35 Years of Ferrari 348

Ferrari and V8 mid-engined sports cars – for many car fans today, this pairing automatically goes hand in hand. Many people forget that this tradition has only existed since 1974. As the successor to the Dino 246 with the first mid-engined V6 in the brand’s history at the time, the 308 GT4 established a new model family, which only really got going a year later with the 308 GTB and GTS (with targa roof).

After all, the 308 GT4 bore the brand name Dino until 1976 and was therefore not a real Ferrari for many fans. In retrospect, it did acquire this reputation. In 1985, the 308 was further developed into the 328, which is visually recognisable above all by the lower plastic bumpers. Four years later, the successor 348 made its debut as a completely new development. Here too, Ferrari offered two body styles from the outset, the tb (Trasversale Berlinetta) as a coupé and the ts (Trasversale Spider) with a removable targa roof over the passengers’ heads. In 1993, the full convertible called Spider with retractable fabric top followed at the express request of the customer. While the 308/328 was still classically based on a tubular frame, the 348 was given a self-supporting aluminium body, which significantly increased rigidity.

Finally all grown up.

Visually, it was modelled on its successful big brother, the V12 Testarossa. Similar to this model, the 348 had cooling air gills in the doors, through which the airstream was drawn in. Blowers then directed the air towards the newly developed V8 engine with a displacement of 3.4 litres. This was not only responsible for the name (3.4 litres and 8 cylinders), but also for an initial output of 220 kW/300 hp (217 kW/295 hp with catalytic converter) and 304 Newton metres of torque. As with the Mondial t, the manual five-speed gearbox was positioned transversely behind the engine block, resulting in a T-shape (in Italian trasversale). This enabled the tb to reach a top speed of 275 km/h.

With the introduction of the Spider, the engine was fitted with modified pistons and valves, a new control unit and changes to the intake tract, which made it possible to generate 15 kW/20 hp more power. From the second half of 1993, this was also available in the Coupé and Targa, which were renamed GTB and GTS from this point onwards. Another visual citation of the Testarossa was the black grille panel at the rear, behind which the rear lights were also located.

With the 348, Ferrari also founded its own one-make cup, the Ferrari Challenge. Together with Michelotto, this racing version was continuously developed further. Eventually, the company was even able to offer customers a variant for GT racing, which competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a 530 hp version of the V8 engine. Over time, some 348 GTC (C for Competizione) even received a road licence. A total of 56 examples of the 348 GTC were built, with many private customers upgrading their cars visually and technically to the GTC standard.

While the 348 as tb/GTB and ts/GTS was Ferrari’s volume model with around 2,500 units per model year, the Spider remained a rarity with only around 1,100 cars built in total. Today, the pricing policy on the luxury used car market is correspondingly favourable. At the moment, good examples are still available for between 50,000 and 80,000 euros. The Spider is only just starting to become interesting at this value. However, the prices of the coupé and targa versions are likely to rise a little now that they have reached the H licence plate age.

Photos: Ferrari