Ferrari 458 Speciale A is the End of an Automotive Era

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Doug DeMuro tests out the open-top Speciale A, the last naturally-aspirated, mid-engined V8 Ferrari.

Loss is just a part of life. The longer you live, the more you lose. It’s the same way in the automotive enthusiast world. Even a 20-year-old gearhead has lived through the passing of John DeLorean, the phasing out of manual transmissions in Lamborghinis, and the demise of several American automakers, including Mercury, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac. The Ferrari 458 Speciale A marks the end of a long line of cars. It’s the last naturally-aspirated, mid-engined V8 sports car from Ferrari.

Doug DeMuro recently got his hands on one of the limited-edition droptops. It’s the ultimate swan song for the 458. Ferrari produced the 458 Speciale as a lighter and more powerful send-off to the 458 range. They one-upped themselves with an open-top version of the Speciale called the Speciale A (A stands for aperta, the Italian word for open). Like its coupe sibling, the Speciale A has a 4.5-liter V8 that generates 597 horsepower and 398 lb-ft of torque without the help of turbos. Doug DeMuro Reviews the Ferrari 458 Speciale A

To make the Speciale A look more…well…speciale, Ferrari swapped out several body panels for more aggressive pieces and covered the car in a Yellow, NART Blue, and Avus White paint scheme. That’s not much of a surprise; Ferrari had to make sure the 458 went out with a bang. However, there are a few things on the Speciale A you might not expect on a historically significant model from a European manufacturer known for making stylish sports cars. DeMuro makes sure to point out some of them. For instance, instead of trying to hide or cleverly disguise the door keyholes or side reflectors, Ferrari just left them out in the open. Doug DeMuro Reviews the Ferrari 458 Speciale A

The interior is a combination of odd shapes and peculiar locations for certain functions. All of the controls for the turn signals and wipers are located on the steering wheel, where they share space with the Manettino drive mode selector, engine start button, and a button that allows you to put the Speciale A in its “bumpy road” setting.

The buttons that control the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox are located on a sturdy carbon-fiber sculpture that looks as if it could be a monument to an alien god on a faraway planet. A variety of dials, too many, if you ask DeMuro, control the HVAC system. Doug DeMuro Reviews the Ferrari 458 Speciale A

All of the Speciale A’s foibles and idiosyncrasies seem to get blown away by the wind when DeMuro takes it out for an open-air cruise. It corners flatly. The steering is precise. Shifts are amazingly fast. It’s enough to make DeMuro say, “This is the archetype car. This is how they all should be.” Doug DeMuro Reviews the Ferrari 458 Speciale A

After just a few minutes of driving, DeMuro realizes why so many people crash Ferraris: They have such responsive engines and do everything you want so quickly that you start to feel as if you can do anything. As DeMuro puts it, “It makes you feel like you’re Superman.”

If you want one of the last NA, mid-engined Ferraris with a V8 in it, you don’t need a cape or the ability to fly. You just need a lot of money. According to DeMuro, current transaction prices for 458 Speciale As are “somewhere in the six to $700,000 dollar range.”

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Derek Shiekhi contributes to a variety of Internet Brands’ Auto sites, including J-K Forum , Jaguar Forums, and 5 Series. He's also a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association.

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