355 Buyer's Guide

Discussion in '348/355' started by lusso64, Oct 7, 2004.

  1. lusso64

    lusso64 Formula 3

    Apr 12, 2004
    1,535
    Simi Valley
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    David
    Since I am now in the market for a 355, I need a 355 buyer's guide. As I can not find one, I am hoping we can build one right here. Of course if one already exists, can someone kindly point me in the right direction - tell me where to go even :)

    I will combine all the replies into a single document and upload it so others may benefit also.

    Kind Regards, Dave
     
  2. Robertb

    Robertb Formula 3

    Nov 19, 2003
    1,330
    South Oxfordshire, U
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    Robert
    I think that is a great idea. Without wishing to say "search the archives" as I really hate that, there probably is a lot of stuff in there. But putting it all together in one document would be very useful for many I'm sure.

    Here's a quick summary, forgive me, I do not know how much you know already.

    In summary 355s are available in three body styles: GTB (berlinetta, fixed roof) GTS (removable roof panel, often color coded), Spider (convertible). Available with 6 speed manual or F1 sequential hyrdaulic shift. Broadly split into cars with 2.7 Motronic engine management, or 5.2. Some have carbon race style seats, some have 'Challenge' rear grilles (a sort of black mesh, looks good). Many have sports exhausts fitted, some have catalysts removed.

    As a start, common themes specific to 355s to look out for are, in no particular order:

    Valve guide wear in early cars (most should have been seen to now)
    Catalytic converter failure
    Manifold failure
    Alternator failure
    Exhaust bypass valve rattles/fails.
    Black center console trim bubbling
    Bubbling/paint cracks where buttresses meet rear wings on GTB/S
    Hood mechanism failure on Spiders
    Dented/rusty door sill kick plates
    Wear on drivers seat bolsters

    I'm sure others will add to the list. And don't let the faults put you off; they're great cars and most are well looked after...

    Good luck!

    Robert.
     
  3. TTG

    TTG Formula 3

    Jun 11, 2002
    1,514
    East Hanover, NJ
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    Todd Gieger
    Get a hold of Forza Magazine #21 Feb 2000. It's the 355 buyer's guide edition...I did this before I bought mine. I also picked up Forza #23 June 2000 because it features the 355 Fiorano..."The last 355" on the cover...great stuff if you want a Fiorano 355
     
  4. lusso64

    lusso64 Formula 3

    Apr 12, 2004
    1,535
    Simi Valley
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    David
    I had thought about getting hold of these articles, and I will do it at some stage.

    I really want to tap into the 4+ years of experience people have had with their cars since these articles were published. There are some pretty high mileage cars out there, some even used for daily commutes. The experiences of these owners would be invaluable to a prospective purchaser.

    Dave
     
  5. Senna1994

    Senna1994 F1 World Champ

    Nov 11, 2003
    12,735
    Orange County, CA
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    Tony
    I have had my car for 5 years and I have all those articles, send me a PM if you have any questions.
     
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  7. RF128706

    RF128706 Formula Junior

    Apr 8, 2004
    280
    Filix, sorry to contradict you buddy, but I paid money for their "so called" guide to the 355. A total and complete waste of money. Eight pages of drivel I could have written in half an hour reading this site. On top of that there were a number of factual inaccuracies -- for example: apparantly the clutch cable is a typical 355 weak spot.

    CLUTCH CABLE ?

    The 355's got a goddam hydraulic clutch !

    Complete rubbish - the fact that this guide is "approved" by the UK FOC is the reason I didn't join the club and am unable to take them seriously.

    Sorry for the emotion, just had to get it off my chest, nothing personal to you of course.
     
  8. felix66

    felix66 Karting

    Feb 21, 2004
    175
    London
    No problem. Not sure you are contradiciting or agreeing with me anyway since I merely provided the link (without warranty or recommendation) - when buying a motor of this kind ALL information has some intelligence value.

    Feel free to emote as you see fit.
     
