The full monty

The car has been running well over the past few week. Unfortunately, the weather hasn’t been as kind being wet regularly. However, recently there was a break in the weather that allowed me to go ‘top down’ for the duration.
Now a Ferrari F355 Berlinetta is the model with a solid roof like so:

Having a solid roof makes the car stiffer since there are two connections (roof and floor) between the front steering and the power in the rear (engine). To the purists this makes the car much better for driving which is what Enzo Ferrari was all about. When looking for a vehicle I did try and find a Berlinetta, however they are hard to come by. Obviously owners love them (as you would expect).
The next type of Ferrari F355 is the Spider (or convertible) like so:

Purists will claim that removing the roof makes the car more likely to warp thus affecting performance and handling. To compensate for this, manufactures add more strengthening elements in the floor. Along with the mechanics for the folding roof, this adds additional weight and weight is the major component that reduces performance.
Even though a Spider does allow you to enjoy millions of free cubic metres sky when you are driving I do feel the car isn’t as pretty as the other models. Someone once describe the convertible Ferrari F355 to me a bit like a flat bed truck in appearance. Not nice, but there is a certain element of truth there.
The other issue with any convertible (reinforced to me after a drive day) is that over time the roof starts to leak. As the fabric and mechanics of the roof age the sealing ability tends to suffer. So while the sun shines, convertibles are great, but when it rains? Not so much. Maybe this is why most Ferrari F355s for sale are convertibles. Coincidence? I think not.
Finally there is the Ferrari F335 GTS which has a detachable roof like so:

The detachable roof is a single component that unclips and can then be placed behind the seats.

As you can see in the above image (of Top Gear UK’s Jeremy Clarkson with his Ferrari F355) the detachable roof is not really something you can quickly put up and down. It is much heavier and more cumbersome than it looks. To stow it easily you really need two people and somewhere that you can have both doors wide open, however the locating the roof behind the seats is quite simple to position.
Interestingly, I couldn’t find any images on the Internet that shows the roof operation and stowing in more detail, so I’ll add that to the list of shots for next time.
So the Ferrari F355 GTS is probably the best compromise between the Berlinetta and the Spider. It doesn’t provide the stiffness of the Berlinetta but it does provide access to the million cubic metres of sky when the weather is good.
Driving without the roof is a very different experience I will admit. Firstly, you seem to be looking over the windscreen (even though your aren’t) but it certainly does have the feel of being a convertible. The best part is that you get to experience more of the glorious sound of the engine as it growls along. That said, it is still possible to have a conversation with the passenger with out shouting. Once you drive with the top down on a nice day you begin to understand why people prefer convertibles. However, if it starts raining along the way then you’ll realise why they may not be such a good idea. Ying and yang and all that.
Even though I initially wanted a Berlinetta for the ‘pure’ driving experience I am glad that I instead went the GTS route, for there is simply nothing like driving a car like this with the wind in your hair, the growl of the engine in your ears and the unrestricted vistas. It is pure magic.

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