The Ferrari F355, the fruit of half of century experience in V8 mid-engined coupes, is considered to be the greatest production sports-car of the 20th Century. It was the best selling Ferrari in history until that time, the car that saved the brand from imminent bankruptcy and the first model to be produced under the new leadership of Luca di Montezemolo. With performance figures that are enviable even a decade after the cars launch and an immortal design, the F355 is considered by many to be the most beautiful modern Ferrari.
The 1995 Ferrari F355 had as a basis the previous V8 engine Ferrari, the 348. The famous Italian design studio and Ferrari traditional partner, Pininfarina, did the styling of the new model. The F355 was produced between 1995 and 1999 in nearly 12,000 units and become one of the most popular Ferrari’s of all time. At launch it was available in fixed-head Berlinetta (or GTB) and Targa (GTS) followed later by a roadster (Spider) variant. The Spider was Ferrari’s first vehicle with an electronically actuated soft top.
The engine enhancements over the previous 348 model included an increased displacement from 207 cui to 213 cui and five valves per cylinder that allowed an 80 bhp plus. With 380 bhp the nearly 3000 pound F355 was able to reach 60 mph just 4.9 seconds and peak at a maximum of 183 mph. Additional improvements over the 348 l were the adjustable suspension that could accommodate various types of driving conditions, enhanced Brembo disc brakes and a steel and aluminum body that offered extra rigidity while remaining light-weight. In 1988, the Ferrari F355 was the first production vehicle to be equipped with a sequential gear-box operated by paddle shifters located on the steering wheel.
In 1995 the F355 Challenge was introduced as a specially modified model for North America’s premier single brand racing series.It wasproduced until 1999 in 109 units that raced in both Europe and the North America. Few changes were done to the stock model in order to prepare the F355 Challenge series. Safety equipment such as a roll cage, racing seats and a down-force wing transformed the F355 into a racer. The F355 Challenge was not street legal and it can be recognized by the emblem on the rear, which specifically denotes “F355 Challenge”.
“Ferrari F355 Challenge” is also the name of a popular racing game based on the actual Ferrari event. Devel oped by the AM2 division of Sega, the game was available for Sega Dreamcast and PlayStation 2. The game only featured the Ferrari F355 Challenge model.
A noticeable feature of the game is that it shows three screens, which allow the players to look through the side windows as they would in a real car. The Dreamcast version of the game had link cable play for on-line competitions. Unfortunately starting from January 2006 the online servers for F355 Challenge went offline, as did the official website.
Body & chassis
The F355 was styled by the famous Pininfarina studio, a Ferrari traditional partner. The car inherited all the characteristics of the predecessors and blended them in a subtle balance of aerodynamics and aesthetics. Many consider that the F355 is a lot better looking than the following 360 Modena, that got extreme aerodynamic features, and lost the elegant touch. With the F355 simplification and unity of form seem to have been the key. Rounded edges combining in beautiful new forms allowed the F355 to both split the air and please the eye. The F355 Spider, was the first Maranello vehicle with an electronically-controlled soft top. As users often complained, the soft top didn’t actually work, but that was an extra reason to keep it always down and enjoy the freedom of a convertible. The ultimate evolution step for the F355 was taken by the “Serie Fiorano” limited edition that lowered the car’s stance and added tastefully subtle styling cues to more closely identify the vehicle with the Scuderia Ferrari.
Aerodynamic development of the F355 was focused on attaining a good coefficient of negative lift (Cz) without the addition of unnecessary styling elements and, also on a balanced distribution of the vertical aerodynamic loads on the two axles. The front spoiler incorporated an air intake that was ment to only cool the brake discs as the radiators for mounted in the rear. The spoiler was shaped in order to optimize the airflow into the underbody for negative lift. The side air ducts in generous size was those that got to cool the rear mounted radiators and the rear brakes. The widened body allowed a rear wider track to fit the wide section rear tires. As the result of Formula 1 experience the tail of the car incorporated a really discrete upper lip spoiler for enhance grip. The underbody of the F355 was also fully integrated aerodynamically with the system.
