F430 Buyer's Guide

Looking for a modern Ferrari that’s thrilling to drive on back roads, comfortable around town and reliable? The F430 fits the bill perfectly.

F430 Buyer's Guide 0
June 1, 2012

Barring some unexpected external force, evolution normally proceeds in small steps. Thus, it was no surprise that the Ferrari F430 was based on the 360 Modena. But while all of the major concepts were carried over—all-aluminum construction, wind tunnel-driven design, mid-mounted high-revving V8 engine, all-around usability, optional paddleshifters and carbon-ceramic brakes—the new car blew its predecessor into the proverbial weeds.

The biggest changes appeared in the engine bay, where the F430 sported an all-new, 4.3-liter V8 that pumped out 490 horsepower and 343 lb-ft of torque—90 hp and 68 lb-ft more than the regular 360, and 65 hp over the Challenge Stradale. This engine, which produced nearly 114 hp/liter of displacement, helped launch the F430 from 0-60 mph in 4 seconds and on to a top speed of 196 mph.

Also boosting the F430’s performance was a new, Formula 1-derived electronic differential and the now-ubiquitous steering wheel-mounted manettino. This rotary switch allowed the driver to select various dynamic modes, such as Wet, Sport and Race, which deliver specific combinations of shock-absorber stiffness, traction-control intervention, gearshift speeds (on F1 transmission-equipped cars) and so on. Further bolstering the car’s sporting credentials were a stiffer chassis, a faster-shifting F1 gearbox, more downforce without additional drag, and bigger wheels and tires.

Ferrari produced four versions of the F430. The first, the Berlinetta, was unveiled at the Paris Auto Show in 2004. The following year, a convertible version debuted. The only differences between Berlinetta and Spider were the latter’s power rag top, exposed roll-over bars and rear deck, which featured a glass window through which the engine was visible.

In 2007, Ferrari released a more sporting variant of the Berlinetta called the 430 Scuderia. This model mimicked the earlier Challenge Stradale, with a stripped interior, a stronger engine, stiffer suspension and stickier tires, larger carbon-ceramic brakes, more aggressive bodywork that created more downforce, and less weight. The Scuderia sprinted to 62 mph in 3.6 seconds and lapped Ferrari’s Fiorano test track two seconds quicker than the F430. Finally, in 2008, came the Scuderia Spider 16M, a limited-edition, topless take on the 430 Scuderia.

While significantly more expensive than the 360, the F430 offers significantly better performance. If you have a six-figure budget for a used Ferrari, test-driving an F430 is a must.

Marketplace

THE CURRENT F430 MARKET can be summarized with a quick look on eBay or in the Ferrari Market Letter, where you’ll find dozens of these cars for sale. It’s a buyer’s market out there, and, unlike the collectible Ferraris of the 1950s and ’60s, F430 are simply used cars, which means that they depreciate over time. Depreciation will likely continue for years to come, especially as more used 458s arrive on the market, but even at today’s prices the F430 still offers a lot of performance for the money in Ferrari terms.

F430 Buyer's Guide 1

There’s a significant difference in price between the “regular” Berlinetta and Spider and the “special” Scuderia and 16M. This is due primarily to rarity: Ferrari built roughly 15,000 Berlinettas and Spiders, but only around 2,000 Scuderias and a claimed 499 16Ms (many believe that actual 16M production was higher).

The price spread within each model is caused by a number of factors, including desirable options and color combinations, obvious problems, deferred maintenance and, of course, mileage. Most buyers of late-model Ferraris have a Freudian mind-set; they want a low-mileage virgin. As a result, 2,000-mile examples cost more than 10,000-mile ones, and cars with 30,000-plus miles are extraordinarily difficult to sell.

This creates an unusual situation, because low mileage often equates to harder usage. Many owners keep their F430s for only two or three years, and such owners tend to drive their cars very hard and put them away wet. Such “Ferrari miles” are much harder on the equipment than, say, “Mercedes miles,” which means that a higher-mileage, one-owner F430 is almost always a better car than a lower-mileage example with several owners.

The good news for all buyers is that the F430 is by far the most-reliable V8 Ferrari on the used market today. In addition, owners don’t have to worry about the dreaded cam-belt service—the new V8 utilized timing chains, unlike the earlier 360 engine—which means the F430 is relatively inexpensive to maintain, as well.

