Italian Flag Ferrari F355 ~ 1994-99

Ferrari F355 BerlinettaThe death of Enzo Ferrari in 1988 was followed by the controversial Ferrari 348. By the end of 1991, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo was promoted to Ferrari’s President by Fiat’s chairman Gianni Agnelli. Not Ferrari F355 Berlinettahappy to see where Ferrari had fallen, Luca di Montezemolo envisioned and started Ferrari’s renaissance. By 1994 he was ready to unveil Ferrari’s new two seater mid-rear engine entry-level V8 with the Ferrari F355 Berlinetta, and GTS targa top.Ferrari F355 Berlinetta

The unitary chassis was steel pressed and fitted with an all-independent suspension blessed with a two level electronic damping system. This damping solution included a “Normal” and “Sport” mode, as seen on the 456 GT, while the ABS disc brakes were equipped with an On-Off button to get the most fun out of your F355 on the track.

Ferrari F355 GTSIt could be a little challenging at first for the untrained eye to realize that the F355 was based on the 348, but the result was so smartly done by Pininfarina that he only had to change a few vital design cues to make the F355 appear as a completely new model. The nose had a new “smiley” grill like the one on the 456 GT, with tuning signals/parking lights at each side of it. Underneath them, extra-driving lights were placed just above a split lower lip. The hood adorned the last rectangular pop-up headlights seen on a modern Ferrari, and the five-spoke 18”Ferrari F355 GTS magnesium wheel set was a welcome change over the “propeller” design themed wheels found on the 348. The two large side air intakes lost their horizontal slats and gave the F355 its own identity unlike the 348 and its “baby Testarossa” image. Another engine air intake was lodged at the base of each flying buttress, which with the panoramic vertical rear window, remained a favorite design trademark on entry-level Ferraris. The “targa-top” from the GTS could be placed behind the seats and was the only form of open Ferrari F355 GTSair touring until the Spider version arrived. The wide bulging rear fenders were very sexy indeed, and the all louvered engine lid ended with a pronounced rear spoiler lip. A thin mesh grill under it looked purposeful, but you could opt for a full “Challenge” grill mesh that allowed the engine bay to cool faster. The round taillights were a better fit than the previous 348 rectangular units, and the traditional quad-exhaust pipes finished the rear with just above them a cutout horizontal strip to work with the flat undertray creating down-force at high speed.

Ferrari F355 SpiderThe dashboard was taken from the 348 with its square air vents, and main binnacle, but the dials’ numbering changed from orange to white, and the center console disappeared to only reveal a little center pod with three small dials encased in it. The radio sat just underneath it, and finally the tunnel console housed bespoke switches including the adjustable dampers, fog lights and door lock switches. These proper Ferrari switches were first introduced on the 456, and lets say it, this was about time on such a prestigious car manufacturer… bye-bye Fiat's parts-bin components. Just below them and still on the tunnel console was the six speed exposed metal gear lever gate with an all metal gear and knob lever. Below the gate you could find the AC/heater control unit, and mirror controls as well. The gearbox gained a gear ratio but it also was more docile to use than any previous unit, even when cold and definitely added to the F355’s practicality only experienced before on the 456 GT.

Ferrari F355 SpiderThe mid-rear, quad-cams 3.5 liter (213 cu in) V8 engine was longitudinally placed but instead of adorning four valves per cylinder, it had five valves per cylinder, thus giving the F355 its nomenclature with a 3.5 liter, 5 valves/cylinder motor. This last one developed a whopping 380 hp (375 hp SAE) at a high revving 8250 rpm. This figure gave the F355 the title of the highest power output engine in the world per liter and the highest revs with 109 hp/liter (109 hp/61 cu in). From a standstill the Ferrari F355 could surge to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds, while the top speed was 183 mph (295 km/h). With far better cornering abilities, these performances were higher than the previous V12 flagship, which was the F512 M (last Testarossa). This was quite a feat for the new entry level Ferrari!

Ferrari F355 SpiderIn 1995, the sublime F355 Spider was introduced with an electric soft-top and like the 348 Spider, and Mondial Cabriolet, the rear top mimicked the Berlinetta’s rear buttress and could be covered under a soft-top cover when down. Needless to say that the F355 Spider was a great international success, and who wouldn’t want to hear a 109 hp per liter V8 screaming all the way up to pass 8000 rpm under a tunnel or simply having the wind in his/her hair in a Ferrari for that matter!

