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How/why I have gone 6.5 years in my 2013 458 spider

Discussion in '458 Italia/488/F8' started by Randyslovis, Jul 6, 2019.

  1. Randyslovis

    Randyslovis Formula Junior
    Silver Subscribed

    Jul 7, 2011
    792
    Atlanta, GA
    Full Name:
    Randall J Slovis
    First let me apologize for what will be a lengthy diatribe. Worse, at times I will mention some of the most hotly debated topics here. No, it will NOT be a 458 vs 488 piece. I am merely saying why I still own a car that is at times maligned.
    As a physician, I view this as more of a "review of the literature" thread rather than a new research piece. Yes, I am going to throw in a bunch of theories/personal experiences. I will however make it VERY clear when I am stating accepted facts vs opinions.
    My main reason for this is quite simple: I read threads from more and more new readers of this forum who pose questions that have been "asked and answered." The replies I see are frequently by the usual suspects. Not necessarily right or wrong answers but perhaps not complete enough for someone trying to come to grips when making a choice. Sometimes, to be fair, on this blog BS is stated as fact by some.
    In regards to me personally, while not a curmudgeon by any means, I am so over many things in this world that are hype not substance. Plus, not having unlimited money means something actually has to be worth what I pay for it. (I think I just lost 3/4 of the people reading this. LOL) Never the less, this is my 5th new Ferrari. Various 360/430 coupes and a 458 Italia proceeded it.

    This personally specced spider is only my 2nd convertible in 40 some odd years. I am NOT a die hard convertible guy. My first/last one was a 1970 442 convertible. I inherited it from my older brother.
    When I look at/for daily drivers I have never and still do not look at drop tops. Rush hour traffic, solitude, safety, and cost made it very easy to bypass them. Throw in the "loss of structural rigidity" that is the mantra on this blog and I think I can get nearly full agreement for my reasoning!

    But, and this is a big but, why a spider and has it been literally worth it?
    The last car I owned for more than 4 years was a 1986 Euro-spec BMW M6 I brought into the country in '86. I kept it for 9 1/2 years. Why? Nothing else seemed to peak my interest or tick as many boxes of what I enjoy in a car.

    To begin this spider ownership experience thing, let me get this simple fact out of the way: from a reliability standpoint, in the only 5K miles I have gone (work/weather/life just gets in the way) only one repair has been required. A fairly big one. Electronic dash went out. Under warranty otherwise an 18K repair. Car was down 5 weeks while Ferrari clowned around with it in Italy.

    As for why I bought a spider, it gets to the core of why I buy any car. It has to hit the mark for its purpose. Be it a luxury sedan, SUV, or DD, it has to meet its intended purpose. So for a Ferrari this means its styling and sense of occasion when driven is primary. Yes I bought the Italia "knowing" I had my eye on the as yet unreleased spider. For me, I found the Italia just a little too refined. (Yes, send all the hate mail you want.) I had put in the Daytona seats with full power. Car can be fantastic for putting on the miles as long as you are not trapped in traffic with giant SUVs. I say this for safety reasons, nothing else.
    So, hot point #1: The spider visually/viscerally does more for me. Sorry, but after the 360 and 430, the glass no longer hits any buttons for me. First is that at any distance it could be any sports car silhouette. Second, I find the 458 spider rear deck regardless of roof position to be more interesting. Speciale with full carbon engine bay, valve covers and red striping on manifold is a different discussion. Fantastic look.
    Net: almost 7 years later and I love how my car looks. It is rare for me to not tire of a car's appearance. I still love the Maserati GT despite it being almost old enough to vote! Dare I digress. For Italia/488 owners I am SURE the same holds.

    The next satisfying aspect is the seats. Regardless of which seat "you" like-in any car-when they fit you right it makes all the difference in your opinion of the car. I hated my 2001 M3 as the seats never "fit" me. I couldn't wait to sell that car as it never "felt" right for many reasons. The seats being a big one. In my spider, the race seats work better than any previous Ferrari seat for me. My advice is to anyone is always: every body needs to find its own right fit. I did. So, every time I get in my car I am thrilled at how my seating position is just right.

