Ferrari unveiled a successor to its 360 Modena at the 2004 Paris Motor Show. Designated F430, the new two-seat sports car was substantially more powerful. It's offered in both coupe and convertible form, and little has changed for the 2006 model year.
Several innovations were derived from Ferrari's Formula One racecars. Two of them were "world firsts" for production cars: the E-Diff electronic differential, which optimizes traction, and the steering-wheel-mounted commutator switch, which controls the vehicle dynamics systems.
A rear-mounted 4.3-liter V-8 generates 490 horsepower, which results in a weight-to-power ratio of 6.2 pounds per horsepower. According to Ferrari, the F430 can accelerate from zero to 62 mph in 4 seconds. Ferrari has 33 dealers in the U.S. and three in Canada.
Largely hand-built in Italy like other Ferraris, the F430 features an aerodynamic shape that incorporates contemporary competition technologies — specifically, a flat underbody and a large rear diffuser, which increases downforce. Upper and lower air intakes sit to the rear of each door. An enormous, nearly flat back window allows the V-8 to be seen from the outside. A braking system that uses carbon-ceramic discs is optional.
Often finished in traditional red and devoid of brightwork, the F430 body barely clears the ground. Four round taillights sit high on the deck, flanking a relatively subtle spoiler. Four exhaust outlets poke out near the bottom edges.
Built on a 102.4-inch wheelbase, the F430 measures 177.6 inches long overall, 75.7 inches wide and 47.8 inches tall. The front track width is a sizable 65.7 inches. Behind each seat in the F430 Spider convertible are long nacelles that trail into the rear deck alongside the engine's viewing panel.
Ferraris are known for snug cockpits, and the F430's two-passenger space is no exception. A red engine start button is installed, and paddles alongside the steering wheel control the operation of the available F1 gearbox.
Under the Hood
The F430 holds a 4.3-liter V-8 that develops 490 hp at 8,500 rpm and 343 pounds-feet of torque at 5,250 rpm. Either a traditional six-speed-manual transmission or a six-speed sequential manual can be installed. Ferrari claims the Formula One-derived sequential gearbox cuts shift times down to 150 milliseconds.
Antilock brakes, an electronic stability system and traction control are standard.