- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 24, 2005

On a cool California morning I find myself standing next to my very own Ferrari. Well sort of, the bright red F430 Spyder is on loan from Ferrari North America. I’m about to accompany more than 60 Ferrari owners on a rendition of “My Ferrari is better than your Ferrari.”

Actually, I am here to test the new F430 Spyder and I could not wait to get out on the road with this incredibly beautiful automobile.

I have driven many early classic versions from the prancing horse stable, so it was going to be a delight to climb behind the wheel of the newest and most-sought-after model.

Yes, these cars are wonderful on a race track, but I wanted to know just how easy, or difficult, this 483-horsepower exotic automobile would be on public roads. The adventure began as soon as I walked onto the parking lot jammed with Ferraris, their engines screaming. It was enough to make every hair on my body stand at attention. I felt like an overexcited porcupine.

Then I saw the Ferrari representative dangling the keys to the bright red — it couldn’t be any other color — F430 Spyder. There are few cars that look as tantalizing as a Ferrari Spyder. It is a mix of sensual exotica and state-of-art engineering.

By American standards, the beautiful V-8 that powers this car is small. It is beautiful because it sits behind the cockpit in a midengine configuration under a clear hood, easily seen by anyone passing by. It is a work of art not only in form but in function. This power plant puts out a smile-producing 483 horsepower. And it does it in the typical Ferrari manner; with a scream from the exhausts that makes men whimper.

I have been less than enthusiastic about the Formula 1-inspired steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, but here it is demonstrated that Ferrari has gotten the technology perfected for the street. This car is a joy to drive.

Where this car shines is out on the open road. Blasting through the gears, taking the engine to its redline, is pure magic. Care must be taken not to get overly enthusiastic with the throttle because this car will get you well over the legal speed limit so fast it will make your local law enforcers spin in their patrol cars. The cool thing here is that you can enjoy the virtues of the F430 Spyder at these legal speeds by keeping the revs up and cruising to your heart’s content.

There are so many unique innovations here that it would take a technical manual to explain them all. Suffice to say, the independent suspension system and the power-to-weight ratio is so refined that, as expected, this automobile is pure pleasure to drive.

Even a Ferrari cultist would shiver at some of the shortcomings one would have to deal with in an early model of these exotic Italian automobiles, but all that has changed. With the F430 comes a whole new dawn for Ferrari. Granted, a car costing more than 200 grand should be reliable, fun and exciting. In the past Ferrari owners seemed to have the latter two, but came up a little short on the former one. I could not find any of the more prevalent picky little annoyances that I easily could have found with vehicles of just a few years ago. The gremlins appear to have been banished.

Ferrari will always carry a certain flair for enticing young would-be drivers into dreaming of someday driving and owning one of these exquisite automobiles. Now, they can do this with the assurance that a Ferrari automobile will fulfill their dreams and not become the nightmare that campfire stories are made of.

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