Limited edition Ferraris are so commonplace now that they’re starting to lose their edge a bit. Sure, you need to be a crypto tycoon and have already owned many, many other Ferraris for the company to even consider inviting you to buy something with a Speciale badge, but take a walk around Mayfair and chances are there won’t be a ‘ standard’ Ferrari in sight.
How different it was a couple of decades ago, where the only real special edition Ferraris were an F40 or F50 – or you were the Sultan of Brunei and got the company to build you a one-off. Then there were race cars for the street like the 348 GT Competizione and F355 Challenge, of which only a handful were made and even fewer were road legal. That was, of course, until the Challenge Stradale arrived in 2003.
Granted, the 360 CS was launched in a similar vein to the company’s race-to-road models. The single-make 360 Challenge competition car was the inspiration, only Ferrari put a greater emphasis on road dynamics (the rough plan was to make 80 per cent of it optimized for road use and 20 per cent for track). It’s the formula we’re all familiar with today with the 488 Pista and 812 Competizione – but the 360 CS was where it all began.
Don’t think the 360 CS was a softie, though. Go for the most hardcore spec and you’ll save 110kg (down to 1,280kg) over the standard 360 thanks to carbon-backed bucket seats, radio delete and Lexan plastic windows with a tiny sliding hatch just about big enough for a Big Mac at the drive thru. The door cards are a single mold of carbon fiber with a bit of material serving as a door handle, while the center console is basically just carbon box with a few buttons on for the transmission.
Ah yes, here’s the bit that – to some – makes the 360 CS just shy of perfect: it was only available from factory with a six-speed F1 automated gearbox. This was very much the era where Ferrari tried to jam as much of its Formula 1 tech into a car as possible and a manual was never officially offered. Word on the street is the ‘box is great in race mode, so don’t dismiss the F1 system if an automated manual puts you off.
On the plus side, the hi-tech route Ferrari was experimenting with at the time means you get some top-drawer components, including ceramic brakes from the Enzo. It’s rounded off with a lightweight body kit that provided an extra 40kg of downforce on track. Also, a word on those extraordinary rims. They’re inspired by the racing car and, to our eyes at least, have a close connection to BBS Challenge wheels that look good on pretty much anything.
This example is the ideal 360 CS if you want some creature comforts while hammering around Brands Hatch on a Sunday afternoon. You get a radio, proper windows (no need to worry about the letterbox hatch) and leather seats instead of the racier Alcantara option. It’s a pretty understated spec, too. The Argento Nurburgring paint highlights the sleekness of the 360, while the deletion of the center stripe means you need to look closely to see whether it’s a CS. Or you could, you know, just look at the back. Or those wheels.
Over 1,200 examples of the 360 CS were made, meaning it’s limited enough to be considered special but not so rare it costs a million pounds. This one is listed for £187,950 with 30,600 miles on the clock, so it’s covered just enough ground to take it on a trip to Italy without worry. Taking in every track day possible on the way, of course.
SPECIFICATION | FERRARI 360 CHALLENGE STRADALE
Engine: 3,598cc, V8Transmission: Six-speed F1 automated manual, rear-wheel drive Power (hp): 425@8,500rpm Torque (lb ft): 275@4,750rpm MPG: N/A CO2: N/A Year registered: 2003 Recorded miles: 30,600 Price new: £133,025 Yours for: £187,950