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Advise regarding 1st Ferrari Purchase

Discussion in '348/355' started by alextking, May 14, 2008.

  1. alextking

    alextking Rookie

    May 13, 2008
    5
    Folks,

    Am considering the purchase of a used Ferrari for the 1st time. After quite a bit of research on this site and other sites, I would appreciate assistance with a few questions/concerns. Please let me know how if the questions raised have already been addressed. If yes, where can I locate the threads. If no, how do I go about posting them.


    Questions/concerns include:
    1. Which model is recommended between the 348 and 355?
    - I know a lot is based on personal preference, but any qualitative reasons and quantitative reasons supporting one or the other?
    - The 355 is an engine out model, which means maintenance and repairs are more expensive. Is supposed to be a new model with better engineering, but it appears to be pretty fickle.
    - On a related note, I am familiar with the adage "if you need to know the price, you should not buy it", but I subscribe to a different school of thought whereby I want to know exactly how much I should be sinking into this hobby on a yearly basis. After all, I am still undecided between Ferrari alone vs. Porsche + nice Harley.


    2. Leaning towards the F355, but not sure between the GTB and the spider. Is the spider top really that problematic?
    - For some reason, not interested in the GTS. Guess it is personal preference. : )
    - I keep reading about how bad the spider top is + folks recommending you only keep it permanently up or permanently down. Not sure if this is the right solution.
    - Although I am leaning towards the Spider, any statistics at all? 30% failure rate for a 95 model vs. XX% failure rate for a 99 model?
    - What are the specific problems? Hears bout the servos at the bottom on the seat breaking and the system not understanding that the seats are moved forward and the top able to raise itself in place. Is this the main issue?
    - In addition, I am sure most if not all folks baby their spiders with all the tune-ups and recommended servicing. Just no way to prevent a problem cos it is poorly designed top?


    3. Which model year should I buy for the F355?
    - Supposedly the Bosch management system was changed as well as other mechanical and cosmetic issues. Are the early years better? Are the early years worse? Should I buy a 99 model if I can?
    - Any one year that is "best of the best"? The reasons why? Changes to exhaust? Changes to other mechanical items?


    4. What is the difference between the F1 and manual?
    - I have read the thread about personal preference and how most wives don't drive stick so one should get a stick...
    - Any person have owned both versions; either at different points in time or on different models that can comment on this? For the latter, I know this won't be apples-to-apples comparison. However, it will be better that the seemingly biased for or against opinions. After all, I have no preference and would like to hear some sound reasons apart from "personal preference"
    - Is the wear and tear on the F1 transmission worse? More difficult and expensive to repair? How often does the "stuck in 1st and 2nd gear" situation occur. Seems that a few folks have reported problems. Any hard numbers that say this occurs 2 out of 20 owners vs 2 out of 300 owners??


    Thanks a bunch in advance for your assistance. Pretty excited about the journey to purchased a used Ferrari and am somewhat familiar with all the checks (PPI, compression test, check where the rear meets the wing for touch-up jobs, checks on front bumper re-painting that could be signs of more major repairs, hard evidence of all maintenance records, etc.).


    Cheers!
    Alex
     
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  3. alextking

    alextking Rookie

    May 13, 2008
    5
    Forget to mention that I am aware that F1 is only optional for the 98 and 99 model. Hence, if the recommendation is to go for a 96 model cos it is the "best of the best", then the argument for and against F1 transmission is a moot point.

    Cheers!
    Alex
     
  4. 285ferrari

    285ferrari F1 World Champ
    Sponsor

    Sep 11, 2004
    19,922
    Southern Md
    Full Name:
    Robbie
    Yes you are correct, a 96 model will be available with manual only..
     
  5. Bullfighter

    Bullfighter Two Time F1 World Champ
    Lifetime Rossa Owner

    Jan 26, 2005
    20,696
    Fullerton, California
    Full Name:
    Jon
    Alex, welcome to FChat. I'll defer to the 355 owners on the F1 questions. I would go for a six-speed for its character and its mechanical simplicity, but that's my opinion. (Actually, I went with a 328 for its mechanical simplicity, but that's off topic...)

