The 348 languishes in a gap between the classically pretty 328 and the 355 that has gone on to enjoy a reputation as the blueprint for all modern mid-engined Ferraris. Does that mean the 348 is a clunker, or untapped - and affordable - Modena gold? With prices from £45,000, it’s not cheap but it’s certainly good value compared to its immediate predecessor and successor.
Some will tell you the 348 is justifiably cheap by Ferrari standards because of its poor build quality and unreliability. This was definitely the case when the car was launched in 1989, though initial impressions were all very favourable. It had looks and presence, as well as its 3.4-litre V8 motor mounted longitudinally and lower in the chassis than the 328’s transversely positioned unit.
With 300hp, or 320hp for the Serie Speciale, it was quick by the standards of the time, knocking off 0-62mph in 5.4 seconds and levelling out at 171mph. A five-speed manual gearbox was the only transmission choice. The chassis was new too and used monocoque construction methods to make it much stiffer than the 328’s.
It all augured well until the initial road test reports filtered through. They criticised the build quality and snappy on-limit handling. The good news is these problems are easily fixed now and most 348s for sale will already have been sorted. Ferrari was quick to react to the comments in contemporary road tests with revised suspension geometry and much better construction in the cabin and the car as a whole.
By the time the Spider arrived in the 1993 to join the tb coupe and ts targa-roofed model, the 348 was very much the car it should have been when launched. At this point, Ferrari also changed the names of the tb and ts to GTB and GTS respectively, while the engine was boosted to 320hp across all versions.
Towards the end of its life, the 348 gave rise to a GTC ‘Competizione’ model with power up to 325hp and 190kg stripped from its kerb weight through paring back the cabin trim and composite body panels. Carbon Kevlar race seats dominate the GTC’s interior and only 50 were made in total, with eight delivered in right-hand drive.
Find a GTC for sale and you’ll need around £175,000 to put it in your garage. Look for a standard tb or GTB and prices begin at £45,000 for higher mileage examples and stretch up to £80,000 for perfect, low miles ones. The ts, GTS and Spider command a small premium but condition and colour dictate price much more.
Rust shouldn’t be an issue as most 348s have been pampered. However, the body is all-steel and corrosion can occur around the wheel arches and door bottoms.
The electronic climate control’s ECU can fail and leave the air con not working. The most likely problem is broken connections that can be re-soldered by an auto electrician.
Plastic switches use a rubberised covering that degrades and ends up in a sticky covering. Sorting this means finding new switches or having the originals recoated.
Early versions of the 348 suffered from cam chain tensioner wear. Ferrari updated this and most cars will have been improved, but check the history file for evidence this work has been carried out as part of the routine two-year cam belt replacement regime.
Later 348s had the cam belt intervals extended to three years and 24,000 miles.
The cam chain tensioner’s inner support bearing for the cam-drive jack shaft can fail on early engines, though again this should have been resolved by now. Ultimately, Ferrari cured this with a new engine block design.
Second gear is difficult to select when the transmission is cold, so get used to changing from first to third until the gearbox has warmed through.
Clutch is a weak link in the transmission, so feel for any slip and listen for noises that suggest the transfer gears have worn. A gearbox rebuild will cost around £4,000 and is a better bet than a secondhand ’box that’s an unknown quantity.
Look for oil leaks from the cam covers.
Early Delco alternators regularly failed and were replaced by Ferrari with a Nippondenso item. Almost all 348s will now have the later alternator.
The original Motronic 2.5 engine management system suffered problems and was replaced by the later 2.7 version in cars built from 1990-onwards.
Ask a specialist to check the spring platforms as they can crack.
Nothing much to worry about here beyond usual condition checks and age of tyres on cars that have covered small annual mileages.
SPECIFICATION - FERRARI 348
Transmission: 5-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Torque(lb ft): 239@4,200rpm
Price now: £45,000 upwards
1 / 4