  9. tonyh

    tonyh F1 World Champ
    Lifetime Rossa Owner

    Dec 23, 2002
    14,372
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    Tony H
  10. Robertb

    Robertb Formula 3

    Nov 19, 2003
    1,330
    South Oxfordshire, U
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    Robert
    I thought the guide was a bit rubbish too- no specific info on what to look out for, and no mention, for example, of the 2.7 motronic being changed to 5.2 hardly fills one with confidence.

    Under-researched, but with some nice pics and a reasonable summary of the models and specs. Certainly wouldn't go out and pay for it, mind.
     
  11. JSL

    JSL Formula 3

    Jan 5, 2002
    2,212
    California
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    J.S. Leonard
    Great advise. The 355B in the Feb. issue belongs to me. Still look and drives fantastic! :)
     
  12. Crawford

    Crawford Formula 3

    Mar 5, 2003
    1,294
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    Crawford White
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  14. tonyh

    tonyh F1 World Champ
    Lifetime Rossa Owner

    Dec 23, 2002
    14,372
    S W London
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    Tony H
    0) Get a HPi check as Ade says, and make sure there is a history that makes sense. There are independent service places that are better than main Ferrari so a factory history isn't everything. My car hadn't been serviced for 4 years (but hadn't done any miles either) and I just got it back from belt/change major service and its fine.

    1) Run your finger along all panel gaps to see if they are relatively equal and panels are mounted at the same level. There is usually some rust on the foot plates under the doors, its a pain to clean up as they are bonded and removing usually bends them. Can be replaced with carbon fibre panels (see eBay). There is usually cracks/ripples in the paint where the C pillar meets the rear wing. This is normal and is something that needs attention every now and again.

    2) White powder in the tail pipes = new catalytic convertors. These are £400 each (x2) or can be replaced with pipes (£200 total) but they are loud and due to emissions require a friendly MOT chap. The standard cats do fail (ceramic). Fuchs in Germany will take your old Cat bodies and replace inner with metal matrix which lasts forever (£1000 I think - but one off payment). Note that if the Cats need replacing, either with other cats or pipes then each has 3 sensors (2 Oxygen and 1 temperature) and they sometimes cannot be removed so you need new ones (£160/£60/£100 each).

    3) Interior black rubber dash covering cracks in centre console and breaks up. Starts on the ashtray - again carbon panels can be bought on eBay.

    4) There should be NO oil leaks, no blobs under it at all. So dont accept the "Ferrari's always leak a little" argument.

    5) When/if you check the engine oil level DO WITH THE ENGINE VERY HOT! ie not cold, if you check when cold (like I did) you could end up draining 14L out of the sump (holds 9.5) been there etc...

    6) Rub your finger around the top of the dampers on the black rubber bushes, if there is any oil / damp then the damper is on its way. £600 each or about £200 as a recon from Bilstein. Also if rear dampers gone then you will see high wear on inside of rear tyres.

    7) Gears selection should be heavy when oil cold (miss 2nd out to save the synchros) once hot the shift should be quick and smooth for all gears.

    8) The paint should be even all over and a bit orange peally (normal Ferrari) if the paint finish is mega (no orange peel) then its either been professionally rubbed down and polished or its a re-spray. Look everywhere for overspray, lift the window rubbers etc.

    9) Make sure wheels are not damaged, magnesium leaks air if it has hairline fractures and an impact can cause this. They are about £850 each to replace.

    10) Exhaust manifolds crack and need welding / replacing at some point. Check for blowing in the exhaust system and adjust price as required. Ferrari manifolds are about £1650 each but there are alternatives that are probably better made (eBay again, .com, I love eBay ).

    11) When you remove the petrol cap (make sure it dosnt stick when pressing button on dash, show lack of care) there should be a rush of air OUT (tank pressureised).

    12) Check all the electrics work OK, and I mean all of them.

    13) I have never seen a car with more than 30,000m on it that hasnt got signs of wear / cracking on the leather interior (seat sides etc) so if you see wear and the mileage is low be suspicious.

    14) Throttle sticks a little bit on initial pickup (needs more pressure initially when pulling away then jolts as the pedal moves) this is caused by the throttle cable run not be properly adjusted/lubricated. Its a good indicator of how recently and how well its been serviced. After a service there should be no jolt, but it gets gradually worse the closer you get to the next service.
     
