Setting the standard for other supercars, the Ferrari 360 was introduced in 1999 as the successor to the very popular 355. The 360 in the cars title stood for 3.6-liter engine. The 360 would be lead the way for the Ferrari F430 which would debut in 2004 when the 360 was put to bed. The 360 was built by Ferrari from 1999 until 2005 and was offered in Modena coupe and Spider convertible body styles.
The first Ferrari to steal the scene with a clear glass engine cover, designer Pininfarina left the goods on display. Wanting to satisfy the enthusiasts who wanted to peek at the engine, he put the most important part of the car in plain view. Instead of the rounded, open-mouthed grille generally used by Ferrari the 360 had two small intakes under the headlights. Though it was larger than its predecessor, the 360 was lighter and featured an aluminum chassis with an aluminum body stretched over it. The design was created by Alcoa who had partnered with Alcoa to produce an entirely new all aluminum space-frame chassed 40% stiffer than the F355. The result was 28% lighter despite a 10% increase in total overall dimensions.
With a top speed of 180 mph, the two-seater sports car could reach 0-60 mph in just a little over 4 seconds. Constructed with a mid-engine layout the 3.6-liter V8 was hidden behind the cabin with 400 hp and a Formula 1-derived paddle shifted transmission. Drivers that opted to not have the paddle shifter could purchase a regular six-speed stick. The new engine used flat plane crankshaft and titanium connecting rods. The power to weight ratio was considerably improved on over the F355 due to the combination of more power and a lighter vehicle.
The inside of the stunning car was much larger than the 355 thanks to its longer wheelbase. The seats were encased in supple leather, high-quality materials and even had enough space for a set of golf clubs behind the two seats. The 360 had a price-tag in the neighborhood of $155,000
The first 360 model introduced was the Modena which gained its name from the town of Modena, the town of origin of Enzo Ferrari. The sports car had a six-speed gearbox that was available as a 6-speed manual or F1 electrohydraulic manual after late 2000. Going into production in 1999, the Modena continued to be built until 2005.
Two years after the Modena, the 360 Spider was launched on the scene. Completely overtaking the Modena sales the Spider was the marques 20th road-going convertible. The Spider's specifications were nearly identical to the Modena except in the weight department. By removing the roof of a coupe the torsional rigidity was reduced and the 360 was built for strength in various other areas, so the 360 was designed with a Spider version in mind. The sills were strengthened, the front of the floorpan was stiffened and the windscreen frame was redesigned by Ferrari designers. To quiet the cabin noise the rear bulkhead had to be stiffened. Additional side reinforcements and a cross brace at the front of the engine helped the convertible's essential dynamic rigidity. The safety of the passengers was taken care of by roll bars and a reinforced windscreen.
Weighing in only 130 pounds more than the coupe, the 360 Spider sported a curvilinear waistline. The engine was cramped by the convertible's top's storage area and needed extra air supply through especially large side grills. Rather than lying apart like in the Modena, the intake manifolds were moved near the center of the engine between the air supply conduits in the Spider engine compartment. The top speed went from 189 to 180mph compared to the Modena and the 0-60 mph was slightly slower at 4.4 seconds because of the weight increase. The top was electrically operated and was able to stow into the compartment when not in use. The top was offered in blue, black, grey and beige colors and would open in a two-stage folding action.
A finale model, the Challenge Stradale was a special edition high performance road-legal version of the 360. Introduced in March 2003 at the Geneva International Motor Show the CS can be compared by some to Porsche's GT3 RS. Basically a lightened, factory tuned version of the Modena, it featured many optional extras as standard. The Stradale featured carbon seats, racing exhaust, carbon engine bay, carbon ceramic brakes, track tuned suspension and much more. It came with a reduced weight, power improvements and an updated gearbox. Other items to optimize the chassis included stiffer titanium springs, stiffer bushes, a remapped active suspension computer and an uprated rear anti roll bar. The main emphasis in the design of the Stradale was improving its track lapping performance by focusing on handling, braking and weight reduction; critical issues for true racing cars. The goal in the design of the car was 20% track day use and 80% road use.
The Stradala could accelerate 0-60mph in just 4.0 seconds. Other changes from the Modena included larger 19' BBS wheels, 20% stiffer titanium springs, the use of carbon fiber for the seat and mirror frames and Carbon fiber-reinforced Silicon Carbine ceramic composite brake disks. To further help reduce the weight the leather in the interior was replaced with fabric, the stereo was removed and the power windows and mirrors went away. A Lexan rear cover was added except in Europe where Lexan side windows were added.
Ferrari also produced several low volume factory race cars derived from the 360 Modena and for the first time they were produced as separate models in their own right, rather than as a retro fit kit. The 360 Modena Challenge was used in a one make series of factory built racing car. The 360MC was a non road legal car created to compete in Ferrari's one-make racing series called the 'Ferrari Challenge'. Only available with the F1 gearbox, the 360MC could accelerate from 0-62 mph in 3.9 seconds. Bosch provided race tuned ABS software and Brembo racing supplied the upgraded Gold colored calipers and larger floating 2-piece discs. Able to pass drive-by noise tests, Ferrari used a valve system that made the cars more socially acceptable at lower revs. A factory built track car the 360 MC had a stripped down interior without basic creature comforts like a stereo, electric windows and locks, air-conditioning, soundproofing or even a handbrake. A single carbon fiber racing seat replaced the regular seat and FIA approved restraint harnesses took the place of the regular seatbelt. A roll cage was fitted for safety along with a fire suppression system. A monochrome LCD was worked into the instrument cluster. Adjustable racing dampers replaced the adaptive suspension of the road car and larger brakes with addition cooling ducts were added.
Michelotto was the official tuner who constructed factory built racing cars. A race version of the 360 Modena, the Ferrari 360 GT was produced by the Ferrari Corse Clienti department in Maranello. It was developed in a joint collaboration with Michelotto Automobili to compete in the FIA N-GT class. During the 2001 FIA GT Championship Team JMB Fiesse raced the cars and won the championship.
Another special model created was a single 360 Barchetta; a special wedding present to Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo. Ferrari 360 GTs have been sold through Ferrari's Corse Clienti department since 2002.
Replacing the previous 360 GT was the 360 GTC in 2004. Developed by Ferrari Corse Clienti department in collaboration with Michelotto Automobili it was to compete in the N-GT class. With a dry weight of 1100 kg, the 360 GTC made use of recent innovations that had been successfully race tested on the Ferrari 360 GT with a consecutive six-speed gearbox and additionally improved Magneti Marelli electronics package. With considerably different aerodynamics from the 360 GT, the 360 GTC had been newly homologated by FIA/ACO from the Stradale. It took its basic elements from the double rear end, engine cover, side skirts and front bumper. With impressive improvement in vertical downforce wind tunnel research has led to a new system for the rear wing. In terms of fuel consumption the engine has been greatly improved.
A privately owned Veloqx-Prodrive Racing 360 raced de-restricted, fully tuned variant of the GT-C can by found racing in endurance races worldwide. These races include Sebring, Le-Mans and Silverstone.
The GTC had improved power output compared to the original 360GT of 445 horsepower at 8750 rpm. The GTC had peak power at 472 bhp. It featured a top speed of 200 mph and could accelerate 0-62 mph in 4.2 seconds.Sources:
By Jessica Donaldson