In 1994 Ferrari replaced the 348 series with the F355. The car was once again designed by Pininfarina and had a similar layout and proportions to the 348. New on the 355 was the V8 engine, who now featured 5 valves per cylinder (2 exhaust and 3 inlet).
In 1997 the F1-style gearbox management system became standard on each version: berlinetta, GTS (targa topped) and spider. The F355 changed into 355 F1. Derived directly from Formula 1, where it made its debut in 1989 winning the Brazilian Grand Prix, the electro-hydraulic system was operated by paddles behind the steering wheel using the F355’s conventional 6-speed manual gearbox. The new transmission guaranteed lightning-quick gear changes, with the additional advantage that both the driver’s hands could stay on the wheel at all times.
Its radical transmission is what makes the F355 F1 so different: a manual gearbox, but without a clutch pedal! Sophisticated electronics look after the function normally carried out by the driver’s left foot. Instead of a clutch pedal and gear shift, the F355 has two steering-wheel-mounted levers.
The right one is to select a higher gear, the left one for a lower gear. Where the gear stick would normally be is a little lever for selecting reverse. To start the engine, the ignition key needs to be advanced a notch and both gearshift "paddles" pulled back to ensure the transmission is in neutral.
Like all the 355 series, the 355 F1 GTS is powered by a 3.5-liter V8 featuring titanium rods, five-valve cylinder heads, and a 180-degree crankshaft. With a Bosch 2.7 Motronic system the engine delivered a total of 380 hp at 8,500 rpm. Performance was 0–60 mph in 4.9 seconds, the quarter mile in the low 13-second range, and top speed went to an impressive 183 mph.