Ah, the 456. Like a 550, but curvier and softer to suit its more relaxed nature, even if it is still a big FR V12 bruiser. But not all 456 were created equal. Or, they were equal but some were later made more than equal. Let’s talk about those.
One built, based on an automatic car, for Shaquille O’Neal. Rear seats also removed to fit longer seat rails, because he big. Had a smoked-glass sort of hat thing installed in place of the regular roof. Looks a bit frumpy with it on, but excellent without it. Once sold on Ebay and appeared on NPoCP. Not sure who converted it, a company in America I think. Definitely not considered factory.
4 built including several for the Sultan of Brunei. Built by Pininfarina, so you might call this a somewhat factory conversion. I think it’s cool. It’s the closest you can get to a four-door Ferrari eve, unless you count Maserati (which you shouldn’t) or the one-off Ferrari Pinin that resides in California. I respect it for not going off the rails - it really is just a 4-door 456, nothing more.
Called the 456 Venice, these were also built by Pininfarina. It seems the Sultan of Brunei ordered 7 but purchased 6, so one was sold to the UK. This is great news for us as it does get spotted around town a bit, and photos aren’t too hard to come by. It seems there’s a dark green one that shows up a bit too and may have escaped the evil clutches of the Sultan. I think these are cool too, they look to share the sedan’s doors and windows and are definitely a sporty, stubby sort of wagon - more VE than VY Commodore if you will.
3 created by Straman in the US, (who also created the twin-turbo 300ZX cabriolets, the factory cabriolets all being NA). A bit of a pig with the roof on, but you don’t pay big money for a chopped up 456 to keep the roof on so I’ll give it a pass. Does remind me of a 355 Spyder, though with more seats.
Apparently this is also given the Venice name but it’s hard to say. 2 built for the Sultan again by Pininfarina. Only 2 seats and I don’t think it actually had a roof. Which is curious since that makes it very similar to the 550 Barchetta, so unlike the other cars in this list it does not fill a niche that’s otherwise unfilled. They definitely took some artistic license with that rear, and probably also a set of 550 tail lights.
And there we have it. Even if they’re a tad ugly at times, I love the idea of something weird and wonderful being created out of regular Ferraris, to fill a void that Ferrari won’t do themselves. In an age of SUVs and de-weird-ification of the car world, it would be great to see more of these projects from those with the means to commission them.