Weekly Historical Car
The Ferrari F355 (Type F129) is a sports car built by Ferrari from May 1994 to 1999. It is an evolution of the Ferrari 348 and was replaced by the Ferrari 360. It is a mid-engined, rear wheel drive V8-powered two-seat coupe, targa, or convertible. Design emphasis for the F355 was placed on significantly improved performance, as well as drivability across a wider range of speeds and in different environments (such a low-speed city traffic.)
Apart from the displacement increase from 3.4 to 3.5 L, the major difference between the V8 engine in the 348 and F355 is the introduction of a5-valve cylinder head. This new head design allowed for better intake permeability and resulted in an engine that was considerably more powerful, producing 380 PS (279 kW; 375 hp). The longitudinal 90° V8 engine was bored 2mm over the 348's engine (85 mm rather than 83 mm), resulting in the small increase in displacement. Engine internals are produced using lightweight materials; the connecting rods are forged in Ti6-Al-4V titanium alloy. The engine's compression ratio is 11:1 and it employed the Bosch Motronic M2.7 engine control unit in the 1995 model year, which was then changed to the M5.2 in 1996 through end of production. The Motronic system controlled the electronic fuel injection and ignition systems, with a single spark plug per cylinder. Engine lubrication is via a dry-sump oiling system.
The frame is a steel monocoque with tubular steel rear sub-frame with front and rear suspensions using independent, unequal-length wishbones, coil springs over gas-filled telescopic shock absorbers with electronic control servos and anti-roll bars. The car allows selection between two damper settings, "Comfort" and "Sport". Ferrari fitted all road-going F355 models with Pirelli tires, size 225/40ZR 18 in front and 265/40 ZR 18 in the rear. Although F355 was equipped with power-assisted steering (intended to improve low-speed drivability relative to the outgoing 348), this could optionally be replaced with a manual steering rack setup by special order.
Aerodynamic design for the car included over 1,300 hours of wind tunnel analysis. The car incorporates a Nolder profile on the upper portion of the tail, and a fairing on the underbody that generates negative lift when the car is at speed.
The car's standard seats are upholstered with hides from Connolly Leather, and are fitted asymmetrically in the car; this results in the driver being slightly closer to the car's center line than the passenger.
At launch, two models were available: the coupe Berlinetta priced at 0,000 (£78,000), and the targa topped GTS. The Spider (convertible) version, priced at 7,000 (£82,500), was introduced in 1995. In 1997 the Formula One style paddle gear shift electrohydraulic manual transmission was introduced with the Ferrari 355 F1 (note the dropping of the F before the 355) adding £6,000 to the dealer asking price. The F355 was the last in the series of mid-engined Ferraris with the Flying Buttress rear window, with lineage going back to the 1965 Dino 206 GT, unveiled at the Paris Auto Show.
The nomenclature does not follow the formula from the previous decades, i.e. engine capacity (in liters) followed by number of cylinders (e.g. 246 = 2.4 litres + 6 cyl, 308 = 3.0 litres + 8 cyl, and same for the 328, 348). For the F355, Ferrari used engine capacity followed by the number of valves per cylinder (355 = 3.5 litres engine capacity and 5 valves per cylinder) to bring the performance advances introduced by a 5 valve per cylinder configuration into the forefront. The F355 is relatively common as Ferraris go with 11,273 total units produced.
The Berlinetta was introduced in May 1994 as the first in a successful series of F355 models. Initially, the 6-speed manual was the only transmission available. However, in 1997, the Berlinetta was the first ever road car to be equipped with the innovative F1-style gearbox management system. Derived directly from Formula 1, where it made its debut in 1989 winning the Brazilian Grand Prix, the electro-hydraulic system was operated by paddles behind the steering wheel using the F355’s conventional 6-speed manual gearbox. The new transmission guaranteed lightning-quick gear changes, with the additional advantage that both the driver’s hands could stay on the wheel at all times.
Ferrari produced 4,871 road-going Berlinetta models during the entire production run, of which 3,829 were 6-speed and 1,042 were F1 transmissions.
The F355 Spider debuted in 1995, its Pininfarina-penned lines honed by 1,800 hours in the wind tunnel, resulting in a blend of elegant style and aerodynamic performance. For the first time on a Ferrari, the semi-automatic soft-top was powered electronically. Initially, the Spider was offered with the 6-speed transmission. In 1997, the Spider was offered with the F1 transmission option. The Spider proved to be the second-most popular F355 model, with a total production of 3,717 units, of which 2,664 were produced with the 6-speed transmission and another 1,053 produced with the F1 transmission.
