RE: Ferrari F355 Modificata | Driven

RE: Ferrari F355 Modificata | Driven

Wednesday 30th October

Ferrari F355 Modificata | Driven

Hot-rodded and reimagined modern classics are nothing new, but is remixing one of Ferrari's greatest hits playing with fire?



Every circuit has its battles over noise limits, but just how loud do you have to be to get thrown off the Nordschleife? 137db will do it, this enough to have F355 Modificata creator Jeff Segal sent packing after just his second ever lap of the place. Any regrets?

โ€œI was told it was a record, but a Lamborghini owner got done for the same and he kept the print-out to share online. So he kind of took the credit,โ€ he shrugs.

Not many then, rules back home in Florida meaning he can get away with a street car running unsilenced race exhausts and Michelins with โ€˜for competition purpose onlyโ€™ stamped on the sidewalls explaining a lot. How heโ€™s managed to get away with an extended European road trip in this configuration remains a mystery, though a Montana licence plate and cheeky grin seemingly go a long way. All the same, reaction from residents at the โ€˜ring (and our Surrey photo location) suggest he may want to consider quitting while heโ€™s ahead and shipping it back to Miami before anyone asks too many questions.

Reasonable though it is, the assumption that this Modificata is little more than a roadgoingย F355 Challenge is actually a little way off the mark, though. The fact Jeff has spent the last few weeks criss-crossing the continent with it proof itโ€™s more liveable than you might imagine.


The idea behind this car, like that informing theย Sharkwerks 964 and others like it, is to tap into the growing appreciation of the 90s and early noughties as a high-point for fast cars of all types. But also acceptance that a little respectful tweak here and there can work wonders for driveability. Speculators, mileage obsessives and originality fetishists best leave the room now. Those more interested in how a car goes and the feelings it inspires can stay behind.

Crucially, Jeff had no intentions of making his F355 quicker on a lap or more drilled down to the road for a โ€˜because racecarโ€™ vibe. The lovely five-spoke magnesium Speedlines are a visual nod to the Challenge one-make racers from which he has taken many of the mechanical upgrades. But the dampers are stock, the ride height is actually a tad higher and he chose racing wets for the fact they get a bit squirmy on dry tarmac and let the car move around.

You might consider this a 90s take on the Speciales and Pistas of more recent times, and certainly thereโ€™s a sense of that with the F40-spec felt trim, red-cloth on the carbon-backed seats (an option when new) and the harnesses they carry. But where more recent Ferraris cater to driving god delusions with electronic fluffery like Side Slip Control there are no driving modes or assistance functions on this car. What you get out is as good as what you put in.

Now, whileย the F355 is undeniably beautiful it has โ€“ to put it tactfully โ€“ some known issues. Jeff knows Ferraris and is well aware of the pitfalls. But he also races them, and understands how to make them stay the course. Like many, his had low miles but plenty of former keepers when he bought it, this pattern of ownership and maintenance the root of many of the common issues.


Tearing down the engine, replacing known weak bits with new and/or upgraded items and using a race teamโ€™s approach to replacing components according to โ€˜lifeโ€™ is the secret, or so he reckons. The return on this investment meaning, if youโ€™re replacing stuff to schedule rather than mileage, you may as well get your moneyโ€™s worth and use the damned thing.

So upgrades are minimal and sympathetic. Thereโ€™s the faster rack and new power steering pump from the Challenge car, springs geo perfected by Jeffโ€™s obsessive tinkering, a funky looking GruppeM carbon induction kit and a snappier racing clutch, this also F355 Challenge spec. The ceramic coated, nest of vipers exhaust system and quad megaphone tips are a nod to classic Ferrari racers of old, the deletion of any silencing and cats explaining the noise that erupts from them. From nose to tail itโ€™s been executed with the quality, eye for detail and respect for the carโ€™s heritage to count as a โ€˜reimaginationโ€™ of sorts, albeit with a rawness not found in Singerโ€™s heavily stylised Porsche restorations.

