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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm thinking of buying a 1

I'm thinking of buying a 1997 or 2000 355 spider and was wondering if this is a good model year and what I am getting myself into, mechanic wise and money wise. I don't know of a mechanic which makes it difficult to trust one out of the blue. I live in the Southern California area and would like to know if anyone can recommend a mechanic and tell me whether to run away from this type of purchase or to dive in and it will be worth it.
 
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
The Ferrari F355 has two diffe

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.

To JC's question: 97 is no better nor worse than the 96-99 models "in general", but with 8 years old car stuff happens. I don't tend to like garage queens as I like the car to be used at least 2K miles per year just to avoid problems with seals, water hoses, tire rot, and internal corrosion. All 355s should have had at least 1 major, and many should have had 2 majors. To find a good mechanic, find a friend who is a car nut, use him to narrow down the field. Good Luck
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Mitch, thank you for the detai

Mitch, thank you for the detailed information. I am a bit hesitant in buying a garage queen because I do intend to use it and drive at least 5 - 8k miles a year - I mean why else buy this kind of vehicle if you only intend to garage it? One thing I'd like to know is why do low mileage vehicles (with say, 5k to 11k miles) have had a 30k service done? And why are there so many for sale? Is it because the owner traded up or because the car is just too expensive to maintain, too much a premadonna? What? I love the idea of owning this car (before turning 40), but would like something that will last.
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hi,

The 30,000 mile service


Hi,

The 30,000 mile service is done at least every 5 years or 30,000 miles. The belts are rubber and age.

Dennis
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
JC: I am in complete agreement

JC: I am in complete agreement with you concerning using these cars, and remain bewildered at owners who don't seem to get around to using their investments. At a minimum I would be looking for a car that was driven a minimum of 2000 miles a year {8000 miles one year then no miles for the next three is a crime agianst these automobiles} Only a good examination of the service records with the car can separate the good 2000 miles per year from the non-good.

I think what happens is that the buyer starts to think about the maintance costs of owning a Ferrari and starts to use the car less and less. Then when 5 years rools by and a Major service becomes due, they pay for the service and re-examine their monetary priorities. During this evaluation, they figure that the car is costing them several dollars per mile, and its not worth it and <presto> it goes up for sale. They seem incapable of making the leap that actually using the car minimizes its cost per mile of use.

Dennis got it right, rubber ages. Rubber on a car that is not moving (being used) ages FASTER than rubber ages on a car being used. I ran into a gentleman last year at a track event. He had a 95 F355 that had had its major and was still on the original tires--8 friggen year old tires. He ended up spinning the car several times that day, and his wife also spun the car. Imagine how much tire technology has advanced in 8 years. Now imagine how much better that car would drive with those more modern tires. Finally imaging how much a major service costs versus a set of tires. Unfriggen believable!
 
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hi,

I think the reason peop


Hi,

I think the reason people trade in Ferraris is because they are not invisable! When I bought my 355 the dealer was after me for over a year to trade in my 01 Porsche. I told him I drive it to work every day and I felt that a Ferrari would be too showy to my employees and everyone else. When a Black 97 355 came in I felt maybe a black coupe wouldn't attract that much attention. Boy was I wrong. I can't even open my garage door without a crowd of people starring or commenting. I complained to the dealer that I shouldn't have traded in the Porsche for the Ferrari because the Porsche was invisable. I could park it anywhere and nobody saw it. He laughed and said that it was other peoples problem not mine and I should enjoy the car. Thats what I have to get over and that may be another reason people don't drive their Ferraris.

But screw it traded in the 355 for a 360 last week and I'll deal with this problem of lack of invisability!
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks Mitch, thanks Dennis. I

Thanks Mitch, thanks Dennis. Is there any website out there that could give me a ball park of maintenance costs for the 355 and what the new price was (now i'm looking at 97 thru 2000 now). The vehicles that I am looking at are:
A) Black/Tan '97 with 12k miles @ $107,000 and B) Red/Tan '99 with 6k miles @ $130,000 and C) Titanium/Tan '97 with 12k miles @ $105,000. I'm also shopping around for insurance before buying the car and they seem to tell me that it would help to know what they went for "new" to establish some sort of guideline for estimating the insurance (and not to mention I'd like to know what the cost difference is from new to pre-owend). I really would like to own one like I said and the more and more I dig, the more and more I feel it will happen. I just want to make sure that I do all of my homework first. Thanks again!
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
5{ to buy a 348 speciale or Ch

5{ to buy a 348 speciale or Challenge. I live on Kauai so maintenace poses some real challenges that I am sure I will overcome. My questions relate to availibility of performance parts, such as better brakes, suspension, etc., and how tough is it to do your own service on things like clutches? What parts came in a "Challenge" kit? My thanks to all for having this forum.
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
hi JC,

The price depends on


hi JC,

The price depends on if its a Spider or Coupe. The difference could be $5000 to $10000. Also make sure the major service was just done. That runs about $7000. This needs to be done every 5 years or 30000 miles. If you buy from a dealer you can get the car certified and they waranty the car for a year.
 
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I budget $2000 a year for main

I budget $2000 a year for maintanence, and add to this $1000 per track event for event fees, maintanence, tires, hotels and food. Last year I did 18 track events and since it had been 20K miles and the tensioner bearings were going south, we did a major service at 20K miles instead of the 30K normal interval. At this time, I changed out every piece of rubber in the engine bay, and we found 5 hoses iun inexcessible places that were going to give problems shortly. The brake rotors were toast after 33 track days and were also replaced as were the caliper seals. None of this was inexpensive. For the record; I get 15 track days on a set of Bridgestone S03s, 5 track days on a set of brake pads, and 1 track days on an oil change (after).

