Oftentimes when Ferrari launches a new model, its lineage is easily traceable, but such was not the case with the 348 TB. Ferrari’s mid-engined, rear-wheel drive replacement for the 328, the 348 shared almost nothing with its predecessor. Most notable was the 348’s 80s-tastic styling, inspired by its bigger brother, the Ferrari Testarossa. Holding the honour of being the last mid-engine V8 car developed by Enzo Ferrari himself, the new-for-1989 348 featured prominent side strakes and a sleeker, more aerodynamic profile than the curvaceous 328.
With twin overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder, the 348’s 3.4 litre V8 developed 300 bhp, 30 more than the 328’s 3.2-litre V8 could muster. A dry-sump system was used to prevent oil starvation at high g-loads, keeping the engine lubricated during hard acceleration and aggressive cornering. Short for Transversale Berlinetta, the “TB” in the model name refers to the positioning of the gearbox relative to the longitudinally-mounted engine. A completely new unit for the 348, the manual transmission used five forward gears to propel the car to a top speed of 275 km/h. The 348 hit the 100 km/h mark in 5.6 seconds; not earth-shattering, but respectable performance for its era.
Leonardo Fiorvanti, famed Pininfarina designer responsible for the exterior styling of such prestigious nameplates as the 280 GTO and F40, was put in charge of the 348 as his last assignment for Ferrari. Fiorvanti borrowed copiously from the both the Testarossa and F40 as he penned his design, with the egg-slicer side strakes, rear lights hidden behind black slats, and the sharply angled nose. Once you realize that it’s not its red-headed big sibling, the 348 is instantly recognizable because of these features. Unfortunately, even with those amazing vehicles for inspiration, the 348’s styling ended up on the mild side, disappointing some enthusiasts. A true Berlinetta, the 348 offered seating for just two occupants between its mile-wide doors. Just 2895 examples rolled off the line between 1989 and 1993, when the model became the 348 GTB for its final two years of production. Ferrari discontinued the line to make room for the new F355 in 1994.
Andy’s Thoughts – Ferrari 348 TB
If you grew up in the 80’s you will remember Magnum Pi. To most the 308 shape defined what a Ferrari should look like, until Miami Vice hit the screen and we all wanted side streaks and a white Testarossa. But when the 348 came out my initial reaction was mixed. Had Ferrari ruined the formula?
I think the best way we can answer that today though is to look at it today and ask does it still look like a Ferrari? The step forward from the 308/328 was very significant, making the car more aggressive, less delicate, and more usable. The result is I think one of the best designs to come from Ferrari in the last 30 years. Sure it’s not Top 5, but I would place it above midway. When you see them on the road today it still turns heads and looks special.
Over the years it received a lot of criticism, even being called the worst Ferrari ever! I definitely don’t think this is the case, and if you want to learn more check out our Podcast episode all about it: