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By Jim Flammang
March 27, 2002
Vehicle Overview Little has changed in 2002 for the mid-engine, two-seat 360 Modena, which is the closest thing Ferrari has to an entry-level model. Both a berlinetta closed coupe and a Spider convertible introduced in spring 2001 are available. Ferrari claims the Spider, which is the 20th road-going soft-top model in the companys history, has better chassis rigidity than any other convertible on the market.
A 400-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-8 engine is mounted behind the seats and drives a six-speed-manual transmission with a conventional floor-mounted lever. An optional gear selector uses Formula One-style paddles on the steering wheel, which permits semi-automatic gear changes without removing ones hands.
The 360 Modena will set you back $144,620, but six-figure prices really dont matter to Ferrari fans who expect to pay plenty of money for a chance to put one in the garage. But those fans must be willing to sit on a waiting list for a year or two to secure that privilege. Ferrari sold a total of 1,200 cars in the United States during 2001, according to Automotive News.
Classic Ferrari styling by Pininfarina, one of the all-time top Italian designers, helps the informed exotic sports car observer spot a 360 Modena from a distance. The design is said to be inspired by such classics as the 250LM and the Dino. Although the lushly rounded lines of a 360 Modena coupe or Spider draw passers-by toward the car, the glass-covered engine hatch is whats likely to keep them there a while, staring in amazement. Thats right, you can seen the delicious V-8 engine right through the glass.
In addition to a low, sloping nose and bulging fenders, the 360 Modena has a fastback rear roof. All of these features help to yield a low 0.33 coefficient of drag. Up front, two big functional air intakes cool the engine and twin radiators. Four exhaust outlets are visible at the rear. Five-spoke alloy wheels hold 18-inch tires, and cross-drilled disc brakes are installed. Spider models are equipped with an automatic power top.
The automaker says that aluminum construction for the body, chassis and suspension components keeps the cars weight down, without compromising Ferraris high values for performance, safety and outstanding design. With a 102.3-inch wheelbase and measuring 176.3 inches long overall, the 360 Modena is 2 inches shorter than the Toyota Corolla. But the Corolla stands nearly11 inches higher against the 360 Modena coupes 46.6-inch height. The Spider convertible is 2 inches taller than the coupe.
Ferrari claims the convertibles chassis has the highest flexional and torsional rigidity figures in the world. Despite a higher coefficient of drag from the open body style, the Spiders performance is said to be exactly the same as that of the coupe. Available in a choice of four colors, the top folds automatically, flush beneath a rear cover. Rear roll bars incorporate a mesh screen to prevent wind buffeting. Ferrari claims that the reinforced windshield surround can take the full weight of the car in the event of a rollover incident.
The two bucket seats are available in a dozen shades of leather. Ferrari customers can even select the color of the upholsterys stitching, if they wish. The cars luggage area appears at the front of the car. Some cargo space is available behind the seats, which is said to be big enough to hold a golf bag. The Spider has an electrically operated strongbox between the seats, as well as two storage nets.
The seats are low, and the driver gets ample bolstering while facing a 10,000-rpm tachometer. Standard equipment includes air conditioning, a CD player, and power windows, door locks and mirrors. Cupholders are not available. Except for exterior and interior color choices, no options are offered.
Under the Hood
Mounted behind the seats and ahead of the rear axle, the 3.6-liter V-8 engine has five valves per cylinder and develops 400 hp at 8,500 rpm. A six-speed-manual transmission is standard. Buyers who prefer the convenience of semi-automatic shifting can pay nearly $10,000 extra for the F1 version, which uses paddles at the steering column to change gears electrohydraulically. Similar systems have been used on Formula One racecars. The gearbox is integrated with the engine and traction control to produce what Ferrari calls maximum stability under even the hardest driving. Ferrari claims the 360 Modena can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds and can pass the 180-mph mark.
Antilock brakes and traction control are standard. Dual front airbags are installed, but side-impact airbags are not available.