Ferrari 348: History, Photos, Generations, Specifications

Ferrari 348: History, Photos, Generations, Specifications

Ferrari 348 Essential History

Designed and launched as the replacement for the tremendously popular Ferrari 308/328 lineage, the Ferrari 348 first hit the streets in 1989, remaining in production through the 1995 model year. With deep side strakes and square taillights, the 348 is often paired stylistically with the contemporary Ferrari Testarossa. In place of the Testarossa’s flat-12, however, the 348 packs a 3.4-liter quad-cam 32-valve, dry-sump, mid-mounted V-8 spinning out 296 hp and 238 lb-ft of torque through a five-speed manual transmission. Performance for the 348 was roughly on par with other entry-level super-sports cars of the era; 0-60 mph took 5.6 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 171 mph.

Ferrari 348 Serie Speciale

At launch, buyers could configure the 348 in both coupe TB (Transversale Berlinetta) and targa TS (Transversale Spider). For 1992 and 1993, a 100-unit run of the 348 Serie Speciale was offered, adding upgraded exhaust and engine management that pushed power output to 312 hp. Along with the extra juice, a shorter final drive ratio, stickier tires, and a wider rear track dropped the 0-60 mph run to a more impressive 5.3 seconds. Visually, the Serie Speciale incorporated an F40-esque front splitter and body-colored bumpers and rocker panels. New grilles and taillights, F40-style leather seats, and leather door panels were also added, along with special interior plaques denoting the car as a Serie Speciale.

Ferrari Updates the 348

In 1993, Ferrari tweaked the 348 lineup, adding the power and handling upgrades from the Serie Speciale to the TS and TB, renaming both to the GTS (targa) and GTB (coupe). For the first time in the history of Ferrari mid-engine V-8 two-seaters, the 348 incorporated a full drop-top variant called the 348 Spider, replacing the mid-engine 2 + 2 Ferrari Mondial cabriolet.

Aside from a handful of ultra-low-production offshoots like the Zagato Elaborazione, Ferrari set the precedent for track-focused hardcore variants like the Ferrari 360 Challenge Stradale, F430 Scuderia, and 458 Speciale with the 348 GT Competizione. Designed as a homologation special for the GT Championship, the 348 GTC incorporated a crate of motorsports goodies for use on the street—or circuit. Ferrari pulled the brakes off the F40 Competizione, complementing a full race-spec suspension and exhaust system, though the 3.4-liter V-8 was left mostly untouched, so power remains the same as the Euro-spec 348 with 316 hp. The key to the GTC was weight, or a lack thereof; thanks to extensive use of Kevlar and carbon fiber, the GTC shed 440 pounds compared to the regular car, tipping the scales at just over 2,900 pounds.

Ferrari 348 Highlights

Ever since Ferrari established the winning hierarchy of mid-engine V-8, front-engine V-12 in the late 1970s, things have been mostly dreamy for the storied Italian supercar peddler. Corporate politics, manufactured scarcity, and a touchy relationship with the press aside, modern cars wearing the Cavallino Rampante have rarely had to defend themselves against more than surface-level criticism regarding ergonomics and exorbitant maintenance schedules. In other words, Ferrari is and was in the business of building absolute winners, no matter the cylinder count.

Then, Ferrari replaced the tremendously popular 308/328 series with the Ferrari 348, and suddenly found itself the target of criticism and ridicule it had never before experienced. The 348 had the misfortune of landing shortly before the incredible Honda/Acura NSX; compared to the quiet, composed, and generally livable Japanese super-sports car, the 348 was labeled as bit of a dinosaur. According to most contemporary reports, the 348 was harsher, balkier, more finicky, and was an underwhelming experience compared to the NSX, especially since the two mid-engine coupes were matched for performance. Then, as part of its September 1991 issue, Car and Driver ran a 348 down the quarter mile next to the then-new GMC Syclone. Spoiler alert—the end result wasn’t pretty for the Ferrari.

