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Taurino Ferrari

Broadcast date : 6th May 2007

The Ferrari 360 Challenge is a special Ferrari. But then, every single car bearing the Prancing Horse insignia is special, since Enzo Ferrari built his first back in 1947.

Ee paid a visit to Andrea Taurinoís workshop to trace the lineage of the 360.

The shop not only prepares the Challenge cars for corporate instruction and the local Ferrari challenge series, but it also does some restoration work too, on classics like the F40 and the 288 GTO.

As for the 360ís roots, and its successor, the 430, boss-man Andrea Taurino had laid on a very special Ferrari display for us, and was on hand to talk us through it, car by beautiful car.

The embarkation point for our voyage of discovery is a car that wasnít even called a Ferrari. It was simply called a Dino.

The Dino is the only production Ferrari that doesnít wear a Ferrari badge. This is because it was named after Enzoís son, who succumbed to an illness at a very young age.

Dino was very involved with the V6 Ferrari racing engine designed in the late 1950s that also bears his name.

Like the racer, the Dino 246 employs a V6 motor, in this case carburettor-fed with a single overhead-camshaft per bank of cylinders.

The Dino was Enzo Ferrariís first attempt at producing a more-affordable road-going Ferrari, the car breaking cover in the late 1960s at a time when the rest of the big production models were front-engined V12ís.

The Dino was also Ferraris first series-produced mid-engined car, and it led to a V8-engined car that would change Ferrari forever.

The 308 followed the Dino as Ferrariís second-generation mid-engined two-seater sports car, built between 1975 and 1984.

And it was this car that really put Ferrari on the map as far as the general public were concerned.

This was the first Ferrari that approached anything like mass production, for a number of reasons.

Its transverse-mounted V8 motor was relatively un-fussy and less complex than the V12s, and it was a less demanding car to drive than its predecessors.

And there was another important reason why the 308 was a benchmark car that turned Ferrari from a racing concern that built road cars to fund its track exploits, to a builder of the worldís most iconic sports cars.

His name was Thomas Magnum aka Tom Selleck. And he drove a red 308 Spider in the famous 1980s Television series, Magnum PI.

Many of us can still see that 308 fishtailing away between the palm-trees in Hawaii. And many who did bought the 308ís successor.

Most Magnum watchers wouldnít be able to tell the difference between a 308 and a 328, but the changes were significant.

Engine capacity was increased to 2,2 litres, power went up to just over 200 kiloWatts, and a more advanced fuel-injection and engine management system was produced by Bosch.

The car sported different Campagnola wheels and more pronounced aerodynamic aids.

It was an altogether more substantial and quicker car than the 308, and yet it retained that knife-edged appeal of the original transverse V8 model, while making concessions to the chiselled lines that so characterised 1980s designs.

The 328 broke cover in 1985. And it went through a few updates too, which saw a power increase to give mid-five-second 0-100 times.

Handling sharpened up as wheels and tyres grew in width and tyre profiles became lower.

But by the late 1980s it was starting to look dated, and Ferrari embarked on a total re-design for its next baby.

The 348 was never one of the happiest of Ferraris, although it was nevertheless a step forward in terms of power output and creature comforts.

Itís styling drew on the mid-eighties Testarossa for inspiration, the hallmark being the styling strakes down the flanks, directing air into the ducts for engine and brake cooling.

As the name suggests, the V8 that was birthed in the 308 GT4 had now grown to three-thousand four-hundred and two cc.

And this was the first Ferrari to have a V8 mounted longitudinally in the rear section, with a greatly-improved ancillary layout and engine-accessibility.

The 348ís problem was that it had some chassis balance issues that were never really cured, and it had a marked tendency towards snap-oversteer.

This was not something that owners appreciated after discovering the problem at the rather high cornering speeds the 348 was capable of generating.

Traction control and ABS, however, was still in the future. And the future for the baby Ferrari line was an absolute beaut.

The Ferrari F355 in Berlinetta closed form, or in open-topped Spider form, was an instant hit when it launched here in late 1994.

Whereas the 308 and 328 gained mainstream interest in the brand, this was the Ferrari that set about re-establishing street-cred amongst purists for Ferrariís so-called affordable line.

Itís V8, now sporting five valves per cylinder and a displacement jump to 3496 cc, was now pumping 285 kiloWatts.

The F355 benefited much from computer-aided design, particularly in the layout of its engine compartment.

Everything was neatened up, but still retained lots of charisma. 

And for the first time a clutch-less paddle-shift option was offered, known as the F1 system, to make street 355 drivers feel like Schumacher.

The F355 looked so right that it was a pity that it had a relatively short life-span, from 1994 to 1998. 

By 1999 the 360 Modena would take Ferrari into a whole new level of sophistication and increased profitability.

The 360 Modena was an entirely different stable of horses. About 15 more, to be precise, or representing a mere 9 kilowatt power increase in metric jargon.

But the car was a complete redesign, rather than an evolution of the 355. It made extensive use of lightweight materials with an aluminium space frame.

The body was in fact riveted to this frame for amazing stiffness. The gearbox, like the engine, was now longitudinal, and the whole car was longer.
Most 360s were now equipped with the paddle-shift electro-hydraulic gearchange, which nevertheless still could be tricky on the pull-off, if the dealer hadnít downloaded the right software onto the computer.

Yes, this was the car that brought Ferrari fully into the electronic age as far as engine management and driver aids were concerned.

The jury is still out on the styling of the basic 360, but Car Torque reckons it wonít go down as a classic in Maranelloís history.
Itís too soft and formless from some angles, notably the three-quarter front and rear views, and this is born out by the F430, which arrived here in limited numbers from 2006.

Itís more of an update than a total redesign, with key identity tags being the head lights and wing mirrors.

Dynamically itís yet another giant lunge forward from the 360, especially in the power department. The latest F430 now pumps out 360 kilowatts, from a V8 that had its roots way back in 1973 with the 308 GT4.

Itís fascinating to chart the evolution of the so-called baby Ferrari, from the beautiful Dino through to the modern 430, which now has more than twice the power of the 308.

And while this line of Ferraris made the marque accessible to a wider pool of enthusiasts, throughout the past four decades there have been iconic more powerful Ferraris to fuel the legend.

One of these was in the Taurino workshops on the day of our visit, the remarkable F40. Itís still seen as a highpoint in supercar design because it marries massive horsepower to a classic chassis bereft of any electronic driver aids.

This 1988 twin turbo masterpiece pumped out 356 kiloWatts, and itís one of the most demanding road cars ever built.

Yet itís humbling to realise that the modern 430 will drill it around a race track or on the road without the use of turbocharging.

Ferraris are all about power and speed, but also a purity of purpose, and often in their long history, the cars have been carried by the myth when their performance on the street didnít quite match the hype.

But modern Ferraris like the 430 and these 360 Challenge racers built by the factory, really deliver the goods.

They still cannot be seen as everyday cars. But then, Enzo Ferrari probably wouldnít have wanted them to be totally user-friendly.

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