Ferrari’s most successful model since the 308, the F355 was always going to be a tough act to follow. Its successor needed to be groundbreaking and revolutionary; two words which, without doubt the 360 lived up to. Starting with a clean sheet of paper in designing the 360 Modena, the new car attracted superlatives that put even its illustrious predecessor in the shade.
Just about the only item carried over from the F355 was its glorious V8 engine, enlarged from 3.5 to 3.6 litres for the 360, producing 400bhp. In every other respect the 360 was entirely new, the most striking break with Ferrari tradition being the body’s frontal treatment; gone was the omnipresent oval grille, replaced by two separate intakes set low into the front wings. A larger car than the F355, the 360 owed its radical new shape to the quest for increased downforce, generating four times as much as its predecessor yet achieving the impressively low Cd of 0.33.
There was further innovation beneath the skin: a lighter, stiffer aluminium spaceframe/monocoque replacing the old tubular steel arrangement, resulting in a dry weight around 220lbs less than that of the F355. The 360’s on-the-road dynamics constituted a significant advance, its best time around Ferrari’s Fiorano test track being some three seconds faster than the F355’s.
Commencing with the 348, Ferrari had started the first factory-backed, one-make race series for amateur and semi-professional racing drivers back in 1993, and the immensely successful Ferrari Challenge increased in popularity with the subsequent introduction of the F355 and 360 Modena. The latter first appeared on the grid in Challenge form in 2000, featuring a multitude of alterations making it more suitable for track use. Three years later, at the Geneva International Motor Show, Ferrari introduced the 360 Challenge Stradale, which in essence was a lightened version of the 360 Modena incorporating some of the racer’s suspension and braking improvements while remaining sufficiently civilised for road use.
Finished in the traditional shade of Rossa Corsa with Italian racing stripes and black leather racing seats, this 2004 Challenge Stradale has recently benefitted from a major service including cambelts. During this maintenance work any additional minor items have been attended to, with no expenses spared. As a result the Stradale is said to drive as well today as when first delivered.
Showing a mere 24,000 kilometers (c.15,000 miles) recorded, this excellent example provides a highly rewarding driving experience with strong investment potential over the coming years.