  15. tonyh

    tonyh F1 World Champ
    Lifetime Rossa Owner

    Dec 23, 2002
    14,372
    S W London
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    Tony H
    The Ferrari F355 has two different engine packages (OBDIO-I=95 and OBDIO-II=96-99), and three different brake packages (95, 96-97, and 98-99). In street braking, there is not much difference in the braking setup and response; and for track use all brake packages should have a set of pads that are more tollerent of heat.
    When F1 became available in ?96 or 97? it arrived with an uprated slave cylinder in the clutch throwout system. Like the F348s the clutch (and associated parts) is easy to change even if the parts are expensive. If you have to change anything in the clutch, do the whole thing and use the uprated slave cylinder. Its smoother, lighter, and ever so slightly faster.

    The 95 engine has a little more HP and TQ (5 HP and 2-3 lb-ft) from a slightly richer mixture allowed by the OBDIO-I emissions specification. All engines will have header issues if tracked regularly, and the 95 modle year is more affected than later. There is a uprated materials specification if/when header replacement is required. Even with the uprated materials, challenge cars replace the headers yearly. With indifferent street use headers have gone as far as 103,000 miles without failure. The hydraulic pump of the F1 cars saps some power from the engine but performance improves through the faster gear changes available through computer controlled timing of the events. The 360 F1 system is miles ahead in smoothness especially after 2001.

    Engines up through the 98 model year can be affected by a valve guide issue detected in 95 based on the 94 348 Challenge cars where the factory changed the vavle guide specification from <some> bronze to sintered steel. In general, if the engine has not run into the valve guide issue by the time it has 20,000 miles it will likely not run into the issue.

    The suspension system is excellent, with minor issues relating to the computer controlled shoch absorbers (connector corrosion). The oversteer/understeer relationship is easily manipulated with rear ride height (Google on: Ride couple distribution). The factory specs are just fine for street and even agressive track driving on street tires. I get 9 K miles on a set of max performance street tires where 1,500 of those miles occur on a race track with factory specs. Both front tires and both rear tires turn from treaded tires to slicks within 100 miles of each other. Adding camber speeds up the chassis but beware of making the car faster than the driver. Adding toe calms the car under steady state straight line operation and under braking. Running toe-out is only for track use. The suspension is easily dialed into the driver preference as long as the driver known which direction he want the cars response to move towards. If you lower the car be aware of a high speed heavy braking issue at the front suspension. Staying at the <already> factory ride heights (4.2" of ground clearance) is a good bet and prevents this high speed braking issue.

    If you want to use r-compound tires or racing slicks, find the challenge specifications for alignment, but don't lower the car unless you also add the challenge spring and shock package. For noon-agressive track use, r-compounds and slicks work pretty well with the factory alignments.

    The alignment system (shims) works so well that if you like agressive track driving and calm street driving, get the car sorted on the track first, and them get it aligned back to factory specs on an alignment gig. The difference between the shim thickness can be measured, and when you get to the trank, loosen a bolt, insert the required shims (8 times) and go to town. At the end of the day remove the shims, and presto you are back at street alignment. You will also get most of the toe change desired (out at track and in on the street) with this change as a side bonus.

    I dislike the power assist for the steering and prefer the 348 feel of the steering wheel, but I rate this as a very minor issue.

    Cars that are used hard over irregular surfaces will see minor paint spider webbing on the rear flying butress (C-piller) as evidence of hard use.

    The plastic parts in the interior need to be kept away from Armoural and similar plastic protectants--it turns the plastic parts into a gooy mess.

    The leather <especially> needs to be protected from drying out. Feeding the leather once every couple of months or every time you drive for any distance with the windows down; and avoiding letting the car sit in sunlight help a lot. The leather is higher in quality than <say> a C5 Vette, but less tollerant of lack of care.

    Overall, the engine internals, the transmission, suspensions and brakes are basically unbreakable. There are no long term issues with the paint and exterior materials.