Cheap Thrills

As a result, the Ferrari 348 has languished as a bit of the middle-child modern Ferrari. The preceding 308 and 328s developed into icons in their own right, while the later NSX-ified Ferrari 355 cemented itself as one of the finest driving sports cars—ever. A good portion of enthusiasts look down on the poor 348, judging it as a “lesser than” supercar, and deem the only reason to buy a 348 is because you can’t afford a 355.

As a result, regular non-limited 348s are absurdly inexpensive relative to other Ferraris. Short of the Mondial or 308 GT/4, the 348 is the most budget-friendly way to park a genuine mid-engined Ferrari in your driveway, with prices ranging from the low-$40,000s to low-$60,000s.

Despite all of the foibles, the Ferrari 348 doesn’t get enough credit as one of the final “raw” sports cars from Maranello. Its unassisted steering and lack of anything digital results in an elemental driving experience. If you’re seeking a car from the “old world” version of Ferrari, the 348 is one of the prettiest and most affordable ways to get your foot in the door.

Ferrari 348 Buying Tips

Head over to any of our content hubs, and you’ll find we often suggest investing in a pre-purchase inspection, no matter how complex or reliable the car in question is. In the case of the Ferrari 348, we cannot stress how important getting a twice-over from a marque expert is. These are complex, maintenance intensive cars, and owing to their rather egalitarian pricing, a large portion of the 348 pool are in dire need of mechanical and aesthetic overhauls. If the car comes with a large backlog of deferred maintenance, be prepared to pay close to half (or more) of the car’s purchase price to bring it back up to snuff.

Indeed—for a large portion of enthusiasts on a moderate budget, the 348 might not be worth it. Clutches need replacing every 10,000-15,000 miles, and for the most part, every major service requires dropping the engine, turning what might seem like a minor job into a job that can easily spiral past the $20,000 threshold. Couple this to reasonably underwhelming performance, and it’s no wonder the 348 remains a bit of a punching bag.

If you’re not scared off quite yet, use these prohibitively expensive buy-ins to your advantage. Be patient and try to buy a car fresh from a major service, and drive and enjoy it right until the halfway mark when the next major service could be a year or two away. Since these are toward the bottom end of their market curve, rinse and repeat. You won’t make any money, but large service investments should come much more infrequently if you play the market.

Ferrari 348 Recent Auctions

Surprisingly, it doesn’t seem like major auction houses want to deal in 348s as much as you might expect. Still, there are enough sales to get a decent snapshot of what the Ferrari 348 market looks like.

Ferrari 348 Quick Facts

  • First year of production: 1989
  • Last year of production: 1995
  • Original price: ~$95,000 (1989)
  • The relatively unloved middle child of the mid-engine V-8 Ferraris
  • Killer looks, killer sound
  • Cheap buy-in, but buyer beware.

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Ferrari 348 FAQ

You have questions about the Ferrari 348. Automobile has answers. Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked Ferrari 348 queries

Is the Ferrari 348 a good car?

That’s quite the loaded question. As Ferraris go, the 348 is average to below average in terms of value for money, even with bargain-basement prices. It’s just not as well polished a vehicle as even the 308 and 328 that preceded it. However, if you’re willing to weather the eye-watering maintenance costs and just want to drive something with a Ferrari badge up front…hey, at least it isn’t a Mondial.

Is the Ferrari 348 a good investment?

If by 348 you mean the regular bog-standard 348 without any of the special editions, we’d say your money is better spent investing in the financial markets. If you have more capital to play around with, the Serie Speciale, Challenge, and GT Competizione cars have already accelerated past the regular 348s, so get those while you can.

How fast is a Ferrari 348?

With a reported top speed of 171 mph, it’s more than fast enough to get you in some serious trouble.

Ferrari 348 Specifications 
ENGINE3.4L DOHC 32-valve V-8/296 hp @ 7,200 rpm, 238 lb-ft @ 4,200 rpm
TRANSMISSION5-speed manual
LAYOUT2-door, 2-passenger, mid-engine RWD coupe, convertible
L x W x H167 in x 74.6 in x 46.1 in
WHEELBASE96.5 in
WEIGHT3,300 lb
0-60 MPH5.6 sec (mfr. )
TOP SPEED171 mph