by Dan Carney
“Do you think,” inquired Amedeo Felisa, director of Ferrari’s GT street cars, “that it is too loud?”
Among the multitude of tweaks that turn a run-of-the-mill 360 Modena F1 into a 360 Challenge Stradale is a new exhaust system that is without a doubt the coolest new technology for car nuts: an automatic muffler by-pass. Drive hard, and the sound jets straight out open pipes. Drive gently, and it passes through the conventional muffler letting you creep out of the neighborhood, past the library, without notice. Who hasn’t imagined such a system? Thanks to Ferrari for continuing to fulfill adolescent fantasies, even if we are no longer adolescent.
Is it too loud? Considering that the resulting sound is the closest earthly approximation of the music produced by angels’ harps, no volume could be too loud. It is just right.
The Ferrari 360 Challenge Stradale (Street) is meant to evoke the 360s raced in the Ferrari Challenge series, in a package that is meant for the street or for occasional track day silliness. The result is that the Challenge Stradale is stripped of carpeting and sound deadening, the stereo becomes an add-on option, and lightweight Lexan side windows are standard. Conventional glass power windows remain available for customers who don’t like the idea of trying to hit the toll bucket through the speak-easy slot in the Lexan window.
2003 Ferrari Challenge Stradale
The carbon fiber-wrapped interior looks fighter plane-serious, with bare door panels and minimal clutter. There is no stereo (at least not on the one I fantasize I will buy) and the array of buttons with unfamiliar labels lines the center console standing in for the steering wheel-mounted buttons on a Ferrari race car. The buttons start the engine and control the traction control system, switch the car’s suspension settings and engage reverse gear. All it needs is Michael Schumacher’s differential adjustment knob.