    From an emotional standpoint, the engine sound, pull on the paddles (vs other DSGs I have used), hair trigger throttle are spot on. Yes, the 355/360 with their 5 valve per cylinder and tiny size offered even more of an intake and exhaust symphony. Yes I loved the 360's primitive F1 gearbox sounds as it downshifted on its own. But, taken as a whole, the 458 still offers a great deal of emotional appeal 7 years on.

    Next is the roof. Being able to use the top down frequently and being able to change the driving character of the car with roof and rear window positioning makes it like you have more than one car. As I only have one fun car, this variability is fantastic for me.

    Let's talk about weight. Hot point #2 for people here. What nonsense IMO. Not that the spider isn't heavier. But, an Italia with an average sized US driver, a full tank of gas and the Daytona seats with power option weighs more than I do in my spider with 1/2 tank of gas!! Throw in the variation between any car's motor output and it is an academic issue IMO. "But what about the track??" Hot point #3 and another non-issue for me. If you really think/care about the weight for your track days, I completely get the psychology of why you feel that way. The spider IS heavier, has softer bushings and therefore slower. BUT only in the hands of a pro driver on the limit. When an amateur is leaving huge amounts of time on the track it isn't from weight! If you can feel the difference and the majority of time you drive the car is on track, I would never disagree with your opinion. For me, telling the average owner that the weight/track capabilities is a serious concern is a little far fetched from how most people use their car. Watch the old video of Chris Harris throwing a 458 spider around the track. I am confident you will let me know that you still think it is a fish out of water and that Chris Harris is an ass. Be my guest.

    Then there is the dreaded cowl shake and steering wheel issue. First let me say they are not one in the same.
    Talking roof in down position: Take your hands off the wheel and hit a bump. Watch the hood and allow your butt to feel the impact. Very little movement actually is seen or felt. Hold on to the wheel and repeat this procedure and you would think your passenger narrowly averted having to catch the wheel flying out of your hands! This really does irk me. No qualifiers. There is no excuse for it. BUT, after years of research with my dealer's Uber-tech (came in 3rd at international Ferrari SpA contest -for knowledge and actually on track driving -and dealership just rated best service dealership in the world) and my butt meter, it really is a complicated thing. Said tech and my buddy who is a Porsche driving instructor thought (knew) I was nuts when I told them years ago that manettino position, roof position, and air pressure in tires changed feel of car. I then had them go out independently and without me. They both agreed I am still nuts but they agreed with my perceptions.
    First, the magnetic shocks are super soft and do have a mind of their own. Drive the car over a consistently rough road and the wheel steadies, honest. Hit an isolated bump and the wheel dances. As I drive the car out of my driveway and slowly warm up the motor, the wheel feels "loose". Once car is not only warmed up, but I have lit up the lights a few times and get back on same road the wheel is more stable. Put the car in Race (or higher), pump up the tires by only 1lb and the feel changes for the better. So, if I know I want to drive roof down and in a spirited fashion through some twisties, I make sure that I have really warmed the car up and use a higher manettino position. It helps. additionally, driving around on quick roads, top down, I actually pick up some road feel that the coupe did not reveal. In other words I have to put up with some distortion in some instances to get extra feel at other times. Should be that way, but it is.

    Or, better still, put the roof up and drop the rear window. Feels completely solid save for a huge impact AND the motor sound is better than a coupe.

