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The Stradale and the Pista

Discussion in '360/430' started by FordGTDriver, Mar 11, 2021.

  1. FordGTDriver

    FordGTDriver Formula Junior
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    Several years ago, I had exhausted my urge to continually upgrade to the latest/greatest/fastest car available. At the time, I was on my fourth McLaren, and had an immaculate 458 Speciale sitting in the garage as well. I found myself increasingly drawn to earlier vintage sports cars, and I began to focus on air-cooled Porsches. I found a perfect 993 Turbo. It now reigns as one of my favorite driving cars of all time. It certainly isn’t the fastest car I own, nor is it an ace at the track. I nonetheless catch myself laughing out loud every time I drive it. The phenomenon of the “slower” but more enjoyable car is real.

    All the while that this was happening, I was continuing my Ferrari romance. It had started years earlier with a lovely F430, then a series of bespoke 458s, the aforementioned Speciale, a 488 and finally a Pista. Employing my new-found affection for “old” cars, I began to wonder if maybe I should explore a 355 or a 360. Thus commenced a search that would eventually lead me to the Challenge Stradale. Everything I had read about the car seemed to indicate that it might just offer the magic fairy dust that I had found in the 993TT.

    I found an ideal Stradale through Mike Berman at Yellow Compass. I bought it unseen (a first for me) after a thorough PPI. I was all amped up to get the car, but then it got stuck on the East Coast waiting for the blizzard of ’21 to pass. Once the Stradale finally arrived out West, I was thrilled; the car was pristine and in even better condition that I had anticipated. I began driving it like a madman the morning it arrived. Indeed, based on the Carfax, I put more miles on the car in first week than it had been driven in the prior six years. I’m not making that up. After spending years drowsing in a garage, my freshly serviced Stradale is probably still wondering what hit it.

    Because I have a 2020 Pista in the stable, it was inevitable that I would draw comparisons between the two; especially because the Stradale marked the beginning of the special edition/track oriented V8 cars, and the Pista marks the last of the breed, at least for the moment. It’s been fascinating for me drive the cars back-to-back and to mark the differences in the cars after 16 years of development.

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    Impressions of the Stradale.

    I am astounded at just how special --how compelling --the Stradale is to drive. First surprise: the Stradale is a very quick car. It may not boast the big horsepower numbers of the Pista, but it certainly has more than adequate horsepower to make for a completely thrilling drive. Second surprise: the engine is glorious. It responds to throttle input with a razor-honed immediacy and revs through its full range with zingy ease. Part of this has to be attributable to the reduced weight of the car, including the ceramic brakes. But there’s more to it than just that. After I had driven the car for the first few miles, something about it felt very familiar, but I couldn’t quite place it. Over a few more drives, it finally dawned on me: the Stradale felt remarkably similar to my Carrera GT; It’s as if the engine is bolted hard against the back of your seat…every vibration translates to your butt-dyno, and acceleration feels all the more visceral because of it. Then there’s the exhaust note. Just like the Carrera GT, as your butt is telling you how many revs the engine is turning, your ears are correlating those revs with the banshee-wail emanating from behind your head. I’m telling you, a Mad Max blast to redline in all six gears of the Stradale gears is something you’ll not soon forget. It’s overwhelming and inspiring at the same time. If the poor, emasculated Prius is on one end of the automotive spectrum (under the heading “abmomination”) then the Stradale is pegged at the exact opposite end. Thrilling, invigorating, laugh-out-loud fantastic. There is a sincerity and authenticity to the Stradale that I hadn’t expected.

    The Stradale is noisy inside. Not in a way that makes the car feel cheap or flimsy, mind you. I would classify it as very expensive race car noise. The engine sometimes vibrates the carbon door panels, and when they’re not vibrating, something else is. You can hear every last rock on the road pinging off the wheel wells as you drive. Its wonderful. Sound deadening? We don’t need no stinking sound deadening. Radio? Forget it. Rattles? Bangs? Hums? Check, check and check.

