2 days ago Ferrari unveiled the SF90 Stradale, its first plug-in hybrid supercar with more power than the diabolical LaFerrari and looks that scare Lamborghini to death. It is then a very important car, not just for Ferrari but for the automotive world in general. But surprisingly, it's not even close to being the most important Ferrari of all time. That prestigious title goes to a car most of us first saw in the Nicolas Cage classic "The Rock" chasing a Hummer H1 down the hills of San Francisco or in the first Fast And The Furious where its perfectly idiotic owner replied to the question of "what's the retail on one of those" with the now infamous words "More than you can afford pal. Ferrari". Yes, the car in question is the F355 and it definitely didn't become famous just from the movies. When it was launched in 1994 it paved the way for the future of Ferrari, but to truly understand the meaning of this car we have to look at what Ferrari was doing in the 90s up to this point. And well... Ferrari was stuck in the 80s.
In 1994 Ferrari was still offering the Testarossa, now named 512TR and later 512M, a car that was first unveiled a decade earlier meaning that its styling and engine while still breathtaking were simply getting too old by now. Also offered until 1994 was the 348, a car that not many people really liked and was forever treated as "that" Ferrari (something evident by its resale values today). But speaking of "other" Ferraris, just one year before the 355 was launched the Mondial was still in production, a car that at least had a clear goal of showing people that they had to work harder if they wanted an actual Ferrari and not this "that'll do" car. To put it more simply, almost every car (with the exception of the forgotten 456) before the 355, was first unveiled when Enzo was still alive, and Enzo passed away in 1988 so things really weren't fresh. Enter the 355.
Granted, the 355 was essentially a heavy redesign of the 348 but saying that they're the same car should be considered a criminal offence. The 355s V8 at 3.5 L. wasn't just larger than the 348s 3.4 but it also had 5 valves per cylinder that gave the car not just more power, at 375 hp, but more usable power as well which meant that the 355 was a better car than the 348. But the effort to make the 355 a car and not just a Ferrari didn't stop there. The 355 was fitted with adjustable dampers and power assisted steering so low speed driving didn't feel like fighting the whole Roman Army. But the 355 was still a thoroughbred and as such came fitted with goodies like a dry sump for lubrication, unequal length and independent wishbones paired with gas-filled shock absorbers with coil springs that gave the car enough grip in the bends to re-arrange your mortgage payments and a steel monocoque with a tubular steel rear sub frame which meant that the car was definitely more solid than Ferraris of old, not to mention that the interior in all of its Connolly Leather glory was more spacious and had more equipment than the 348.
All this technical babble meant two things. One that the 355 could reach 100 km/h (or 60 mph) in 4.7 seconds and had a more than respectable for today's standards top speed of 286 km/h ( or 183 mph) and two that it was the best handling car in the world. It was so good that Jeremy Clarkson bought one after he drove one on a test. It even had its own racing series, the Ferrari Challenge series which consisted of track ready 355s. But this car's biggest achievement isn't the racing pedigree or even the fact that it was the first of the modern Ferraris with cars like the 550 Maranello arriving in 1996 and the satanic F50 in 1995. The biggest achievement of this car was that with its many sales (11273 to be specific) it helped secure the future of Ferrari and eventually got replaced with the 360 in 1999, a car that was more usable, faster and generally better than the 355. But without the 355 things would have definitely been different and Ferrari wouldn't have made this daring move into the electric supercar. So thank you 355 for allowing Ferrari to progress. You're always remembered as one of the greats.. even if you need an engine removal for a belt change.
So what do you think? Is the 355 the most important Ferrari ever?
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