Don’t ignore the basics, however. As always with any Ferrari purchase, do your research, buy the best car you can afford and have it inspected by a shop that knows the model inside and out. You want a car with a full, documented service history, even if it costs a little more.— Michael Sheehan

Model Low High
F430 Berlinetta $115,000 $135,000
F430 Spider $135,000 $155,000
430 Scuderia $145,000 $180,000
Scuderia Spider 16M $210,000 $300,000

These prices are for cars in good condition with roughly 10,000 miles. There’s a premium for cars with lower mileage: Add $10,000 for a Spider or Scuderia and $20,000 for a 16M with less than 2,000 miles. The Recent Listings section below shows asking prices; actual sale prices are usually at least 10-percent lower. 

Recent Listings

2005 F430 9,405 miles. Grey with tan interior. F1 transmission, Scuderia shields, yellow calipers, Daytona seats, carbon-fiber interior trim. Asking $130,000

F430 Buyer's Guide 2

2005 F430 Spider 32,000 miles. Red with tan interior and black top. F1 transmission, carbon-ceramic brakes, Daytona seats, Scuderia shields,
Hi-Fi, carbon-fiber trim. Asking $130,000

2006 F430 21,000 miles. Red
with black interior. F1 transmission, Daytona seats, tire-pressure monitors, ball-polished wheels. Asking $125,000

2007 F430 Spider 3,500 miles. Silver with red interior. F1 transmission, Daytona seats, carbon-fiber trim. Asking $177,000

2008 430 Scuderia 7,700 miles. Red with black interior. Factory navigation. Asking $185,000

2008 430 Scuderia 16,000 miles. Yellow with black interior. Asking $164,000

2009 Scuderia Spider 16M 8,700 miles. Red with red/black interior. Navigation, exterior carbon-fiber trim, tricolore exterior stripe. Asking $260,000

On the Road

YOU KNOW THE F430 IS GOING TO BE SOMETHING GOOD as soon as you turn the key and press the Start button on the steering wheel. The 4.3-liter V8 snaps awake with a bark and a flourish of revs, announcing its intentions to the world. It’s hard not to smile at the car’s exuberance.

F430 Buyer's Guide 3

Pushed hard, the F430 more than delivers on that initial promise. With 490 horsepower on tap, this Ferrari is a proper baby supercar, pressing you back in the seat as you push the roaring engine to 8,500 rpm before pulling the shift paddle and snatching the next gear. (More than 80 percent of F430s came with the optional F1 gearbox; the rare stick-shift delivers more driver involvement, but I think the excellent F1 setup is a better match for this car, unlike the 360.) The F430’s handling is sublime, with light steering, quick turn-in, impressive grip and real user-friendliness; you would have to get things very wrong indeed to throw this car off the road. The brakes, whether steel or carbon-ceramic, deliver astonishing stopping power and excellent pedal feel.

This Ferrari is a truly thrilling companion for a dance down your favorite back road, but there’s a second, gentler personality lurking underneath. On the highway and around town, the F430 is impressively comfortable for something so fast and capable. It’s not Mercedes plush, to be sure, but I wouldn’t hesitate to drive one every day—and many owners do just that.

Everything I’ve written so far applies equally to the Berlinetta and Spider. The two cars feel almost exactly the same, but the convertible rachets up the fun factor by few points. The Spider is more than 100 pounds heavier and a tenth slower to 60 mph, but you certainly won’t be thinking about such academic concerns when the engine’s music, particularly the wicked exhaust crackling on downshifts, envelops the open cockpit at speed. Yet if you keep the revs down and the windows up, the Spider delivers a refined touring experience.

That’s not the case with the 430 Scuderia. Although there’s a button in the center console that softens the shock damping, it’s not intended to coddle the occupants (although it does, to some degree); it’s there to allow you to drive faster over rough roads. While the Scuderia is comfortable enough to use like a normal, albeit fairly loud, car, you probably won’t want to drive it as such. It’s a specialist machine, and there’s no mistaking its intended purpose.

From the more aggressive bodywork and lower stance to the carpet- and leather-less interior, the 430 Scuderia screams speed. A faster-shifting F1 transmission and improved electronic driver aids are standard, as are larger carbon-ceramic brakes, and there’s even a new setting on the manettino that turns off stability control while leaving traction control engaged; just the thing for getting sideways.

The Scuderia’s 510-hp engine revs more frantically, delivers noticeably more mid-range torque and bellows both more angrily and far louder than the F430’s powerplant. The Scuderia’s brakes are in another league compared to the F430’s. Grip, responsiveness and precision have been significantly improved, as well, yet the car remains wonderfully tossable and friendly to drive. Overall, the Scuderia feels like an F430 turned up to 11—or, more likely, 12.

