From 1987 to 1991 the engine to have if you wanted to win the World Drivers Championship was a Honda during that period of dominance Honda also built a game changing super car that rendered contemporary Ferrari’s and particularly it’s nearest competitor the Ferrari 348 obsolete in price, reliability and handling.
Fortunately Ferrari President Luca di Montezemol had his engineers rise to the challenge presented by the Japanese upstart by commissioning the design of the F355 and in the process Ferrari was transformed into a world class manufacturer of automobiles.
The solution to meeting the Japanese challenge was in part by turning to the latest Formula One technology which included building the first road car to be offered with a ‘paddle shift’ electronically controlled gearbox, and selecting the best ancillaries known to man for the engine, including Japanese starter motors and the latest in German electronic engine management systems.
Out went Ferrari’s fabled indifferent assembly, industrial leather and off the shelf (FIAT) switchgear and in came carefully controlled build quality with bespoke switch gear and the finest leather interiors.
The F355’s motor was taken out from 3.4 to 3.5 liters AND given a pair of five valve per cylinder heads which combined to produce 375 hp which took a whole second off the GMC Syclones 1/4 mile time given by Car & Driver in the famous test between a Syclone Truck and a Ferrari 348ts that saw the GMC product perform surprisingly well.
The outcome of Ferrari’s efforts to match Honda’s super car was rewarded with 11,273 sales of the three basic types between 1994 and 1999 making the F355 one of the commonest of Ferrari’s yet seen, though the significance and legacy of the model lay in the foundations for success that the building and development of the F355 provided for all of the Ferrari road models that were to follow.
Thanks for joining me on the ‘World Class’ edition of ‘Gettin a li’l psycho on tyres’ I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a very significant Lotus. Don’t forget to come back now !