1995-2000 Ferrari F355 Berlinetta/GTS/Spider: Future Classic

By: Joe Kenwright

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A rare and special car to drive, so body style, transmission and colour will be a personal choice.

1995-2000 Ferrari F355 Berlinetta/GTS/Spider: Future Classic
Future Classic: 1995-2000 Ferrari F355 Berlinetta/GTS/Spider

 

1995-2000 Ferrari F355 Berlinetta/GTS/Spider

When it arrived in March 1995, the F355 was greeted with the same sentiments expressed globally. This was the best Ferrari road car ever. Ferrari’s V6 and V8 models were never rated in the same league as its 12-cylinder models, so this was momentous in Ferrari terms.

With hindsight, the F355 was the bridge between traditional Ferraris and today’s more user-friendly models. It’s already being talked about in the same terms as the Dino 246 in significance. It represents the final and purest expression of an era first defined by the 308, with a degree of everyday practicality not seen before. Subtle curves, along with a hint of the 288GTO at the rear and Testa Rossa at the front, will ensure its closed-headlight visage can never be dismissed as just another wedge.

Very little of the flawed 348 carried over. Engine capacity was lifted from 3.4 to 3.5 litres, hence ‘F355’. Five-valve heads with a throttle body per cylinder, electronically-controlled exhaust tracts, electronic damper control, six-speed manual transmission and heavily revised styling transformed the F355. Its peaky outputs of 280kW at 8250rpm and 363Nm at 6000rpm provided a clue to the potential for racing-level stress on internal parts.

Ferrari added the Formula One-style paddle gearchange with no clutch pedal in 1997. Unlike today’s dual-clutch transmissions, it was a conventional manual with a clutch actuated by electronic controls. Cutting-edge at the time, it was a technological dead-end with an appetite for clutches in city running.

As the adulation reached its peak, the F355 disgraced itself with too many unnecessary parts failures and maintenance bills. Against the $300,000-plus purchase price, rectification, providing it occurred before a major failure, was affordable. Slightly-used examples can be less of a risk than mothballed ones if the big-dollar failures have been pre-empted with improved parts. As confidence in the F355 returns, values could soon bottom in the current soft market.

It will always be a rare and very special car to drive. The question, then, is which body style, transmission and colour? The market currently prizes the Berlinetta coupe and full convertible, both as a manual in red. Yellow is second, then perhaps blue. Rarity could change that pecking order. The GTS targa-roof model can also be overlooked. If the convertible looks too much like a chop-top, the F355 GTS, as Ferrari’s last, could prove the perfect open-air compromise.

Prices start just under $100,000 for private imports and LHD conversions, but allow for around $130,000 for the best local coupes and up to $150,000 for the right convertible.

 

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