As to brakes: unless you are actually racing, a fluid flush to one of the 500+ dry fluids (ATE SuperBlue) and a change to high temperature pads (Ferrodo DS2500) is all anyone can need. This is the combination that I use in the heat of Texas summers on high speed tracks (TWS). If you need more brakes than this and you are not on a race track, I suggest re-examining you driving habits.

As to suspension: Do not lower the car unless you are going to put stiffer springs and then match the shocks to the springs. The rear end may feel undersprung and undershocked to those unaware of the handling characteristics of this car. The rear has been setup this way to give the car forgiveness and controlability while driving with the tail end hung out, leaving the majority of the roll stiffness at the front end. With stock tire sizes, this is a very good combination even if it does feel sloppy at less than 7/10s.

If you are going to own one of these cars for the long haul, budget $5000/6000 per major at 5 year intervals (or shorter), budget $1200/set of tires at 10,000 mile intervals, and (for street use) $500 per axle per 20K miles for brake pads. I do oil at 3000 miles or 3 times a year or 1 track event (which ever comes first).

JC: none of the cars you listed have been driven enough (in my book).
 
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks to Dennis and Mitch.

Thanks to Dennis and Mitch.
Mitch:
I agree with you - about cars not being driven enough. I'm leaning more for street driving than race, but appreciate the tips for the track all the same.
Dennis:
The cars that I listed are all spiders and look to be in great shape. I'm leaning more for the black one, but we'll see. If you were me, would you also look in other states for purchasing? For example - Florida. What would be the disadvantage to buying from that distance? It seems like there are more to choose from out there than out here in California. Thanks again. JC
 
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
JC,

I prefer to buy a car f


JC,

I prefer to buy a car from a dealer with a warranty. I bought a 54 corvette without a warranty and it cost me as much to correct the hidden problems as the car. I bought my 73 Dino from Wide World of Cars with a 90 day warranty and they had to rebuild the transmision and starter which would have cost me around $10000.00
if I had to do it my self. I just bought a 99 360 and they threw in a year warranty and I purchased anoyher year and this is from Ferrari. I didn't pay any more for the car but I did for the warranty (for both years). I checked around both at other dealers and E-bay. prices are about the same if you figure in the warranty.

If you can buy local it's better. You can inspect it with your mechanic, you can nogotiate the price better, you can go home think about the car and look at it three or four times (car looks different as you get use to it, you see more). If you buy from a Ferrari dealer (my preferance) you can have the correction made there (adealer wants to please he wants you to come back, there aren't alot of Ferrari owners out there).

Dennis
 
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Is there a "Kelly Blue Boo

Is there a "Kelly Blue Book" for exotic cars? Just would like to know what the "new" prices are for these babies.
 
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Dear All,

Great post. I lo


Dear All,

Great post. I love the 355 and continue to prefer it over the 360 which I find bloated in comparison.
 
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
<font color="ff0000"><font fac

<font color="ff0000"><font face="times new roman,times,roman"></font>
I have a 2001 360, but due to business commitments i have to sell it
. I cannot live without a Ferrari and was thinking about buying a 355. Am i about to get into loads of unreliability and repair costs?
</font>}
 
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I have a 1998 355 spider and r

I have a 1998 355 spider and recently I noticed a little red fluid on the gargage floor. It is leaking from the front middle of the engine compartment. I thought it could be power steering fluid. I am I right ? THe car drives great but I am concerned. Would it be expensive to fix? Help
 
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
For your information, I have c

For your information, I have currently two problems with my present 355:
- on idle speed (between 1100 and 2000 rpm), the throttle response is VERY though and harsh but nobody can solve the problem (this is very problematic in the city traffic)
- I cannot lower the car for the track and I am n ot the only one - Ferrari dealer cannot solve the problem.
For the rest, the car is really fantastic !!!
F388 1994 metallic blue (one of the first models)
 
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
"- I cannot lower the car

"- I cannot lower the car for the track and I am not the only one - Ferrari dealer cannot solve the problem."

The suspension on an F355 is completely adjustible. Each shock tower has a threaded spring perch. By using a spanner wrench of the right size and enough force to break the threads free from accumulated dirt, these perches can be moved; thereby adjusting ride height. If the perches are especially dirty, the shocks can be removed from the car and disassembled on a bench, cleaned, and then reinstalled. If your Ferrari dealer cannot perform this operation, then seek a competent race-car preperation shop--i'm sure they would love to have your business.

Three points should be made on lowering the car:

1) there is a high speed braking instability associated with setting the front ride height too low. This is partially from the underbody aerodynamics, and partially from the front suspension geometry. When the front is too low, not enough air flows under the car and the rear end looses traction as the nose goes down under brakes.

2) the rear ride height can be used to set the oversteer/understeer relationship. Raising the rear induces oversteer, while lowering the rear induces understeer.

3) unless you are actually racing and using slick tires, lowering the car makes is not warrented. Even at full cornering loads (around and over 1.0 Gs) the roll is not enough to alter the camber enough to disturb the traction at the tires, however, with slicks these forces can get to 1.5 Gs which is enough to force the car into unstable suspension geometries. At this point, the right solution is more spring and shock which are selected in concert for the slicks and the lowered ride height.
 
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
NEED HELP! I have been 355 sh

NEED HELP! I have been 355 shopping for a while. I am ready to buy NOW, but I just cannot decide between the spider or GTS. The frustration is killing me because this is the only thing holding up my purchase. Any and all opinions and recommendations/experiences would be GREATLY appreciated. Thanks.
 
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