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POWERTRAIN: 3.6-liter, 555-hp, 415-lb-ft supercharged V8; rwd, six-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT: 3064 pounds
0 to 60 MPH: 3.9 seconds (mfr.)

The German engineers at Novitec Rosso all came from the land that speed limits forgot. What we consider unfettered, wild-man speeding is just the way these guys get to work in the morning. So when they called CEC Wheels in West Los Angeles, the U.S. distributor for Novitec Rosso Ferraris, and asked where to test the reprogrammed engine management on their Modena using California’s 91-octane gas, they more or less assumed you could drive 200 mph on a regular old freeway.

“I told them no, you can’t do that, you’re going to get arrested!” recalled Mark Carrillo, CEC’s Novitec manager for U.S. sales. “They said, ‘No, no, no.’”

The engineers wound up blasting around the Mojave Desert (the safest place Carrillo could think of) at 210 mph, which freaked out even the grizzled desert rats who live out there, and lit up the switchboards of every law enforcement agency short of the U.S. Coast Guard, with screaming calls about crazy men in extraordinary cars and “Please, fer gawd’s sake, halp us!”

No fewer than seven CHP cars pulled the Germans over on Interstate 14. In a scene out of Smokey und das Bandit, they stuck to their original plan of pretending not to speak English. For a while. Ultimately, no one was arrested.

But it shows the extent to which Novitec makes sure its tuner cars work. How many supertuners know or even care that California gets 91-octane super (much less tune engines for that rating) while the rest of the United States gets 95? We like those Germans.

And we appreciated their work when we got to drive a Novitec Ferrari 360. We didn’t go 210 mph in the Mojave, but we spent an hour going back and forth along Mulholland Drive, sticking to apexes and outgunning everything we saw except a real live Porsche Carrera GT (hey, it was Hollywood). The improvements felt incremental in every category, but you’re the boss and you can choose what you want on your car.

Our car had the whole Novitec catalog, inside and out. The engine, where the Germans did their best work, features two European-made Rotrex superchargers, one for each bank of cylinders in the mighty Ferrari V8. They are set to deliver 6.7 psi of boost, which is good for an increase from 400 hp to 555 hp measured at the flywheel, according to Carrillo. The Europeans get 600 hp because they have better gas. Torque jumps from 275 lb-ft to 415 lb-ft.

Novitec says that makes its car go from 0 to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds, compared to 4.5 seconds stock, and raises top speed from 183 mph to 206 mph.

To handle all that extra power and torque, Novitec added three-way adjustable coilovers and a pair of adjust­able antiroll bars. Brakes go from 13-inch front discs out of Maranello to 15 inches in the Novitec. Wheels are 19 inches across with 255/30 Pirellis in front and 355/25s rear.

“One of the technicians at Pirelli said 25 [rear aspect ratio] is the physical limit,” said Carrillo.

The intake and exhaust manifolds were modified for power and the muffler was modified for sound. “There’s loud and there’s louder,” explained Carrillo. “We have the louder one just to make a statement.”

The new front bumper, rear diffuser and adjustable wing on our test car weren’t just pretty, they were scheduled to spend time in the University of Stuttgart’s $18 million wind tunnel.

And there are plenty of interior items you can load up on the car, too.

“Our clients seem to spend 10 to 20 percent of the value of their car on accessories,” said Carrillo.

Our car was clearly not a 10 to 20 percenter, with a full $119,618 boatload of parts slapped onto the $180,000 base price of the Ferrari. The biggest item being the $54,999 “Novitec bi-compressor/twin superchargers with independent oil system, water-cooled intercooler system, etc. etc.” But like we said, you can configure your car any way you want.

You just can’t drive it 210 mph in the desert.
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