It's time to dig those nickels out of the seat cushions. Sell the stamp collection, too. Break the kids' piggy bank, have a garage sale, and get that rookie season Nolan Ryan card on eBay-pronto. Take it all and buy big in this weekend's lottery, because you'll want to get your deposit in on Ferrari's new ragtop as quickly as you can. It's every bit as dazzling as the 360 Modena coupe. And the top goes down.
Displayed for the first time at the Geneva Motor Show in March and coming to our shores around the first of the year, the 360 Spider is a predestined classic. It, of course, replaces the much-loved F355 Spider, sold here from 1995 through the rest of this year. Most important is that this new Spider is not just a well-done chop job or conversion; the 360's all-alloy skin and chassis platform were designed from scratch with an eye toward being an open-air model. Raising and lowering the top is a one-touch deal: Press the button, and the top unlatches, lowers, and covers itself in a well-choreographed display of excellent engineering.
Stylistically, the 360 Spider resembles its closed stablemate everywhere but the top area and rear deck. Its "shoulders" loosely resemble the fairing on an old Jag D-Type racer, though they don't line up directly behind the headrests. Instead, they're an aspect of the design that keeps the rear deck from appearing too flat; they also serve as the outboard mounting points for the two asymmetrical rollover hoops. The design, as with all current Ferraris, is the masterwork of Pininfarina, and the 360 Spider bodies will be built at the Scaglietti coachworks facility in Modena, Italy.
Perhaps the most engaging styling theme lies below a piece of glass integrated into the rear decklid itself. The Modena uses the engine and even some of the chassis rails as design elements, each a demonstration of the many artistic ways to cast, machine, and finish aluminum. Power comes from Ferrari's 3.6-liter cinquevalvole (five-valve/cylinder) V-8, and its 400-horsepower rating and wailing 8500-rpm redline are unchanged for Spider duty. Take your choice between a conventional six-speed manual or Ferrari's new-tech F1 sequential "paddle shifter" transmission. With its nigh-identical weight to the Modena, we've no reason to doubt its ability to rip off sub-4-second 0-60s.
The interior is also every bit as accommodating as the coupe's. Unlike the F355, which tends to be a bit cramped for tall drivers, this downright commodious cabin has proven a fine place to while away the hours and miles. And it's good to know that Ferrari's pipe benders, muffler makers, and aerodynamicists worked very hard at creating the balance of engine, intake, and exhaust sounds to give the Modena its ethereal scream-its voice is just that much better in top-down, Spider form.
Ferrari has yet to release prices for this 2001 model, but expect it to command about a $25K premium over the Modena's current $138,225 base; add yet another 10 grand if you want the F1 transmission. Is the 360 Spider worth it? Of course. A bargain, actually, when you consider the price premium that many classic Ferrari convertibles draw over their coupe counterparts. Final sales estimates also are yet to come, but Ferrari plans to bring just 900 or so 360 models to the U.S. next year, with perhaps 70 percent of those being Spiders. So with maybe 650 to go around, well-heeled Ferraristi are lining up already.
What? Already been through the sofa cushions? The wife gave away your baseball cards and stamps and didn't tell you? Well, there's always mowing lawns. Or perhaps a bake sale. Just do what it takes to get hold of a 360 Spider. It'll be worth it.