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Newbie here, have been lurking, with questions

1525 Views 12 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  marcos

I guess it's time to get some dumb questions out of the way. My sincere appreciation to any and all who take the time to offer answers and explain some Ferrari issues to me. Here goes...

I am trying to figure out a good Ferrari to shop for for a first Ferrari. I certainly like the 360 Spiders. And, of course, it has been explained to me that there is no hope for getting in line for a F430. So...I'm thinking that maybe a 355 Spider might be a good bet.

I looked at one today; a '98 355 Belinetta with a little over 15,000 miles with an asking price of $84,900. The maintenance records show that both the 15,000 and 30,000 mile maintenance (and belt changes) have been performed.

To the questions:

Is a 355 a reasonably good first Ferrari? I hear they are fairly costly, maintenance-wide. True?

I've also heard that 1998 and later 355's are the preferred cars. (Something to do with a problem with the earlier cars). True?

Is the 355 a "civilized" car to drive? Or are there difficulties to be aware of?

This timing belt issue. Why belts? Why not a timing chain? (Sorry if that question has been beaten to death or is particularly dumb. But I just have to ask.)

Any Ferraris other that the 355 I should consider? I like open-top cars best.

How does one get oneself in line for getting the new cars as the come available? That is, how can a newbie learn to play that game...with success?
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Welcome !

the only dumb question is the one you were afraid to ask that later cost you $5k to fix :wink:

There are a series of Buyers Guides in the members section which should provide answers to your questions.

On the questions of chains vs belts, Ferrari made the switch over 30 years ago. Not sure the exact reason but a lot of theories have been tossed around. Suggest you do a search on old topics.
Welcome to Ferrari Forum. The F355 is a great starter Ferrari and an awesome one at that. To answer a few of your questions.

First the F355 has a solid sheet of metal on its underbody. That means labor to fix things under that metal goes up because of the time required to remove it, etc. However, the car does not have a lot of gremlins.

The F355 is also a great drivers car and georgeous to look at. I still like the lines of the F355 more than the 360. If you can afford a F355 there is no point in looking to older cars unless you want a different experience. The F355 is more refined than say a 1990 Testarossa which is actually a little less than a newer F355. The other car to consider is a 550 Maranello as the prices have come down significantly. You can own a 550 for less than a 360 Spyder. If you like the open air (as you mentioned) skip the 550.

Hope this helps.
JLocke said:
This timing belt issue. Why belts? Why not a timing chain? (Sorry if that question has been beaten to death or is particularly dumb. But I just have to ask.)
Belts are lighter, cheaper, quieter, require no lubrication and will not stretch with use.

Look at motorcycles, all the high-end bikes have gone away from a chain final drive. They are all now either shaft-drive or belt-drive.
Be welcome,

I can only say this for a F355: BUY, Buy, buy, buy, buy, buy, buy, buy....
Thanks for the kind help - and HRE wheels?

Thanks to all for your kind responses. I will certainly join up and take advantage of the online buyers guides.

As for the 355, I am looking at two. One is a '98 Berlinetta with 15,000 miles.

The other is a Spyder (or is it Spider?) with close to 12,000 miles. It has what are referred to as HRE wheels. Is it possible to trade/sell the HRE wheels for a set of original 355 wheels? Here's a HRE wheel:

But I prefer the stock wheel:

It might seem to be a minor point; but, when you are looking for a dream...!
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I think it would not be that hard to replace the rims. You often see 348 with 355 rims, Mondials with 348 rims etc. so they are definately sold around. I must admit I prefer the originals as well!!!!

I just love the F355 Spider (my favorite) above... ...I would go for the original rims, they just look better!
Top concern

The biggest problem I've read about (not including the outrageous belt change costs) is the top on the Spyder models.

And the comments and reviews have ranged from "the most worthless piece of engineering to come out of Italy" to "what a major pain" to "I'd prefer to just leave the top in one position--up or down" to "it's a nightmare if it gets hung up" to "well, I've never experienced any real problems."

So...any thoughts from 355'ers on the topic? When considering a particular 355 Spyder, how should I go about inspecting the top? If it works Ok going up and down sitting in a showroom or in someone's driveway, is that good enough? Or should I expect the usual issues to crop up later, regardless?

By the way, great forum! And thanks for the comments--both in this thread and throughout.
On the F355 Spider tops, you are taking your chances. Most owners never have problems but a few do. If this is a major concern and you still want the open air experience, then I would strongly suggest taking a look at the F355 GTS.
I think a GTS will give you just as much open air feeling as a Spider and it would actually be the car of my choice. I like having the glass and frame behind my head, just feels safer but still very open.
I agree with Boxer and Andrew. The only thing that can go wrong with a removeable roof section is the gasket. I love my GTS. The sharp look of a hardtop with the roof on, the stylish look of a spider with the roof off.
I still love the Spider... ...just love the top down! :wink: Rain or not...
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