    With regard to "knowing exactly how much you'll be spending" on a 10+ year old Ferrari, I'd say that you'll need to accept that from time to time these cars will need some stupidly expensive parts and service. To some extent, the old "if you have to ask..." adage applies here. A 355 Spider with an F1 gearbox is likely the most expensive V8 Ferrari to maintain, so you will pay to play. Power convertible tops, for example, are complex on most cars, but the 355 system where the power seat slides in unison is inevitably going to require attention.

    I'd go for the GTS, but they're rare.

    And, I believe the engine comes out for major services both the 348 and 355. Plan on $5K++ for these services, which Ferrari specifies every 3 years/30K miles (although many here say you can go longer, depending on your risk tolerance). A worst case scenario, in which the timing belt fails, can run up a $20K repair bill pretty quickly.

    With regard to not being decided on a Ferrari, Porsche or motorcycle, make sure you've driven a Ferrari and appreciate it for what it is. These are expensive toys. If you just want a fast car, I think a Porsche is a good option. My two lira.
     
  6. veryfast355

    veryfast355 Karting

    Sep 24, 2007
    120
    gt neck long island
    Full Name:
    michael c
    #5 veryfast355, May 14, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    I had a life long urge for a Ferrari and bought a 355 Spider 1995 with 6 speed last year.It has been an exhilarating experience. I was very careful in my final choice of car but I have always felt that the Spider really brings out the beauty of this model.I bought knowing that my first service would be a belt change and I feel that unless the previous records are meticulous that is one item that you know will need to done to the car to save any really painful problems later on.I also put on a new set of Michelins.I have it serviced at Millers in CT and they workmanship is superb. Everyone will tell you that meticulous records and full service history plus a leak-down test prior to buying is essential - I agree.

    Insist that a F dealer inspect any car that you are interested in buying and then go for it !
    Image Unavailable, Please Login
     
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  8. No Doubt

    No Doubt Six Time F1 World Champ
    Consultant

    May 21, 2005
    66,143
    Vegas+Alabama
    Full Name:
    Mr. Sideways
    The 355 is the better car (when properly maintained). You pay to play, however. It has more horsepower, more weight (the factory says otherwise, but we've weighed 'em), power steering, power top, power transmission (F1), power seats, power adjustable shocks, exhaust bypass, more valves, airbags, and an alarm that serves no purpose other than to strand and annoy owners.

    So if you want the best car and can afford either the time/effort or money to keep everything on the 355 pristine, you'll get the sublime driving experience.


    The 348 is the same car as the 355, but stripped. No power steering. No power seats. No power top. No power shocks. No airbags. No alarm. Less complicated engine (32 valves and 1 timing belt versus 40 valves and two timing belts).

    So you need to know your mechanical and checkbook tolerances. You also need to know what experience you want. If you are a DIY'er, then the 348 is by far the easiest to self-maintain.

    If you have your people do everything for you, and your accountants aren't restraining your free-spending ways, then you absolutely want the better driving experience of the 355.

    But you aren't going to get the best of both. You've got to make some choices, so you had better know yourself and your situation. Do you turn your own wrenches or do you stroke checks? There's nothing wrong with either, but you need to know where you stand.

    Do you track your cars or store them for long periods or street drive them daily? You just need to know where you stand.


    As for the Porsches...that 996 twin turbo has beastly power...4 wheel drive...and seats 4 in comfort (even on the track). If you can stomach the way it looks, then you'll go faster, for less money, in that car. Go for it. Nothing wrong with that route, either.

    Ferraris are more for fanatics, anyway. You'll know when you *really* want a Ferrari because every other car will just look either boring or garish.
     
  9. speedy_sam

    speedy_sam F1 Veteran

    Jul 13, 2004
    5,548
    TX
    Full Name:
    Sameer
    Questions/concerns include:
    1. Which model is recommended between the 348 and 355?
    - I know a lot is based on personal preference, but any qualitative reasons and quantitative reasons supporting one or the other?
    - The 355 is an engine out model, which means maintenance and repairs are more expensive. Is supposed to be a new model with better engineering, but it appears to be pretty fickle.
    - On a related note, I am familiar with the adage "if you need to know the price, you should not buy it", but I subscribe to a different school of thought whereby I want to know exactly how much I should be sinking into this hobby on a yearly basis. After all, I am still undecided between Ferrari alone vs. Porsche + nice Harley.

