The Ferrari 348 GT Competizione Is A Rare Beast
Photography by Tom Shaxson
Photography by Tom Shaxson
Here’s something you don’t see everyday: a Ferrari 348 GT Competizione. Like most special edition prancing ponies, competition tweaked road-going cars are made in low numbers for the true diehard Ferrari fans—oftentimes their sole existence stems from homologation necessity, meaning only the minimum for regulation requirements are produced.
Thankfully, the U.K.-based Aston Martin and Ferrari specialists at Bells Classics recently acquired this very rare, race ready 348. Our contributing photographer Tom Shaxson made sure to shoot this unicorn and Bell Classics’ own Matt Wilton was kind enough to give us the lowdown on this ‘90s Ferrari hallmark.
Andrew Golseth: Matt, before we get to the Ferrari, tell me about your dealings with the marque.
Matt Wilton: Back in the ‘90s, I worked at a Ferrari dealership, which is what I always wanted to do growing up. I managed to talk my way into a Ferrari Apprenticeship Programme. I spent a few years at the dealer then moved on to DK Engineering and then I finally ended up here at Bell Classics.
AG: Tell me about Bell Classics and how you ended up there.
MW: I actually just moved to Bell Classics this past year. I noticed they had some really exciting stuff going on and thought I’d have a go. Bell Classics was founded in 1989 and we do anything from full-on nut and bolt restorations to your routine servicing—we even have our own body shop in-house. We’ve got all the old school stuff, English Wheels and all that.
We specialize in Ferraris and classic Aston Martins—DB4, DB5, and DB6. At the moment, we’re restoring two DB5 and two DB6, three 330 GT and two 330 GTC. So, it’s quite a handful. Plus all the standard routine stuff that comes in and out. The whole company is just 20 people with about 14 of us working in shop. We’re actually moving to a bigger custom workshop soon to help take on the work.
AG: So, the Competizione, how did this car end up at Bells Classics?
MW: This one is a 1995 Ferrari 348 GT Competizione and was owned by a local we did a lot of maintenance for. When the owner offered it to us, we couldn’t turn it down. We bought it for the company so it’s sort of a “company car” at the moment. This one has about 50,000 miles on it, so it’s been driven.
AG: What is it exactly that makes these cars so special?
MW: Well, this particular Competizione is one of the last ones produced. The 355 came out in 1994 and this car wasn’t registered until 1995 in England. They made just 50 GT Competizione models with just eight configured in right hand drive for England, this car being one of those eight.
If you’re not familiar, the 348 GT Competizione is pretty special. They were built to meet GT Championship racing homologation requirements. So, it’s extra lightweight, 190 kilograms lighter than a standard 348. They got the weight down with carbon kevlar bumpers, doors, sills, and F40 carbon kevlar bucket seats as standard.
It’s also got special lightweight three-piece Speedline rims, a different exhaust specially made for these cars, a revised rear subframe, and slightly different dampers all around—plus the floor mats and air-condition system were removed. Obviously, it’s got slightly more power than your standard 348, about 320 horsepower.
AG: So, what’s the history with this particular car?
MW: This car is number 41 of 50—the 348 GT Competiziones were numbered with a plaque, which is pretty cool because even the Enzo didn’t get an exact number, they just got a “1 of 399” plaque.
It was used in a lot of British hill climb events over the years. From 2005 to 2011, it did a lot of hill climb work. At one point, in a hill climb championship, they had four of the eight right hand drive 348 Competiziones racing against each other, which is pretty crazy to think so many are still actively being driven in competition.
AG: Obviously, you’ve driven a lot of Ferraris over your career—but what’s a 348 GT Competizione like to drive?
MW: They actually handle very much like a 355. The turn-in is really nice and they’re very nimble. The gear change is nicer and the suspension is great. They run a little bit more camber so it feels better on the road. The special exhaust, which has different manifolds and cats and rear box, just sounds incredible.
AG: What kind of condition was it in when Bell Classics took it in?
MW: It didn’t need a full restoration or anything like that. It just needs a service. Really, the car is immaculate underneath, so it doesn’t need anything major. Unfortunately, it’s been raining and snowing quite a bit here. After the photoshoot, we washed it and it’s been in storage ever since.
AG: What’s the shop’s plan with the car?
MW: Well, we’re moving into our new workshop in about six weeks. Once we’re all moved in there, we’ll have it on display for people to see. Then, I think we’ll use it for some shows in the summer. Personally, I don’t want us to sell it but I think it’ll eventually go.
We’re looking forward to the new shop. It’s a fully custom built workshop. We sort of outgrew our current location with so much business and needed a bigger and better shop. Once we’re all moved in there, we’ll get the 348 GT Competizione back out, fully serviced, and back on the road.