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Auto Show:  2014 Paris Auto Show

Ferrari 458 Speciale A: Paris Auto Show

author photo by Doug DeMuro October 2014

What Is It?

The Ferrari 458 Speciale A is a one-of-a-kind Italian roadster based on the already sublime 458 Spider. What sets it apart? Not the 4.5-liter V8's torque output, which remains unchanged from regular duty at 398 lb-ft. Power, however, is up to 597 horsepower (from 562) as the elevated 9,000-rpm redline arrives. Remember, this is a naturally aspirated motor. Practically every other manufacturer would need a supercharger or twin turbos to achieve the Speciale's astounding 132.7 hp/L specific output. As for the 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission, it's been revised to shift even quicker than the impossibly quick standard unit does. Don't ask us how; just know that if you're lucky enough to be on the hunt for the ultimate open-top Ferrari 458, the Speciale A assuredly won't disappoint.

Speaking of open tops, that's what the A stands for, in case you were wondering. Aperta means "open" in Italian, and here it refers to the Speciale A's power-operated aluminum top, which retracts in 14 seconds. That's a reasonable time by ordinary hardtop-convertible standards but slothlike compared to how quickly the 458 Speciale A does everything else. Zero to 60 miles per hour, for example, takes less than 3 seconds, and tight corners are dispatched with comparable alacrity thanks to side-slip angle control (SSC). The profoundly effective stability-control system only cuts the throttle if you're failing to properly manage your oversteer. Translation: If you know how to drift a car, SSC will let you stay sideways as long as you like, intervening only if you happen to run out of talent. Okay, so that's not the fastest way through a corner, but it's plainly the most fun. Did we mention that the Speciale A weighs nearly 200 pounds less than a regular 458 Italia does? There's so much more to this car than just the gaudy racing stripes on the hood.

How Much?

Over $300,000. Hey, if you don't like it, lump it.

When Can You Get It?

When Ferrari deigns to build you one; hurry to a Ferrari dealership near you and secure your place in line! Production is limited to 499 units (just like the LaFerrari super-supercar, incidentally), and from a collector's standpoint, the Ferrari 458 Speciale A -- along with its Speciale coupe sibling -- is unequivocally the 458 to have.

Add It to Your Shopping List Because...

Among other reasons, you're keen to snag a naturally aspirated Ferrari before they're all gone. Tightening fuel economy requirements have been killing off high-revving, organically breathing performance engines one by one. Judging by the turbo V8 that Ferrari recently installed in the California convertible, it's only a matter of time before even purist midengine models such as the 458 switch to forced induction. Look for the historic shift with the debut of the 458's successor.

Other Cars to Consider

Porsche 911 GT3 -- It's odd to think of a GT3 as the sensible choice in any scenario, but compared to the Ferrari, it's cool, calm and collected -- not to mention a whole lot cheaper and only offered as a coupe.

Lamborghini Huracan --The Huracan Roadster is coming soon, but is its V10 a viable substitute for the Ferrari's flat-plane-crank V8? Oh, to have such problems.

Chevrolet Corvette Z06 --Yeah, we said it. The phenomenal 2015 Z06 offers a removable roof for the first time, and it'll do 0 to 60 mph in a dead heat with the Ferrari. Plus, you can shift it yourself with a hunky 7-speed manual.

Used Lamborghini Murcielago Roadster -- Why settle for a V8 when you could have a V12? And don't tell Lambo, but we think that the Murcielago's engine actually sounds better than the sparkly new Aventador's V12.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Ferrari 458 Speciale A: Paris Auto Show - Autotrader