This evening I was on my way home from Bikram Yoga when I found my dream (semi) attainable Ferrari parked on Seaview road – a 360 Challenge Stradale. 360’s are and have always been my favourite of the modern era Ferrari’s. The 458 is a stunning automobile but it a little ‘sci-fi’ for my tastes, and I think the F430 looks a little underwhelming (I’m sure it isn’t underwhelming at all to drive though). For my tastes the 360’s Pininfarina lines are simply jaw dropping, and from what I’ve read they contain enough of the old school hairy chestedness to make them exciting to drive. Devastatingly quick if you’re good, but a 360 will spit you off if you stuff it up. There’s no real computer there to save your ass or make you look like Schumacher when you’re plainly not. The Challenge Stradale is the ultimate 360 and a stripped down racer for the road, so therefore it’s the one I lust after.
So what makes this story funny is that I was on my way home from a Bikram Yoga session. For those that are unaware, Bikram is a 90 minute yoga class conducted in a large room heated to around 45deg. As you can imagine you finish a Bikram class quite sweaty (that’s the idea, to sweat the toxin’s out), so once the sweat dries you just plain stink.
As I was snapping away I was actually surprised at how bad I smelt. It was then that a tall, well dressed man in his mid 30’s approached me. As it turned out he was the owner of the Challenge Stradale and had come over from the restaurant where he was having dinner to let me know I could get as close to the car as I wanted. I was shooting with my fixed 50mm lens which meant I had to be a few steps back to get the whole car in frame.
I guess he was used to dealing with gawking bogans all the time, so he was quite surprised to discover that I knew how special and rare the Challenge Stradale is. We got to talking, me making sure to stay a distance away from him, when he opened it up and offered me a sit in it. I explained how sweaty and smelly I was and that I couldn’t, but then he insisted. I refused a second time, to which he replied “whats the use in owning a nice car if you can’t share it, hey?”
So that’s how I have this photo of a sweaty and smelly me sitting in my dream Ferrari. It’s a shame his meal was served, as he explained he would have taken me for a spin if he had more time. So mystery Challenge Stradale owner – if through the powers of the internet you happen to be reading this – I’m up for that spin whenever you like!
Challenge: Ferrari’s factory race cars built for the one make Ferrari Challenge race series in Europe and the USA. It started with the 348, then 355, 360 and so on. Unlike their heavily modified FIA GT3 counterpart, Challenge cars start life on the regular production line. The interior is stripped, they have no sound deadening and they have lexan window’s so they weigh quite a bit less than the road cars. They have slightly more power, faster shift times, bigger brakes, better suspension and slightly improved aerodynamics.
Stradale: An Italian word describing race cars that can be used on the road. Essentially, thinly veiled race cars that have the necessary modifications to be road registerable and not much else. Hence Challenge Stradale – a road version of the Ferrari Challenge factory race car. So, it’s a road version of the race version of the road 360.
The interior is very spartan. The floors and sills are painted aluminium – no carpets or sound deadening. The seat shells are carbon, the consols and dash are carbon and the dash is trimmed in suede. With the exception of a roll cage it looks identical to the interior of the Challenge race car. It even comes from the factory with Ferrari embroidered 6 point harnesses. Some versions even had fixed lexan side windows with slide openers.
This is the second Ferrari owner I’ve had the pleasure of randomly meeting that is a genuinely nice guy, an enthusiast that appreciates the fine piece of engineering they own. (The first was an owner of a Ferrari Daytona I met here at Macclesfield)
This has made me feel better about life and Ferrari owners. The other night it was a beautiful hot evening and I was out running along the beach. I came to Henley Square and found a silver F430 cruising in a slow traffic jam heading into the carpark. The driver was clearly fishing for looks. I couldn’t help but think what a waste it was, and how that F430 would be much better suited to a quick hills drive. But this chance meeting today has quickly restored my faith that there are Ferrari owners out there who appreciate their rides.
For those who are currently on a Challenge Stradale high, like myself, you may find these YouTube clips a slight antidote. But they don’t really work, for me they only make the problem worse. I think I need that ride…
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKKJdRSI-R8360 Challenge Stradale #360 Modena #Challenge #Ferrari #Henley Square #Stradale