    Last 2 bitching points: "The new cars are faster." Yes they are. But here is the thing. The 458 is not a Camry. The cars are damn fast. Plus, I figured that during my normal 12-15 minute Mille Miglia route that I run for fun, I can only give it the full beans a few times. Plus with the speed you can attain in 2-4 seconds of full throttle driving on 45-65mph roads leaves you very little time at full throttle. Despite using highway exit and entrance ramps in my route (that have no cross traffic and allow me to get to 120mph) I actually calculated that 97-98% of the time I am NOT at full tilt. So what am I going to do with all that extra power? No, my original statement about sense of occasion, style, feel, are what matters the most as that is 98% of my driving pleasure.

    458 spiders in the retail market are 200-240k cars. Still not chump change. But, for me there is nothing else I would rather own at this price. THAT is the point. Perfect cars, no. For me spending 50-100% more for a new Ferrari or other brand is just not alluring for me.(Yes, I know Italias are less and that many people prefer them but that is off topic.) I have watched the de-contenting of Ferrari interiors (look at the stitching that is being removed or the Daytona stripes that keep going down in number. Or, worse, cars designed that almost need lots of "options" to look like the 300K they are. But are now 350-450. Plus, if Ferrari is true to Ferrari the maintenance costs of the new turbo - battery cars is going to be nosebleed high.

    Net: the spider with its warts still gives me an overall driving experience that ticks more yes than no boxes. If that changes, someone will get a loved if flawed car. I am sure some 488 spider owners will feel the same.

    Best
     
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  2. dustman

    dustman F1 Rookie

    Jun 12, 2007
    4,241
    Thx for the write up.
    Loved my spider except for the shake. Steering wheel moved so much dealer thought it was alignment, tires, suspension etc....and yet it was all in order, no issues. The spider just wobbles that much. Warm, cold, didn’t matter on my roads.

    But what a car it is, perhaps worth getting another again some day. As much as I love the Perf S, the 458 is near and dear.
     
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  3. bobbyd

    bobbyd Formula Junior

    Nov 17, 2003
    704
    Nice insights!

    By the pound hard to eat the 458 Spider when it comes to exotics - especially in today’s market.
     
  4. bobbyd

    bobbyd Formula Junior

    Nov 17, 2003
    704
    Oops - beat!
     
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  5. energy88

    energy88 F1 Veteran
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    Jan 21, 2012
    9,705
    Fredericksburg, VA & Sarasota, FL
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    John
    Nice write up. I believe what it boils down to is that this was what was available 6.5 years ago and you have provided a long-term perspective of how unforeseen refinements have come upon the scene in following years.
     
  6. Transman

    Transman Karting

    Nov 20, 2016
    140
    New York
    Full Name:
    Stephen Ferraro
    Too long and boring


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  7. Surfah

    Surfah F1 Rookie

    Dec 20, 2011
    2,501
    Envious that you are still enamoured by your 458 after 6.5 years. Your financial advisor must be happy.

    2014 458 Spider one of the best cars I've owned. My car ADD gets the better of me and I switch out cars every 2-3 years. I daily my exotics so that dissipates the "honeymoon" phase more quickly. I do like trying out different brands and different models for the experience. Unlike others, I enjoy researching a potential new ride, watching the Youtube videos, scouring the listings on cargurus, and negotiating a good deal. This process creates a tangible goal and encourages me to work harder to achieve said goal.
     
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  8. tekaefixe

    tekaefixe Formula Junior

    May 10, 2012
    792
    CH
    Full Name:
    Paulo
    Amazing write up! Totally agree, drive it slow it kind of suck the shaky structure and steering wheel, drive it hard top down and you’re driving an F1 (a bit of course) and you don’t think about anything else.
     
    Randyslovis likes this.
  9. Steinhart

    Steinhart Karting

    May 21, 2019
    210
    I just went through the process of researching and searching for a 458 Spider, which just arrived today!

    I appreciate your time to do such an insightful write up, and I agree with your criteria when purchasing a car.

    For me, it's the overall driving experience, not the numbers on paper. Labs and imaging can look great, but clinically the patient does not. (I'm a doc too)

    So it all comes down to the driving experience. I have a 991.2 TTS Cab that is such an amazing car in so many ways. But it lacks that beautiful exhaust note.