In 1995, Ferrari introduced the GTS model to the F355 family. The GTS model is based on the Berlinetta but offers a removable "targa-style" hard top roof, which can be stored behind the seats. Other specifications were identical to the Berlinetta. A total of 2,577 GTS models were produced, with 2,048 delivered with the 6-speed transmission and another 529 with the F1 transmission. This was the last GTS Targa style model produced by Ferrari.
In 1995 Ferrari introduced a race ready F355 Challenge model for use specifically in the Ferrari Challenge. The Ferrari F355 Challenge model was created by starting with a standard Ferrari F355 Berlinetta model and modifying it with a ,000 factory-to-dealer supplied kit. The initial 1996 cars came with cage mounts factory fitted and carpets removed, each year the cars arrived with more and more race parts factory fitted, culminating in the 1998 full evolution cars which were supplied as virtually complete race cars though parts such as the rear wing still needed to be fitted.
The kit initially required 110 hours to install, and included the following components/modifications:
- Competition clutch
- Fast steering rack
- Competition steering wheel
- Loud and quiet lightweight exhausts
- Racing seats
- Safety harnesses
- Fire extinguisher
- Engine cutoff switch
- Manual radiator fan control, upgraded fans
- Carbon fiber rear wing
- Upgraded 14" Brembo brakes
- 18" Speedline wheels
- Pirelli racing slicks
- Solid suspension bushings and competition springs
- Front and Rear brake cooling ducts
- Challenge black rear grille
- Lightened front bumper
- Lightend headlight replacement buckets
- Front and rear tow hooks
The F355 Challenge shares the same engine performance and physical dimension specifications as the original. 108 were produced, all with the 6-speed transmission (except for 1 that was equipped with a F1 gear box for a handicapped client). There were 18 RHD cars imported by Ferrari UK and modified by MHT. Some of these rare cars have now been converted to be street legal. Each F355 Challenge has an emblem on the rear that specifically denotes 'F355 Challenge'.
For 1999, Ferrari introduced a limited production of F355 Spider models designated, "Serie Fiorano." Launched in March, 1999, this limited production run of 100 planned units (104 actually produced) included a number of performance enhancements:
- Competizione-derived Fiorano suspension pack, featuring wide track, stiffer springs, a thicker anti-roll bar
- Drilled and ventilated brake discs and competition brake pads
- Competizione-sourced steering rack
- Alterations to the computer mapping provided a little more power and torque
- Challenge rear grilles and enamelled Scuderia Ferrari shields
- Carbon-fibre inserts (normally only available as expensive special order options): centre console, door sills and paddle shifters
- Suede-covered steering wheel
There were 100 Serie Fiorano units delivered to the U.S. market, 74 with the F1 transmission and 26 with the 6-speed manual. An additional 4 units were produced beyond the planned production with 3 European models and one South African delivery. Each unit was delivered with a numbered plaque affixed to the dashboard.
- Max power @ rpm: 380 hp (283 kW) @ 8250*
- HP/liter: 109 hp/l
- Torque @ rpm: 363 N·m (268 lb·ft) @ 6000
- 0–60 mph: 4.6 s
- 0–100 km/h (0-62 mph): 4.7 s
- 0–160 km/h: 10.8 s
- Quarter Mile: 12.9 s
- 0–1000 m: 23.7 s
- Top speed: 295 km/h (183 mph)
- Alfieri, Bruno (1998). Ferrari F355. Automobilia. ISBN 88-7960-087-7.
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a b c d e f "Ferrari.com - F355 Berlinetta". ferrari.com. Retrieved 2010-03-16.
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^ "1996 Ferrari F355 Challenge". conceptcarz.com. Retrieved 2007-09-01.
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^ "Ferrari F355 Challenge - European Super Car". motortrend.com. Retrieved 2010-03-16.
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^ "Carfolio.com - F355 Technical specs and data". carfolio.com. Retrieved 2010-03-16.
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^ "ferrariworld.com/Cars/Yesterday/F355 GTS". ferrariworld.com. Retrieved 2007-09-01.
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^ Jensen, Christopher (November 27, 2009). "Ferrari’s Unusual Recall". The New York Times. Wheels (blog).
- Buckley, Martin & Rees, Chris (1998). World Encyclopedia of Cars. London: Anness Publishing. ISBN 1-84038-083-7.