Arguably nothing better encapsulates the desire of both the automotive industry and its client base for more (and more again) than stripped out supercars. The vast majority would experience a Lamborghini Huracan or McLaren 720S or Porsche 911 GT3 and think, 'yep, that's more than enough for me, thanks very much'; they might well think it's a bit too much, in truth, given the prodigious ability of certain modern supercars. But when it comes to the track specials, those 200mph creations are just the start...
Nobody needs more than a supercar, but such is the completeness of a modern circuit special it's impossible to deny the appeal. With everyday options back in, a GT2 RS or a Pista or a Performante is barely less usable than a standard version, albeit with a dollop more excitement thrown in. For a lot more money, sure, but it would hard to feel short changed by any of them.
With McLaren having reworked its Longtail recipe this week for deployment on its sensational 720S - creating the 765LT in the process - it seemed like the apposite time to search for similar supercars in the classifieds. We're after something in the LT mould, put simply, a memorable supercar made truly unforgettable with the addition of some power and the removal of a few kilos. Sounds simple, right?
This should be a 488 Pista, in truth. It's the car I've actually driven, for starters, having been utterly blown away by it in 2018; the comparison with a 600LT was as inevitable as it was skewed in the Ferrari's favour but, even allowing for the price difference, the Pista was just awesome.
But the Speciale is the one for me, in the same way that the F50 is my Ferrari over the F40. Nowadays the turbocharged engines out of Maranello know no equal, yet the allure of 9,000rpm is too much to ignore. Given the 488 is an evolution of the 458, there must be a chunk of the Pista's genius in the Speciale; indeed, some who've tried both prefer the older car. And I think it looks better. And it's a bit less money - every little helps, right?
This 458 appeals in particular because it's specced far less obviously than Speciales typically are. Obviously that titanium exhaust and 130hp per litre V8 is always going to ensure an arrival committee, though I'd much rather that announced the Speciale's entrance than Rosso Corsa paint and a NART stripe. Which is probably missing the point entirely, I know.
Still, Grigio Ferro with a Grigio Corsa adornment (or grey with a grey stripe, as it's also known) with some Bordeaux Alcantara on the slender seats really works for me. This one has covered a healthy thousand miles a year since registration, which is nice to see, and the front lift will be useful for navigating those kerbs that aren't found at Silverstone. Appropriately enough given this feature, a used Speciale will cost nearly as much a new 765LT, albeit before the McLaren has any options fitted. It should prove how much I admire a 458 (and how highly regarded they are) that I'd find the decision very, very hard to make.
Okay let me address the obvious point here first: yes, there is an SVJ now; yes, it's newer and lighter and more powerful than the SV. Yes, it has the word 'Jota' in it. But for my money the earlier car had already done most of the heavier lifting i.e. it was 50hp better and 50kg slimmer than the LP700-4 - and already looked astonishing.
The real reason I'm choosing it though is because it was a revelation to drive. The original Aventador was already savagely fast, of course, but it was as unrelenting to sit on as church pew in an earthquake. Dynamically speaking, there was its way or no way. The SV, though, while turning the wick up even more, suddenly had a third dimension plumbed in. I won't say it was sublime in the way a 458 Speciale so obviously is, but it was malleable and intriguing and soulful in a way no Aventador ever had been before.
Sure, it was also very large and still implacably all-wheel drive. But it gave something back to its driver, and when that something is backed up by a 750hp Italian-built V12 which spins to beyond 8,000rpm, you really don't need to do much to send any right thinking person into paroxysms of delight.
Moreover, its replacement with something ostensibly more desirable and exclusive means that it is now cheap. Well, alright - not cheap: this glorious looking example with walking miles is over a quarter of a million. But that's dramatically cheaper than the SVJ. And assuming you're not intending on setting a Nurburgring lap time, I promise you won't miss the difference.
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