In 1994 Ferrari unveiled the F355 - a model considered to be one of the greatest production sports-car of the 20th Century. The F355 remained into production until 1999 and with 11,273 units produced it became the most successful Ferrari in history. The F355 was the first model to be produced under the new leadership of Luca di Montezemolo.
In 1997 Ferrari offered the F1-style gearbox management system standard on all three models: berlinetta, GTS and spider, this is where the "F1" nomenclature comes from. It was the first ever road car to be equipped with a F1 gearbox.
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.
Until then the F1-style gearbox was a technology seen only at the highest end of racing. And with this $10,000 upgrade you would think F1-optioned cars would be rare, but pretty fast the 355 F1 became quite popular, and it’s the 6-speed manual version that’s more difficult to find.
Another first in a Ferrari for the 355 Spider was the power top. With only one push of a button the windows were lowered, the seats were moved and the top was lowered. This particular system made the spider to became a more popular model than its coupe cousin.
Under the hood there was 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.