    --> Lot of threads comparing the two cars: search with string "348 vs 355". The 348 can be had from $40-60K while the 355 costs between $65-100K
    --> Both cars require an engine out service.
    --> Assume the servicing costs are ~$10K total for a 5 year period if you buy a well maintained 348 and perhaps $13K for the 355.

    2. Leaning towards the F355, but not sure between the GTB and the spider. Is the spider top really that problematic?
    - For some reason, not interested in the GTS. Guess it is personal preference. : )
    - I keep reading about how bad the spider top is + folks recommending you only keep it permanently up or permanently down. Not sure if this is the right solution.
    - Although I am leaning towards the Spider, any statistics at all? 30% failure rate for a 95 model vs. XX% failure rate for a 99 model?
    - What are the specific problems? Hears bout the servos at the bottom on the seat breaking and the system not understanding that the seats are moved forward and the top able to raise itself in place. Is this the main issue?
    - In addition, I am sure most if not all folks baby their spiders with all the tune-ups and recommended servicing. Just no way to prevent a problem cos it is poorly designed top?

    --> Lots of people have spiders and are v. happy with them. As common sense would dictate, you would need to exercise the top mechanism to make sure everything works correctly.
    --> Choice between spider and coupe is kinda personal. I would choose a GTB as it is stiffer than the Spider.
    --> I don't think there is that much failure regarding the top.

    3. Which model year should I buy for the F355?
    - Supposedly the Bosch management system was changed as well as other mechanical and cosmetic issues. Are the early years better? Are the early years worse? Should I buy a 99 model if I can?
    - Any one year that is "best of the best"? The reasons why? Changes to exhaust? Changes to other mechanical items?
    --> Research this on fchat - lots of info.
    --> Personally I would go for a well maintained 1995 with the valve guides done and aftermarket header/cat/muffler. Others would prefer a 1999.

    4. What is the difference between the F1 and manual?
    - I have read the thread about personal preference and how most wives don't drive stick so one should get a stick...
    - Any person have owned both versions; either at different points in time or on different models that can comment on this? For the latter, I know this won't be apples-to-apples comparison. However, it will be better that the seemingly biased for or against opinions. After all, I have no preference and would like to hear some sound reasons apart from "personal preference"
    - Is the wear and tear on the F1 transmission worse? More difficult and expensive to repair? How often does the "stuck in 1st and 2nd gear" situation occur. Seems that a few folks have reported problems. Any hard numbers that say this occurs 2 out of 20 owners vs 2 out of 300 owners??
    --> F1 problems are overstated.
    --> It really boils down to choice. F1 will be fantastic on the track while the manual will be better for day to day driving
     
  10. vvassallo

    vvassallo F1 Veteran
    Silver Subscribed

    Aug 4, 2006
    8,207
    Palos Verdes
    Full Name:
    Vince V
    All decent comments above. My personal choice was for a 1995 355 GTB because OBD 1 and Motronic 2.7 is less complex than the 1996+ Motronic 5.2 and OBD 2 systems. Also the '95's make slightly more power. The "B" is just more race car than the "S". The "S" is more fun for driving pleasure because of its removable roof. As long as you are not driving an "S" in the pouring rain, don't worry about leaks.

    Concerns are headers and valve guides. A good PPI will address these issues and whether or not u have to budget for replacement/repairs.

    I ended up with a 1993 348 Series Speciale because it was an oportunistic purchase. I do not regret my decision. These cars a so much rawer than the 355. The power difference isn't much of an issue until you are in the serious law breaking speed range. For the money, the 348 is the best value. If you have the money and want a more refined Ferrari experience, closer to a modern sports car, get a 355. I'd personally stay with the 6-speeds. Overall, maintenance costs will be higher on the 355 and you can mitigate costs on the 348 by doing minor repairs yourself. Plus, you have us here to walk you through them. :)
     
