The Ferrari 360
The 360 produced at the turn of the century became one of the most iconic cars that Ferrari ever produced. The tri-factor that the car packed with its looks , performance and appeal to the masses gave it an iconic position for many years. The car itself was the predecessor to the Ferrari F355 which was already a great car and it would have been hard to top the technological advances that this car made for anyone but Ferrari.
After the handling od the 355 Ferrari partnered with another firm to create a subframe chassis that was not only lighter but also stiffer than the 355, this became the base of the 360. The chassis was couple with a new body delivered from the styling gurus at Pininfarina. The car lost some of it predecessors sharp angles and corners for a more rounded body , gone were the flip-up headlights and back were normal headlights , this was the turn of the century and style as well. The car had a new engine which was a 3.6 liter V8 engine which was very light but also very strong. Producing 400 bhp with that power to weight ratio it had meant the car was no couch potato. Although on paper the improvements seemed to be small the actual improvements in reality were major. Shaving split seconds on a great car is like improving on a 60 year old recipe , it has stood the test of time for a reason. So when the engineers at the performance department at Ferrari managed to shave more than a third of a second on the time of the 355 this was a major achievement.
A number of models were released from production start until end with production of the car only ending in late 2005. The first of these was name the Ferrari 360 Modena and it was appropriately this as Modena was the place where Ferrari founder Enzo Ferrari was born. The car came with the six speed manual gearbox that we saw in the F355 and the same new technology of the F1 manual gearbox. Even there were other models the Modena model was not taken out of production until production ended in 2005. The Modena made a special appearance several years later with the release of the 360 spider. The car was identical to to the original Modena apart from the weight difference as the convertibles usually weigh more due to the extra strengthening needed to keep the cars handling intact.
The other model which was released in the line of 360's as a road going vehicle was the 360 Challenge Stradale. This model was only produced late in the life of the 360, this was most probably due to the fact that the car was selling well but did not have a big enough market to accommodate two versions of the car. The Stradale was essentially Modena with many of the extras of the previous model coming as standard. Carbon fiber seats, carbon fiber engine bay and many other weight saving parts were either put on or taken off to save weight and help handling. The cars stiffer lighter and also produced a better power to weight ratio as a result, this was in essence the 360's last hurray before finally bowing out.
Ferrari 360 performance
The redline on the engines fitted in all models was at 8500 rpm with a total displacement of 3586cc which gave the car 400bhp. This was true for all models except the challenge stradale which produced 420bhp.
Top speed was reached at 189mph with 0-60 coming in 4.2 seconds and with all that grunt under the hood the economical figure were woeful. The car barely managed to see over 10mpg in the city and on the highway you would get 16mpg maximum.
Ferrari 360 track version
The track version of the 360 was based on the original Modena road car and was appropriately named the 360 Modena Challenge. The car was a rework of the original car both in and out and boasted considerably better figures because of it. Coming only with the F1 style gearbox the car was a no nonsense racer for the track, 60mph came in only 3.9 seconds from a standing start and the better brakes and lighter body also meant the car would handle better. There was a design overhaul on the exhaust system which meant that the car had increased power.
Battle for Italy
Which is the better car of the era?
The 360 was a great car because it had substance behind its great looks, drivers loved the sweet sound that the V8 made and the way it was able to rev so high. The car was also very calm when not being pushed which made it more socially acceptable. Many of these cars are still around today and are still in use, this is a testament on their reliability. Although I would not say this was one of the greatest , It is certainly one of the greats and well worth the credit that it commands.