The One That Got Away: Jodie Kidd’s first Ferrari, a 550 Maranello WSR

by Charlotte Vowden
18 July 2023 5 min read
The One That Got Away: Jodie Kidd’s first Ferrari, a 550 Maranello WSR

“There’s a very small group of people on this planet who will be able to own a Ferrari 550 Maranello. It’s the epitome of a ‘you’ve made it’ car, and I felt really proud to have done it by my mid-twenties. It was 2005, I’d worked really hard during my modelling career, and having been brought up riding horses driving a prancing horse seemed to me the pinnacle of success—and I’d earned it.

I’d only had my driving licence for a couple of years, because I started modelling at such a young age [Jodie was 16] so I was taken to studios, airports and hotels in [chauffeured] cars, which meant I hadn’t had the need to get one. Coming out of modelling, I drove around in my dad’s ginormous BMW 7-series like an executive, but wanted something that was a little bit more me.

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I looked at Murciélagos and Paganis but I was like ‘oh my god that’s unbelievably gorgeous’ when I saw the pure, simplistic lines of the 550s. Very chic, almost understated, until you start it up, and then it’s like phwoar! I liked that it was a bit incognito but a ferocious beast under the bonnet!

I found an amazing silver 550 at the Ferrari dealership Graypaul Birmingham. It was one of ten right-hand-drive cars that were made as part of the World Speed Record Series, and when I first saw it, I was in awe. There was no other car for me, so I bought her for around £70,000. There’s just something about those older Ferraris that make you go, yes!

My first drive in ‘Grandma’, my name for the 550, was down the M6 toll. I could have died right then and there and I would have been happy; it was one of the best moments ever. I felt such a sense of freedom and accomplishment, and very, very, very lucky. You know when sometimes you can’t quite believe something is yours? That’s exactly what it was like.

Jodie Kidd drives a Ferrari 550 Maranello-head on
Jodie behind the wheel of a 550 Maranello for Kidd in a Sweet Shop

The 550 had everything I wanted it to have—the long nose and the front-engined V-12 with a gated gearbox. But then I thought, right, I’m going to put a sound system in. I kitted the whole boot out with amps, coolers and fans, and had big subwoofers put in behind the seats. She was like the rudest 550 on the road, and although she may not have looked shouty, you could definitely hear us coming about half an hour before we turned up. Music plays a big part when I’m driving. I put on the tunes and go—it’s my meditation—but back then I was young and crazy and played my music so loudly. I was brought up in the Caribbean so I love Bob Marley, but I have an eclectic music taste. What was I listening to at the time? I was going through a bit of a Rage Against The Machine and System of a Down period, so we made a racket wherever we went.

I definitely got noticed going up and down the Kings Road, but I drove the 550 everywhere. I put tens of thousands of miles on the clock going between London, Sussex, and Birmingham, where my partner at the time lived, so I know the M40 really well. It’s a fast road (not that we break laws) but you can sit and really go with the traffic, no one is messing around.

The 550 was a powerful car. It was all hands on the steering wheel, but even though it had been stripped out for racing, that car very much cocooned you. The burgundy red leather bucket seats gave it that touch of Ferrari elegance amongst the rawness of its racing spec, and with the roll cage, it felt safe.

I never took the 550 abroad, I didn’t have time, but there are some amazing sweeping roads that go up and over the Downs on my doorstep in Sussex. I went to Cornwall and Devon a lot, and there were a few times I crossed over into Wales, where the roads were stunning. But whatever I faced the 550 with, it never had an issue. It was heaven—even if I got stuck in traffic for hours, I couldn’t get annoyed because it was such an enjoyable place to be. You couldn’t get out of that car without a smile on your face.

Jodie behind the wheel of a 550 Maranello for Kidd in a Sweet Shop

I had the 550 for years, and then one day I went through what looked like a puddle but what turned out to be like a lake. The sump acted as a scoop and brought the water up and over the whole engine; I lost about seven cylinders right then and there. I had to limp her back home then send her away for a new engine, and when you are dealing with a V-12 Ferrari, the cost is absolutely terrifying. It took a long time to get her right again, and during this period I got pregnant with my son.

When the Ferrari came back, my dad said, ‘Look Jodes, you know you’re going to have to get a car that’s suitable for a baby seat,’ so in a moment of madness, I exchanged the Ferrari for a bloody 4×4. It was a massive mistake, one of those moments where you just know you’re doing the wrong thing but you do it anyway, but I had to be sensible and get something practical.

I’d spent about £70,000 on the new engine (the price I’d paid for the car in the first place) and sold it in 2009 for around £60,000. It was, financially, the worst, and over the years I’ve been watching the value of 550s go up, and up and up. I think they’re around £300,000 now.

It’s painful to think about the 550. I really miss it, but one day I will get to a stage where I can have one in my garage again. Until then, I’ve found a happy medium; the Ferrari 550 is the latest car to be added to the Kidd Collection, a selection of cars available for investment with the CarCrowd.

The idea behind the collection is that I get to choose my dream classic and modern classic cars that people can invest in as a group. Each person owns a share of the car and at the end of an agreed term the collective decides whether to sell it, or sit on it. Stocks and shares are so wobbly at the moment so this is a different way to hopefully get a good return on your money. It’s kind of frustrating that you can’t drive them, wear and tear would deplete their value, but we are doing our bit for the classic car world by looking after them for the next generation.

I’m not a car journalist or a complete geek, but a lot of what I do in my life revolves around cars, cars, cars, cars, cars! I started my YouTube channel, Kidd in a Sweet Shop about a year and a half ago and it’s going really well. There isn’t a big female presence in automotive and so I thought let’s do something about it. I’ve learnt so many things and met so many cool people. I see myself as a conduit and hope people appreciate my point of view.

I hope whoever has my 550 really loves it and they’re not trashing it. I think I’d be miffed if it has changed colour; all the World Speed Record 550s were that lovely silver [Grigio Titanio], so it would be against what the car was built for, but if it’s wrapped that’s reversible. I don’t know how I’d feel if I could buy it back, bittersweet perhaps, because knowing how much I want it they’d probably charge me ten grand above what it’s worth!”

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  • JDC says:

    Strange article. I’m a big fan of Jodie and what she’s doing with her channel, but: i) (even if she doesn’t) Hagerty knows 550s aren’t £300k; and ii) the WSR currently for sale at JM is Jodie’s old car (which I’m assuming she knows given she seems to know Joe), so that last paragraph is pure fiction…

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