And it goes better than you could ever have hoped. The racing clutch and lack of inertia in the engine mean snappiness akin to a pre-991 era GT3 RS and a similar need to be absolutely on your game when it comes to working the gearbox. But with that ball-topped shifter slicing through an open gate and the unsilenced howl from behind your shoulder thatโ€™s hardly a criticism, likewise a reaction to the throttle so sharp that tensing your Achillesโ€™ is enough to send the revs soaring. Whatever itโ€™s got over the 380hp and 268lb ft of the stock F355 wonโ€™t make upthe shortfall to something likeย a 488 Pista, which near-as-makes-no-difference doubles those figures. But if ever there were an argument for quality over quantity of horsepower this it, the hair trigger response and savage bark enough to have your pulse racing from tickover to redline.

Of course, the joke remains everything beyond the engine on a Ferrari is an afterthought. These are the areas in which Jeffโ€™s upgrades start making sense. If there were any rattles or squeaks you wouldnโ€™t be able to hear them anyway but thatโ€™s not the point. The car just feels taut, without any of the slop or bagginess youโ€™ll find in 20-year-old regular ones, however many miles theyโ€™ve covered. And for all the macho noise and drama the controls remain light and easy to use while the car feels alert without being pointy or scary.


The faster rack helps restore some faith in the front end but itโ€™s the smaller F40 wheel and spacing to bring it closer to your chest that really help. Everything feels up to the task too, even the relatively small (but discreetly upgraded) brakes offering staying power while the whole car feels like it could take a proper thrashing without getting all Italian about it.

By keeping the suspension supple Jeff has maintained the road carโ€™s sense of approachability, the sharper responses telegraphing weight shifts more clearly and accentuating the F355โ€™s natural balance. Itโ€™s not as hyperactive as a modern Ferrari, for sure. But itโ€™s easier to get your flow on, the beautifully linear throttle response, the rising howl of the engine note, the knowledge itโ€™ll keep pulling beyond 8,000rpm and anticipation of the next upshift all setting neck hairs to attention. Drive this car properly and the rewards are easy to appreciate, the delicate blips required to smoothly navigate your way up and down the box adding an inspiring soundtrack to a driving experience already brimming with intensity. Itโ€™s the kind of car where acceleration figures and other stat-based bragging rights just seem totally irrelevant. Gorgeous to look at, demanding to drive in all the right ways and yet simultaneously approachable and fun โ€“ itโ€™s everything youโ€™d want in a Ferrari. With a sense of race-ready toughness you donโ€™t get in the original.

Modern supercars are faster and โ€˜easierโ€™ to drive, most certainly. But when the quality of feedback is so pure you donโ€™t fear the absence of electronic safety nets or feel a need for face-saving assistance. The flow of inputs from eyes, ears and seat of the pants all inform your outputs through wheel and pedals, the carโ€™s responses so natural and uncorrupted it feels totally seamless. On a good day you might get a sense of this from a nicely presented standard F355. But it feels like this is the Modificataโ€™s default mode, and a mood it can sustain for as far as youโ€™re willing to go.

Some might question the need to answer a dilemma Ferrari never felt was posed with the F355 and tell you a road-going Challenge car is a vulgarity the world doesnโ€™t need. They may say ideas of hot-rodding and resto-mod upgrades have no place in the Ferrari world. Donโ€™t worry. Over the noise this thing makes they wonโ€™t be able to make themselves heard.


SPECIFICATION - FERRARI F355 (STANDARD CAR)
Engine:ย 
3,496cc V8
Transmission:ย 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp):ย 380@8,250rpm
Torque (lb ft):ย 268@6,000rpm
0-62mph: 4.7 seconds
Top speed: 183mph
Weight: 1,350kg (dry)
MPG:ย You won't care
CO2:ย Not sure, but it does good flames
On sale: 1994-1999
Price new: ยฃ78,000
Price now: ยฃ100,000 (plus conversion work)

Search for a Ferrari F355 here

Nurburging photos courtesy ofย RaceTracker









ย 









Author
Discussion

NJJ

Original Poster:

196 posts

27 months

Wednesday 30th October
quotequote all
Nice article. I would take this over any of the current batch of Supercars. This restomod trend will continue to grow as enthusiasts seek out the back catalogue of analogue greats after being dulled by the modern sanitised way of delivering driver thrills.

arkenphel

413 posts

152 months

Wednesday 30th October
quotequote all
Beautiful! I agree this car and restomods give something more than any modern supercar ever could... proper sensations of driving a car. Noise, feels, and the smell of unburnt hydrocarbons cloud9

Lovely!