    I added a 458 Spider to the garage (had to get a lift to fit it in, haha) and so I start the 458 journey that you so well described.

    Good to know you still love the car. No car, no car is perfect for all applications. A true track car is horrible for street use, much too stiff and lacking the basic amenities. So, one must give up something somewhere. For me, I'll take the deficiencies of the 458 Spider, in exchange for the amazing driving experience.

    Thanks again for your post.
     
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  10. PhilNotHill

    PhilNotHill Two Time F1 World Champ
    Silver Subscribed Owner

    Jul 3, 2006
    26,073
    Aspen CO 81611
    Full Name:
    FelipeNotMassa
    Thanks for the thoughtful post. I too am a diehard 458 Spider fan. My 2012 has 30+K smiles. I see nothing out there which would tempt me to switch. I look but nothing moves me.

    The car is perfect for twisty mountain roads and they are plentiful where l live. Ownership is easy. Ferrari of Denver picks up my spider each spring and delivers back to me detailed with new tires if needed. Actually cheaper than driving 3.5 hours to Denver and staying in a hotel.

    So l will keep driving her until l get too old to get in and out of this little gem. Ciao Bella.
     
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  11. BruceC

    BruceC Karting

    Apr 26, 2018
    70
    Hilton Head Island, SC
    Full Name:
    Bruce M Cochran
    Insightful, considering I'm a 430 Spider owner looking semi-seriously at 458 Italia's currently. Your comment "For me, I found the Italia just a little too refined," begs a little further clarification with regard to my quest. Does that statement hold true compared to your previous experiences with the 430? There's no real opportunity for me to try out a 458 in my region, but I have to agree the last time I set foot in one of MB's AMG models, I found it much too sedate (i.e. read "refined") to make for an enjoyable driving experience.

    Have to agree, I do prefer the spider look vs. the coupe, but just don't seem to be able to get fully comfortable being on display when I'm driving a car that attracts so much attention.
     
  12. CT Audi Fan

    CT Audi Fan Formula Junior

    Oct 23, 2011
    461
    Ah, finally someone who gets it! Throw all the dumb stats out the window. The car makes you smile and feel good, even after all these years. Don’t ever let her go. Keep driving and keep smiling life is good.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
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  13. LVP488

    LVP488 F1 Rookie

    Jan 21, 2017
    2,520
    France
    Interesting write-up, but still I wonder why sometimes it's like you need to justify why you like it - IMHO you don't, and you don't need to convince anybody you're right either.
     
  14. Transman

    Transman Karting

    Nov 20, 2016
    140
    New York
    Full Name:
    Stephen Ferraro
    As long as your healthy and can enjoy it
    Life’s to short


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  15. henryenzo

    henryenzo Karting

    Jan 16, 2012
    172
    I had a 458 then went to an F12 due to the allure of the V12. Wonderful car but I missed the 458. I then got into a 488GTB and fell back in love. I now have a Pista—still no spiders but I have an Aventador roadster which suits just fine.

    The speed/horsepower contest will take you to bankruptcy or even an early grave. I’m starting to check out on that game. The 458 remains a contemporary proud adversary of anything out there.
     
