The Ferrari 348 T is one of the most mistreated and least appreciated Reds of all time, so much so that even the president Luca Cordero di Montezemolo defines it as a shitty car, yet it remains a car with high technical and historical contents that it deserves greater consideration by fans of the Prancing Horse, and beyond.
The name is a manifesto of the Ferrari tradition: the number 348 indicates the 3.4 displacement combined with the number 8 like the engine cylinders, while the letter T stands for Trasversale, referring to the gearbox position; finally, the suffixes B and S distinguish the configured version: B in the case of the closed Berlinetta, and S for the Spider, actually more similar to a license plate.
Presented in September 1989 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, known internally as F119, it was the first Ferrari to be marketed after the death of its founder, but it is also the last car that saw Enzo Ferrari directly involved in the embryonic development stages of the project, when the latter was still signed F111.
Last Ferrari available with manual gearbox only, five-speed, with the first positioned low, power steering and airbags absent, the heir to the 328 mixes typically Ferrari features with important technical innovations, especially at the chassis level, where the classic tubular structure in steel leaves room for technology by adopting a pressed sheet metal chassis combined with a sub-frame for the engine compartment only.
The Ferrari 348 T is the first naturally aspirated engine equipped with electronic injection, and also the first eight-cylinder berlinetta to mount the engine in a longitudinal position, thanks to which the Ferrari Challenge single-make was born, giving the opportunity to gentleman drivers to try their track skills in a real championship.
In this marriage between past and future, the design of the Ferrari 348 also tells a lot about the historical value of this berlinetta. The latest Ferrari designed by Leonardo Fioravanti for Pininfarina, the designer's creatures include the 288 GTO, 328, 308 GTB, Testarossa and it is precisely from the latter that the aesthetics of the 348 draws inspiration.
The dominant theme on all five sides of the bodywork are the slits on the side, which recall those already seen on the twelve-cylinder sister, and the grilles that are clearly visible in every view, even from above with the openings in the bonnet that let you glimpse and breathe the V8.
The rear grille, in addition to being a decorative element, acts as a cover and shelter for the headlights, the horizontal strips in the lower part of the side allow the flow of air necessary to cool the two side radiators to enter, while the front grille, rectangular in shape with rounded corners, it is a stylistic quirk without a technical function. This detail underlines, once again if it were needed, the figurative importance of the grille in the identity of the Ferrari brand.
The link with the Testarossa does not end here, given that the headlights are of the retractable type, while there is a greater detachment, compared to the older sister, in the treatment of surfaces made softer and less angular. The proportions of the small sports car make the 348 T compact and elegant, with a final aesthetic result with a strong impact: the car is small, toned, balanced as required of a high-ranking Gran Turismo.
The five-spoke wheels with five-bolt fixing are specific.
The interior environment is minimalist, spartan and with a strong sporting vocation, a worthy representative of the sports cars of this period, with refined leather upholstery present both on the seats and on the dashboard: however, it allows itself some small comforts now necessary at the turn of the years 80s and 90s, like air conditioning.
The dashboard itself was designed and built according to the first principles of ergonomics, giving priority to the large dashboard that is always clearly visible, legible and to the few easily accessible buttons, avoiding unnecessary distractions while driving.
Another brilliant example of ergonomics is the handbrake: located to the left of the driver's seat, once activated, it automatically lowers to make getting out of the car easier.
The three-spoke steering wheel, the gearbox with steel rod, the spherical knob, and the legendary selector grille, make the interior environment familiar for Prancing Horse purists, rightfully entering classic Ferraris. The technical choices such as the longitudinal engine, the wheelbase lengthened by 100 millimeters, and the new construction of the chassis, have made it possible to achieve a roominess never seen before on a mid-engined Ferrari.
The frame, reference code F119 AB if berlinetta, and F119 AS if spider, consists of a steel sheet structure that expands from the rear to the front, separating the passenger compartment from the engine, which in turn is fixed on a tubular sub-frame, subsequently bolted to the main chassis. The body panels are welded in part by robots and in part bolted to the supporting structure, allowing the Maranello technicians to obtain a remarkable series of advantages, such as better weight distribution to make the car more dynamic, but also safer in case of accident, lower weight, better assembly of the components, and a torsional rigidity never seen before, reaching values almost double compared to previous Ferraris.
The chassis is completed by independent suspensions, and cross arms with deformable wishbones, made of pressed steel sheet with careful attention to the geometry of the trim in order to reduce pitch under braking and acceleration.
The engine, type 119 D then 119 G, is a 3.405 cm³ V8 capable of delivering 300 hp at 7.200 rpm in the very rare non-catalytic versions. The transition to the catalytic version, which took place already at the end of 1989, entails a loss of only five horsepower.
The engine in its construction involved the engineer Materazzi, father of the F40, and is equipped with double overhead camshafts per bank, driven by a single toothed belt and four valves per cylinder. The super square engine, with bore and stroke equal to 85 by 75 millimeters, integrates a Bosch Motronic M 2.5 ignition and injection system, which controls four injectors and two coils capable of directly powering the spark plugs positioned between the two cam axes . On the sides of the eight cylinders are mounted radiators for cooling the water and oil, as on the contemporary Testarossa.