  11. SGM

    SGM F1 Rookie
    Owner

    Sep 27, 2006
    2,646
    Northern VA
    Full Name:
    Steve
    I have owned a 348 and 355 spider and am getting another 355 but this one will be a coupe. Here is my opinion of the two, first is do you want a spider, If so the 348 is operated by hand the 355 is mechanical. My 355 spider top did get stuck a few times. I was told to operate it at least weekly to keep it from sticking. Do you want a GTS or GTB?, the S cars are more rare and harder to find. The 348 does not have power steering which to me made it more fun to drive. The 355 is faster and I think it looks alot better. I prefer a 6 speed vs paddle shift, to me its more fun to shift gears. If you like to add goodies to the car you might want to think of the Fiorano 355. It comes with most of the things that guys like to add. Drive both if you can and pick the one that you like better. Do your homework and get all of the records that you can and get the car inspected before you buy. And use the search function because this topic comes up on a regular basis. And my choice is the 355 and thats why I am getting another one.

    Welcome to F chat and good luck :)
     
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  13. DM18

    DM18 F1 Rookie

    Apr 29, 2005
    4,725
    Hong Kong
    I have a 348 race car for many years. I love the rawness. I have had several 355's - a simply fantastic car. I would go for a Berlinetta. Good luck on your search
     
  14. Oengus

    Oengus F1 Veteran
    Rossa Subscribed

    Sep 29, 2004
    8,306
    Between timing belts or OH, SC, CO, CT
    Full Name:
    Chas
    I have owned both a 348 and a 355
    I had the 348 for about 3 months before I started looking for something with a little more power.........the 348 unfortunately just didnt do it for me (pls no flames) but the 355...............WOW!!! I find the power band on the 355 much greater than on the 348........but as mentioned above it only really kicks in when your already breaking the law .......

    I chose a 6 speed on the 355, I enjoy clacking thru the gears.

    Good luck with your search/purchase............thats 1/2 the fun.... :)
     
  15. ferraridriver

    ferraridriver F1 Rookie
    Rossa Subscribed

    Aug 8, 2002
    4,031
    Bay Area Calif.
    Full Name:
    Dave
    I bought a 99 355 F1 Berlinetta new and have put 23,000 no issue miles on it.

    I replaced the clutch while the engine was out for the 30K service, but on examination and measurement I projected the useful life to be about 70K.

    I drove both, but decided on the F1, a matter of personal preference, as is the choice between a spider and a GTB/S.

    Headers were replaced with SS at the 30K service also, however the OEM headers were OK, but that’s a known failure item. It’s not a question of if; it’s a question of when.

    A knowledgeable gentleman once told me years ago in regards to buying a used sports car, which the 355 certainly is, that he would rather buy a used snake, as it was less apt to bite you.

    But alas, we now have little choice in the matter.
     
  16. alextking

    alextking Rookie

    May 13, 2008
    5
    Greatly appreciate all the advice that has been given.

    I have a bunch of to-dos based on what I have read, and it has definitely given me food for thought. Keep the advice rolling in!!

    Cheers,
    Alex
     
  17. TomPDX

    TomPDX Formula Junior

    Mar 28, 2008
    558
    Oregon
    Full Name:
    Tom
    Welcome Alex - You will find the F-Chatters an extremely helpful and encouraging lot. I have learned so much on these pages. As said above, use the search function for this topic, and others. It seems like most things have been discussed at one time.

    I bought a 348 TS. The decision for me was a no-brainer - I wanted a 348 or 355, and it was all the Ferrari I could afford. It was a great price, and time will tell whether it was a good deal. Good luck!
     
  18. Janzen

    Janzen Formula Junior

    Oct 25, 2005
    415
    Oklahoma/Texas
    Full Name:
    Janzen
    Alex-

    I own a 90' 348TS, and I have quite a bit of seat time in the 355. You can't go wrong with either car. It's an interesting comparison from a cost/benefit (i.e. fun) standpoint. My only advice is buy the best you can afford. A properly sorted 348 is an awesome car. I personally think it's a lot of bang for the buck. I've had mine for 3 years and it has been entirely trouble free. I'm embarassed to admit I've only spent about $1,500 out of pocket for pure repairs and service and that included labor for a new exhaust (X-OST, Hyperflows which cost me $6K, but that's another story, haha). I'm due for a belt change. My friend has had his 355 for the same period of time and it's been a good car, but not cheap, rebuilt shocks, valve guide issue, cracked undertray accidently, etc etc. When we go for a drive both cars get the same amount of attention. You've picked 2 great cars, have fun with your purchase and let us know how it turns out.
     
