2008 was a big year for Ferrari in Formula 1. They won the Constructor’s Championship and the Maranello based team missed out on the Driver’s Championship by the slightest of margins after Hamilton pipped Massa to the title – the damp nail biting finish to the Interlagos race and the season will forevermore be remembered as one of the very best. To commemorate the team effort, Ferrari unveiled a very special machine – the 430 Scuderia Spider 16M.
As the name suggests, the 16M is a Scud that has been treated to the topless treatment. The ethos of the Scuderia was to be a lighter, harder and faster F430 and one Michael Schumacher had a big part in the changes that were made. The results were mesmerising and made the Scuderia a car that earned a reputation an adrenaline fuelled road racer that had to be experienced to be believed. The noise of the 4.3-litre 503bhp all-aluminium V8 was particularly memorable, a boomy bark that shook windows before pulling hard through the rev range and transforming into a blood curling howl as the needle swung towards the 8,500rpm redline. As you would imagine, this car becomes a thing of dreams when you stow the roof away at the touch of a button and drive it in the sun. To see how the 16M feels 13 years on, I went out for a blast.
Both the Scud and the 16M hold a special place in my heart, I was barely a teenager when both were released and I could only dream of being able to pilot such ferocious Italian machinery.
The first thing you do after starting a 16M is to put the gearbox into manual and take control of the shifts. This is what you might assume would be the weakest part of the package, as it is in the vast majority of cars featuring a single clutch automated manual gearbox. Surprisingly, it is nowhere near as bad as earlier iterations of such boxed. Flick the Manettino to race and floor it, pull a paddle and the F1-SuperFast2 six-speed transmission slams a shit in a claimed 60 milliseconds.
The 16M is designed to be driven fast, it is when it feels its best, comes alive and is razor sharp. The shifts under full throttle are quick, but brutal and satisfying in equal measure. This embodies the character of the car, it is an involving experience and when you give it the full beans you are rewarded with a car brimming with feel, feedback and a soundtrack that will have you giggling for hours. The damping quality is great, in bumpy road mode it is surprisingly well composed.
That being said, the steering is a touch fidgety and requires some serious concentration. The rack is not particularly fast, especially by modern Ferrari standards, but the way the car wanders and sniffs out cambers and crowns means that you need to be focused to keep the 16M on the straight and narrow. But when you do give it your full attention, keep you foot flat and hold on tight whilst the steering wheel LEDs begin to illuminate, you will soon be overcome by the unstoppable wall of sound flooding into the cabin from behind and forgive the aforementioned foibles. You will fall for how alert and agile this thoroughbred Ferrari feels.
The Ferrari 430 Scuderia Spider 16M is a modern classic, not because it is perfect, but because its imperfections give it character and force you to drive it the way Micheal Schumacher would. Much like a race car, it commands you to give it your all and rise to its abilities to unlock the best it has to offer. I wish I had the car for an entire summer to understand it, learn and fall even more in love with it. My time was all too brief.
This Ferrari Scuderia Spider 16M was supplied new on 26th June 2009 to Jamiroquai frontman, Jay Kay by Maranello Egham. One of just 499 examples to leave the factory, it is understood that just 48 examples were supplied to the UK in right hand drive. Whilst the lion’s share of cars were optioned new in Rosso, this 16M stands apart as one of just 4 examples to be finished in Bianco to reach UK shores. It is now available from DK Engineering in auction powered by Carhuna.