Spotted in the Wild: Ferrari F430 Spider

The month of January is not the typical time of year for a Canadian to spot a Ferrari driving in evening rush hour. This time last year Toronto was hovering around -17°C and there was snow covering the roadways. I had already shoveled something like 20 times, and was thoroughly fed up with winter, the worst of the four seasons.

Clearly, my personal battle against Mother Nature over the past twelve months has been successful as the temperature is currently 3°C, there’s no snow on the ground, and the shovel has only been used once. This is one of the balmiest starts to winter in recent history, and I like to think that a little of this unexpected warmth is down to my continual threats towards the Gods of weather. Spraying aerosol cans wherever I went for the past year or so probably didn’t hurt either. Well, it did hurt some things: sorry Polar Bears.

Albino Grizzlies aside, the weather that Toronto is currently experiencing gets enthusiasts to drive with their windows down and sunroofs open, provided they have the heaters blasting. For those people wealthy enough to afford an übercar, this type of temperature allows them to take their pride and joy out for a break from its usual winter hibernation. And that’s why I was able to spot this mid-engined beauty, a Ferrari F430 Spider, on the streets just by my house.

Seeing a “regular” F430 in January is pretty rare, but seeing a Spider variant is just downright unbelievable. Unfortunately, this particular Spider owner had testicules of the smaller variety and wasn’t driving with the roof down. Now, any owner of a convertible should only ever drive their car with the roof folded, or what was the point of paying the extra money for the soft-top model in the first place? And the fact that it’s January should encourage the owner to drive topless even more (no, not like that) as accomplishing a trip of that nature would make a pretty good story no matter where your final destination was.

Soap box now removed, the F430 Spider is an interesting piece of kit. It was launched at the 2005 Geneva motor show as the 21st Ferrari to be a convertible and was identical to its coupe sibling in almost every way. When the hardtop was launched the previous year it came with a revolutionary piece of technology on the steering wheel that allowed the driver to select different driving modes depending on the conditions. This manettino switch is now found on the Spider as well, but was first used on the company’s F1 cars. In 2012 the manettino is a staple of the Ferrari range.

The F430 Spider is a very pretty thing, and provides one feature that its replacement, the 458 Italia, doesn’t: a visible engine. The Audi R8 lost its clear engine cover when it became a soft-top, as did the Lamborghini Gallardo and all of its convertible variants. The F430 Spider then is really the only comparable model that never lost its ability to show onlookers the beautiful Ferrari masterpiece that powers it.

Ah yes, the engine. The F430, as is traditional with the company’s mid-engined junior supercars, came with a naturally aspirated V8. This particular Ferrari had a 4.3L worth 490bhp and 343 pound-feet of torque that would thrust it to 100km/h in 4.1 seconds, and on to a top speed of 310km/h. Even though the model is now eight years old there are still few cars on the road that can beat it at the stop light drag race.

The aerodynamics of the F430 were developed using the same state-of-the-art technology that, at the time, helped Ferrari win multiple F1 World Championships. The Spider may not be the prettiest Ferrari, but it is a case of form following function. When you notice that the side view mirrors are attached to the A-pillars using two parallel beams you must also know that this design perfectly channels air into the engine bay through the intakes that sit on the rear haunches of the car.

As is typical with most model ranges, a sportier variant was released over half-way through the vehicles lifespan. First, to up the coupe’s games, the 430 Scuderia was released. What followed a year later was an early example of Ferrari’s niche filling abilities with the release of the Scuderia Spider 16M. Flash forward five years and it is now übercar company policy to release a go-faster version convertible model, but the Ferrari 16M was really the first to do this. After its launch both Lamborghini and Audi jumped on the bandwagon with their LP570-4 Spyder Performante and R8 Spyder GT models respectably.

The new 458 Italia Spider has moved the game on even further in the technology and power departments, but the F430 is still considered a modern Ferrari by anyone’s standards, and this is reflected in the prices that these cars are currently trading at. When new, the Spider was worth well north of $200,000, and there was a substantial options list that would quickly put you further into debt. Now, a minter low mileage example can be had for $150,000, while dropping down another $20,000 will still find you a fine purchase, albeit with closer to 50,000km on the odometer. If you can find one in Canada (something I couldn’t do) the 16M variant will still likely set you back close to $300,000, and is retaining its value much better than your basic convertible F430.

Obviously, any convertible Ferrari would be nice to own, but for the rest of us it’s damn nice to see that the people who own these cars still take them out at every possible opportunity. Even if it’s during rush-hour traffic in Toronto. They just should have had the roof down.

Now head over to www.youtube.com/UBERC4R to see CAR Magazine’s excellent review of the Scuderia Spider 16M, and then watch it attack the hill climb course at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

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~ by ubercar on January 11, 2012.

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