SidewaysSi

5,984 posts

181 months

Wednesday 30th October
quotequote all
What a cracking machine and great to read about in a world of Teslas, Gretas, XR folk and the rest. Amen.

But where's the video clip? Given the noise claims, we need to hear it surely?

Esceptico

1,935 posts

56 months

Wednesday 30th October
quotequote all
I had a bog standard 355 and it was lovely. That looks amazing. Just needs a slightly more sensible exhaust.

Tickle

3,383 posts

151 months

Wednesday 30th October
quotequote all
Stunning cloud9

stickleback123

5,215 posts

136 months

Wednesday 30th October
quotequote all
Perfect level of performance for a road going sportscar IMHO. Enough to be fun and exciting but not so much that you can never hit the rev limiter without being a tt. What a looker it is too, it only gets better with time.

Maldini35

2,239 posts

135 months

Wednesday 30th October
quotequote all
This looks great.
These look sensible mods (lack of silencers aside) I’d love to make mine a little more useable/fun but I’m trapped by the low mileage and originality.

This looks a no brainier for a cheaper high mileage car.
Every bit as desirable as a Singer.


Hazmat1

23 posts

45 months

Wednesday 30th October
quotequote all
Useless without sound or video.. come on!

Gameface

10,374 posts

24 months

Wednesday 30th October
quotequote all
I had Tubi's on my old 355's which were more than enough.

This must require earplugs sometimes. Would just be too much. The tips looks awful too.

Other than that it's great.

Lord.Vader

2,187 posts

86 months

Wednesday 30th October
quotequote all
I would love a F355, peak of Ferrari design, pop-up lights, maybe one day.

AmosMoses

3,473 posts

112 months

Wednesday 30th October
quotequote all
Yep, i'm in love!

SturdyHSV

6,657 posts

114 months

Wednesday 30th October
quotequote all
I bet it's amazing when you're on it but as someone with loud exhausts on stuff, I'll reserve judgement on whether it's a good idea until PH provides us with a video. Guys? You've got video of this noise right? I mean, in all that time driving, you put a camera on the side of the road and recorded a brief video clip, right?

I only say I'll reserve judgement because, for example, I've started up my Monaro with open headers (so no cats or exhaust of any kind beyond the initial manifold) and whilst of course it sounded hilarious and really rather fantastic, it simply is not a fast enough car to merit that amount of noise... It sounded like something that would run a 1/4 mile in about 5 seconds and on the road, quick though it is, with that amount of noise it'd just be a bit of the 'all mouth and no trousers' hehe

Dan Trent

1,862 posts

115 months

Wednesday 30th October
quotequote all
Morning all!

I did get a clip of the noise and you can see/hear it here on Insta, this being approximately 30 seconds before we were asked to leave the location!

Jeff's got some clips from the 'ring too, see _Modificata_ on Instagram or click here. He reports no complaints when he ran it at Mugello!

Cheers,

Dan


CS Garth

2,093 posts

52 months

Wednesday 30th October
quotequote all
I can’t take the article seriously with the egregious use of the apostrophe. But is a conjunction you savages.

MDL111

3,942 posts

124 months

Wednesday 30th October
quotequote all
Similar to what I wanted to do to my 355 before I had to sell it. Still keep coming back to these - one day - although with German TÜV Regs, I might have to register it in the UK and keep it somewhere there for part of the year.

Speedgirl

49 posts

114 months

Wednesday 30th October
quotequote all
Just lovely 😊

thegreenhell

6,257 posts

166 months

Wednesday 30th October
quotequote all
Drive channel video review here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpBOQrtzffs

Greg the Fish

869 posts

13 months

Wednesday 30th October
quotequote all
semplicemente bellissima

Esceptico

1,935 posts

56 months

Wednesday 30th October
quotequote all
One of a number of regrets for cars I didn’t purchase was a 348 GT Competizione, which was very similar in spirit to this 355 but an official Ferrari model, even though they only made 50. About ten years ago could have bought it for £100k, which was a lot of money then for a 348 but I suspect would have been a good investment and also a cracking car to drive.

BOR

3,964 posts

202 months

Wednesday 30th October
quotequote all
I think if you were going to do all this, then a better place to start (better meaning cheaper) could have been a 348.

Otherwise, great, but financially risky in today's market.