Second Life

After being written off by an insurance company, this Challenge Stradale was rebuilt and returned to the street.

August 31, 2012
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The story of this 2004 Challenge Stradale includes one very unfortunate chapter. It was every car enthusiast’s worst fear: The owner loaned his Ferrari to a friend, and that friend crashed it. It wasn’t just any crash, either. The car spun in a damp, off-camber corner then flipped onto its roof. Off the road and bottom up, this Challenge Stradale, one of around 350 imported to the U.S., then slid slowly down a grass-covered hill. Ouch.

Fortunately, the car’s occupants walked away unhurt. Unfortunately, this rare Ferrari’s roof, rear hatch and right rear quarter panel were left looking like crumpled paper. Although the car seemed mostly unharmed, aside from the bodywork and a smashed windshield, the owner’s insurance company totaled it. The battered Challenge Stradale was soon listed on eBay for around $75,000; crash-free examples in good condition start at roughly $125,000.

That likely would have been the end of s/n 134675—most such damaged exotics end up being dismantled for parts—but, luckily, somebody had the vision and the guts to save the Ferrari and fix it. Giancarlo Godz, a South American immigrant in his early 30s, spotted it online and saw an opportunity to add a special car to his garage, which already contained a Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera.

“There’s a lot of red Stradales out there, but there are only a few of them that have the Scuderia Red with the stripe and dual-tone interior,” says the South Florida resident. “It was exactly what I was looking for: I believe in special-edition cars and, based on its VIN, this car was number 11 in the country.”

Ferrari built roughly 1,300 Challenge Stradales, versus more than 16,000 360 Modenas and Spiders, but the model’s appeal goes much deeper than rarity. Compared to the base 360, the Challenge Stradale drops 240 pounds through a liberal dose of carbon fiber, a relatively bare interior, carbon-ceramic brakes, a Lexan engine-cover window and more. Elsewhere, the 3.6-liter V8 was massaged to produce 425 horsepower, up from 400, the suspension was stiffened and lowered, and the bodywork was revised for more downforce. All of this makes the Challenge Stradale a thrilling, more extreme car to drive than the “regular” 360, and that perfectly fit Godz’s desires.

While he was scrutinizing post-accident pictures, Godz found that the damage didn’t seem as bad as expected. Beyond the crumpled bodywork, he says, the Challenge Stradale was “in good condition, and a really good car. I think there’s a big misconception on cars that are salvaged, because they’re being totaled by an insurance company. I think that only happens in the United States. In a lot of European countries, they would take a car like this and they will fix it and it will be acceptable as a repair car, not as a branded, rebuilt title.”

On a personal level, Godz liked the idea of bringing the Ferrari back to its former glory. “The type of person I am, I love the before and after,” he explains. “The taking something raw and making it shine. I looked at this as a challenge.”

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