It was a chance encounter… From the M4 on my way to visit family I spotted the temple of performance machinery that is one of Europe’s most modern Ferrari dealerships. “It’s worth sticking my head in the door isn’t it?” I convinced myself. Drawing up to the shining silver glass structure you are instantly in awe of the specimens of perfection that peer through the windows. I counted them off as I made my way to the car park. California, 458 Italia, F12 Berlinetta, 458 Speciale. What! Wait a second, Ferrari 458 speciale?! This was the first time I had seen this stallion away from a magazine page or computer screen, and so filled with childish excitement I carefully parked my Volvo press car next to a 458 Italia and tried not to burst into the showroom like a child does a sweetshop.
Inside the interior is just as impressive as the exterior with gleaming white floors and walls, a blank canvas to display Italian art. After some polite chat with the staff I feverishly got to work on the Speciale.
The sleek red sculpture dominated its environment, this being a showroom shared with 599 GTO’s and an F430 Scuaderia, that is mighty impressive. Optioned with black alloy wheels, yellow brake callipers and that stripe which has dominated magazine covers these past few months, this car demanded the attention of every living thing in the room.
This model is much more dramatic and theatrical than the standard 458. Vents and winglets detail its proportionally exquisite bodywork, not just for aesthetic reasons, but in the quest for better airflow and increased downforce. Its carbon breaks peer through those black spokes, again hinting at the Speciale’s connection to Formula One. Around the back sits the cars crown jewel. Although its vast diffuser and exhaust pipes large enough to be mistaken for cannons are impressive, it is the 4.5 litre V8 engine that sits for the whole world to see that captured my attention. Naked carbon fibre wraps itself around the banks of cylinders with such mastery of craftsmanship that it makes the engine bay just as intricate as the rest of the prancing horse. Producing 597BHP, this is the most powerful road production V8 Ferrari has ever made. Capable of 0-62MPH in 3 seconds flat, one has to conclude that this is Italy’s finest hour in terms of mid-engined supercars.
The cockpit is filled with alcantara and body-hugging seats. Although in layout it is the same as a 458 Italia, the attention to detail and additional carbon features makes it a very special place indeed. A fire extinguisher serves as a reminder of this cars desire to push performance to the limit.
After spending an unhealthy amount of time pawing over the car I had to be on my way. I turned to throw one last glance at the Ferrari 458 Speciale, of which it stared straight back at me with that look of readiness it has about it. I hope at some point the keys to this Italian Stallion find their way into my hands…