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PREVIEW: 2006 FERRARI F430 SPIDER

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, May 1, 2005

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

TOPLESS PRANCING HORSE COMES TO TOWN By CHRISTOPHER HUDDLESTON

Beauty, power, prestige, and excitement. These four words are brought to mind often when one thinks of Beverly Hills, this city of palm trees and movie-stars that has been immortalized on TV and in the movies. The absolute beauty of this city, however, is not just skin-deep. Beverly Hills is also a dynamic economic powerhouse, situated a scant nine miles from the towers of downtown Los Angeles. Entertainment and financial services lead a pro-business attitude that has helped develop a vibrant downtown full of upscale shops, restaurants, and high-rise office buildings. It's not cheap to live here either, with a median home price of over $1.2 million.

Beauty, power, prestige, and excitement are four words that also define Ferrari's newest work of art, the 2006 F430 Spider. And that's why this city, Beverly Hills, was the perfect locale for the west coast premiere of what most likely will remain one of the most sought-after sports cars available today. Gian Giacomo Mattioli, the President and Owner of Ferrari of Beverly Hills was our most gracious host, as we spent the morning with the F430 Spider, admiring a design that is an extensively fine-tuned rendition of the acclaimed Ferrari 360 Spider, a model that combined with its Modena and Stradale versions, has become the best-selling Ferrari ever.

California, according to Marco Mattiacci, the Vice-President of Marketing for Ferrari/Maserati North America, comprises 26 percent of Ferrari sales for the US market and is the most important market for Ferrari - not only in the USA, but also in the entire world. In addition, Ferrari of Beverly Hills has the distinction of being the nation's number one selling Ferrari/Maserati dealership. When asked what factors helped contribute to the success of his Ferrari dealership, Mattioli stressed location, location, and location. The incredible wealth in the surrounding area as well as the proximity to the Hollywood "elite" provide a natural demographic for Ferrari not found anywhere else in the world. Of course, Beverly Hills is in the very center of perhaps the greatest car mecca (Southern California) in this country and there's no denying the fact that the southern California weather allows Ferrari owners the ability to enjoy their vehicles just about 12 months out of the year. The new F430 Spider, along with the recently introduced F430 Coupe, demonstrates, in Mattiacci's words, a much greater synergy between Ferrari street cars and Ferrari Formula 1 racecars. Contributing to this synergy are features such as an electronic differential, first developed by Ferrari's racing division that improves traction and road holding in all conditions without incurring the associated weight, cost, and performance penalties that typically go hand-in-hand with an all-wheel-drive setup.

The new Spider is powered by Ferrari's incredible new 90-degree 4.3-liter DOHC 32-valve V8 engine putting out 490 horsepower, 343 lbs ft. of torque, and a siren song that is sure to leave you breathless. This compact and lightweight engine produces an output of 114 horsepower per liter, and gives the new F430 Spider a power-to-weight ration of 6.4 pounds per horsepower. That all translates to an estimated 0-62mph time of 4.1 seconds, putting an actual 0-60 mph time closer to 4.0 seconds flat. Top speed is within spitting distance of 200 mph with an actual estimate from Ferrari of over 193 mph. It wasn't too long ago that even the acclaimed supercars of the day couldn't touch these numbers. Now, they are par-for-the-course for what is easily Ferrari's volume (and relatively least-expensive) sports car model.

Computer simulations, models similar to those employed by Ferrari's F1 team, allowed F430 Spider stylists to craft a new body that slips more efficiently through the air, and is yet, amazingly so, more aggressive than the 360 Spider design that proceeded it. To this editor's eye, however, the front end of the new F430 Spider (and Coupe) seems to be the least well-resolved aspect of the new car. Compared to the 360 models, the headlight clusters look too small, and the elliptical front air intakes look too awkwardly gaping. The rest of the F430 Spider, however, is pure magic with a muscular stance that incorporates new, bigger rear intakes and a new rear valence that incorporates a diffuser that makes a significant contribution to down force at the rear of the vehicle. Happily, the F430 Spider retains the 360's see-through engine cover. The 4.3 litre V8 contributes as much style to the F430's exterior as does the gloriously curvaceous body and this factor seriously adds to the F430's sex appeal when the sharp looking flying-buttress cloth top is fully retracted.

Ferrari Beverly Hills was a truly outstanding locale for this first glimpse of the new Spider and Mattioli's small but impressive facility only enhances the appeal of this great marquee. Of course, the whole morning was nothing more than one big tease, as no F430 Spiders were available for test drives. Hopefully, future hands-on experience will allow us to bring to you, as Paul Harvey says, the "rest of the story" on what we're sure is one of the most exciting performance cars on the planet. For more information on Ferrari products, go to www.ferrariworld.com.

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