The Ferrari 348 was first introduced at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1989 and continued in production until 1994. Initially the 348 was available in two forms, either as a 348tb or 348ts. These later became the 348GTB and 348GTS. In addition there was a 348 Spider, a 348 Challenge and a 348 GTCompetizione for the European market plus a 348 Serie Speciale for the American Market. Also a couple of other important 348 versions were produced, not by the Ferrari Factory such as the 348 Zagato and a 348 GTCompetitione by Michellotto.
The 348 was powered by a mid-mounted 3.4 litre V8 engine, which gave the car its name – ’34’ refers to the engine size and ‘8’ to the number of cylinders. The ‘tb’ and ‘ts’ referred to the 348’s transverse mounted gearbox with ‘b’ signifying berlinetta (coupe) and s standing for Spider which was really a targa and had a removable roof panel.
The all alloy four cam, 32 valve engine unit initially developed 295bhp (later 320bhp) at 7200rpm and was enough to propel the 348 to a claimed 170mph and a 0-60 time of less than 5.6 seconds. The engine was a development of the familiar 90 degree V8 seen in the 328, increased in capacity from 3.2 litres to 3.4 litres and featured a Bosch Motronic engine management system to control the fuel injection, ignition and emissions.
Unlike its forerunner, the 348 had its engine mounted longitudinally ahead of the rear axle, with the gearbox mounted transversely at the rear of the engine. This new layout gave enough extra space alongside the engine to house two large water radiators and the oil cooler. These were fed fresh air via the intake strakes along the flanks of the car to ensure the most efficient engine cooling. More significantly the new layout allowed the engine to be mounted five inches lower in the chassis so reducing the cars center of gravity.
Replacing the 328, the 348 was a completely new car from ground up. The structure of the chassis featured a pressed steel frame which was both stronger and stiffer and a tubular sub frame at the rear carrying the longitudinal mid mounted engine along with the rear suspension and transverse gearbox.
Suspension & braking
The 348s independent suspension featured unequal length double wishbones and gas filled dampers. The braking system included ventilated discs front and rear with an anti-lock system as standard.
Body & interior
The body styling was the work of Pininfarina and adopted the look of the Testarossa. The 348 body panels were all steel except for an aluminium bonnet and boot lid plus fiber glass front and rear bumper panels. The interior of the 348 had a family resemblance to other Ferrari’s of the period but was totally new and allowed more head and leg room than the outgoing 328.
It is quite possible that the new 348 was rushed into production a little too soon as it was not the polished model of the 328 before. In early test reports the new 348 was criticized for wayward handling and suspect build quality. However, during the life of the 348, the model underwent many modifications and alterations and gradually became a much improved car towards the end of its production run.
Modifications to the 348 over this time included changes of alternator type and starter motors, alterations to shock absorbers and suspension mounting points, relocated batteries and revised fuel injector systems etc. as well as many minor trim alterations. The biggest series of changes made was with the introduction of the 348GTB/GTS series on which the 348GTCompetizione is based. These included many new mechanical parts such as engine components, springs and dampers as well as suspension parts and a new rear differential. In many ways the GTB/GTS/GTC cars were an intermediary model between the early 348 and the later F355 cars.
The Ferrari 348 was first launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1989
Between 1991 and 1992, a number of 348’s were modified by Zagato of Milan
In February 1993 a spider version was introduced. Announced at Rodeo drive in Los Angeles the Spider had a manually operated roof that echoed the profile of the Berlinetta when erected and the extra 20bhp from the new F119H engine.
In late 1993 the tb and ts models were replaced by the GTB and GTS. These models also had the later F119H 320bhp engine, body coloured engine cover and sills, a slightly altered interior and a whole raft of mechanical changes.
Also in 1993 a ‘Serie Speciale’ model limited to 100 cars was produced for the North American market. These cars had a reprofiled front spoiler, body coloured engine cover and sills, uncovered rear lights with just a small slatted grill and a chrome cavallino rampante in between. The model was quoted as being 60lbs lighter and had twenty more brake horse power. It also had lower profile tyres, a wider track, modified suspension, leather trimmed Kevlar sports seats and a unique plaque on the passenger door post.
Maranello Concessionaires also produced their own Serie Speciale model and was limited to just four RHD cars for the British market. These cars had a sports exhaust system, body coloured engine cover and sills, a challenge steering wheel, drilled pedals and a small lip on the front spoiler.
Another model produced in 1993 was the Challenge series of cars. These were a modified version of the standard car designed to be raced by privateers in a one make race series organized by the Ferrari factory. The series was a great success and aroused considerable interest from Ferrari customers and the press. The Challenge series still continues today with the latest versions of the V8 cars.
In 1993 Michellotto the favored Italian tuning company produced a series of cars for competition called the 348 GT Competizione.
Then in 1994 the Ferrari factory produced the 348 GT Competizione road car as a limited edition model for the European market. It is these 348 GT Competizione cars to which this site is mainly dedicated. For a more definitive list of all the exact changes we need to look at the official 348 GTB/GTS/Spider parts book but as can be demonstrated, not all GTC’s are the same, as for example there are some differences between LHD cars and RHD cars. It is worth noting that there were so many changes to this later series of cars over the previous 348 models that Ferrari produced a completely new parts book. Click here for the specifics on the upgrades applied to the 348 to create the GTC.
|Model||Year||Chassis Nos.||Total Produced||UK RHD portion|
|348 Serie Speciale||93-94||930xx-987xx||100||0|
|348 GTC Michelotto||93-94||84248-99143||11||0|
|348 GTC/LM cars||97553/98997||2||0|
Total UK RHD production for the 348 was 496 cars.
No one really knows how many Challenge cars were produced as it was a kit sold to modify an existing 348tb or in a few cases a 348ts. In addition, some challenge cars have been returned to road car spec. It is probable that between 150 and 200 cars were fitted with the Challenge kit.
The 348 tipo underwent a considerable programme of development during its five year production run and the later cars were much improved. The 348 GTC was based on the very last 348 Berlinetta the 348GTB which already had many modified features over and above early 348 models. It fact the 348GTB was so much altered it was almost an intermediate model between the 348tb and the F355.
It has not been clear over the years exactly what all the modifications were on the GTC over the GTB but the car does represent the very pinnacle of 348 development and in the best Ferrari tradition makes a superb road/race car.