A slight breeze rustled the oak leaves of this cool California morning as I slid behind the wheel of my bright red Ferrari F430 Spider. Well, not mine, exactly. On loan from Ferrari North America, this particular F430 Spider would be mine only for the next few days. But what a glorious few days it would be.
Familiarizing myself with the switches and controls, visions of serpentine ribbons of asphalt flying beneath the Ferrari F430 Spider as I flick through the gears via the Formula 1-inspired paddle shifters flash through my mind. The wail of the Italian V8 scant inches behind my head, vibrating my inner ear with the consummate sound only emitted from a Ferrari, played the soundtrack to these images. The anticipation was breathtaking: I was about to perform in my own rendition of “My Ferrari is better than your Ferrari.”
Except for the hills surrounding Maranello, Italy, where Ferraris are crafted, northern California’s country roads are the next-best venue for the F430, where a sports car wearing a prancing horse badge can feel most at home. Rolling hills and fantastically tight, twisting two-lane roads make for the finest in motoring experiences with a steed such as the F430 Spider. Having driven the F430 on a track, I knew how capable the car was. But this time, I wanted to put this new Ferrari through its paces in a real world setting to discover just how easy this 490-horsepower exotic is to pilot on public roads.
Though not quite docile, the Ferrari F430 is much easier to drive than most people think. Yes, it takes patience while getting familiar with the controls and, of course, it has lots of power. But the most disconcerting aspect of driving the F430 Spider, or any exotic automobile, is the behavior of other motorists who are so taken by the sight of the car that they become distracted and quite dangerous. If you don’t mind the attention, and you have the patience to learn what the Ferrari F430 can do for you, this is an exceptionally rewarding sports car.