Combined with a five-speed manual gearbox, identical to the one on the Mondial, mounted in a transverse position, it allows the Maranello technicians, together with the use of the dry sump, to lower the car's center of gravity by 130 millimeters compared to the past. Two-disc clutch, smaller than the single-disc, and self-locking multi-plate differential, allow you to download forty percent of the power, even when the drive wheel is in the spinning phase.
On paper, the technical characteristics should make the Ferrari 348 T one of the best Reds of this era, so why this bad name?
The car to drive is a lot of fun. The rack and pinion steering is precise, without filters it follows the trajectories set by the driver, transmitting old-fashioned sensations: an excellent link between classic and modern Ferraris. The rumble is another fundamental element in living the driving experience in a total way, it is not surprising to know that in-depth studies have focused on the sound of the V8, an angry melody when you push it to the maximum, while at slow speeds the tones become more deep low even if it makes its presence felt strongly in the passenger compartment.
The gearbox can be improved, because an inexperienced user might find it not easy, while the sporty driver may find it a bit slow and unwieldy, especially in the fourth-fifth passage.
The engine, despite its 300 hp, lacks power transmitted on a sensory level. In reality, if put to the test, it always proves ready, and responds quickly to the commands of the right foot, perfect on any occasion and especially if you travel above 4.000 rpm.
Minimum pitch, practically non-existent roll make the car stable with a road holding never seen on a Ferrari.
The self-ventilated disc brakes, made of aluminum with double cylinders, always respond promptly and decisively, ensuring stopping times at the height of speed performance.
The set-up tends to be neutral, as manageable in ninety percent of cases as it can be easily conditioned by the driver and his driving skills if he goes further: the 348 T is a car that is very sensitive to the accelerator controls, especially at the rear, so it is easy to transform suddenly its neutral nature in oversteer or understeer.
To make the most of it, the driver must know the dynamics of the vehicle well and respect it, learning to predict reactions and behaviors at high speed. Reading skills like real drivers, not intrinsic to all drivers, to squeeze it all the way requires skill and experience, as was the case in the Gran Turismo of the 50s and 60s.
While recognizing the limits of the 348 T, that is a dynamic behavior of its own and performance that is not exciting compared to the premises, the criticisms and the consequent evil voices are excessive.
The berlinetta version, the TB, was built in 2,894 units, of which one hundred and thirty with right-hand drive, and chassis numbers ranging from 81617 to 96679, while the uncovered version, the TS, was built in 4,228 specimens, with chassis which start from number 81651 to 96964, of which only twenty-six have right-hand drive.
Continuing to consider only the first version of the 348, in 1993 there will be small updates that will also change the nomenclature, among which it is necessary to mention the Special USA series, made in only one hundred units, and the twenty-two customized examples by the Zagato body.
The car of the Milanese atelier stands out from the rest of the 348 family for a number of details, such as the NACA intakes, circular headlights, grilles and air intakes on the rear fender that recall the Gran Turismo of the 60s.
Fun fact: a Ferrari 348 T was used as the Ferrari Enzo's first forklift on the road.
The Ferrari 348 T is a car that manages to mix the past and the future in its DNA. With the subsequent heirs, the Maranello company will enter a new era of sports cars, taking its peculiarities from these two worlds, with the pros and cons of the case.
It is certainly not perfect, it has objective limits, but it manages to convey pure and genuine sensations, carving out a prominent place within the Maranello cars with unique characteristics that make the 348 T an interesting object to own, drive and collect.
Two-seater berlinetta or spider bodywork
Rear engine position
Size and Weights
Length 4230 mm
Width 1894 mm
Height 1117 mm
Front track 1502 mm
Rear track 1578 mm
Wheelbase 2450 mm
Unladen mass 1393 Kg
95 liter tank
Displacement 3404.70 cm³
Type 119, 90 ° V8, light alloy base and head, rear, longitudinal
Bore and stroke 85x75 mm
Compression ratio 10.4:1
Unit displacement 425.59 cm³
Double camshaft distribution, four valves per cylinder
Bosch Motronic M 2.5 Electronic Injection
Power 221 kW / 300 hp at 7,200 rpm
Specific Power 88 CV / liter (65 Kw / liter) and 95 nm / liter
Torque 324 Nm at 4,200 rpm
Mono ignition, Bosch static electronics
Dry sump lubrication
Bosch 12 V electrical system
Transaxle gearbox, transverse, five-speed + RM
Car body, supporting structure in boxed steel with rectangular elements of various sections with rear sub-frame in round tubes trellis bolted to the main frame
Independent front suspension, wishbones, coil springs, telescopic gas shock absorbers, stabilizer bar
Independent rear suspension, wishbones, coil springs, telescopic gas shock absorbers, stabilizer bar
Steering pinion and rack
Front vented disc brakes Ø 300mm, 4 pistons with fixed calipers
Rear vented disc brakes Ø 305mm, 4 pistons with fixed calipers Tires: front 215/50, rear 255/50
Consumption at 90 km/h equal to 7.7 liters/100 km, at 120 km/h equal to 8.4 liters/100 km, urban equal to 19.6 liters/100 km
Speed over 275 Km/h
Acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.6 seconds, from 0 tot 200 km/h in 23.2 seconds, and from 0 to 1000 meters in 24.7 seconds