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Ferrari’s 2024 Roma Spyder

You have to hand it to Ferrari—they were bold enough on the Roma coupe a couple years back to break a lot of Ferrari must-haves, as it was not festooned with all the usual race-like accoutrements, such as hood scoops, side vents, spoilers on stilts and other "boy racer" stuff that would be almost embarrassing on a car meant 100% for the street.

The car is almost Jaguar-like but sleeker than Jaguar's F-type sports car and more akin to the original '60s XKE roadster. It would be too much to hope for to fit a V12 to make a Spyder recalling the 365GTS Daytona Spyder, but the 3.9-liter V8 rated at 612 HP (with 561 lb-ft of torque) is no slouch. It gets the car up into the 200 mph (320 km/h) territory that you expect from a Ferrari.

As in the coupe, an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic is the only transmission—and it is nothing short of amazing! This lean Spyder is a four-seater, although I haven't seen it pictured with rear passengers. I expect "child seats" might be an accurate description of the rear seats.

The new roadster breaks new (or should we say "old") ground by bringing back the soft top after it looked like open-air sports car enthusiasts were going to have to accept the metal and plastic retractable hardtop as the successor to the soft top. There is something charming and wonderfully "old school" about a canvas top, especially in the contrast it presents between the matte surface of the cloth and the glistening paint of the body.

One thing they stuck to on the Spyder is the chromeless "colander"-type grille unusual even among Italian cars.

Here's my take on the design:

·       FRONT: Glad they are sticking with the chromeless "colander" grille, as it gives them an outbound path from the almost 7-plus decades of shiny bright "egg crate" grilles.

·       SIDE: From the side profile, the rear fenders swing up to minimize the view of the top when retracted. But the black-colored headrest fairings behind the seats are bulky and you wonder if they could have dropped them for an altogether cleaner look à la early Jaguar E-type roadster? On the lower rear from the side view, the flat black trim detracts from enjoying the "purity" of the side view (so do the rocker panels, but not as much). Couldn't the wrap-around part of the lower rear body panel be body colored on the side or the whole appendage reduced in size to show a cleaner body shape?

·       REAR: Here's where it takes an odd turn, almost Porsche 911-like since the Porsche 911 is also available with a cloth top. The black portion on the rear deck recalls the grille of the old air-cooled 911 roadsters. No doubt an option will be painting the movable spoiler in the body color. After all, the Porsche 911 Cabriolet is a mere under-$150,000 car. Why have your $280,000 Ferrari look like a much cheaper car? The large exhaust pipes are a disappointing throwback to the "boy racer" era, whereas the rest of the car has left behind those old cliches. I think the exhausts could have been integrated in a much subtler manner. After all, this is a Ferrari showing much of the old “boy racer” design cues can be left behind for a more gentlemanly alternative.

In sum, Ferrari is wise to offer a variation on the coupe because it gives a "way out" from their heavier looking front-engine cars like the Portofino that they already offer—a new direction so to speak, one aimed at a wider audience in the luxury car world (dare I say a "more sophisticated" audience?). I even think it appeals to a different market—those who have always wanted a Ferrari for the driving pleasure and engineering and an opportunity to personally enjoy part of their storied history but have steered clear so far because they don't want to convey that "boy racer, look at me" impression, as is conveyed by some of their other models. It is, in two words, wonderfully discreet.

Author and fine artist Wallace Wyss is an occasional guest lecturer at the Art Center College of Design. His ADD motoring paintings are available as canvas gilee prints at

  • Photo Credit: Wallace Wys
  • Photo Credit: Wallace Wys
  • Photo Credit: Wallace Wys