Don't read this right away. Stare at the photos for a while first, and absorb the beauty. Whatever I write cannot possibly stack up to such pure visual lust anyway, so hold off reading my drivel.
Novitec Rosso of Stetten in Bavaria, Germany, jumps to a rarefied tune these days. It entered the tender trap of Ferrari upgrades, when the company started discussing the possibilities back in 2000. Then, Novitec went for it and bought outright three 360 Modenas in 2001. The company's supercharged 360 launched at the 2003 Frankfurt Auto Show, and things just took off from there.
There are a few near perfect currently produced series cars--meaning, in my case, a fixed roof, for starters. And I don't mean just sexy or fast. These are: Porsche 997 911 GT3 Club Sport (metallic blue, red calipers), BMW E85 Z4 M Coupe (Monaco Blue metallic, red calipers), Lamborghini Gallardo SE (Arancio Borealis and Pearl Black metallic, black calipers) and the Ferrari F430 Berlinetta (black or Ferrari Rosso--not the bright Scuderia red--and red calipers).
So, I hesitated a bit. Would a twin-compressor F430 balance nicely entering and exiting my favorite types of curves like the stock car does at Fiorano? Would the power delivery make the horse buck? Is there such a thing as over-power for the F430 aluminum chassis and active E-Diff? I mean, the 483 stock SAE horsepower at 8500 revs of the 4.3-liter "136E" V8 is here, rammed up to 641 horses at 8200 rpm. Torque erupts away from 343 lb-ft, peaking at 5250 rpm, now reaching 471 lb-ft at 6250 rpm. Not even an F430 Challenge Stradale or GTC will be doing those numbers.
Maranello's entry-level model honestly reaches a top speed of 196 mph, and I've tested it to 60 mph in just under 3.7 seconds. Novitec Rosso, in Ferrari fashion (Maranello sandbags the official zero-to-60-mph time at 3.9 seconds), humbly states that its breathing-assisted F430 with the original 4.30:1 rear axle ratio can get to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds, though I imagine a true 3.5 or better is not out of reach now that I've driven it. Top speed, however, in the supercharged Italian can hit a not-so-humble 216 mph, if you opt for Novitec Rosso's 3.80:1 transaxle--in which case your off-the-line acceleration to 60 mph will add a tenth or two. "Not many people take this option," admits a company spokesperson. "They generally like the quicker acceleration numbers versus higher top speed."
My first reaction at the wheel on the beckoning hilly rural roads around company HQ was surprise at what a good citizen this bi-comp monster is as a daily driver. Throttle transitions are silky smooth, thanks in part to the higher pressure fuel injectors from Bosch, and there's nothing bucky about it whenever I give it the gas-pedal pop-quiz. There is the absolutely chilling exhaust note from the steel competition exhaust system supplied by Fuchs. Then, of course, there are those two Rotrex superchargers near my lower back, giving me close to their maximum 6.1 psi apiece as I claw at the redline. The sound through the muffling forests of southernmost Germany is exactly what you dream of. I had one of the Novitec Rosso drivers leave me in a farmer's field, in fact, and drive far off through the woods with hard throttle and high-rev gear changes. The sound was a certifiable wow moment.
The basic high-technology wonder package of the F430 remains intact. E-Diff torque management, the Marelli F1 gearbox, and the brilliant manettino on the steering wheel are familiar. To aid stability at the hardest acceleration moments exiting curves and at speeds above 155 mph, however, Novitec Rosso has mounted specially engineered shocks and springs from KW, and the overall aspect of the car is also thereby lowered by eight tenths of an inch. There are also larger diameter anti-roll bars installed--0.87 of an inch in front and 1.02 in back versus Ferrari's 0.75 and 0.89, respectively. And check out how the aerodynamic pieces front and rear change the look completely. The front lip chucks the stock F430's 1960s heritage-look intakes and opts for a less wide but taller and more effective pair of main intakes that also provide the greater desired downforce at higher speeds while aiding oil and water cooling. (Two added radiators in front work in tandem with the twin intercoolers--all supplied by Schweitzer.) The car takes a tougher mug-shot with this look, too. You can be timid here and choose to keep the original factory mug and ask Novitec Rosso to add just a lower lip for the front bumper.
But it's at the back of this hopped-up stallion where the real show happens. Downforce increases considerably here, again particularly at higher speeds, between the rear wing adding more than 100 pounds of downforce and the body-width splitters designed into the new diffuser chipping in. All of the aero bits can be ordered in fiberglass or pricier carbon-fiber, the latter either painted or in the raw. Angle of the rear wing can be set to two positions, one steeper for more high-speed stability and one more level (as on the car you see here) for standard downforce.
