After a very successful history of more than fourteen years, the 308/328 series was finally replaced in 1989. And even if on the exterior there weren’t many significant changes the big changes on the new 348 models was made under the hood. The 348 series remained into production between 1989 and ’95, and it was built in berlinetta, targa and spider body styles, with a few special editions being offered: the US-market only Serie Speciale and the GT Competizione.
The 348 series was produced in order to allow Michelotto-prepared cars into the GT3 class of international endurance racing. IN its five years time existence it turned out to be a very successful model: firstly it experienced some notable success against Porsche’s mighty 911 RSR’s, but it also became the most commercially successful models in Ferrari’s history with over 9000 units sold.
On the title, the ’348’ is referring to the 3.4 V8 and the ’T’ to the transverse gearbox mounted at the rear of the engine and B to Berlinetta (S was for the spider version). The 348 was the first completely new model announced by the company subsequent to the death of Enzo Ferrari in August 1988.
Like with most of the Ferrari models, the body was designed by Pininfarina, and bore a strong family resemblance to the Testarossa model, but on a smaller scale. The similarities are particularly noticeable in the horizontally straked air inlets in the door ducts to the side mounted radiators, and the rear light treatment, where the lenses are hidden behind a full width matte black slatted grille. The front “radiator grille” was a dummy inset satin black egg crate pattern unit, to provide the traditional Ferrari face. The alloy wheels maintained the traditional Ferrari five spoke design, with five bolt fixing, but with an aerodynamic spoke profile unique to this series of models.
The interior featured a pair of leather trimmed seats with manual adjustment, featuring supportive side bolsters, adjustable head restraints and three point inertia reel seat belts. The main instruments were housed in a deep binnacle ahead of the three spoke leather trimmed steering wheel, whilst on the passenger side a glove box was provided in the dash face. Between the seats there was a center console running into the lower edge of the dashboard, incorporating ancillary instrumentation and switchgear, together with the gear lever in the traditional open gate. Electrically operated windows and door mirrors were provided, whilst the latter had heating elements, which were actuated by the rear screen demister switch.
The 348 was the first series production Ferrari not to have a separate tubular steel chassis frame. Instead it used a pressed steel chassis, with a separate tubular steel engine sub-frame bolted to it, with the body panels robot welded, and bolted, to the main structure.
The car’s heart was a 3.4 liter V8 unit with a bore and stroke of 85mm x 75mm, with spark plugs between the camshafts, fitted with a Bosch Motronic M2.5 combined fuel injection and ignition system, which was upgraded to the M2.7 version during the production run. At the rear of the mid mounted engine was a transverse five speed plus reverse all synchromesh gearbox and transaxle unit.
The V8 engine delivered 300 bhp at 7200 rpm and sprinted the car to a top speed of more that 171 mph, while the 0 to 60 mph sprint was made in 5.4 seconds and the one from 0 to 100 mph in 12.2 seconds.