the 250 GT California and the 365 GTS4.
Being a true roadster, no convertible roof was fitted to the Barchetta. A manually-operated soft top was included with the car, but it came with 70 mph speed limit, so it’s clear that Ferrari wanted this to be an open-top motoring experience the vast majority of the time. As in the 550 Maranello, a 6-speed gearbox was the only transmission available in the car, one of the last models to not have an optional F1-style transmission.
Apart from the missing roof, the most notable difference between the Barchetta and the standard 550 are the protruding roll bars sitting above both seats. These prominent structures lend additional rigidity to the chassis as well as aiding in passenger safety in case of a rollover. Because they did not have to engineer a complicated folding-roof mechanism, engineers were able to keep the weight down on the Barchetta, meaning it weighs the exact same as the coupe version of the 550. Under the bonnet resides the same 5.5-litre V12 as in the standard 550 Maranello. Producing 478 hp and 569 Nm of torque, this hulking engine allows the 550 to accelerate to 62 in just 4.4 seconds on its way to a top speed of 186 mph; exhilarating figures, especially for a permanently open-top vehicle.
Production was initially planned to sit at 444 units, but thanks to an East-Asian superstition against the number “4,” Ferrari increased that number… by 4. Whether or not that was intentional, the resulting 448 production figure seemed to appease the emerging Japanese Ferrari market. And regardless of the market, every single 550 Barchetta Pininfarina features a special plaque with its production number and a signature from Sergio Pininfarina.