The history of the Ferrari 360

   

The Ferrari 360 is a mid-engine midsize two-seater sports car produced from late 1999 until 2005. The 360 replaced the Ferrari F355 and was itself replaced by the fairly similar Ferrari F430. For the 360, Ferrari partnered with Alcoa to produce an entirely new all-aluminum space-frame chassis that was 40% stiffer than the 355, yet 28% lighter despite a 10% increase in overall dimensions. Along with the new frame was a new Pininfarina body styling that broke ranks with the last decade's sharp angles and flip-up headlights, replacing them with a rounded appearance that harkened to the 1960s. The new V8 engine, common to all versions, was only slightly larger and more powerful than the 355's at 3.6 litres and 400 bhp (300 kW) of power, but the lighter frame and added stiffness improved performance; the 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration performance improved from 4.6 to 4.4 seconds, and in the Challenge versions it was as low as 4.0 s. An engine replacement resulted in the V8 road model that followed, the F430 (internally referred to as the evoluzione or evo) which came out in 2004.
Nine versions of the basic 360 were produced, of which three were road models.
The first model of the 360 to ship was the 360 Modena, named after the town of Modena, the birthplace of Enzo Ferrari. Its six-speed gearbox is available as a manual, or F1 electrohydraulic manual. The car went into production in 1999 and remained in production until 2005 when it was replaced by the F430. The Modena was followed by the 360 Spider, Ferrari's 20th road-going convertible. Other than weight, the Spider's specifications match those of the Modena almost exactly. The Challenge Stradale (or CS) was a later addition to the road line. It was essentially a lightened version of the Modena, dropping 110 kilograms and drastically improving its handling through optimizions such as uprated titanium springs (lowering unsprung weight), stiffer bushes (from 360 Challenge cars) and uprated rear anti roll bar (the same anti-roll bar as used on 430 Scuderia). Changes included larger 19" BBS wheels, the use of carbon fiber for the frames of the seats and mirrors, titanium springs which were also 20% stiffer, and Carbon fibre-reinforced Silicon Carbide (C/SiC) ceramic composite brake disks. A variety of option allowed for further weight reductions, including replacing the leather interior with fabric, removal of the power windows and mirrors, and leaving off the stereo. Lexan side windows were available in Europe only. It was officially introduced in March 2003 at the Geneva International Motor Show and went into production shortly thereafter. The CS can be compared to Porsche's GT3 RS model in design approach and many magazines have placed them head to head in road tests. Jeremy Clarkson compared the two and chose the CS to be his favourite.
The 360 Spider is Ferrari's twentieth road-going convertible. The model was regarded a classic even when launched in 2000. Designer Pininfarinas lines are by many regarded as timelessly beautiful and yet sportingly aggressive.
The engineers worked hard from the start of the 360 project to lay the foundation for a Spider with exceptional torsional and flexional rigidity. They had to strengthen the sills, stiffen the front of the floorpan and redesign the windscreen frame. The rear bulkhead had to be stiffened to cut out engine noise from the cabin. The convertible's necessary dynamic rigidity is provided by additional side reinforcements and a cross brace in front of the engine. Passenger safety is ensured by a strengthened windscreen frame and roll bars.
The 360 Spider displays a curvilinear waistline. The fairings imply the start of a roof, and stable roll bars are embedded in these elevations. Due to use of light aluminium constructions throughout, the Spider weighs in with only 60 kg (130 lb) more than the coupé.
With its bonnet up, the Ferrari 360 Spider looks extremely aggressive. Lowering the bonnet totally transforms the look. Seen from the side, the 360 Spider resembles a sports racer, a sensation underlined by the length of the rear engine bay, the twin roll bars, the rear fairings and the steep windscreen.
As with the Modena version, its 3.6 litre V8 with 400 bhp (300 kW) is on display under a glass bonnet. The engine - confined in space by the convertible's top's storage area - acquires additional air supply through especially large side grills. The intake manifolds, with the classical Ferrari covers, cuddle up to each other between the air supply conduits in the Spider engine compartment, as opposed to lying apart as with the Mondena.
Despite the car's mid-mounted V8 engine Ferrari's engineers found a way of creating a bonnet that automatically folds away inside the engine bay, thus ensuring purity of line. The top canopy of crease free material comes in black, blue, grey and beige. The striptease from a closed top to an open-air convertible is a two-stage folding-action that has been dubbed "a stunning 20 second mechanical symphony". After a short to and fro, the entire top disappears into a closed storage area between the seating and the engine.
The interior of the Spider is identical to the coupé.
The spider also had the option of a performance exhaust system from Tubi Style. The exhaust made the car sound louder and provided a modest increase in peak horsepower.
The Challenge Stradale is a more track day focused car than the Modena, it was inspired by the challenge racing series and can be thought of as a Challenge car for the road. Ferrari engineers designed the car from the outset with 20% track day use in mind and 80% road use. With only a small 20 bhp (15 kW) improvement in engine power from the Modena but with substantially improved power to weight ratio, the Challenge Stradale accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just 4.1 seconds.
In total, the CS is up to 110 kg (243 lb) lighter than the standard Modena if all the lightweight options are specified such as deleted radio, lexan side windows and fabric cloth (instead of the leather option). As much as 94 kilograms (207 lb) was taken off on the bodywork by stripping the interior carpets, lighter weight bumpers, carbon mirrors and the optional Modena carbon seats becoming standard. The engine and transmission weight was slimmed down 11 kg (24 lb) through the use of a smaller, lighter weight sports (yet still stainless steel) exhaust back box and valved exit pipes.
The Challenge was a track only car. It was a non-road legal variant of the Modena that shed 120 kg (265 lb) of weight by use of carbon fibre and stripping out of all of the road car's luxuries such as leather interior coverings, electric windows and mirrors. The car boasted a fully stripped out racing interior with full integrated welded in roll cage and fire extinguisher. Lightweight BBS 18" alloys, challenge rear grille and acrylic glass rear engine cover cosmetically distinguished the car from the standard 360. The Modena's advanced electronic suspension system with integrated ASR was dropped in favour of conventional racing Boge dampers. These changes lowered the car by an inch over the Modena while removing the electronic safety net of the road going car.
The engine performance was left the same as the Modena (at 400 bhp) with the focus on handling, weight reduction and weight balance improvements. The Challenge was only available in F1 automatic variant, no manual cars were produced. The biggest differences in driving were attributed to the weight reduction and massive handling improvements through the use of uprated stiffer springs and uprated aluminium suspension flamblocks (bushes).

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