But if you want a 13, Ferrari built an F430 for that, too: the Scuderia Spider 16M. As its name suggests, the final F430 variant blends the Scuderia’s mechanicals with the Spider’s bodywork (16M refers to Ferrari winning its 16th F1 constructor’s championship in 2008), and the resulting car is as magnificent—or unbearable—as you’d expect. The frenetic engine’s sturm und drang is amplified by the lack of a roof, creating a shattering symphony unlike anything we’ve heard outside of a racetrack, and the Scuderia’s pin-sharp reflexes remain unchanged. Intriguingly, the 16M’s interior is a bit plusher than the Scuderia’s. There’s still no carpeting, but Alcantara covers some of the formerly exposed metal, and there’s an iPod-based sound system
with proper speakers in the doors, not just in the dash.

F430 Buyer's Guide 4

So which F430 is the best? Any of them, depending on your tastes. They are all that good.— Aaron Jenkins

For more information about these cars, check out our first-drive reports: The F430 appeared in issue #59, the F430 Spider in issue #62, the 430 Scuderia in issue #82 and the Scuderia Spider 16M in issue #98. (Click here for a full list of back issues.)

The Garage

As an update on the 360, you’d expect the F430 to be more reliable—and so far the model has certainly proven so. Most of the problems associated with the 360 have been resolved, and most of the feedback I get from F430 owners, especially those that are repeat Ferrari owners, has been very good. And aside from the carbon-ceramic brakes, the model even has reasonable service costs, thanks to the F430’s engine utilizing timing chains instead of the 360’s timing belts.

There are, of course, some issues that buyers must investigate; those are listed on the facing page. More generally, it’s crucial to buy a good car. This means that you must have a thorough pre-purchase inspection performed by a shop that both knows the model inside out and has one of Ferrari’s diagnostic computers. There’s no replacement for a knowledgeable, properly equipped technician.

Also, be very wary of an F430 that has been crashed. Low-speed fender benders are typically not a concern, but repairing these cars’ aluminum chassis requires high-end fabrication and aluminum-welding skills, which you won’t find at your local body shop. But this normally won’t be a concern, since there are so many undamaged cars for sale at any given time.

I will note that the F430 fleet does not have that many miles on it—most of the cars I see haven’t yet hit the 10,000-mile mark—so there may be issues we haven’t yet encountered. One example is the aforementioned timing chains. While they will last a long time, the chains will someday wear out, and when they do they will be very expensive to replace. So far, though, the F430s have been very good.
Brian Crall

MAJOR ISSUES

  1. FRAGILE EXHAUST SUPPORT COMPONENTS:
    When it created the F430, Ferrari redesigned the system that supports the car’s exhaust—and since the beginning, there have been problems with it, problems that didn’t occur on the 360. The F430’s exhaust is complex and heavy, and features a Rube Goldberg-esque assembly of struts and brackets to hold everything in place; those are the pieces that fail. Ferrari has produced some upgraded support struts, but they haven’t entirely solved the problem. Interestingly, cars with aftermarket exhausts, which are simpler and lighter than the factory system, don’t normally have this issue.
  2. CRACKING EXHAUST MANIFOLDS: There have been many complaints about cracked exhaust manifolds. With the early cars no longer covered by the long-term U.S. emissions warranty, this repair will increasingly fall to owners, and it’s expensive: Expect to pay $3,500-4,000 to replace both manifolds. Interestingly, Ferrari sells a pair of manifolds for about the same price as buying either the right one or the left one by itself; I suspect this is some form of acknowledgement of the problem.
  3. BAD MOTOR MOUNTS: The F430’s motor mounts are the same basic design that was introduced in the 456, and they have since been used in all current models. The mounts have been updated once during that time, and while the updated units are better, by 30,000 miles they are still very likely to fail, with the rubber insulating material separating from the steel mounting parts. Partial disassembly is required to inspect them; replacement costs start around $1,000.
  4. BENT FRONT WHEELS: The F430 features 19-inch wheels with low-profile, 35-series tires as standard equipment. The tires’ very short sidewalls have very little ability to absorb impacts from pot holes or ridges in the pavement, and as a result these cars have a very well-earned reputation for bending front wheels. A bent wheel can often be straightened, but sometimes not. Replacement wheels cost about $1,500 each.
F430 Buyer's Guide 5