The chassis of the F355 was built of aluminum and steel, with composite materials where appropriate. The body parts got welded to the chassis for rigidity. On the F355 GTS the removable roof was made of composite materials. The Spider got an electronically controlled roof synthesized of various rich fabrics to seal the interior.
The Ferrari F355 used very advanced technologies at that time for chassis construction. It incorporated a stress-bearing frame of welded, variable section steel tubes plus a tubular sub-frame for the engine and suspension assemblies. The general chassis layout was that of a central stress-bearing shell with the engine assembly and suspension attached, in racing car manner. This construction technology involved the use of sophisticated laser welding techniques that allowed high torsional and bending rigidity, while keeping weight as low as possible.
Engine & transmission
TheF355 got a new 213.3 cui 90° V8 engine developing 380 bhp at 8250 rpm and 268 lbs-ft at 6000 rpm. This was an enhanced version of the V8 previously known from the 348. Astonishing for this engine were the extremely high revs it could achieve, as the redline was at 8500 rpm, and the incredible specific output of this remarkable 5-valve unit of 109 bhp per liter.
The engine’s light block was made of aluminum coated with Nikasil wet steel liners. Light forged aluminum alloy pistons were used to drive the crankshaft through titanium alloy con rods (as only used at that time on Formula 1 engines). But the greatest innovation of the engine was the five-valves per cylinder (three intake and two exhaust) distribution system, that combined high revs with high intake.
The engine also had ultra-high strength aluminum head with variable rigidity dual valve springs. The engine intake valves made conical cam profiles necessary at high rotation speed. Also, the control lobe for the central intake valve got slightly offset, in order to reduce pulse stress and emissions. In racing design style the V8 received an extremely compact high-swirl combustion chamber of 11:1 compression ratio. Bosch Motronic M2.7 twin hot wire electronic injection-static ignition system was used for engine management, and a dry sump engine oil circuit did the lubrication.
Insulated stainless steel with twin-branch delivery was used for the exhaust system. One main branch directed the emission flow to a ceramic matrix catalyst and another one by-pass branch to steel matrix catalysts. The by-pass branch only came into use at high speeds in response to the opening of a throttle valve controlled by the engine management system. That optimized engine performance by reducing exhaust backpressure.
The Ferrari F355 was launched with a standard 6-speed transverse gearbox and got later as an option the first F1 electro-hydraulic transmission system with paddle shifters, derived from Formula 1 technology. The manual gearbox offered short travel through the classic Ferrari gated shifter. It had sublime chosen ratios that made the most of the torque curve, enhancing the drive-ability of the car. The gear-box matched a multi-plate limited slip differential with segmented lock that adopted a differentiated drive and over run. The clutch was one to match the engine’s performance with magnesium housing, single dry plate and hydraulic actuation. The drive-train was completed by a water/oil heat exchanger that ensured the gearbox oil was rapidly brought to optimal operating temperature.
The 6-speed F1 sequential transmission, launched on the F355, signaled a new era in drive-train design and performance. The system is nowadays quite common as the driver shifts a sequential system controlled with paddles behind the steering wheel, but few such systems meet in performance the one from F355. The sequential from the F355 offered four driver-selectable modes of operation: sport, normal, auto, and low grip. This ’Fl-type power train management’ was the best solution for racing and road use and was overtook only by BMW ’s 7 speed SMG II. This solution guaranteed instantaneous gear changes, allowing the driver’s to engaged the desired gear without taking the hands off the wheel or operating the clutch. That system had also the advantage of being used in a fully automatic mode without impact on fuel consumption.