    Bundy likes this.
  16. Randyslovis

    Randyslovis Formula Junior
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    Jul 7, 2011
    792
    Atlanta, GA
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    Randall J Slovis
    First, the beauty of a hard top convertible is with the ROOF UP you are for all intents and purposes in a coupe. Sound insulation, look, and with-in reason structure as well. So you can go top down only when the situation is right.
    The refined aspect has to do with the magnetic shocks giving the structurally solid coupe a fairly supple ride. In sport mode with exhaust in its quieter mode, and if you have the standard not race seat, the car is quite docile. Not a bad thing. In the spider however with the roof down or up with rear window down, and with a valve switch installed that keeps exhaust open, it is more ‘sporting’ for lack of a better word. The downside is at slow speeds on “city” roads the steering wheel shimmy at times is annoying. Open road above 45mph the car is, for me, more involving than the coupe due to sights/sounds/wind.
    In comparison to the 430, I would say the following: you trade the 430’s more raucous (stock configuration) factory exhaust for thev458’s way more torque through out the rev range. Plus there really is no comparison between the single and dual clutch gearboxes. Lastly, I hated the induction sound the 430 made when you gave it full throttle below 3500 RPMs. You are likely too young to have had an American big block V8 where you turned the air cleaner cover over. Allowed more into the carburetor and gave the same sound! Didn’t like it then or now.
    Be happy to answer a PM if you want any further info on my experience with 360 v 430 v 458.
    Best
     
  17. Randyslovis

    Randyslovis Formula Junior
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    Jul 7, 2011
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    Randall J Slovis
    Actually not trying to convince me or anyone else. But I certainly see your point. I do at times experience dissonance with this car/Ferrari in general.
    The back story is that when I got the spider in January 2013 I wrote about the steering wheel shimmy. No one concurred. Nearly vilified for my observation. Then over past 5 years everyone piling on the cowl shake/steering issue to what I felt was doing an equal disservice to new buyers.
    I was merely trying to say that yes it exists. Yes it can drive me nearly insane on the wrong day. But with a little twist of the manettino, a little bump in the tire pressure, an open valve switch, and spending more time driving above 45 mph or roof up the spider becomes almost as good as I would have hoped a >300k car should be.
    I just wanted to try and give an honest perspective on whether the spider is a good choice for someone.Best
     
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  18. Randyslovis

    Randyslovis Formula Junior
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    Jul 7, 2011
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    Randall J Slovis
    Exactly. Diminishing returns for huge additional sums of money.
     
  19. dustman

    dustman F1 Rookie

    Jun 12, 2007
    4,241
    I hear you. Early adopters often want to wear blindfolds and you get shouted down for speaking the truth about shake or styling or lag. Then years later the rosy bloom is off and more people speak up. Glad you love your car and the wonderful experiences it provides!
     
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  20. stan996turbo

    stan996turbo Formula Junior

    Jun 11, 2004
    408
    Philadelphia
    Full Name:
    Stan
    I would have been a buyer for the 458 spider were it not for the shake. It’s unfortunate that Ferrari didn’t address it before releasing the car, I think most would have put up with more weight to get a stiffer platform.
     
  21. cole328

    cole328 Karting
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    May 9, 2014
    235
    I own a 2007 f430 spider, and I love it, faults and all. It’s been an amazing car and I consider myself lucky to own it. As many on here have said, we are fortunate in that 99% of the people in the world, will never even sit in a Ferrari let alone own one to get to complain.

    As many on here have said, but what you can afford, and then drive the heck out of it. Personally, I think a convertible Ferrari, no matter the variant, is the quintessential sports car . Unless you are tracking the car, I will have one all day long.


    Sent from my iPhone using FerrariChat.com mobile app
     
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  22. italiafan

    italiafan F1 Veteran

    Jul 19, 2006
    9,784
    USA
    Full Name:
    Stickbones Swagglesmith
    How about:
    You’re
    Too
    ...periods also help.
     
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  23. Randyslovis

    Randyslovis Formula Junior
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    Jul 7, 2011
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    Randall J Slovis
    Yup, that pretty much sums it up: every car has its plusses and minuses.
    You add 'em up, figure out what matters the most and make your decision. No right or wrong answer. I think too many people in general/here make up their minds based on words read. Nothing like having to pay for the pain/pleasure and with lots seat of the pants experience can you speak intelligently about a car.
    Glad you are enjoying yours.
    Best
     
  24. 3POINT8

    3POINT8 Formula 3

    Jan 23, 2014
    1,803
    Nice write up but you lost me when you said you have driven it 5,000 miles in 6.5 years.
     
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