Why Is the Ferrari SF90 Called SF90?

Even without its rich history, Ferrari and the appeal of its supercar lineup cannot be denied. As we’ve seen from the SF90, even a car with a plug-in hybrid powertrain can be one of the most beastly exotics. The Ferrari SF90 Stradale debuted in 2020, followed by the SF90 Spider in 2021.

Another interesting quality about Ferrari cars is their quirky naming conventions. Earlier models, like the 348, bore monikers referencing their engine displacement and cylinders. Others, like the F430, were named for only their engine displacement. So what’s the deal with the Ferrari SF90’s name?

The powerful Ferrari SF90

A red Ferrari SF90 Stradale in London, England, in April 2021
Ferrari SF90 Stradale | Martyn Lucy/Getty Images

The Ferrari SF90 is available in two body styles. The Stradale is the coupe version, starting at around $507,000. Its twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 engine and three electric motors produce 986 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque.

Ferrari claims this gives the SF90 a jaw-dropping 0-to-60 of 2.5 seconds. However, when Car and Driver tested this model, it hit 60 mph in only two seconds flat.

The SF90 also features an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, optimized with an extra forward gear for more downforce. It’s the first mid-engine Ferrari to utilize all-wheel drive, but you can also switch to rear-wheel drive or even front-wheel drive.

In addition, the Ferrari SF90 Stradale offers a few drive modes, including an EV-only mode providing around 15 miles of range. It can’t accelerate to 60 mph as fast in this mode, but it can still reach a relatively impressive top speed of 80 mph. In “Quality” drive mode, the SF90 tops out at 211 mph.

There’s seating for only two, but the cabin boasts beautiful craftsmanship to match the body’s exquisite angles. The exterior is also highly customizable, with several optional brake caliper colors, wheel designs, and carbon fiber components.

Ferrari says the SF90 Spider has the same specs, but it differentiates itself with a retractable hardtop. Losing the roof doesn’t make this convertible any faster on paper, but it feels speedier with the wind whipping. That exciting open-air experience comes at a premium: The SF90 Spider starts at $558,000 — $50,000 more than the coupe.

So, what does ‘SF90’ mean?

You might have seen the “SF” initials before, located near the prancing horse on the Ferrari badge. It’s a shout-out to the Scuderia Ferrari racing team, which regularly competes in Formula 1. It’s actually F1’s oldest racing team, with 239 victories and 15 drivers’ championships.

As for the “90” in Ferrari SF90: It’s a proud indicator of Scuderia Ferrari’s 90th anniversary. Enzo Ferrari’s team got its start in 1929 racing Alfa Romeo cars before designing the first Ferrari-branded car 10 years later. Only one of those models, the Tipo 815, still exists today.

What do ‘Stradale’ and ‘Spider’ mean?

“Stradale” means “road,” “road-going,” or “made for the road” in Italian. The term isn’t exclusive to Ferrari and has been used by several other Italian automakers. For example, it appears in the Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale and the Maserati GranTurismo SC Stradale.

The term “spider” (and the variant “spyder”) generally refers to convertibles. However, the word has a fascinating history. In the 1800s, when stagecoaches were commonly called “phaetons,” there was also a phaeton spider.

Thanks to its slimmer body and wiry wheels, this stagecoach looked spider-like. Some of these horsedrawn vehicles also had collapsible roofs, from which automakers took inspiration to name their convertibles. There’s no difference between “spider” and “spyder” — the spelling is simply a stylistic choice.

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