The Ferrari 348 marked a distinct departure from the “entry-level” road cars that preceded it, and it truly ushered the Prancing Horse brand into the 90s. Certainly it had a lot to live up to – the 348 replaced the 328, which itself was a facelifted version of the wildly popular 308 that had been around since 1975.
As with its predecessors, the model number was derived from its drivetrain configuration, with the first two digits being the displacement and the third being the number of cylinders. The engine, which produced 300 hp, was mounted longitudinally and coupled to a transverse manual gearbox, like the Mondial t with which the 348 shared many components (the "T" in the model name refers to the transverse position of the gearbox). This was a significant change for Ferrari, derived from their immensely successful 312T Formula 1 cars. Most previous small Ferraris used a transverse engine with longitudinal transmission.
Technically, the 348 was more closely related to its big brother, the Testarossa, than the 328. The sweet V8 had been expanded to 3.4 liters, which gave it an additional 30bhp and pushed it to a top speed of 170mph. Also similar to the Testarossa, the radiators for oil and coolant were moved from the nose to the sides, greatly widening the waist of the car but making the cabin much easier to cool since hoses routing warm water no longer ran underneath the cabin as in the older front-radiator cars. The 348 was equipped with a dry-sump oil system to prevent oil starvation at high speeds and during hard cornering. (Interestingly, due to this setup the oil level can only be accurately checked on the dipstick when the motor is running.)
The 348 was fitted with dual-computer engine management using twin Bosch Motronic ECUs, double-redundant anti-lock brakes, and self-diagnosing air conditioning and heating systems. Late versions (1993 and beyond) have Japanese-made starter motors and Nippondenso power generators to improve reliability, as well as the battery located within the front left fender for better weight distribution. In addition, the 348 came with adjustable ride-height suspension and a removable rear sub-frame to speed up the removal of the engine for maintenance.
The 348, for its time a model more evolutionary in design and execution, didn't exactly explode onto the resale market in the years following its release, but the oft-maligned late 80s sports car has grown more appealing with age. It’s also grown more expensive – the rakish 1980s lines are in vogue right now, and 348s, 355s and others from the era are, like the F40, being seen as “analog” driving machines, free of electronic intervention, automated gearboxes and other modern accouterments.
The 348 also marked the final design overseen by chief stylist Leonardo Fioravanti, responsible for such designs as the F40, Daytona, 512 Berlinetta Boxer, 288 GTO, and the P5 and P6 concept cars, among others.
4,230 examples of the 348 ts model were produced. Fifty-seven "Challenge" models were built for owners who wanted a more "track-ready" car.
This car, with only 6,800 miles, is finished in the classic Rosso Corsa Red with beige Connolly leather. It was sold by Mecum Auctions at their January auction in Kissimmee, Florida. Photos by Dan Duckworth.
|3.4 liter V8||natural||238 ft-lb @ 4200 rpm|
|300 HP @ 7200 rpm||88.2 HP/Liter||10.2 lbs/HP|
|Top Speed||0-62 mph||Range|
|170 mph||5.6 sec||--|