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Car Tales: Give Me The Monet! Ferrari 348

‘Ferrari builds motor cars in much the same way Claude Monet painted landscapes – not to please the populace, but more to satisfy self, a technique and a coterie,’ wrote LA Times writer Paul Dean in July 1990, heralding the arrival of the Ferrari 348 supercar series, a baby Ferrari capable of 170 mph.
‘The previous year the 348, of which 8,844 in all formats were produced, had replaced the 328; the 348 was the final V8 model developed under the direction of Enzo Ferrari before his death, commissioned to production posthumously. So the model held some deep significance.

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‘Badged the 348 tb for the coupé (Trasversale Berlinetta) and 348 ts for the targa (Trasversale Spider), the Ferrari 348 in its Spider model therefore marked the return of the true 2-seat Ferrari convertible. It had been 20 years since the terrific 365 Daytona Spider had been dropped from production, inaugurating the long reign at Ferrari of (sometimes removable) metal roofs.
‘But now there was an open-top sports-car for all spider lovers. Paul Dean was certainly captured by the puissance of the 348, both as symbolism and in sheer practice: the LA Times writer described the 348 as a ‘better looking, stronger, faster’ successor to the ‘enormously successful’ 308/328 series, and ‘thoroughly irresistible.’
‘The 348’s styling differed from previous models with straked side air intakes and rectangular tail-lights resembling those of the Testarossa, stylistic themes reminiscent of the F40, the world’s fastest production car at the time, and other prestigious Ferrari models of the past.
‘The model was also the final design overseen by chief stylist Leonardo Fioravanti whose concepts had been visualized in the F40, Daytona, 512 Berlinetta Boxer, 288 GTO P5, P6 and others.
‘Technically, the 348 was more closely related to the Testarossa than the 328 had been. The V8 engine had been turned 90 degrees to be mounted longitudinally and set lower in the chassis. The throbbing V8 had been expanded to 3.4-liters and now boasted an additional 30bhp. Hence, coupled with the much improved aerodynamics, that top speed of 170mph.
‘171mph, as a matter of fact, but we’re never ones to be pedantic.
‘At Beverly Hills Car Club we seem to attract these archetypal Ferraris, significant collector vehicles whose sturdily clipped frames and sinuously sloping hood lines are so redolent of the step out of the twentieth century in that last decade – a significant shift from the big-hair 1980s.
‘The Ferrari 348 made its debut in September 1989 at the Frankfurt Auto Show. Both Road & Track and AutoWeek declared it to be ‘Best In Show’. Road & Track would later declare it to be ‘one of the ten best cars in the world.’
‘When the 348 had first entered the world, Gavin Green had been similarly fulsome in the October 1990 edition of Car Magazine:
‘There is nothing like it. It communicates so richly, involves you so completely. And, when you have finished driving it – cocooned in that exquisite cockpit – you can get out and feast your eyes on one of the loveliest cars ever designed.’
-Alex Manos, Owner

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