Ferrari F355

Street car or racer? both actually.

Ferrari F35 Image

During the 1990s the Ferrari F355 became, at the time, the best selling Ferrari ever. It was easy to see why.

Anyone who parked an F355 for any length of time can expect to come back to find a crowd of admirers gazing hungrily at it! This car has sex appeal writ large. It is obviously a racing car, which had been adapted for street use, and adapted very well indeed. A rich man's plaything in fact.

It had been developed from the earlier 348, which was a mid-to-rear engined two seater with a 3.4 litre V8 engine pushing out nearly 300 horsepower. It was very popular because of it's looks, power and Ferrari design, selling just under 9000 units during a six year production run between 1986 and 1995. This beast had two drawbacks however. Even though steering was light and precise at speed it was not terribly comfortable to drive in slow traffic. It also had a tendency to oversteer when pushed to it's limit. The 355 was designed to eliminate these issues.

Power output was to be increased to not only provide more speed and higher acceleration but also to make it more docile for town use. This was achieved partly by increasing displacement slightly from 3.4 litre to 3.5 litre but what really made a difference was the multivalve cylinder head. Instead of a single valve per cylinder to draw the fuel in, and another to expel the exhaust gases, this engine had three inlet valves and two exhaust valves per cylinder, which the Ferrari engineers had found to give the best balance to provide maximum power output and the potential for higher revolutions per minute. This engine was given a thorough testing at the company's own Maranello test track where, pitted against a standard 348, it completed the course seven seconds ahead of it's rival.

Styling was influenced by windtunnel tests, of which over 1300 hours were logged. It was found that a small spoiler on the rear tail helped to give better airflow and an underbody tray generated extra downforce to help the car stay on the road at high speed. A lighter clutch than normal was fitted with a smoother five-speed gearbox; there was even the option of a racing style finger operated shift situated behind the steering wheel, which was typical of their Formula One racing cars; as were the titanium alloy conrods, which up until then had been the exclusive preserve of pure racing cars.

Even the best designed cars cannot be guaranteed to be free of faults however. A recall was necessary in 2009 of 2400 cars in the United States when it was found that a screw clamp to a fuel supply line had been incorrectly placed; this could cause wear on the fuel line allowing for a possible leakage of fuel close to the engine, and this did in fact cause at least one fire. However despite this very few minor modifications were necessary throughout the rest of the production run. A total of more than 11,200 cars were sold during the five-year period; a Ferrari record at the time.