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The Ferrari Scuderia Spider 16M

Sixteen is a perfect square, in terms of integers. It’s the age you can get a driver’s license. The number of ounces in a pint. Joe Montana’s number. The fourth number in the ominous sequence from Lost . Or, to a Ferrari Formula 1 fan, it is the number of constructors’ championships the manufacturer has won since the award was created for the 1958 season.

An Open-Top Tribute

To celebrate the 16th championship, which it won last year, Ferrari built the 430 Scuderia Spider 16M, an F430 droptop with all the go-fast parts of the 430 Scuderia. Those bits include a higher-compression version of the 4.3-liter V-8 making 503 hp and 347 lb-ft of torque (80 percent of which is available at 3000 rpm), a race-tuned suspension, serving-dish-sized carbon-ceramic brakes, and the F1-Superfast2 automated manual transmission that enacts a one-two shift in 60 milliseconds. Just as in the 430 Scuderia, the interior is stripped of all comfort features. Carbon fiber and aluminum line the cabin. There is no carpet, just diamond-plate-style aluminum on the floor, accented by exposed welds. The carbon-framed seats are covered in weight-saving cloth and offer only manual fore-and-aft and seatback-angle adjustments. The doors are skinned with carbon fiber as well. The only concession to luxury lives in the dash: a horizontally docked iPod touch, the sound from which is delivered to occupants via six speakers (yup, there’s a sound system on a track-ready Ferrari).

But it’s a miracle you can even hear the thing, because this is quite possibly the loudest roadgoing car we have ever driven. With the engine going full tilt, there is nothing but a visceral high-pitched scream, a sound that practically begs the driver to flog the car a little more. But be warned: After just one wide-open-throttle run through the first three gears, we quickly had the polizia in hot pursuit.
According to Ferrari, the 430 Scuderia Spider 16M is faster around the Fiorano test circuit than any open-top road car it has ever built—and we believe it. The 16M weighs in around 3300 pounds, about 200 fewer pounds than an F430 Spider, or just over 200 more pounds than a 430 Scuderia. And despite having 30 percent less torsional rigidity by the numbers, the 16M feels as rigid as any other prancing horse. It sits 0.7 inch lower than an F430 Spider.


Rarefied Company

The Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 Spyder (yes, it’s Sp yder for Lambo, Sp ider for Ferrari) is built just 20 miles up the road, in Sant’Agata Bolognese, and it’s the chief competitor to the 16M. In coupe guise, the Lambo is ridiculously quick, hitting 60 mph in 3.2 seconds and ticking off a quarter-mile in 11.2 seconds at 130 mph. The Spyder version will probably be a 10th or two slower than that. The Lambo might win in a drag race or perhaps a beauty competition, but the 16M dominates the Lambo in chassis performance. We will have to wait for a head-to-head showdown, but our initial gut feeling is that the Ferrari will remain undefeated, and undisputed.
Did we mention the 16M is limited to 499 examples and deliveries have already started? Or that to get your hands on one, you’ll have to part with $313,350? So open that checkbook right now if you want this car—and don’t think you can wait around a year to be first in line for the 17M. Through the fifth race of the 2009 F1 season, Ferrari’s chances for a 17th title aren’t looking good, as the team has no victories and is 62 points behind leader Brawn-Mercedes.

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