Words by Scott Laurie
I bought a year 2000 Ferrari 360 manual when I sold my first F355. It was Rosso Red with a black interior and Bordeaux carpets. It had been remapped by DMS and it was a completely different car to the F355 in every way. The first thing that you notice – apart from the size difference – is how easy it is to get into. The F355 sits very low with a big wide sill and you have to plan your entry and exit by sitting your bum down first and then swinging your legs in, no such forethought is required when entering the cabin of the 360. The next most noticeable thing is the power. It has actually only got around twenty more bhp but it has a huge advantage in torque.When you hit the fly-by-wire throttle in the 360, the car accelerates with an explosive force and continues screaming all the way up to 8,500rpm, select second gear and the force will make your passenger bump their head on the headrest. You will be heading towards the UK speed limit before engaging third gear. I have a 996 GT3RS and a friend also has a 997 GT3 – we both agree that the Ferrari 360 is quicker in a straight line.
Owning the 360 is much more straight forward than the F355. The belt service is every three years and doesn’t need require the engine to be removed. The only well documented fault that I know of is longevity of the front upper and lower suspension ball joints, which don’t last very long. Hill Engineering manufacture replacements which are supposed to last much longer than the 15,000 miles of the original Ferrari items. Their replacements also allow you to replace just the ball joint as opposed to the whole suspension arm.
The handling on the 360 is in my opinion pretty much the same as the F355. Both will lose traction at the rear easily in wet weather and on cold tyres – my advice is to be gentle with the throttle when leaving roundabouts. Once warmed up and on dry roads the 360 is an awesome machine, it has more than enough power for anything you will ever need to do on a UK road. I have driven the Ferrari 458 and other exotica but the 360’s 400bhp is enough for all but serious track use or the occasional white knuckle rides on a long straight road. I have had the 360 up at 180mph on the dash (Ferrari are always optimistic with their speedos – the GPS read 171mph) and there was very little wind noise and the car felt totally at one with the tarmac. However, you do cover a ridiculous amount of distance at the that speed so even on the German autobahns you never get to sit at that speed for more than ten or twenty seconds. This is understandable when you consider that at that speed you are covering three miles a minute!
￼The Ferrari 360 was such a radical change from its predecessor, the F355, that I initially didn’t like it, but as the F355 started to look dated (before becoming a recognised classic Ferrari) the 360 blossomed to a modern, curvy looking sportscar and today, fifteen years later it has aged very well. I would say that the 360, which is all curves will continue to age gracefully and join the F355 as one of best classic Ferraris.
I would say that the 360, which is all curves will continue to age gracefully and join the F355 as one of best classic Ferraris.
It is a common misconception that they built thousands of 360s, in total there were just 2,045 UK cars including Coupes and Spiders. Ferrari actually built less 360 manual Coupes (352) than manual F355 Berlinettas (496). The most collectable 360 is most likely going to be a red manual 360, with the exception of the Challenge Stradale of course, which was what I bought initially but sold to fund the 996 GT3RS I still own.
Ferrari 360 prices dropped to the mid forties for decent examples in around 2008 and stayed there for a number of years. Only in the last year has the 360 started to increase in value and now a low mileage red manual car will set you back £60-80,000 – if you can find one. I was fortunate enough to recently purchase another 360 to keep my 355 Spider company and this time I couldn’t find a manual transmission red car within my budget so I bought a low mileage red 360 F1 with factory carbon seats and lots of shiny carbon fibre. This one is a keeper, just like the F355.
I have owned the 360 for a few months now and I have to admit it took a little while to get used to the F1 box. Initially I was concerned about how to take off in first gear and whether I was supposed to back off the throttle between upshifts. The changes didn’t feel that quick. The F1 car I have is a 2000 model but has the later Transmission Control Unit from a Challenge Stradale to make it change quicker. After a few hundred miles I can say that I fully understand how it works and now love it. The F1 box is actually a manual box with automatic controls, so the clutch is in effect the same as a manual clutch in that it slips to an extent before engaging fully. How and when it engages is all about throttle control. Once you get the balance right with the accelerator it soon becomes easy to execute smooth take-offs. The speed of change ups from first to second and through all the gears depends on where the throttle is and how you are accelerating. If you are pottering along then it delivers a slower change more akin to a manual gearbox whereas if you are blasting along then the speed of the change is really rapid. The TCU also blips the throttle for you during down changes in Sport Mode and from high speeds – which is just fabulous and incredibly addictive. In the manual transmission F355 I do this without thinking using the heel- and-toe method but in the 360 it is much more rapid and the noise as you click down the gears is fantastic.
The TCU also blips the throttle for you during down changes in sport mode and from high speeds – which is just fabulous and incredibly addictive.
So is the F355 a good investment? I paid £42,500 for a 1997 Red Berlinetta in 2005. I sold it in 2008 for near the same price and then in 2013 I bought another F355 Spider for £40,000 with just 27,000 miles and in immaculate condition. I have been offered £25,000 more than I paid for the Spider by a dealer and I know the original Red car I owned is worth over £80,000 in today’s market. The big question is are the cars overvalued at these levels or will they continue to appreciate? I think the F355 is one of the prettiest Ferraris ever built, it has a fabulous engine and is quite modern in terms of comfort and handling. They were quite rare in right hand drive with a total of 1,384 produced for the UK. I think there are still some enthusiasts buying F355s as their dream car with the expectation that they may make some money on the car in the long term and also the best low mileage cars are being snapped up by collectors.
My prediction would be that in the short terms prices won’t change much, however in the long term I think the F355 will become the next Dino and prices for good cars will move upwards into the £150,000 + bracket. I have already seen F355s advertised above £100,000 and that tends to be an indicator that the dealers are trying to push prices up.
The F1 transmission equipped 360s are generally advertised about £5,000 cheaper than manuals, or is that the manual cars are advertised £5,000 more than F1 cars? My advice would be if you haven’t considered the F1 box and only wanted a manual that you should certainly try one, you may be surprised by how good it actually is – like I was.
If I had to decide between keeping either my F355 or the 360 I would find it very difficult to choose.
One question that people often ask and is endlessly debated on the Ferrari forums is which is best, the F355 or 360? Well the answer is dependent on best for what? Both have the prestige of the Ferrari brand. The F355 is potentially a little more expensive to service but may offer the best investment opportunity. The 360 in my opinion was undervalued and is now beginning to become more popular, as a result prices are on the increase. If I had to decide between keeping my F355 or the 360 I would find it very difficult to choose. I think the carbon seats in the 360 really complete the car and were a rare option so that would probably swing it for me, but I know I would miss the roof being down in the F355 on the first sunny day.