Upon its introduction in 1995, the Ferrari F355 Challenge put the world on notice: Ferrari was dead serious about this racing program. No longer a warmed-over version of the road-going vehicle, this Challenge version of the F355 Berlinetta received an increasingly extensive list of performance upgrades over the standard model each year from 1995 to 1998. For those intrigued by this proposition, Ferrari sold the Challenge as a roughly £21,000 kit installed by local Ferrari dealers. Racing in the Ferrari Challenge through 2000, the racing version of the F355 was an incredible performer, eclipsing its 348 predecessor in every way.
To list the full set of upgrades would take more space than we have here in our short model article, but it includes such components as seats, steering wheel, exhaust, clutch, brakes, wheels, tyres, bushings, springs, and a rear wing. Aside from the exhaust, however, nothing was done to the original 3.5-litre V8, which still produced 380 bhp and was able to propel the Challenge model to 62 mph in 4 seconds flat and reach a top speed of over 183 mph. Ferrari used the standard 6-speed manual from the F355 Berlinetta as the sold transmission choice.
As stated above, even though the F355 Challenge was built around a very similar design purpose as the 348 Challenge before it, the new model was a different beast entirely when it came to all-out performance. Get this: The F355 Challenge bested its 348 rival by almost 8 full seconds and surpassed the production version of the F355 by nearly 9 at the Fiorano test track. In fact, its 1:25:40 result was more than 1 full second faster than the flagship Ferrari F50’s time. Without an appreciable increase in power over the Berlinetta version, this Challenge car was a testament to Ferrari’s ability to utterly transform a car when production restraints are removed from the equation.
The official model count stands at 108 total F355 Challenges, although there is some speculation that the real number is higher than that. Ferrari’s tradition of building a track version of their mid-engine V8 cars would live on with the 360 Challenge Stradale, although even that model was not able to outperform the spectacular F355 Challenge.
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