I recently had the chance to drive a Ferrari 458 Speciale A, which is one of the most important modern Ferrari models in existence. I don’t say this lightly — especially from a brand that’s given us cars like the F50, the LaFerrari and the F12tdf. But there’s no question about it: the 458 Speciale A is, indeed, "special."
And it’s not just special because it’s a Ferrari — that much is, of course, a given. Same with the fact that it’s the special version of a special version: the 458 Speciale is the rare, high-performance version of the 458 Italia, and the 458 Speciale A is the even-more-rare, convertible version of this rare, high-performance version. So it’s a special, unique car, even before we get into what really makes it … special.
And that would be the powertrain. The Ferrari 458 Speciale A is basically the ultra-rare, high-performance version of the last-ever naturally-aspirated V8 Ferrari — and that’s a huge deal. After the 458 closed down production, Ferrari swapped over to the 488 — a fantastic car, to be sure, but with a turbocharged V8 rather than the old-school, aurally perfect naturally aspirated V8, with its smooth acceleration and power basically everywhere. I personally prefer the regular 488 to the regular 458, but enthusiasts have made their opinion clear: the 458 is the end of an important line. And the Speciale A is the best version of the 458.
And the Speciale A deserves this status. Not only was it the end of the line, but it touts boosted power over the regular 458 — 600 horsepower instead of 570 — and a weight reduction of around 200 pounds. Of course, there’s also the ultra-low production numbers: Ferrari claims they built just 499 for the whole world, but the real number is probably a bit higher. Still, this isn’t a car you’ll see every day.
But beyond the rarity, and the "end of the naturally aspirated" status, the 458 Speciale A is just a damn good car. I spent the day with this one courtesy of OLOI Inc., a motorsports-inspired apparel company that will be launching its first product, pantwear, next month — and I had an absolute blast. The 488 is, indeed, an amazing car, but the 458 is almost indistinguishable in terms of performance — and there’s no doubt it offers a better, more impressive overall sound.
The sound and acceleration, though, are exactly what you’d expect from a Ferrari. What I wasn’t expecting, was just how incredibly precise and quick the steering was. Yes, it’s a Ferrari, so I should’ve figured that would be the case — but it was even more impressive than I was expecting. Small steering inputs result in quick and precise changes to the car’s direction. There’s zero body roll, no vagueness to any part of the steering and incredible precision. The handling, too, is wonderful. The car feels go kart like in its maneuverability, to the point where it’s almost hard to believe you have 3,000 pounds of Ferrari behind and underneath you. It’s one of the quickest-turning, tightest, best-balanced cars I’ve ever driven in my entire life. In short, it’s amazing.
The question, though, is … is it $600,000 amazing? With a short production run and a sought-after status as the best of the last, that’s about where the market is on these cars — and that’s a huge number that could get you a couple of Lamborghini Countaches, or very close to a Porsche Carrera GT, or any number of other amazing cars — or homes, for that matter. But the market seems to be speaking: the Speciale A is very, very special.