∙Fresh cam-belt service ∙Low mileage ∙Rare colour choice – Argento Nürburgring ∙Interesting history in Berlin and Monaco ∙Wonderfully sonorous Tubi exhaust system
Who says sports cars need to be intimidating or impractical? The F355, a watershed model for Ferrari, proves today - just as it did at launch back in 1994 - that a mid-engined Maranello product could be equally adept at Monza or the Col de Turini as it is commuting through London or popping to Sainsbury’s for a pint of milk. Fusing crisp styling with ergonomically designed appointments, the F355 package was equally focused on performance and usability: on the one hand, you have the F129 3.5-litre V8, serving up a raucous 375bhp, mated to a chassis that boasts fully independent and electronically controlled suspension. On the other, you have a light clutch and comfortably assisted steering, decently visibility and a usable amount of interior space. So it’s a focused and supremely rapid machine with a fabulous powertrain, but this is also very much the suburban Ferrari, more than comfortable prowling the streets between adventures. And in the spec we have here today, we’re looking at arguably the greatest F355 combination of them all: the hard-top Berlinetta bodyshell, the seldom-optioned Argento Nürburgring paint, and – most significantly of all – the manual transmission. Because while the electro-hydraulic ‘F1’ paddle-shift was innovative in its day, it’s the timeless open-gate shifter that’s truly desirable today. And with extremely low mileage and an interesting history, this silver modern-classic is a compelling proposition indeed.
This F355 has been in the UK since late 2014, being registered in May 2015. When it was new back in 1995, it was delivered to its first owner in Berlin, so it began its life as a German-registered car. That owner also had a place in Monaco, so in time the Ferrari was taken there and re-registered – we can see from the documentation that a lot of its service history comes from a Ferrari concessionaire in Monaco. The car ultimately returned to Berlin, and it was from there that the current owner bought it. Flying out with his brother-in-law, the two of them drove it back to the UK, taking it to the Ferrari specialist Autofficina in Surrey for a major service and belt change along with a few other minor tasks, and then registering it with the DVLA. Extensive efforts then went into tidying the car, as it was in great original condition but it wasn’t a garage queen – the inevitable minor wear from usage was addressed, with the interior being fully refreshed and the wheels refurbished. The owner fitted fresh Michelin rubber and a Tubi exhaust with decats, and has been enjoying it ever since. However, with a keen interest in Americana and the sights set on replacing the Ferrari with some classic Detroit muscle, the superb low-mileage F355 is now reluctantly up for sale.
As we know, the car was originally registered in Germany and has been UK registered since 2015. The V5 is here as evidence, showing its first date of UK registration as May 5th 2015 with no former UK keepers. The original service book is present, with stamps from Monaco and the UK, and there’s documentation to back up the service history as follows: 2001 – annual service; 2003 – major service and belts; 2006 – annual service; 2007 – major service and belts; 2014 – major service and belts; 2018 – annual service and belts. Since the F355’s been in the UK it’s been looked after by Autofficina in Surrey, who know the car well. There’s also comprehensive paperwork from the Ferrari’s life in Monaco, where it was serviced by Groupe Cavallari – Monaco Motors, an official Ferrari concessionaire in the principality. All of the work carried out there over the years is itemised. In addition, we can see that when the car arrived in the UK in late-2014 (prior to being registered) it was taken to Autofficina for a full appraisal and check-over – in addition to the major service and belts, they removed, flushed and refitted the petrol tank, repaired the engine lid cables, renewed the screen wash pump, and attended to various bulbs and fuses. A new alternator was fitted in 2017, and the servicing in 2018 was supplemented by a new oil breather and brake pads, and attention to the air-conditioning system.