I'm in love with the center-bolt NF1 wheels supplied by Fondmetal in Italy. You can order the five-bolt NF2 versions if you again just wish to stay the course and cause no waves in this life, but single center bolts are a must in my book. Hell, get a set of each, Mr. Moneybags! Inside these beauties (9x19-inch front, 12.5x20-inch rear) lurks a high-performance brake set hammered out by Brembo--15-inch vented and drilled metal rotors all around, eight pistons bow, and four astern, matey.
With all of these tools, I ripped into it. As I imagined, the Novitec Rosso version of one of my perfect cars did everything expected of it. One added benefit here is the tire set chosen. I enjoy the standard F430's Bridgestone Potenzas (225/35-19 front, 285/35-19 rear) to no end, but I like even more the Pirelli P Zero Rosso quartet on the supercharged car. Better even are the helpful Pirelli dimensions of 255/30-19 front and 345/25-20 rear. Fat rubber feet for phat pavement feats.
Roads were dry, traffic non-existent, and the local autobahn speed limit-free. Whereas the bigger wheels, tires, and brakes and funner exhaust helped everything feel amazing on surface roads, the F430 Bi-compressor above 90 mph turns into the car Novitec Rosso talks about. Supercharging's tendency to create a nonstop swell of power as revs stay high and speeds increase certainly holds doubly true here. And the stability provided by the upgraded aerodynamics and suspension is on full display above the magic 155-mph threshold.
Horror of all horrors, this is a better Ferrari F430, folks. This sexy, savvy, serious Bavarian Italian is available now, and the cost of all of these modifications together is north of $100,000. And that includes the exquisite leather-and-Alcantara fully redone interior in the colors of your choosing. But this not-just-cosmetic real deal is a breathtaking driver made only for the sincerest Ferrari investor. Do it.
And they're hinting at mounting 8.7-psi Rotrex superchargers for the '07 Frankfurt show. Yikes. Get a track permit.
2006 NOVITEC ROSSO F430 BI-COMPRESSOR
Longitudinal mid-engine, rear-wheel drive
4.3-liter V8, dohc, four valves per cylinder, carbon-fiber intakes, twin Rotrex superchargers, dual Schweitzer intercoolers, Fuchs exhaust, high-pressure Bosch injectors, two new ECUs
Six-speed F1 sequential manual
KW coilovers, front and rear anti-roll bars
Brembo calipers with 15-inch metal rotors, braided stainless-steel lines
*Wheels and Tires
Novitec Rosso/Fondmetal NF1, 9x19(f) 12.5x20 (r)Pirelli P Zero Rosso, 255/30-19 (f)345/25-20 (r)
Novitec Rosso carbon-fiber front lip, rear valance, side pieces, rear wing, black-smoke taillight covers
Leather and Alcantara upholstery
Peak Power: 641 bhp @ 8200 rpmPeak Torque: 471 lb-ft @ 6250 rpm0-60 mph: 3.5 sec. (est.)
Top Speed: 196 mph (216 mph with 3.80:1 final drive)
He Builds It, They Come
We chat with Wolfgang Hagedorn, founder of Novitec and the guy who believes he can improve every Ferrari
EC: Almost everyone says you shouldn't mess with an icon like Ferrari. So, why Ferraris?
WH: We started back in 1989 with Fiats and then in 1996 we started with Alfas. We've done well with these two and we still do. But there came a time to move up and we chose Ferrari since it's part of the Fiat Group. Ferrari was also a dream of mine. It seemed a natural and still no one else was really doing significant Italian upgrades in Germany at the time.
EC: But, why something so different like these twin superchargers?
WH: We didn't want turbocharging since that causes too much heat and a big punch of power suddenly, and that wasn't my preference. Also, with turbos we would have needed to open the engine, that is lower the compression ratio, and we definitely don't ever want to do that to one of these engines.
EC: What cars do you have in your personal garage?
WH: An F430, a 612 [Scaglietti], and a Fiat Idea [a small minivan].
EC: What woman would you ideally have in the passenger seat while driving the F430 Bi-compressor?
WH: [calling out the office door] Honey? He's asking me which woman would be in the passenger seat of the F430 if I were driving.
[Wife pokes head into office, laughs disparagingly, rolls eyes, leaves.]
EC: C'mon. Pamela Anderson?
WH: She'd probably enjoy that.
EC: How long to get delivery on the F430 Bi-compressor once a car arrives at Novitec Rosso?
WH: Right around one month to do everything that is possible on the car you drove.