The perfect sized Ferrari

The 348 GT series was a turning point for Ferrari’s V8 mid-ship history, which began with the 308GT series. The V8 engine, which had been mounted transversely behind the driver was finally changed to a longitudinal mount. This resulted in significant performance gains for the powertrain.

Ferrari usually groups 2 generations of vehicles into one complete product evolution. For example, the 308 and 328 are considered sister vehicles and more recently, the 458 and 488 share the same relationship. Again, the F355 was an evolution of the 348.

The F355 debuted in 1994. The numbers of the vehicle name represent 3.5 liter, 5-valve and differs from previous naming patterns (For the 308, 328, and 348, the first 2-digits represent displacement, while the last number represents cylinder number).

This naming shows just how much Maranello invested in this new model. The complicated 5-valve system ends with this generation, but it’s not an exaggeration to say this F355 paved the way for the rise of the modern Ferrari.

Headlines were made when a fully opening spider (soft top), a first for the prancing horse V8 mid-series, joined the berlinetta coupe and targa top GTS.

The F1-matic = a 2 pedal semi-AT that could be driven with an automatic driver’s license (more accurate to say semi-MT) was a major turning point for Ferrari in 1997. The introduction of a truly enjoyable single-clutch 2 pedal transmission, not just an automatic transmission with torque converter, allowed production volumes to grow substantially.

The allure of the F355 was the compact body size, Fioravanti-era Pininfarina designed lines, and the last retractable lights for the prancing horse brand.

Max output is 380PS. This is a very modest number by today’s super car standards. However, the reality is that this output may be the limit in terms of enjoying the car at full throttle. With just the right packaging, engine power, and sensuous naturally-aspirated V8 engine, this vehicle should maintain value and become even more valuable with time.

Jun Nishikawa’s Highlights!

This is a properly imported F355 F1-matic berlinetta riding on the final version XR chassis.

During this time, it was common to choose a red Ferrari (Rosso Corsa). Therefore, F355’s have a strong image of being red. I believe this model looks best in red, better than any model since then. The norm at the time was to matching black interior to the red body (= red/ black Ferrari).

Mileage is 55,000 km. This is a very normal odometer reading for a F355 of this period (There are many reports of odometers being rolled back.) The factory feel has been well preserved, but this vehicle also features mods for “spirited driving.” For example, Tubi manifolds are matched with MS Racing exhaust and Quantum racing coil overs. Of course, the factory exhaust and suspension are included. The timing belt and water pump were replaced at 47,000 km.

The paint condition is typical of a vehicle of this year. Since it was a vehicle that had been driven, there are numerous chips and spots where the paint has flaked. It’s easy to tell how much the previous owner enjoyed driving this car by looking at the driver-side support, side sill, and paddles. These parts can be re-conditioned before vehicle delivery (separate fees apply.)

I was actually fortunate enough to drive this vehicle for 200km. It was a 55,000 km Ferrari so I thought I’d have to worry while driving but it drove perfectly without any problems. Straight-line performance was solid on the highway and it felt very light on winding roads. Perhaps it was due to the Quantum suspension which absorbed all the bumps on the road.

The high-pitched exhaust sound is indicative of the naturally-aspirated V8 and power feel is excellent. The F1-matic gear changes may feel “slow” compared to today’s standards, but trying matching that timing is similar to a 3 pedal MT and may be another pleasure of driving this car.

Vehicle Specifications

Model Year1999
Year of PurchaseFeb 1998
Engine Capacity3,495cc
Steering WheelLeft
Chassis No.ZFFXR41JPN0111089
Engine No.
InspectionApril, 2019
AreaMazaki, Japan