Ferrari has nothing for the common cold, but if you suffer worries, boredom, grouchiness, or that debilitating ennui that settles in on Sunday afternoons around four o’clock, it has a hot new pill, and you won’t need to call the doctor in the morning.
One button pushed for 20 seconds drops the top of the new Ferrari F430 Spider into its lascivious splash of aluminum bodywork. Yes, just 20 seconds to a new and brighter you! Need more? Now try the button on the steering wheel, the one that says “Start.” Suddenly, you hear that sonorous purrrrrr, fast, fat, and deep, like a Bengal tiger getting its tummy scratched. That’s a 483-hp, 4.3-liter V-8 tugging on your leash, so you’d better want to run.
First gear stretches out to 8500 rpm, howling to make your shanks shake. Second gear should get you 60 mph in about 3.6 seconds and a misdemeanor conviction in four flat. Keep the hammer down through third, fourth, and fifth, and sixth will burn your scalp clean off at 186 mph, or so Ferrari claims.
For America, the wraps come off the spider this month. Or maybe in July. With Ferrari, the banal details of when and for how much tend to be a little hazy. The spider—yes, Ferrari retains the arachnid spelling used for previous ragtop models—will get here when it gets here. Likewise, its prices were unknown at press time. When announced, they should be six or seven percent higher than the outgoing 360 Spider’s, Ferrari officials say. Figure on writing a check for about $193,000 for the six-speed manual GT or about $206,000 for the paddle-shifted F1. Options will include carbon-ceramic brakes, which cost $15,364 on the coupe, and retro Daytona seats, currently $2579 on the coupe.
Bacchus would check every box. The Roman god of wine, sex, inebriation, and other basic pleasures lives in the 17th-century Palazzo Ducale di Sassuolo, the summer palace of the duke of Modena, where Ferrari gave journalists their first ogle at the F430 Spider. In 1634, Francesco I started converting an old fort into his bacchanalian hot-weather getaway. It’s now a military academy. The duke identified with Bacchus so much that his interior decorator, Jean Boulanger, painted one entire hangar-sized gallery with frescos depicting the guzzle god’s happiest days. The psychedelic ceiling reminds one of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, with its contorted bodies and flowing loincloths, except where Bacchus is trying out the launch control on the F430 Spider.
Chances are you’ll never get to try out this spider’s launch control, either. As with the F430 coupe, launch control will be “option non grata” in America for liability reasons. As we discovered growling away from the palazzo in an F1 for a 140-mph blast up the autostrada, the F430 Spider pushes off pretty well without it.
Coupe and spider share all their tech goodies, including the E-Diff electronic differential and self-adjusting Skyhook suspension. The spider carries another 150 pounds, mostly in the roof mechanism and steel rollover hoops. Seven electrohydraulic motors fold up the canvas top and stack it flat in a tiny compartment hidden under the headrest fairings. Ferrari rejected a folding hardtop like the Mercedes SL’s because it would have obscured the view of those blood-red engine intakes. Go, Italy!
Because Ferrari designed the F430′s cast- and extruded-aluminum skeleton for both tintop and topless duty, just 22 pounds go to frame reinforcement, all in the doors and rocker-panel boxes below the doors. Twisting and bending stiffness increases over that of the old 360 Spider. As the F430 thumps over rough pavement, the steering wheel and the floor are almost as jiggle-free as Francesco’s marble columns.
Wide, squat, and busied up with air dams, exhaust tubes, and mesh screens, the spider resembles the Millennium Falcon from the back as it screams past morning commuters in their microcubes. As with the F430 coupe, Ferrari credits both Pininfarina and Mini Cooper chief designer Frank Stephenson with the spider’s look. (Stephenson has since moved on to more mundane work within Fiat.)
Chopping the top reduced the F430′s aerodynamic downforce, so the spider’s tail spoiler rises to a higher peak to help make back the difference. At 124 mph, the spider is sucked to the road with 245 pounds of downforce and tracks with precision. Corners are quick work; a hand twitch cuts the apex, and the body stays flat. Smoothness takes longer to develop, especially with the touchy carbon-ceramic brakes.
Ferrari’s range of V8-engined sports cars has been joined by the new F430 Spider when it was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show (March 3-13 2005).
Ferrari’s new drop-top includes a number of important technical features which give hints of the car’s F1 pedigree, starting with the innovative electronic differential (E-diff) – first developed by the racing division for the Scuderia’s all-conquering F1 cars – which improves traction and roadholding under all conditions. The Spider also features the steering wheel-mounted rotary switch, known to the Scuderia’s drivers as the ‘manettino’, which allows the car’s set-up to be adjusted easily and quickly.
Formula 1 is again the inspiration for the development of the company’s road cars. Designed by Pininfarina, the F430 Spider’s sinuous lines, in fact, were fine-tuned using state-of-the-art computer aerodynamics simulation programmes usually employed exclusively by the F1 team.
The F430 Spider’s shape is the result of lengthy testing and features a pronounced rear lip spoiler which is integrated into the end of the engine cover, new bigger rear air intakes that emphasize the car’s muscular stance, and a new rear valance that incorporates a diffuser of competition derivation. The engine itself is attractively set below a glass cover.
Just like the berlinetta, the new Spider incorporates two elliptical air intakes that feed the front radiators. The shape of the intakes is inspired by Ferrari’s racing cars from the 1961 season, especially the 156 F1 which Phil Hill drove to that year’s F1 Championship title. The spoiler that joins the two intakes at their bottom edge is highly effective in directing the central air flow towards the flat underbody.
The F430 Spider boasts a compact, fully automatic electric hood that allows the engine to be seen in all its glory at all times and which, once lowered, takes up relatively little space, despite the uncompromising central-rear engine layout.
The F430 Spider is powered by Ferrari’s new 490 bhp, 4,308 cc 90° V8 which is capable of pushing the car to a top speed of over 193 mph and covering the 0-62 mph sprint in just 4.1 seconds. This lightweight and highly compact power unit produces a specific output of 114 bhp per litre with a weight-to-power ratio of 6.4 lbs (2.9 kg) per horsepower (dry weight).
Engine Type: V8
Displacement cu in (cc): 263 (4308)
Power bhp (kW) at RPM: 490(360) / 8500
Torque lb-ft (Nm) at RPM: 343(465) / 5250
Redline at RPM: n.a.
Brakes & Tires Brakes F/R: ABS, vented disc/vented disc
Tires F-R: 225/35 ZR19 – 285/35 ZR19
Driveline: Rear Wheel Drive
Exterior Dimensions & Weight
Length × Width × Height in: 177.6 × 75.7 × 48.6
Weight lb (kg): 3351 (1520)
Acceleration 0-62 mph s: 4.1
Top Speed mph (km/h): >193 (>310)
Fuel Economy EPA city/highway mpg (l/100 km): n.a.
Base Price: 2007 Ferrari F430 Spider – $192,484