Specs for the 1995 Berlinetta
engine aluminum V8
gear ratios 3.07:1, 2.16:1, 1.61:1, 1.27:1, 1.03:1, 0.84:1
The Ferrari F355 was equipped with a fully independent suspension comprising of a specially designed system of unequal length non-parallel wishbones with springs and aluminum gas dampers with anti-roll bars. IT also featured a new generation of flexible wishbone joints that offered greater long-term durability, better control of the geometry, and enhanced driving safety.
The uncertainties of self-balancing in response to sudden directional changes were eliminated by using rigid joints and anti-roll bars with sealed spherical-head tie rods. The F355 was also one of the first vehicles to feature continuously variable electronic dampers with two programs tuned to sport and comfort.
Front suspension: Independent, double unequal-length wishbones, coil springs, pressurized gas dampers, electronic damping (2 settings), anti-roll bar
Rear suspension: Independent, double unequal-length wishbones, coil springs, pressurized gas dampers, electronic damping (2 settings), anti-roll bar
As any super-performance sports car, the F355 had a high-power braking system featuring four self-ventilated discs acted upon by 4-cylinder aluminum calipers. The standard sports anti-lock system (ABS) could be temporarily disabled by the driver when desired, such as on the track.
Front brakes 11.8 in vented discs with vacuum Assist & ABS
Rear brakes 12.2 in vented discs with vacuum Assist & ABS
As a standard the F355 were equipped with rack and pinion power steering was, but a direct mechanical steering was available as an option for enhanced driving feel.
Tires & wheels
The F355’ was equipped in standard with beautiful five spoke 18" magnesium wheels. Together with the lightweight aluminum dampers, brake calipers and wheel covers they lightened the unsprung mass in order to further enhance road-handling. The tires car’s were specially developed for the F355 in collaboration with the in order to attain great stability and grip without detriment to comfort and safety.
Front wheels 18.0 x 7.5 in rims with 225/40 ZR18 tires
Rear wheels 18.0 x 10.0 in rims with 265/40 ZR18 tires
The F355’s cockpit was designed for maximizing driving pleasure. In the usual Ferrari tradition, the perfect driving position was obtained with an electric fully-adjustable driver’s seat and height-adjustable steering wheel. The comfort was insured by sports-seats covered in Connolly leather that could be replaced as an option by race-like composite bucket seats. Also, the lever for the manual gear-box was positioned on the console for optimum handling.
The car featured standard environmental-friendly climate control and double airbags.
The adjustable suspension settings further helped enhance the overall efficiency of the car’s active safety system.
The “Serie Fiorano” special edition was distinguished in the interior by several, carbon-fiber accoutrements, a suede-covered steering wheel, and a silver plaque inscribed with the car’s production number.
Standard equipment for the F355 was generally more than enough, but for those who wanted to a customization of the car, the “Carrozzeria Scaglietti” collection of optional equipment was the answer. Considered original and generally installed at the factory, Scaglietti equipment for the F355 included a variety of carbon fiber interior enhancements, a carbon fiber roof panel for the, suspension and brakes upgrades, modular wheels, a CD-changer, and street-legal racing seats. One of the most useful and popular such option was the tailored “Schedoni” luggage, which could be purchased from any authorized Ferrari dealer.
TopSpeed artists tuning recommendation
Tuning a car as beautiful as the Ferrari F355 is a really hard job. It involves competing with and completing Pininfarina design studios that are among the best in the world. However, we think things can always be improved, so we gave it a try. The first noticeable thing about our tuning is the three color scheme, that adds a drop of contrast to the car. Also by vertically splitting the car, this paintwork makes the vehicle look even wider and lower than it actually is. Not much further aerodynamic improvement to do on such a sporty car, but we did change the front spoiler with the one used on the Ferrari 550 Barchetta. This makes the car a little more elegant and less aggressive. We have also lowered the side skirts a bit and widened the rear air intakes. A drop of muscle was added by fitting Ferrari 360 Modena Challenge Stradale 19” wheels. Serve it while it’s hot!