    The F1 Transmission only adds to the bare-knuckle bravado of the Stradale. There is no auto option (which is moot to me since I refuse to drive any sportscar I own in Geezer mode). Smooth it is not, at least compared to dual clutch magnificence of the Pista or the PDK in my GT3RS. However, there is a certain skill and finesse to driving an early F1, and it’s quite satisfying once you get the hang of it. I first learned about this with my F430; a fine modulation of the throttle, perfectly timed with the paddle pull, and it’s as smooth as butter. You kind of drive it like it was a manual. I can’t really describe it beyond that, but it is a remarkably good piece of engineering once you learn how to cooperate with it. And at redline, holy cow it sends chills up your spine.


    In the canyon, the Stradale is a virtuoso. I’m talking early NSX levels of engagement and feedback, except you’ve got that howling V8 back there instead of a V6. Thankfully, the clunky F1 settles down in the twisties and responds nicely to input, especially downshifts. The steering is direct and communicative, and the outward view inspires tremendous confidence when pointing the car into a corner. At speeds semi-appropriate for public roads, the Stradale will take anything you can throw at it with planted, laughable ease. Most of all, it feels light and nimble, with that eager engine humming, sometimes wailing, contentedly in your ears all the while. Between the noise it makes, the general confidence it inspires, and the visceral feedback vibrating through your frame when you step on the skinny pedal, it may be among the best canyon cars I’ve ever owned. It just very, very special. This is a car that begs to be driven, and driven with vigor. It’s a sin to let these wonderful limited production machines languish and rot. The universe is a happier place when things are being used for what they were designed to do.


    Verdict: akin to my 993TT, I sense that I have found another lifetime keeper in the Stradale. They certainly aren’t building any more of them, and heaven knows this one, in Rosso Scuderia with a factory stripe and no stories, was hard enough to find in the first place. It’s one of those rare cars where the pixie dust is present in abundance. An unexpected diamond in a hill of coal.

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    The Pista


    Fair warning, I really love my Pista, so I’m far from objective. I’ve already decided that it’s one of the most accomplished road/track cars I’ve ever owned. In fact, if I have any gripe about the Pista, it’s that it’s almost too good. There’s virtually nothing it can’t do…take it to the track, take it to the canyon, take it to dinner. I took it to the runway, and it cracked off a cool 212 mph without breaking a sweat, then is scrubbed off that speed with a yawn. I also happen to believe that the Pista is the most attractive design of any recent V8 car. The F8 is attractive, but the Pista is striking. When I park the Stradale and the Pista next to eachother, I looks like the Pista might try to eat its diminutive older brother.

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    Stepping out of the Stradale and straight into the Pista is interesting. First, there’s no question that they are both from Maranello. All of my Ferraris have a unique feel that I can’t quite describe, but it’s the same for all the Porsche 911s I’ve owned. The DNA can’t be hidden.

    The most striking difference between the Stradale and the Pista can be summed up in one word: refinement. The Pista is significantly quieter than the Stradale and the NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) of the Stradale is um…bracing next to the Pista; the Pista feels like an S Class Benz in comparison. A lot of this has to be attributed to the seamless, talented, perfected DCT of the Pista. It responds so quickly, so smoothly to paddle input that it makes the Stradale’s single clutch system feel archaic. The astounding well of horsepower of the Pista’s turbo V8 is similarly advanced. While the Stradale is decidedly quick, the Pista is in a completely different league. It verges on scary sometimes. Between the silkly smooth actuation of the thick carbon paddles, the fighter jet thrust of the engine, and the refined, billet-solid chassis, the Pista takes the best that Maranello can do and puts it all on display in what may be one of its last entirely gas-powered track cars.

