Ferrari 458 Spider

At the present time of writing, there is a political argument raging around the UK as to whether or not we should remain a part of the European Union. The shittily entitled Brexit argument. Since when was it acceptable to smash two words together to make such a large decision about something that could affect a whole nation? If you think this is a good term then frankly, you’re a funt.

On a recent trip across the pond, this type of moronic mangling of the language nearly drove me round the twist when I filled up at a Pilot gas station. Not only was it bad enough that upon entering the place to pay I was reminded that I could purchase a bucket of a fizzy drink of my choice for only $2.99, but I could ‘double up’ and get a similar sized repository of fried crap in another bucket because of their ‘thungry’ offer. THUNGRY. Oh do please bugger off.

Anyway, this naming convention rubbish aside, the political posturing will no doubt roll on until a vote is made, some arguments will end and we will either be in or out of the European Union. I know, I should care more about the impact it may or may not create but I have no time for politicians because they refuse to use two words I adore. Yes and no. So, keeping loosely to a European theme, I’m going to write about our recent folly with a topless Italian rather than get deep and meaningful about politics.

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Italians are renown for their passion. Whether it is for a tomato sauce, pasta or living with their mothers, they have it in abundance. Visit Rome and you cannot fail to be drawn in by their gesturing, the lilt of the native language flowing forth toward you and their vein popping foreheads and smiles approaching you. And this is merely to ask if you want a taxi. How ace is that?

It’s easy to take the piss out of them as it is with any nation on earth but since the politicians stepped in with their correctness, we’re not allowed to anymore for fear of sparking an international incident. Shame really because the British are bloody brilliant at that. As are the Irish, Scottish, Welsh. In fact, everyone is good at mocking the rest of the world that don’t think the same as them and yet they’ve tried to make us all the same. Fortunately, this strain of who we are is ingrained within the vehicles that we manufacture. That is why this topless 458 Ferrari is oozing the Italian passion.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Ferrari and I’m not sure where it began. It may have been watching Magnum PI as a child or watching F1 with my Dad on a weekend but Ferrari always won out. Porsche on the other hand, well, I admired their Le Mans cars but the 911 for me has never rubbed my pipe. Even now when it seems everyone is a lifelong Porsche fan, I’m staying with my opinion that I do like the design of the original but there is no wind in my sail about anything since.

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Ferrari though had me at hello. I had posters of the Testarossa up on my wall as a kid and I will never tire of looking at a California. That said, as with the 911, not everything that has spewed out of Maranello has made me smile. Contentiously, I like the Daytona but don’t adore it. The Dino has all the appeal of gonorrhoea. And, no doubt I will be chased out of town and burned as a heretic, but I do not drop my pants and strum on the one stringed bass to an F40 either. Head on it looks sad and side on it appears to have melted. I’d rather have the F50 but that has aged as well as the Countach.

The last ‘modern’ Ferrari I had a thing for was the 355 and I loved the drive of the 430. In between I had the sexual pleasure of blasting through the tunnels above Monaco in a 360CS with an F1 exhaust and when we got there it is fair to say that 911’s were not allowed out at junctions where we were waved through. I rest my case for the defence of the Italian marque at that. In a town where millionaires are as common as slags on TV, the prancing horse was still held in higher regard than Drophead Phantoms, Lamborghini’s and Veyrons.

So, what of this 458 then? I’ll launch with a negative – it’s a spider. Taking the roof off a car is an OK thing to do but it will sacrifice certain things. On an engineering level it can weaken the structure and people will bore you to death with scuttle shake and weight gain but for me it spoils the lines. The driving potential for the majority of cars is never realised so who cares how it drives, how does it look? How does it make you feel?

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On that level, I’ll concede it looks good but I prefer the coupe. Why? Because you can see the engine. It’s a guy thing but I’ve spent many a mug of tea and packet of biscuits staring at engines and believe me, Ferrari bays are worth it. But here, the fancy folding roof means you see nothing of the engine in order for the folding roof from an SLK to be deployed. It’s like paying to see the good stuff at a strip show and they turn out the lights before they get the boys out.

But, after that, what else is wrong? Not a lot. I mean, look at it. Waking up in the morning next to that on the drive isn’t exactly a hardship is it? I’ll concede it isn’t as perfect as a beloved classic Ferrari as most modern supercars are going for aerodynamics over styling. Shame really as that Rosso Corsa colour draped over curves trumps it being on angles everyday of the week.

But this is merely being picky. The previous model, the 430, was a great driving car and the 458 still delivers a cracking ride, the aural effect with the spider being nudged up to the full eleven does add, especially here on a warm, sunny day. Yes, the sat-nav screens and missing stalks inside show me that yet again, just because technology exists doesn’t mean that old ideas weren’t better. I’d prefer a non-moving stalk to indicate with and I still believe that a map and your own eyes beat a twat-nav but the inside of this car is still a beautiful event of theatre.

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No matter how many Ferrari’s I’ve been in, they still give you a sense of arriving in something special. The big red start button really does mark the beginning of a special trip ahead.

I just hope that in light of whether we remain part of the EU or go stand alone, our European neighbours continue to bring their wares to our shores for many years to come. But our American brothers and sisters with their word-smashing marketing and buckets of plastic food can shove that up their farses.