When it comes to mid-engine V-8 Ferrari buyers, there's always a group that wants the closed car and another separate group that wants the open car—at every step up the performance ladder. So whenever a new mid-8 Ferrari coupe rolls out, as the 710-hp 488 Pista did last March in Geneva, a clock starts ticking down the days and months until the Spider version appears. Sure enough, the silk slid off its Spider sibling at "Casa Ferrari" on the Pebble Beach golf course on the eve of the storied Concours d'Elegance.
It is essentially a 488 Pista with a 488 Spider roof. No additional reinforcements or bracing were required due to the more powerful engine, nor were any packaging revisions required to make the top stow over the engine, because all the engines and body styles were developed concurrently. The most significant tuning difference between the open and closed variants is the engine sound tuning. There are actually three different sound maps for the 488 Pista Spider: fully closed, roof up but rear window down, and roof down. None is identical to the closed 488's tune. All 488s must pass the same noise pass-by regulations, but Ferrari has ways of getting that sound into the occupants' ears without pegging regulatory meters. Ferrari has a team dedicated to signing off on the sound every Ferrari makes, and that team is not keen to spill too many beans about the knobs it twiddles to fine-tune the sound, but they'll admit it's done partly with engine-control software and partly with the tuning of the mufflers. Rest assured, no mode compromises the peak output figures, and you might be surprised to learn the fully open mode is the loudest, because the engine must shout to be heard over the wind and road noise.
The 488 Pista Spider succeeds the 458 Speciale Aperta, which it handily outperforms, hitting 60 mph 0.15 second quicker, arriving at 120 mph 1.5 seconds quicker, and lapping Fiorano a significant 2.0 seconds faster. Naturally, it's not quite as quick around as the Pista coupe. The weight difference between the siblings is roughly 150 pounds—a difference that's about 40 pounds greater than that between a 488 GTB and a 488 Spider owing to the fact that the Spider lacks the coupe's Lexan side windows, carbon-fiber engine cover and Lexan window.
Marketing director Enrico Galliera noted that it was highly unusual for Ferrari to unveil a new model outside the international auto show circuit but acknowledged how important California was to the sale of open Ferraris and how keen the company's late CEO Sergio Marchionne was to get this car launched in North America. He reportedly signed off on the white and blue livery of the launch car before he passed. The Pista Spider will make its auto show debut this fall in Paris, at which time we'll learn the price, but assuming it carries the typical 10-percent roof-down surcharge over the Berlinetta sibling, you should be prepared to pay about $350,000 to get the raciest V-8 Ferrari with 100-percent more sunshine.