The 355 uses a steel monocoque with tubular steel rear subframe. It's not as high tech as today's Ferraris, but is easier to repair. There were no changes to the 355's shape during its lifetime other than the three body styles the car was offered in: Berlinetta coupe, GTS targa top and Spider convertible.
The GTS targa is susceptible to leaks at the leading edge where the roof panel meets the windscreen's top rail. Buyers could order the targa panel in any colour, but most chose matched it to the body colour. As standard, the targa panel came in black. Roofs on the Spider are well made and insulated. Check the seats move forward automatically when the roof is being raised or lowered. The hydraulic pump that works the roof can also fail, but there's a manual override to solve this in an emergency.
The only major corrosion issue with 355s is where the rear buttress of the Berlinetta and GTS models meets the top of the rear wing. There's a seam here that rots, so look for signs of a quality repair where the paint has been carefully blended in to match the surrounding bodywork. Any car with cracks along the C-pillar has either led a hard life or been in an accident and poorly repaired.
The only other bodywork problem with the 355 is stone chipping. Almost every part of the front of the car is prone to this, and so are the side air intakes. Door sill plates are also prone to damage from occupants' feet and most 355 owners are happy to replace the fragile originals with aftermarket items made of carbon fibre.
1) ...It's not as high tech as today's Ferraris, but is easier to repair...." Really? As far as I'm aware it's not made in a hugely dissimilar way, and I very much doubt one is easier to repair over another?
2) "The GTS targa is susceptible to leaks..." Cue all the GTS owners refuting this If the seals are kept in good shape, they shouldn't leak I believe (mine was a B, so have no bona fide experience).
3) "Roofs on the Spider are well made and insulated. Check the seats move forward automatically when the roof is being raised or lowered. The hydraulic pump that works the roof can also fail, but there's a manual override to solve this in an emergency." From listening to mates who've owned Spiders, the roof is one of the biggest potential nightmares, especially with the cars getting older. And the manual override is very far from being a failsafe. Again, not personal experience...
4) "The only major corrosion issue with 355s is where the rear buttress of the Berlinetta and GTS models meets the top of the rear wing. There's a seam here that rots" Technically I don't believe it's "rot". I *think* the panels may be aluminium.
I believe the problem is in the way that the "joint" is created, with one panel being slotted into the other. The join is then filled. As the car is used, vibrations and flex cause the filler to crack, moisture gets in and the paint bubbles up and looks pretty nasty.
They're easily repaired, costing about 800 quid to do from memory. BUT it needs to be factored in as a "service item" as it's not a case of "if" but "when" they go. I think the interval between repairs depends on how the car is used and kept, but never did any empirical testing!
5) "Any car with cracks along the C-pillar has either led a hard life or been in an accident and poorly repaired" Not really fair. As mentioned above, I would be very, very surprised if ANY B or GTS hadn't had a repair to this area at least once by now (unless it's never been used). If a crack's there, it simply means it needs repairing and may not mean the car's a duffer.
6) "Door sill plates are also prone to damage from occupants' feet and most 355 owners are happy to replace the fragile originals with aftermarket items made of carbon fibre." The problem with the sill plates isn't damage from people's feet, it's that the originals are made out of scrap metal! They are absolute garbage and simply bubble up and rust. They also cost a fortune OEM. Carbon replacements cost less and never rust, though some people insist on staying OEM (fools!).
Murph735506 Aug 2010
PS You also made no mention of this being one of the most beautiful cars ever made (by any manufacturer, let alone Ferrari), being classically proportioned but also being able to accommodate more than Snow White's pals :grin:
Is it also worth noting that a Challenge grille could be fitted to the rear (one of few general mods available). Looks are subjective (I didn't have one - I prefer the std panel on red cars), but they are designed to lower engine bay temps...
Cactussed18 Aug 2010
I think it is worth saying that almost evey car will have had some paintwork done. The buttress issue needs sorting every 3-4 years although I've not seen any corrosion. The stone chips and the front overhang are a real nightmare, so again nearly every car that looks perfect will have had a front end respray.
It is worth noting that the front fog lamps can catch stones and break as well, at a cost of roughly £125 each.
Candellara23 Aug 2010
The 355 body is very similar to that of the 348. Corrosion points worth looking for are:
Rear buttresses (as already mentioned)
Rear quarter panel seams (where the lower rear quarter panel meets the upper). Run your fingers along this seam - as many are corroded, bubbling or spidering.
Front wing lower section seam - again, where it meets the upper part of the wing. Another hot spot for corrosion or "spidering" near the wing repeaters
Rear subframe is prone to corrosion
Windscreen flitch panel and around the front hood bonnet catches
Finally look at any car in ALL lights to check that any previous paintwork is a good colour match for the rest of the car. I've seen lots of 348/355's with different shades of rear quarter panels where the buttresses have been sprayed and in direct sunlight, they look a different colour. Ideally as part of a PPI - get the paint measured, this will indicate what parts of the car have been painted previously
Nigel_O25 Aug 2010
I had to have the buttresses done on my GTS, so its definitely not just the Berlinettas
Also, as I mentioned in the main thread, rust has no respect for the badge - we're still talking about fifteen year old Italian steel - I had to have my offside rear wheelarch painted due to bubbling where the stones had got the better of the paint
Finally, as with many older red cars, the pigment was starting to fade - annoyingly though, it was fading at different rates, depending on the base material - the bumpers were definitely fading at a lesser rate than the steel sections