Driven: Ferrari 348 GT Competizione

By: Andy Enright

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The greatest Ferrari V8 you've never heard of? That could very well be the 348 GT Competizione

 

Ferrari 348 GT Competizione

The 348 GT Competizione is an incredibly rare and intriguing specialist vehicle. Those with even a passing knowledge of contemporary Ferraris will appreciate that history hasn’t been too kind to the original Ferrari 348tb. First introduced in 1989, it weighed too much and was a tricky handler at the limit. What’s not so well known is that Ferrari massively improved the car over its life, with major improvements to the electronics and suspension introduced in 1994. The ultimate iteration of the line was the 348 GT Competizione model with a scant 50 units built, and of those, a mere eight were right-hand drive cars. Ferrari’s first homologation special after the 288 GTO was always going to be an event, but the Competizione was so fleetingly rare it somehow managed to fly under the popular radar.

The car we’re driving here is one of the eight right hookers and it’s probably the most immaculate of the lot. It’s hard to comprehend that this car has driven just 192km since it rolled from the gates of Maranello factory back in 1994. Of course, it’s racked up a few air miles since then, originally shuttling from Italy to Singapore where it was part of the car collection of that country’s Ferrari importer before finding its way to Australia six years ago. Perhaps now, you’re beginning to appreciate the almost chimerical nature of this car.

Like the F40, the Competizione features a Kevlar/carbonfibre composite to cut weight. The doors feel featherlight in your hands and the exposed weave runs across the sills and the bucket seat backs. The brakes are from the F40 Evoluzione, while the front and rear bumpers are composite. More focused springs and dampers, and a rod rather than a cable gear shift, deliver more immediate feedback. The 18-inch Speedline alloys are also lighter than the standard 348’s 17-inch rims which contribute to a total 190kg weight saving over the GTB. Bear in mind that a 360 Challenge Stradale shaved 110kg over the standard car, a 430 Scuderia 100kg and a 458 Speciale 90kg. The Competizione is, in some ways, the most extreme V8 special of the bunch.

A different diff ratio boosted acceleration still further, and if you’re handy with the dog-leg gated manual ‘box, you might dip below five seconds for a sprint to 100km/h. Fire up the 3.4-litre V8 and it settles into a smooth, high idle. Let the fluids warm for a few minutes and the ‘box will then allow you to select second without complaint, a feature common to all these V8 Ferraris. The clutch swings through a long arc, the throttle response is instant and the pedal spacing perfect for those with daintier feet. The unassisted steering is hefty at parking speeds and your eye falls to the numbered plaque reading ‘Competizione 21/50’ on the boss.

This car might be a near-perfect time capsule back to 1994, a year when Kurt Cobain checked out, Nelson Mandela took power in South Africa and Michael Schumacher speared Damon Hill off the track in Adelaide to claim his first F1 world title, but this 348’s handling is anything but vintage. It corners flat and hard, the porcine roll oversteer of the base 348 excised courtesy of the stiffer rose-jointed suspension and weight savings. The way it controls its mass when braking and tipping into a corner is a revelation. You can see how the Competizione was the transitional vehicle to the lauded F355, albeit without the teething issues that plagued early 355s. The engine races between 5000rpm and the 7500rpm with typical zeal, a tribute to the efforts its current owner has made recommissioning this car to fighting fitness after having been laid up for so long in sweaty Singapore.

It’s a rare privilege to even unearth a virtual delivery-kays car like this. Combine that with the fact that it’s a limited-run Ferrari special and days don’t get much better. Getting behind the wheel was an unexpected bonus.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

Ferrari 348 GT Competizione

ENGINE 3405cc V8, 32v DOHC
MAX POWER 235kW @ 7200rpm
MAX TORQUE 324Nm @ 5000rpm
TRANSMISSION 5-speed dogleg manual
WEIGHT 1180kg
0-100KM/H c. 5.0s
TOP SPEED c. 282km/h
PRICE $615,000

 

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