TRIBUTE TO THE CHALLENGE STRADALE
When the Challenge Stradale made its debut in North America in 2004 (2003 in Europe), Automobile magazine awarded it 2004 car of the year; CNN money.com called it a true investment vehicle; and it attracted a huge number of enthusiasts. And so, this post compiles various impressions, survey results, and test data as a tribute to the Challenge Stradale, with the full expectation that the CS is becoming a classic in its own time.
Astonishing Driver Quotes:
While car reviewers and journalists were generally smitten by the CS – just as they are by the Scuderia today – it’s the perceptions of experienced Ferrari owners that carries so much weight. Here are four rather astonishing quotes, most within the last year.
#1: “I have a CS and Enzo. I can drive the CS faster on very tight roads because of the shorter wheelbase, and its sound is more stimulating than the Enzo. I call the CS a "baby Enzo" because it was made at the same time, shares many parts, and does nearly everything the same except acceleration and it's a weaker people magnet. BTW, the people I know who collect Ferraris (i.e., 10 or more cars) MUST have a CS in their collection and the ones I've spoken to say it's one of their favorite Ferraris. It's a great car for the street. The Enzo is a little too powerful for the street as you can't really get into the power for more than a few seconds.” (posted by Bill S)
#2: “I do have some nice Ferraris and other nice cars.” (including F40, Enzo, CS, Maranello, 365GT4/BB, 512BBm). The CS is as far as I am concerned one of the most fun cars to drive. The European version has a sound that is beyond anything that you can imagine. The American version also has a great sound. Let me put it this way: the CS is more fun to drive than the Enzo and the F40, period, Go for the CS”.. I have driven both cars quite a few times, both on the street and on the race track.” (posted by Emena)
#3: “I have a CS, GT3 RS, Ruf Turbo R and CGT. I find myself faster in the CS on tight courses because of the paddle shifters, better visibility, and smaller lighter-feeling car. It's really hard work to drive a GT3 RS and CGT as fast, but you can if you want to sweat it. If I want to really show off on the turns, I'll usually choose the CS. It is a Challenge Car for the Street! “
#4: “I have quite alot of track time in 360 modena, F430, 599 and the CS. The CS wins hands down, it is as fast or faster than a 430 on most tracks and alot, I repeat that, ALOT more fun to drive. It feels much more like a race car and the experience is so much more intense and raw, and the sound...( posted by Jompen)
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course, but an uncanny number of people have commented the CS may be the best looking road going Ferrari of all time. Three polls reveal some striking results;
#1 Poll by Ferrari Forum: Percentage who said the following “looks best”: 430 (20%), Challenge Stradale (71.4%), about the same (8.6%)
#2 Poll by TR2: Percentage who said the following were “best looking”: 430 (7.4%), 360 (11.4%), 355 (12.4%), Scuderia (20.6%), Challenge Stradale (48.2%).
#3 Poll by Car: Percentage who said the following is “more beautiful”: Scuderia (33.3%), Challenge Stradale (66.7%).
Performance on Street & Track:
While the horsepower wars march on, the Challenge Stradale retains supercar performance largely due to its relatively high horsepower (425HP) to low weight ratio (2800lbs). As an article put it in, Evo 2009, ‘Ferrari’s engineers made the Stradale feel like a race-car for the road’. And it’s particularly well suited to short tracks with lots of tight turns.
Test data convey;
0-60 times, 4 seconds, as confirmed by Car & Driver, 2006
¼ mile time: 12.1 seconds with Launch Control activated, 12.4 without Launch Control
Lap times by Stig at Top Gear Track: 1.22.3 for CS, 122.9 for 430, and 1.19.7 Scuderia
Lap times at Hockenheim short track: 1.13 for CS, 1.127 for 430, 1.103 for Scuderia,
Ferrari tests at Ferrari’s own Fiorano test track;
-- Ferrari Scuderia, 123.9
-- Ferrari Enzo (2003), 1.24.9
-- Ferrari 599GTB, 126.5
-- Ferrari 360 Challenge Stradale 1.26.5
-- Ferrari Scuderia Spider 16M, 126.5
-- Ferrari F50, 127.0
-- Ferrari F430, 1.27.0
-- Ferrari F430 Spider, 127.0
-- Ferrari F40 1.29.6
-- Ferrari 360 Modena 1.31.0
-- Ferrari 575M Maranello 1.31.5
-- Ferrari 550 Maranello 1.32.5
-- Ferrari 355, 134.0
Differences Between the CS from the 360, as well as other Ferraris:
Three key features distinguish the Challenge Stradale. First, in the quest to improve performance, the car is about 200 lbs. lighter than the 360 Modena due to weight saving materials, such as carbon fibre, as well as removal of selected creature comforts. Second, the driving experience is rawer, due to less sound insulation, for example in the wheel wells, and stiffer suspension. Third, the Stradale’s unique exhaust system emits a “banshee wail” under wide open throttle that’s truly exhilarating. The CS sounds as close to F1 racing as one might imagine, especially if street-legal hyperflow cats are installed.
In addition, a whole range of specifics differentiate the CS from the 360, including;
Underbody tray (50% lighter than Modena)
Lexan back window with Carbon Fiber grills
Lexan side windows optional outside US
Windshield (purportedly is different than Modena)
Titanium lugs on the wheels
Carbon Fiber door panels, sills, center console
Carbon Fiber seat shells
Carbon Fiber intake
Carbon Fiber mirrors
Carbon Fiber panels (water shields) in engine compartment
Gas lid with polished cavallino
19" Challenge style wheels
Pirelli Corsa tires
Low back pressure exhaust
Mass air flow sensor
Valve spring positioning
Claimed special engine component selection, machining and polishing
New engine and F1 transmission mapping firmware
Extra 90 kg of down force at 295 km/h with the same Cd
Used to homologate the 360GT race car
Different steering wheel
No carpets, internal sound control, no wheel-well insulation
Price and Collectability:
When the Challenge Stradale first arrived in the US, it carried a MSRP of $206,800. Until the recent financial turmoil, prices held amazingly firm in and around $180-$200K for a low miles car. By 2009, Stradale prices had understandably fallen but still at a “glacially” slow pace compared to other exotics, according to Evo 2009.. For example, by April, 2009, 7-8 Stradale’s with between 5-10K miles were listed for around $145-160K in the US. Cheaper cars can be found, but often with “stories”. If an excellent Stradale can be purchased at, say $150K, this implies an annual depreciation rate of only 5.6% between 2004 to the end of 2009. This compares with an annual depreciation rate of at least 10% for a 430 (priced at 200K in 2005, selling for $160K by end of 2008). And it compares with an annual depreciation rate of about 15-20% for a Porsche 997 Twin Turbo (priced at $135K in 2007, selling for $95K by April 2009).
Will Stradale prices bounce back? A predicted “yes” seems reasonable if (i) one assumes that prices will bounce back on houses, stocks, and expensive cars, (ii) if one acknowledges the limited supply of Stradales, with only 380 in North America, and 1280 worldwide, and (iii) if one is impressed by the Stradale’s credentials, as reported here.