Ferrari Unveils F430 Scuderia

The Scuderia drives well, I must admit. It is smooth and easy, not jerky and uncontrollable like I feared. And so much is automatic that it is actually very simple. Bennuzi concurred. "This is a road car, that can race as well," he told me as we swung around the course. "It's easy to drive!"

To change gears, all you need to know is your left from your right, and sadly I never got past the fourth gear out of six. But I did go very fast on the straight stretch -- no, I did not look at the speedometer.

I must have done OK, at least, because Benuzzi did say "brava" repeatedly. (Yeah, yeah, he must say it to everyone.)

"The Scuderia for me is just really cool," said Matt Davis, a Milan-based writer and car enthusiast who probably best understood what he was driving Monday. "I thought the [original] F430 was already the finest GT car there is, [but] the Scuderia lets you basically have even more fun."

A press conference and factory tour were next on the schedule.

We were bustled into a press room for a video conference with the jubilant president of Ferrari, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, who after assuring himself we had enjoyed our ride, explained the F430 Scuderia in a nutshell: "It represents the essence of our cars: extreme technology, driving ease and safety."

As the tour continued, we learned that Ferrari owners have varying passions. There are those who go for the regular Gran Turismo or racier Scuderia models, and those who go for true exclusivity. The Ferrari FXX -- designed only for the track -- was the most expensive car ever when it came out in a very limited edition in 2005 for a mere $1.8 million. Only 30 of these cars exist, and one belongs to Michael Schumacher.

And then there are the collectors who are willing to bid record sums for cars that have raced in Formula One.

Many Ferrari owners don't stop at just one model, and the Scuderia 430 is expected to sell to those who already love their 430. "You have to be a real Ferrarista to feel you need this car," said Matt Davis. "You know what you are getting, and what you want to do with it, the car is meant for track fun and you either buy it for that, or for pure flash."

The United States is Ferrari's biggest market, accounting for 28 percent of sales. Ferrari won't say how many Scuderias it expects to sell there, but orders have been flooding in and first deliveries will start this spring.

Ferrari Day ended with a tour of the small, modern factory -- all glass and light and compulsive order and cleanliness. There are sophisticated air filtering and dust control systems, and thriving tall plants amid the machines.

We are shown how a Ferrari is a product of a combination of top technology and the best handiwork of expert artisans.

The assembly line, in fact, is the antithesis of the term -- every car in the line is unique, a different color or a different interior. They are made to order and personalized right down to the color of the brake calipers.

The Ferrari factory produced only about 6,000 road cars this year, and there is a waiting list of up to two years for some models.

"We are very careful to make fewer cars than there is demand for," said Montezemolo. "The exclusivity is fundamental to the Ferrari mystique."

"As Enzo Ferrari, the founder, said, 'A Ferrari is like a beautiful woman, you must desire her.'"

And car lovers sure will.

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