  19. SGM

    SGM F1 Rookie
    Owner

    Sep 27, 2006
    2,646
    Northern VA
    Full Name:
    Steve
    Alex where are you located?? The reason is if you start attending different events in your region then you can probably get rides in the different models. That would be a great way to start as well as talk with the guys in person about the differences between the cars.
     
  20. AronAZ

    AronAZ Karting

    Jul 13, 2004
    227
    Tucson, AZ
    I'll tell you the same thing I tell my friend who thinks he's "in the market": There is absolutely no justification for a Ferrari of any kind. Sure there is a case for 348's being cheaper to operate than 355's, but really there is no rational accounting one can do aside from understanding what's been said above about not only having the means to acquire the car of choice, budgeting the proper maintenance which will run $5-12k every 3-5 years, and that a seemlingly great car can suddenly set you back $6k one day.

    If that sort of expense or surprise worries you, don't get a Ferrari. Get a well maintained late model Porsche and you'll have a great, reliable sports car.

    But if you have the cash to cover those "incidentals" and you just "have to have one", you're ready for a Ferrari. After that, its just a matter of picking the flavor that appeals to you most.
     
  21. alextking

    alextking Rookie

    May 13, 2008
    5
    Am located in Chicago.

    With regards to rationale or lack thereof, I am in complete agreement. The logical and cost-effective choice would be a Porsche. However, the emotional need to own and drive a Ferrari probably overcomes all logical thought process.

    Just have to budget the $15 to $20K needed to maintain the car every 3 years + prepared for any unexpected $6K expense. I have convinced myself. Now if I can only convince my wife... : )
     
  22. alextking

    alextking Rookie

    May 13, 2008
    5
    Greatly appreciate all the advice that has been given.

    I have a bunch of to-dos based on what I have read, and it has definitely given me food for thought. Keep the advice rolling in!!

    Cheers,
    Alex
     
  23. newgentry

    newgentry Formula Junior

    Nov 23, 2007
    447
    Johnson City, TN
    Full Name:
    Robert
     
  24. ernie

    ernie Two Time F1 World Champ
    Lifetime Rossa Owner

    Nov 19, 2001
    22,062
    The Brickyard
    Full Name:
    The Bad Guy
    I own a 1990 348ts. I tell people, "It's not hard to obtain a Ferrari, the hard part is maintaining a Ferrari". It doesn't matter what year or model Ferrari you buy, they are all expensive to maintain. From brand new ones to old classics.

    However......

    If you are inclined to do your own work, the cost of keeping these cars in running order goes down dramatically. For example, the engine out major on a 348 will run you in the neighborhood of $5,000 - $7,000 depending on where you have the work done (independent vs dealer). Yet if you do the work yourself, it can cost you $1,200 - $2,000. That's in the neighborhood of 60% LESS than what you would pay to have someone else fix maintain your Ferrari. Plus you will pay far more attention to detail than someone else would. Another example is an issue with the alternators going bad. At the dealer you can spend $1,000 (+/- $100) and a couple of hours of labor a maybe $120 per hour to have a new alternator put in. Or,..... you can rebuild it yourself for about $50, yes you read that correct fifty dollars, or a 95%+ savings. Having said that, there are people that have NO mechanical inclination, and it is better that they never put a tool in their hand.

    You may go months, or even years with only having to pay for fuel and oil changes, but sooner or later you will have to pony up a good size of money for something.

    Be advised.
     
  25. AronAZ

    AronAZ Karting

    Jul 13, 2004
    227
    Tucson, AZ
    Sometimes its easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission. :-D
     
  26. Kaivball

    Kaivball Three Time F1 World Champ
    Owner

    Jan 11, 2007
    35,882
    Kalifornia
    Been there, done that. Cost me an X5... :)

    Kai
     

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