Since Ferrari unveiled the original 458 in 2009, the car world has come to understand it as an exponential leap forward for the prancing horse. The 360 and 430 models that preceded it were logical advancements of the two-seat, mid-engine, high-performance template. The 458 took weight distribution, suspension, horsepower, and aerodynamics to a conclusion beyond our expectations. Racing wins at Le Mans and Daytona confirmed what we already knew: This is one of the greatest cars in the history of a company known for terrific machines. Ferrari even made a lust-worthy hybrid version for the environmentally conscious millionaires among us.
The Speciale A is a twist on the 458 Speciale, the spartan track-oriented coupe that Ferrari engineers tuned to shift more quickly and make 35 more horsepower than its civilian variant, while weighing 200 pounds less. The Speciale A’s aluminum drop-top roof, which raises and lowers in 14 seconds, adds 110 pounds, but it posts the same blazing zero-to-62 mph time of three seconds flat.
The 4.5-liter V8 produces 398 pound-feet of torque and is controlled by a twin-clutch, paddle-shift, seven-speed transmission. It’s the most powerful naturally aspirated engine Ferrari has ever put in a road car. With the 458’s replacement on the horizon and rumors of turbocharging swirling, it may also be the last.
Like the coupe version, the topless Speciale comes with embedded software called Side Slip Angle Control (SSC), which fiddles with traction control and the rear differential to help overly-enthusiastic amateurs finesse the car through hairy turns. Without a top, track day crowds will have a good shot at catching a very expensive toupee. That is, if they’re not distracted by the yellow race livery with blue and white racing stripes, or the blue-tinted carbon fiber dashboard.
Sadly, the age of the 458 is coming to a close, and Ferrari is preparing a successor that will likely use a turbocharged V6 engine instead of the naturally aspirated V8. That makes the Speciale A both a victory lap and a teary farewell (though those tears may be generated by joy). The official price hasn’t been revealed, but it’ll likely cost at least a bit more than $300,000 Speciale coupe.
Ferrari is only making 499 units of the Speciale A, few enough so that not every millionaire mopping up drool with wads of cash will be able to put one in his garage. As usual with this level vehicle, expect the offer of ownership to go out to established Ferrari customers only.