Over the past several years I have been fortunate enough to own both a Ferrari 430 Scuderia and a 430 Scuderia Spider 16M. Ironically, both were traded in for McLarens. The 430 Scuderia for a 12C Spider and the 16M for a 675LT Spider. For a car that is now 10 years old now with roots that stretch back to the early 21st century, the Scuderia doesn’t suffer from “that was cutting edge but now feels very dated” technology that a few of its contemporaries do, including the Enzo. As the last of the 360/430 generation of V8 Ferraris, I considered these to be the best of their lineage. Having owned a 360 Modena and driven several other base 430s, the Scuderia is by far my favorite of the line. The last generation of the single clutch F1 gearbox still feels quick and is a joy to use. In fact, it is one of my favorite features of the car. The ceramic brakes have both great feel and bite as long as they have a bit of heat, plus the F136 engine has both impressive free high revving punch and great engine braking. With the Scuderia series, Ferrari also got the balance between track and road car right. You can live in a Scuderia all day and emerge energized whereas doing the same in a 360 Challenge Stradale will leave you battered and exhausted.
Where the Scuderias are at their best is in the twisty stuff. One of the greatest days driving I have had was in a 430 Scuderia in North West Scotland. While they may have been designed to be track focused, in my experience, it’s in the hills and mountains that the brilliance of the car truly emerges. The busier your appendages are, the more engaging the car becomes. These are cars designed around balance and precision which gives them the ability to make rapid progress on even the most challenging of roads. In many ways, the alps and the highlands are their natural habitat. In terms of the “track focus”, the 430 Scuderia is definitely quicker around a track than a base 430 but a 430 Challenge will still eat it for lunch every day.
Given the choice between sun or tin over my head, in almost all cases, I will choose sun. In the 8 years we owned the Ferrari F50, I never had the hard top put on the car, not even once. A few times when we got caught in the rain we fitted the emergency soft top, but that was it and off it came as soon as the clouds had passed. In fact, it took me five years before I even checked if the hard top was in the storage case that came with the F50.
Despite the strong preference for Spiders, in the case of the 430 Scuderia, I actually preferred the coupe. The raw focused nature of the Scuderia concept just works better as a hard top. With the 16M Spider, it feels like Ferrari tried a bit too hard to compensate for the structural challenges that arise when you cut the roof off a non-carbon fiber tub car. The extra weight from both the soft top and chassis reinforcement impacts the nimbleness. To compensate for the extra weight, it feels like Ferrari stiffened the suspension which has negatively impacted the subtleness in ride quality and handling which makes the coupe so brilliant. On the 16M, it also seems that Ferrari has turned up the exhaust another few notches and, in this case, louder isn’t better. Net net, with the 430 Scuderia Ferrari got the balance right, with the 16M, the challenges created by loping off the roof resulted in a subtlety different car that just misses where the coupe nails it. If we did acquire another, it would definitely be a 430 Scuderia and not the 16M.
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