The prancing horse logo of the Ferrari reared its head in 1999 with a refreshing new era of power with the advent of the Ferrari 360. The 360 Modena signaled a new breed entering the herd with a new vitality that brought an infusion of road scorching speed along with a sweet and tactile eye appeal. We've witnessed the changes and marveled at the sheer genius of the engineering and craftsmanship as the Ferrari 360 made its graceful evolution through the generations.
1999 Modena 360
This is the model that replaced the F355 and the successor featured a new Pininfarina body that evidenced a departure from the previous design of the 1990s Ferrari. The Modena came out as a coupe version powered by a 3.6 liter V8 engine that pushed its performance up to 395 horse power, but this wasn't its greatest calling card. The use of aluminum structures made it more lightweight and the sleek new build gave it an innovative new aerodynamic that helped it cut through the elements with lightning speed. A flat plane crankshaft and titanium connecting rods reduced the overall weight of the new 360 by 28% over its predecessor for a significant improvement over the weight and speed of the F355 to reach 0 to 62 mph in just 4.5 seconds which gave it a .2 second gain in acceleration time. The mid engined two seat rear real drive sports car was built by Ferrari from 1999 through 2005 and was succeeded by the Ferrari F430. A total of 8,800 Modena 360s were produced by Ferrari
2000 Ferrari 360 Spider
The 360 Spider came along in 2000 in a convertible example with a fabric roof, that added yet one more member to the family. It was unveiled at the 2000 Geneva Motor Show, dripping with sporty sexiness, it brought drivers and passengers a new experience that was a little closer to nature with the wind whipping through their hair. A stiffened rear bulkhead cut down on engine noise from the cabin with the necessary dynamic rigidity along with additional side reinforcements with roll bars and a strengthened windscreen for passenger safety. This version weighted 130 pound more than the coupe version. It was powered by a 3.6 liter Tipo F131V8 engine with the same output of 395 horsepower, with 275 pound ft of torque as the coupe, reaching 0 to 60 with a few tenths of a second delay over the lighter version, but it was still fast. The fuel economy was rated at 10 mpg city, 15 mpg highway and combined of a low 11 mpg. Just 7,565 Spider 360 variants were made by the automaker. This would be the street version car that set the stage for the appearance of the new generation in racing which would come in the form of the 2003 Ferrari 360 Challenge Stradale.
2003 360 Challenge Stradale
A part of motorsport history was made with the introduction of the 360 Challenge. The very appearance lent the impression of a wild beast that could take on all challengers and win the race. The 360 Modena Challenge car was the missing link in between road going 360 examples and those born to tear up the track. The 360 Challenge reigned between 2000 and 2013, making an appearance in more than 172 racing events as the car of choice for top racers such as Manuel Cerqueda, Javier Diaz Mata, Santiago Puig, Chano Arias and Luiz Perez-Sala. This fast and sexy variant got the attention of race car drivers throughout the world. This variant of the special edition of the 360 would become the highest performance example of a road legal version ever produced by the factory. Enzo's carbon ceramic brakes, a track tuned suspension, a revision in gearbox software, aerodynamic gains, power improvements and a weight reduction set it apart from the rest of the family. This version was also made available with a V12 engine.
2000 Ferrari 360 Barchetta
The 360 Barchcetta is a variant of the Ferrari 360 Spider. The only changes made were the removal of the soft top and roll bars, and a new visor replacing the windshield to improve airflow over the vehicle. The performance is the same as that of the Spider.
Ferrari 360 N-GT
The 360 N-GT was the evolution of the 360 Challenge car that entered some serious racing competition in the FIA N-GT that gave Porsche a run for its money. this was a 360 Challenge car that was tuned by Michellotto, specifically for the Championship. It was the fastest 360 made by Ferrari. It achieved a top speed of 190 mph, scorching the track from zero to sixty in a mere 3 seconds. It became an international racer that reigned until it was replaced by the higher performing F430s.
2002 Ferrari 360 GT
The Ferrari 360 GT is the track version racer of the 360 Modena. This car was developed by a collaborative effort between Michelotto Automobili and the Ferrari Corse Clienti department in Maranello. It was specifically made for competition in the FIA N-GT class. Between the years 2002 through 2004, just 20 GTs were produced and sold. A retuning of the 3.6 liter V8 engine gave this example a power increase up to 430 horse power, giving it an edge on the 360 Challenge cars. Multiple improvements reduced the weight and added ballast for a more even balance.
The Ferrari 360 made a good run, quite literally from its introduction to the world in 1999 through the final model produced in 2005. It changed the way we view racing and added an extra dimension of excitement for those examples created for legal road use. With limited production numbers, the 360s stand as collectibles for those fortunate enough to enjoy the privilege of ownership. If you can't stand the notion of housing it in your stable, they're fun to take out on the road and let them have their heads for a gallop.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker