For 2006, the Ferrari F430 coupe is joined by a new Spider convertible that shares everything but its sibling’s fixed roof.

The heart of the F430 is a 4.3-litre V8 that makes 490 hp and can propel the huge car from zero to 100 km in 4.0 seconds. An aluminum space frame chassis, first used on the 360 that the F430 replaces, is constructed in collaboration with the American aluminum company Alcoa. Chassis rigidity has been increased by 20 per cent in torsion and eight per cent in flexure over the 360. Ferrari claims that the structural rigidity means that only the suspension absorbs road imperfections, with no deformation of the chassis that could affect road-holding. The frame weighs 10 per cent more than the 360, but with 37 per cent better resistance to front-end impact, and 105 per cent better for rear.

The six-speed manual transmission is housed in a cast aluminum casing and comes with either an open-gate manual gearbox or F1 paddle shift. Also borrowed from Formula 1 is the “manettino”, a selector on the steering wheel that controls the electronics governing suspension settings, stability and traction control, the electronic differential and the change speed of the F1 transmission. Five settings take the car from automatic gear-changing and maximum intervention (the “Ice” setting) to full driver control.

The Spider features steel roll bars in the windshield structure for maximum protection, and a fully-automatic top that folds completely into a compact space so that it doesn’t cover the engine.

The F430 styling was created by Pininfarina, in collaboration with Ferrari’s head of design. The stacked headlights are bi-Xenon, large air vents ahead of the front wheels channel air from the radiators, and scoops at the top of the rear wheel arches take in air for the engine. Nineteen-inch wheels with split five-spoke wheels are lightweight alloy. In the rear, the F430 takes its cues from the Enzo Ferrari, with similar taillights and rear vent. Inside are touches such as a flattened upper rim on the wheel for better visibility, a larger cockpit, an electrically-operated storage compartment behind the seats, and a starter button mounted on the steering wheel. And because these aren’t mass-production cars, buyers have a choice of 16 bodywork colours, 12 leather colours, eight floor mat colours, carbon fibre or aluminum dash inserts, and rev counter background colour. Not only do you select the upholstery colour, you can also decide on the colour of the thread and the spacing of the stitching. If these don’t strike your fancy, you can supply your own colour sample and Ferrari will paint the car exactly to your liking.

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