The first thing that strikes you about the F355’s interior is how spacious and usable it is. Naturally we’re not talking about SUV proportions, but anyone over six-foot who’s sat in, say, a 328 and found their head grazing the roof will be pleasantly surprised by how accommodating this little Tardis is. This car is in lovely condition inside, testament to its extremely low mileage and the owner’s efforts to spruce it up. The milometer reads 59,000, but of course this figure is in kilometres, so we’re actually talking about 36,000 miles, and the condition of the cabin bears this out. The black leather seats wear a little gentle patination, but they’re in very good order with no marks, scuffs, holes or separating stitching. When the current owner bought and imported the car, he put a lot of effort into making it as nice as it could possibly be; the dash and the seat leather were all treated, the gearknob was replaced as the original had some jewellery scuffs, and some new tailored floor mats were installed. The doorcards are excellent, and the carpets and headlining are equally good – the roof and pillars have been re-trimmed in tasteful Alcantara. The plastic panel surrounding the instruments is micro-blistering a little (you can see in the photographs that it has the appearance of water droplets, but it’s not wet, it’s just how the plastic has behaved as it’s aged); all of the dials are working, as is all of the switchgear. There are some light scuff marks to the centre of the steering wheel, and some usage marks between the centre air vents in the dash, but this is all commensurate with the age of the car. Overall, the interior is in very good condition indeed, and it’s all tidy and original inside the front boot too. The only notable blemish we found was a small patch of corrosion on top of the driver-side sill inside the door shut. The stereo head unit has been upgraded to a quality Alpine CD/radio, but aside from this and the headlining retrim, everything here is factory-spec.
It’s relatively uncommon to find an F355 in Argento Nürburgring paint, and it really does suit the car very well. The paintwork itself is in very good order throughout; there are a few of the inevitable stone-chips on the front bumper, but no obvious scratches or scuffs. The panels are all nice and straight as well, with no evidence of dents or dings. Aside from a small paint run underneath the indicator on the driver-side wing (which was repainted a few years ago), it’s all in extremely presentable condition. Additionally, the paintwork has been ceramic-coated, so it has a really beautiful lustre to it. All of the light lenses are in good condition, the correct badges are present and correct, and the window glass is great save for a little minor delamination at the base of the rear screen. The front foglights have been treated to a layer of yellow Lamin-X film which gives the nose a more continental vibe, although this can be easily removed if the new owner desires. The car wears 18” five-spoke wheels, which are in superb condition with no kerbing and fitted with quality Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres. In fact, the wheels have been professionally refurbished, which is quite an involved task given that they’re magnesium – they were wet-painted rather than powder-coated, and the finish is outstanding.
The F129 V8 is an iconic and addictively tractable thing. Ferrari’s first ever 5-valve production engine, it offers a scintillating 375bhp and makes an utterly glorious noise. It’s also worth noting that this is the earlier F129B engine; later F355s were powered by a revised variant of the V8, labelled F129C, which had a different injection system and was more restrictive with the aim of reducing emissions, so these earlier F129Bs are the more potent and thus more desirable ones. The engine has always been correctly maintained with regular belt services, and it runs like a dream – the motor fires up instantly, idles evenly, and pulls very keenly through the rev range. This car is fitted with decats and a Tubi exhaust system which sounds glorious, and the owner tells us that the tailpipes lick flames on full-bore upshifts. The open-gate 6-speed manual shifts sweetly, with no reluctance to go into second even when cold. The clutch is good, the brakes are strong, and the suspension rides superbly. A truly wonderful car to drive.
For many an enthusiast, the F355 is the perfect example of what a road-going Ferrari should be. It’s got all of the classic touchpoints of a mid-engined V8 Ferrari, but there’s none of the histrionics you might find with, say, a 348 or 328 – this model was designed with usability in mind, so that eager and brutal powertrain is backed up by a cosseting ride, a comfy interior, and day-to-day reliability. A jack of all trades, but a master of all too. And if an F355 is in your crosshairs, then this is the one you want: the spec is spot-on – Berlinetta, manual transmission, rare colour – the mileage is very low, this history is robust, and the condition is wonderful. Furthermore, with its intriguing pan-European history, you’ll never be short of a bar-room anecdote. It’s often said that a Ferrari isn’t just a car, it’s a lifestyle – but in the case of the F355, it’s one that will nearly slot itself into your lifestyle. The effervescent sports car you can enjoy every day.
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