    The downside of all of the Pista’s refinement, however, is that the driver feels more insulated; there just seems to be a whole extra layer of car between me and the road. And it’s here that the critical question arises: If one wants to truly experience the rain, isn’t it better to go out without a raincoat? Likewise, if one enjoys the tactile, visceral, auditory experience of a drive through the canyon, is it possible that a highly refined, incredibly capable car like the Pista actually diminishes the experience because it is so…good? I guess I won’t know the answer to that question until I’ve owned the Stradale and the Pista for a few more years. It’s probably just the newness factor, but for now, I find myself mesmerized by the Stradale. It’s a spectacular car that delivers an unforgettable driving experience.

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  3. duck.co.za

    duck.co.za Formula Junior

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    Absolutely fantastic write up , thank you
     
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  4. ttforcefed

    ttforcefed F1 World Champ
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    poetic! the CS is pure emotion. point and go.
     
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  5. Jason Crandall

    Jason Crandall F1 Veteran

    Mar 25, 2004
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    Thank you for the detailed write up. I’ve owned my CS over 10 years and still
    love it. Why sell? They don’t make cars like this anymore. Never will again.
     
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  6. Nicolas21

    Nicolas21 Formula Junior

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    Awesome !!!
     
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  8. marknkidz

    marknkidz Formula 3
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    All CS owners thank you for the write up!! our cars just jumped $20K in value! LOL
     
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  9. Level7

    Level7 Rookie

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    Fantastic write up. Read it several times. Thank you for sharing.
     
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  10. Qksilver

    Qksilver F1 Rookie
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    Ugh I need a CS.
     
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  11. Dbacr

    Dbacr Karting
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    Fantastic write up. I need to go for a drive.
     
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  13. ttforcefed

    ttforcefed F1 World Champ
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    Every ferrari enthusiast does!
     
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  14. Vegas CS

    Vegas CS Formula Junior

    Apr 5, 2018
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    Fantastic pics and write up of two special Ferraris.
     
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  15. Teenferrarifan

    Teenferrarifan F1 Rookie

    Feb 21, 2003
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    We have a 488 Spider and a Stradale and your write up is spot on... great writing and photos!

    Erik
     
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  16. TheDuke

    TheDuke Formula 3
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    Great write up. Makes me want the CS even more. Thanks for taking the time to share!
     
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  17. vrsurgeon

    vrsurgeon F1 World Champ
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    Very nice writing!
     
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  18. brookliner7

    brookliner7 Formula Junior

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    Wow, this is a great read. You should submit this to a magazine for publishing!
     
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  19. Scottslaw

    Scottslaw Karting
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    Thank you for the thoughtful comparison! I definitely concur with the sentiment that after you’ve experienced many modern day rocketships, you start to get less impressed with raw speed and more impressed with how the cars make you feel. It’s why I love my scud and love aircooled 911’s. Enjoy in good health!
     
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  20. Teenferrarifan

    Teenferrarifan F1 Rookie

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  21. ama9910

    ama9910 Rookie

    Mar 13, 2021
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    Great post! I really value your descriptive, articulate writing style.
     
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  22. Licht

    Licht Karting

    Aug 2, 2009
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    LA
    Amen to that write up - you captured the magic of the Stradale well. A keeper indeed and there is simply no car I would rather take into the canyons on an early sunny morning. It is sublime, driving perfection.
     
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  23. dmark1

    dmark1 F1 World Champ
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    Great write up! Makes me wish I had a canyon somewhere around Dallas for my CS....
     
  24. Texas Forever

    Texas Forever Four Time F1 World Champ
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    Texas!
    Welcome backs. Put your heels up and stay a while.


    Sent from my iPhone using FerrariChat.com mobile app
     
  25. dustman

    dustman F1 Veteran
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    Jun 12, 2007
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    CS all day, every day. No comparison.
     
  26. dmark1

    dmark1 F1 World Champ
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    I love them both. But I love the Pistas looks far more so it’s my favorite.
     
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  27. craze

    craze Karting
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    Michael
    thank you for the story, just lovely, PS i like the cow painting in the garage LOL
     
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  28. PAP 348

    PAP 348 Moderator
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    Very very cool, thanks for sharing. :)
     
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