MINOR ISSUES

  1. Early in production, there were many reports of problems with the electronic differential. Ferrari was very closed-mouth about the particulars of the issue, but the company replaced a lot of components and seems to have resolved the problem. It is very unlikely you will encounter this unless you run across
    an early car with very low miles.
  2. Carbon-ceramic (CCM) brakes were optional in 2005 and ’06, and became standard equipment for 2007. While they are lighter, more resistant to fade and longer-lasting that steel brakes, CCM brakes are extraordinary expensive to repair: New pads cost $2,000 per axle, while new rotors cost $6,500 to $8,000 each. One could argue that their life span is so long that the cost per mile is low, but that life span varies widely. I have one client who replaced the pads on his Scuderia, which was mostly driven on the street but had gone to five track events, at 9,000 miles, and another who replaced the pads on his street-driven-only F430 at 25,000 miles.
  3. Like most modern cars with complex electronic systems, the F430 is prone to occasional electronic gremlins. While these instances have been quite rare, the lack of frequency is of little comfort if it happens to your car.

Service Costs

Prices vary significantly; these are rough estimates for costs at an independent shop.

  • Minor service (every year): $1,000
  • Major service (every 30,000 miles): $2,000
  • Clutch replacement: $5,500
  • Brakes (pads plus rotor resurfacing): $900

Owners’ Take

Art Chambers
2007 F430

Purchased new; currently has 30,000 miles

What do you use your F430 for?
Everything but track days.

What’s the best thing about the car?
That it’s dead-reliable, always starts and runs great.

Dead reliable?
Mechanically, it’s been perfect. The only problems I can think of are that the dashboard lights went out—the dealer fixed that under warranty—and that the headers went. I have the latest version of the headers, the late-2007 build ones, on it now, and I haven’t had any more problems. The biggest problem is that the wheels and tires are junk; I don’t even want to tell you how many tires and front rims I’ve purchased. You hit one good-sized bump at speed, and you’ll need a tire and a rim.

F430 Buyer's Guide 6

Do you take the car to a dealer or an independent shop?
I went to the dealer when it was under warranty, but the same mechanic has worked on the car since it was new; he no longer works for the dealer.

Have you had to replace the clutch or brakes?
It’s a stick-shift with the original clutch. If you don’t do burn-outs, you don’t have to worry about the clutch. The brakes are steel, and I’ve had to replace one set of pads. The rotors were just machined.

How has it held up in terms of wear and tear?
The seat bolsters have a little wear on them, but that’s it. The paint is good, I’ve got the plastic on the nose to protect it.

Would you recommend the F430 to a friend?
Absolutely—as long as they’ve got a spare-tire kit.

Kevin Enderby
2007 F430

Purchased new; currently has 73,000 miles

What do you use your F430 for?
I use it for everything, but its primary purpose in life is to go to the racetrack. I do about 25 track days per year in this car. I’d guess 10,000-15,000 of the miles on it are track miles.

Do you take the car to a dealer or an independent shop?
I mostly take it to a dealer, but I do things like oil changes and brake work myself. I bleed the brakes before every track event, so I bought a $1,500 machine to help with that. The biggest problem is getting rid of all the used brake fluid.

How reliable has the car been?
It’s been amazingly tough. It’s never left me stranded. I’m very impressed with how hard it can be pushed.
The car had a gearbox problem early on, and the whole thing was replaced under warranty. After that, it threw an e-Diff code maybe a half-dozen times, which could put the car into limp-home mode. Ferrari later replaced a lot of parts and sensors, and that seems to have solved the problem.

But the engine is currently being rebuilt…
A few months ago, when I was driving at Laguna Seca, it started making a ticking sound, like a lifter. It turns out the #2 rod bearing was scored. The engine’s being rebuilt by a guy who does Challenge engines, and he was really impressed by how little wear there was in the engine as a whole given the amount of track mileage.

Your F430 has the F1 gearbox; have you had to replace the clutch?
I’ve replaced the clutch twice, not counting the original one that was done when the transmission was replaced under warranty.

How has the car held up cosmetically?
It’s really good. I’ve had the nose repainted twice due to rock chips, but installing a Clear Bra has helped dramatically. The seat bolsters are getting a little worn, but the interior leather is good overall. I have noticed that the buttons are getting the sticky problem that you see on F355s.

Is it still as exciting as when you bought it?
Oh, yeah. I get a huge smile whenever I drive it, it never fails to delight.

Also from Issue 119

  • Inside Ferrari's first supercar, the 288 GTO
  • 330 GTS restoration
  • Luca di Montezemolo on leadership
  • Formula 1: Ferrari scores a surprise win
  • ALMS: Twin podium finishes
  • Legends: The F2001
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