My Car Quest

April 19, 2024

Ferrari Nomenclature

by Mike Gulett –

The introduction of the new Ferrari Roma (and previously the Portofino) caused me to think about Ferrari model names for their street cars. The model name Roma is unusual for Ferrari, only the name of a city, although an important city being the capital of Italy. And Portofino is another Italian city. There are no number designations relating to the engine of these two models.

Ferrari 275 GTB/4

Ferrari 275 GTB/4 – photo by Mike Gulett

Ferrari model names usually have a meaning; numbers in the model name refer to the engine size. There are examples where this is not the case such as the F40 and F50 where the number indicates the number of years since the founding of Ferrari.

Letters or words in the model names usually refer to the body style except when it is the name of a race like MM (Mille Miglia) or a place like used in: 360 Modena, 550 Maranello, 250 GT California Spyder, 330 America or Roma and Portofino. There are other words used like Lusso meaning luxury and Daytona which is used for the 365 GTB/4 informally because it is not an official Ferrari model name.

I am wondering if the introduction of turbocharged engines and hybrid electric power (like the up coming SF90 Stradale) creates a difficulty for Ferrari in using numbers to identify the engine displacement capacity as they have done in the past. The performance capability of these new engines will not be fully reflected in the engine capacity.

Ferrari 330 GTS

The Dirt Is Still In Place on this 330 GTS

Ferrari 250 LM and Ken Phillips

A Real Ferrari 250 LM (Le Mans) and Ken Phillips

Engine Size

There are three different number configurations that Ferrari has used to designate the engine size.

In this first style the number signifies the capacity in cubic centimeters of a single cylinder. An example is the 250 series where one needs to know that there are 12 cylinders with a capacity of 250 cc each for a total displacement of 250 x 12 = 3000 cc or 3 liters.

Other examples of this style are: 275, 330 and 365.

In the second style the number signifies the capacity of the engine in liters (after one inserts a decimal point after the first number) followed by the number of cylinders. An example of this style is the 308 where the first two numbers indicate a 3.0 liter engine and the last number indicates an 8 cylinder engine. Other examples of this are: 206, 246 and 348.

In the third style the three digits indicate the engine capacity in liters (after one inserts a decimal point after the first number). An example of this is the 360 where the engine capacity is 3.6 liters. Other examples of this are 550, 575 and 430.

Body Style

GT (Gran Turismo) grand touring.

GTB (Gran Turismo Berlinetta) or coupé.

GTS (Gran Turismo Scoperta) spider or convertible. The convertible models now use “Spider” such as 360 Spider. The “S” designation is also used for targa top cars as well like the Dino 246 GTS.

Ferrari 250 GTO

Ferrari 250 GTO at the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles – photo by Mike Gulett

SWB (Short wheel base)

GTO (Gran Turismo Omologata), omologata means homologated. GTO designates a model created for the racetrack but still being street legal. The 250 GTO, the 288 GTO, and the 599 GTO are the only three that bear this designation as far as I know.

M (Modificata), designates a modified version of its predecessor like the 575 M Maranello.

/4 (4 cam) while this is not a body style it is attached to the body designation and refers to the 4 cam engine such as in the 365 GTB/4 and the 275 GTB/4.


Now back to the Ferrari Roma, which has a twin-turbocharged V-8 engine displacing 3.9 liters, rated at 620 horsepower.

If Ferrari were to use their engine designation numbers for this model the name could have been: Ferrari Roma 488, Ferrari Roma 398 or Ferrari Roma 390.

The question is – do these numbers represent an engine with 620 horsepower capable of zero to 60 MPH in 3.3 seconds?

Will Ferrari dispense with engine numbers for turbocharged and electric powered cars? Maybe they will add designations like “T” for turbocharged or “E” for electric? Or…? We will have to wait and see what Ferrari does with their model names as time and technology moves onward.


Let us know what you think in the Comments.



Ferrari 250 GTO

Stephen Mitchell’s Ferrari 250 GTO in the parking lot at Riverside Raceway (~1970) – photo by Larry Crane

Ferrari Logo

Ferrari 275 GTB/4 logo

Ferrari Nomenclature
Article Name
Ferrari Nomenclature
Ferrari model names have a meaning; numbers in the model name refer to the engine. Letters or words in the model name refer to the body style except when it is the name of a race like Mille Miglia or a place as used in the 360 Modena.


  1. wallace wyss says

    I feel Roma is a good name because people recall their visits there when they hear the name. But equally good is the name of resort areas like Portofino. Other automakers do this too,, here is an SUV called Telluride, and who can forget the Chevrolet Malibu? You won’t find any cars named Cleveland.I think Bugatti goes overboard into the obscure naming cars after drivers that have almost been forgotten. The tribute names to past models can sometimes be annoying. The front engine Mangusta was poorly styled compared to Giugiaro’s original so didn’t deserve the name. Chevrolet’s re-use of Stingray (with the little sculpture of the critter) is an anachronism on the 2020 Corvette, it doesn’t need it. my favorite car name as far asmfitting the car’s raison d’etre is the Bentley Azure, a car you’d like to drive on the Cote d’Azur.

  2. Realty enjoyed this post Mike and Wallace personally I like the type numbers and the names that celebrate the Marques motor -racing history!
    Well done on a lovely thread and really nice pictorial.

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