    With the age of these cars approaching 10 years (95) and only the 98s and 99s still under the 8-year emissions warentee, the potential buyer is ever more dependent upon a high quality PPI than before. These are wonderful high performance machines that can take a lot of abuse (or designed for use) without fail. The engine has a big broad torque curve that is readily accessible and the sound at RedLine is simply out of this world. When the tail drifts out in a 100 MPH sweeper, you dial in a touch of steering and add throttle, and grin all the way to the next braking zone. However, like an Italian mistress, they are demanding upon your time and wallet. Choose wisely.
     
  16. tonyh

    tonyh F1 World Champ
    Lifetime Rossa Owner

    Dec 23, 2002
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    Tony H
    I have a buyers' guide but can't post due to copyright issues. PM with email address if you want it.
     
  17. Crawford

    Crawford Formula 3

    Mar 5, 2003
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    Crawford White
    Thanks for all the info - very helpful !

    Is the 355 lower than a 328? I hear a lot about the front spoiler being chewed up by speed bumps...
     
  18. tonyh

    tonyh F1 World Champ
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    Dec 23, 2002
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    Ride height is awful; IIRC it's just over 4 inches. I have alu skid plates on mine .
     
  19. Crawford

    Crawford Formula 3

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    Yes - 4.2 inches..

    Just measured my 328 which is right at 5"
     
  20. Steve B

    Steve B Formula Junior

    Dec 23, 2003
    521
    Naperville
    Full Name:
    Steven L. Biagini
    According to my dealer's service department (Continental Autosports in the Chicago suburbs), the 1996-1999s are most affected by failing exhaust headers and cats. They believe this is due to hotter temperatures arising from the leaner mixture used in the OBD II spec. cars. They also claim that they have never seen a 1995 car with failed exhaust headers or cats.

    As to valve guides, my understanding of the situation is as follows:

    1) 1995s - There were a run of cars with faulty valve guide material. It is likely that these problems have shown themselves by now unless the car is very low mileage.

    2) 1995 - mid-1998 - These cars all used bronze valve guides and some have experienced premature wear.

    3) mid-1998 to 1999 - These cars used sintered steel valve guides which should result in a normal life.
     
  21. f355spider

    f355spider F1 World Champ
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    May 29, 2001
    15,538
    Seattle, WA USA
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    Hugh G. Rection
    TonyH did a GREAT job in covering the basics of "look outs" for a 355 purchase. I will add a couple thoughts:

    1) The melting interior peices may be accellerated by ArmorAll type products, but I have seen plenty of damaged interiors that were "babied"...I'd chaulk it up to a poor material choice by Ferrari...Sun seems to be the biggest cause of the melting. You can order new peices and replace all the bad bits for less than $1500, with the exception of that pesky AC control panel that sells for around $1600 all by itself. For that, I would order a replacement CF panel from Valence, looks nicer and will last longer.

    2) Make sure the alternator has the ground strap added, this will save you much grief in fried alternators and check engine lights.

    3) You can fix some suspension failure lights by removing and cleaning the connectors (between the shock and shock acuator)...I treated them also with Stabilant 22, and have not had another light indication in many months.

    4) As far as the c-pillar cracks, I again have seen them, even on cars that are well cared for and babied, I suspect this is just a design flaw.

    5) Any car under consideration should have a compression and leakdown test. BTW, this is not a accurate measure of valve guide wear, unless it has gotten really bad...this is just to make sure the engine is otherwise healthy. Oil consumption is the true test. If the thing is sucking a quart every 200 or 300 miles, then there is a problem.

    6) Valve guides....seems the 95 and 96's have more issues than the later cars...but I have even heard of a couple 98 and 99's that have had top end work, so even they are not completely immune, but a mid 98 on car would definitely be preferable over the others.
     
  22. ghost

    ghost F1 Veteran
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    Dec 10, 2003
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    Vik
    One of the better summaries I've read on the 355. Great job Tony.
     
  23. andrew911

    andrew911 F1 Rookie
    Silver Subscribed

    Sep 8, 2003
    2,810
    Northern NJ
     

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