Friday 20th August 2010


Ferrari F355 Buying Guide - Powertrain


Mounted longitudinally, the 90-degree V8 engine for the 355 was based on the 348's with stroke increased by 2mm to 77mm, while the bore was 85mm to give a 3495.5cc capacity. The biggest change, however, was the addition of five-valve-per-cylinder heads, with three inlet valves and two for exhaust gases to escape. Power jumped from the 348's 300bhp to 380bhp at 8250rpm in the 355.

Ferrari's new V8 was notable for being the highest revving road car engine at the time, with a limit of 8800rpm. It also boasted the highest power per litre for a normally aspirated engine at 109bhp/litre.

There have been problems with the valve guides in early 355s, which used bronze items that wore easily. This let oil leak past and created a smoky exhaust, so watch for this. Most cars will have been cured with steel valve guides, which were used on later (post-97) models, but as many Ferraris cover limited mileages it's still something to look out for.


The result of the new engine and six-speed manual gearbox was 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds and a claimed top speed of 184mph. The exhaust bypass valve helped the engine pass noise regulations, but can become rattly. It isn't damaging to the engine but is expensive to replace and many owners do away with it completely by fitting an aftermarket exhaust.

Other exhaust problems commonly experienced with the F355 are worn catalytic convertors and cracked manifolds. Again, many owners get round the catalytic convertor problem by ditching it altogether and opting for an aftermarket exhaust, while manifolds can be reconditioned or replaced, though the latter is an expensive option when using original Ferrari parts.

Ferrari offered an F1 paddle-shift gearbox from 1997 that used hydraulics to operate the clutch via steering wheel-mounted levers and offered gear changes in just 150 milliseconds. The F1-equipped 355s dropped the 'F' from the front of the name.

Early F355s came with a Motronic 2.7 engine management, which changed to a Motronic 5.2 system in 1996. To tell the two apart is simple as the earlier version had two mass air flow sensors and the later models a single mass air flow sensor. To spot an early car, look for the air boxes in the engine bay with a piped leading forward from either to each side of the cylinder block. In the later 5.2 system cars, there are still two air boxes but they feed into a single pipe that goes forward and then branches off to each of the V8's cylinder banks.

Finally, there's the age-old dilemma of cambelt changes in a Ferrari. Yes, the 355 needs them changed every three years or 30,000 miles, whichever is sooner. Some American-spec 355s were sold with the advice of a cambelt change every five years, so beware of 355s imported from the USA. It's a 22-hour job to lift the body up and away to reveal the engine, hence the high cost of this procedure. Some independent specialists can change the cambelts with the engine in place and removing the fuel tanks, saving time and money.

Buying Guide Section Menu:

Ferrari F355 - Introduction
Ferrari F355 - Powertrain (viewing now)
Ferrari F355 - Rolling chassis
Ferrari F355 - Body
Ferrari F355 - Interior
Ferrari F355 - General experiences
Ferrari F355 - Search the PH classifieds...

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Last comment was by Cactussed
on 27th August 2010