About a year and a half ago, I was able to drive the entire Ferrari line-up, back to back, over the course of four days [“Hard-knock Life,” FORZA #87]. At the end of that adventure, I concluded that the most sensational car of the bunch was the 430 Scuderia, but if I were given the choice of taking one home with me, I’d go for the F430 Spider.
To me, the Spider was simply unbeatable in the real world, the definitive lithe and useable drop-top sports car. The Scuderia, on the other hand, was a mad man, fantastically exhilarating in both sight and sound, with an almost supernatural ability to conquer demanding roads at speed.
In some ways, it was hard to believe that two such different cars could be so closely related. But given this connection, I had to wonder: Would Ferrari ever decide to combine the two machines? And if so, would the resulting car be able to live up to my admittedly towering expectations?
THE ANSWER TO MY FIRST QUESTION came at the Ferrari World Finals in November 2008, when the company announced the Scuderia Spider 16M. The name refers to the sixteen Formula 1 Constructor’s World (“Mondiali” in Italian) Championships the company has won, and, in a savvy marketing move, Ferrari decided to build just 499 examples. The entire run was sold before the first examples hit the production line, proof that exclusive models are still a hit even in times of deep economic recession.
As for my expectations, this past September I was able to drive the bright yellow 16M pictured here. The color scheme, with its contrasting blacked-out wheels and black stripe, could be overkill, but it’s not: It’s a flamboyant finger in the face of styling archetypes, one that sets the proper atmosphere every time you look at the car.
Mechanically speaking, there’s nothing really new here compared to the 430 Scuderia. The 4,308cc V8 delivers the same 510 bhp and 347 lb-ft of torque, the massive carbon-ceramic disc brakes and lightweight suspension bits are untouched, the F1-SuperFast2 gearbox is carried over. The sophisticated driver’s aids and electronic differential are likewise unchanged.
There are a few differences beyond the moving roof, of course. While the body panels remain the same, the 16M’s wheels are a new five-spoke design (which appears in a 20-inch diameter on the 458 Italia). The carbon-fiber diffuser, an option on the Scuderia, is standard, and there are a handful of 16M badges sprinkled on the front fenders and rear grille.