Ferrari F355 SpiderFor 1997, the F355 gained a Formula 1 inspired sequential gearbox with two paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. Now called the Ferrari 355 F1 (no “F” please) this early technology was a bit jerky, slow and unreliable, with needed clutch repairs as often as every 8000 miles if used extensively in town.

Ferrari F355 Interior dashboardIn 1999, the last year of production, Ferrari produced a limited series of just one hundred F355Serie Fiorano”. This last batch of F355s were all Spiders, aside from a couple, and had a wider track, stiffer and lower suspensions, alcantara (faux-suede) on the steering wheel for a better grip, and the “Challenge” mesh rear grill. Inside a plethora of carbon fiber accents helped make you feel that much more special.Ferrari F355 Spider

The Ferrari F355 was an immense commercial success for Ferrari with 11273 cars sold in five years only. But this success is easy to justify with the F355’s good looks, performance, reliability, handling at the limits (for the Berlinetta), and everyday usability never seen on the previous Ferrari 348… welcome back to the modern world!

JJP.

Ferrari F355 Specifications
Model/Year Ferrari F355 Berlinetta / GTS 1994-99 - Ferrari F355 Spider 1995-99
Designer Pinin Farina
Engine Type All alloy V8 @ 90˚, DOHC. 5V (40V), Mid-rear Longitudinal
Capacity 3496 cc / 213 cu in
Fuel Feed Bosch Motronic 2.7 Fuel Injection
Power 380 ps /375 hp @ 8250 rpm
Torque 268 lb-ft @ 6000 rpm
Transmission 6 speed Manual / 6 Speed F1 sequential (1997) - RWD
Top Speed 183 mph - 295 km/h
"0-60" mph - 0-100 km/h 4.6 sec
Chassis Pressed Steel Unitary
Weelbase 2450 mm / 96.5 in
Front Suspension 2 Wishbones, Coil Springs, Tube Shocks. Anti-roll Bar (2 level damping)
Rear Suspension 2 Wishbones, Coil Springs, Tube Shocks. Anti-roll Bar (2 level damping)
Brakes Ventilated Disc all around, ABS
Front Tires 225/40 ZR 18
Rear Tires 265/40 ZR 18
Steering Rack & Pinion w/ Power Assist.
Weight 2976 lb / 1350 kg
Country of Origin Italy
Production Num. Berlinetta 4871, GTS 2577, Spider 3717, Total 11165
Ferrari F355 Challenge - Very racy stance for the F355
Challenge... another example of "it looks fast at a stand still!".
Ferrari F355 Berlinetta - The same modern engine-lid
design was used all the way through-out the F355's range.
All Ferrari F355 - The voluminous side air-intakes,
including the one under the door-sill, not only
cooled the engine, but they also looked very exotic.
Ferrari F355 Berlinetta - As long as the pop-up
headlights were closed the aerodynamics were good, but
once open they killed the F355's aerodynamic efficiency.
Ferrari F355 Spider - Once retracted, the soft-top
can manually be covered with a soft-top cover.
All Ferrari F355 - The later-on optional "Challenge"
rear grill, looked as good as the solid panel and
is a matter of taste, but the "Challenge" grill
helps the engine cooling process tremendously.
All Ferrari F355 - The standard full rear panel
seen here, always had the upper rear screened
grill panel which is part of the engine lid.
Ferrari F355 GTS - When the GTS "targa" top
is off, it then can be stored behind the seats.
Ferrari F355 - Pronounced rear
spoiler lip to keep the rear tail planted.
Ferrari F355 Interior - F1 transmission model with its
shifting paddles behind the steering wheel and new
switches on the tunnel console to change transmission mode.
Ferrari F355 - Longitudinally mounted
3.5 l ( 213 cu in) V8 with 5 valves per cylinder
producing a total of 380 ps / 375 hp @ 8250 rpm.
Ferrari F355 - The front-end received modern
driving lights, although the pop-up headlights were
going to be the last ones seen on a Ferrari .
Ferrari F355 - The all new and all around 18in magnesium
wheels had a smoother and more flowing 5 spokes design.
Ferrari F355 - Bye bye 5 speed transmission
with Bakelite gear lever knob and hello 6 speed unit
with aluminium knob... Welcome to a new era!
Ferrari F355 Berlinetta - Still fresh, sleek
and classic as always... the new Dino!