A good friend once told me that there are very few parts you can bolt to a car that actually make it better. He’s right, you know, but it all depends on your end goal.
We’ve seen a number of Ferraris here over there years that have been lowered into oblivion. Each time a similar exotic rolls around, people find it within themselves to make a stand. A stand for proper suspension geometry. A stand for purist ideals. A stand for resale value. Each of these fine folks make valid points, I’m sure, but that’s the beauty of owning and modifying a car.
No one is wrong. You can do nothing to it or you can do everything to it, and both choices would be entirely acceptable. I have my own opinions about what I think is cool or sensible when it comes to cars and, since you’re reading here, I’m sure you do too. But sometimes a car manages to strike a balance that really makes sense. It stays with you, floating around the back of your mind, igniting your imagination.
A few of you might recognize this F430 as the support vehicle that we took out when Sara and I shot a pair of Lancia Delta Integrales with the Rossato brothers. Someone on Instagram said shooting rollers from a Ferrari was the ultimate flex, and as amusing as I thought that was, this F430 is the car that’s left the biggest impression on me out of the Italian trio.
The F430 is a bit of an anomaly personally, as I took great interest in the earlier 360 during my younger years, and then the again in the 458 upon its release. But, somehow, this particular generation came and went during a black hole of automotive disinterest. I never had a poster of it. I never learned its specs. I can’t even remember any specific instances where I saw one in my teenage years. And yet, for as much as I liked the 360 when I was 10 or so, I really feel its immediate successor has aged more gracefully. Meanwhile, neither the 458 nor the 488 are all that captivating to me anymore.
There’s something about the F430 that strikes the right balance from a factory design perspective. It harks to the soft lines of the 360 with just enough angularity and aggression to not appear dated. With a factory-rated output of 483hp and 343lb-ft of torque, its mid-mounted 4.3-liter V8 isn’t much of a slouch, either. And of course, they all sound as fantastic today as they did new. But throw in a few simple modifications and you really have a car that remains truly compelling in 2020.Nuts & Bolts
Lowering a car is nearly always the right choice aesthetically, but the adjustable coilovers this car sits on means that it hasn’t been pushed so far as to make people angry. Not that there’s anything wrong with making people angry, but at this lowered static ride height you get the best of both worlds in my opinion. Furthering the updated exterior aesthetic is a front lip that makes a world of difference compared to the naked front fascia.
Continuing outside, BBS wheels are a good match for any European car, and the 19-inch forged FIs are no exception here.
Underneath, huge carbon-ceramic discs are paired with 6- and 4-piston calipers that were developed in collaboration with Brembo. So that doesn’t seem out of date, either.
The cabin features a fantastic pair of carbon fiber seats with red Daytona-style upholstery, paired with 2000s-era switchgear. While I will admit a gated shifter would really take this car to 11, the flappy paddles still excite me the same way the electrohydraulic F1 gearbox on the 360 did when I was nine, when it was released.
Then, there’s that glorious F136 V8 under the deck lid. Already a good-sounding engine, a carbon fiber Gruppe M airbox and intake assembly coupled with a valved Capristo exhaust work together to make an absolutely fantastic noise.
Have a listen, if you’re so inclined.
That mostly sums up this relatively simple car, but if you’re cut from the same cloth as I am you’ll appreciate that the whole is much greater than the sum of these parts.
Just about any Ferrari is going to be culturally significant — a status symbol forged in a fire where art, design, and engineering collide. But as desirable as any more modern iteration of this family may be — culminating in last year’s unveiling of the F8 Tributo — the vibes from this F430 are too strong for me to ignore. If I had all the money in the world, I’d still be looking back two decades or more to find my favorite Ferraris.
It might not be logical, but that’s the magic of the automobile. It doesn’t have to make sense to make sense.