We are used to referring to two-seater Ferrari convertibles with the term spider, or even spyder, but where does this weird comparison come from?
Here’s a little history lesson
We have to go back to the early 1800s when there were no cars or any sort of motorized transport. The people back then were using horse-drawn carriages to get around. These carriages came in many sizes and had all sorts of purposes, like delivering mail or to transport people and cargo. There were also sportier carriages.
Those sportier carriages were called ‘’Phaetons’’, and the most luxurious one was the high flyer. You also had the Mail and Spider version of the Pheaton. The Mail Phaeton was primarily used to carry passengers with luggage and it was named mail because it used the same springs as the original mail carriages. The Spider Phaeton was made for the gentleman driver: it was even sportier than the high flyer and had a high and light construction. Because of this tall construction, the carriage looked like a spider. Yep, it’s that simple.
Once cars were introduced, people kept using the word Spider to refer to sporty two-seater convertibles. In the beginning, Spider (or Spyder) was mainly used in Italy. Car manufactures from the States and the rest of Europe often referred to those cars as ‘’Roadster’’. Among today’s prominent manufactures, Porsche uses Spyder, McLaren uses Spider and Mercedes-Benz calls them Roadsters.
There’s no particular difference between Spider and Spyder either. Ferrari used Spyder in the early days (e.g. 250 GT California Spyder), but switched to Spider fairly quick. Ferrari also used Barchetta and Aperta as designation for convertible cars. Barchetta is a term originally used for lightweight open-top racing cars from the late 1940s and 1950s. The name made an appearance in 2000 with the introduction of the 550 Barchetta. Aperta (Italian for ‘‘open’’) is mainly used for highly limited convertible cars, such as the 458 Speciale Aperta and LaFerrari Aperta.
Source: Road and Track