The modern series of mid-engined Ferrari V8 berlinettas begins with the 308, in 1975. A modest 252bhp was the work of a 2.9-litre V8, though early fibreglass cars didn’t need much poke as they weighed just over 1,000kg. Most 308s were steel bodied, and some 150kg heavier, but the die had been cast for a bloodline of (mostly) great Ferrari super sportscars.
The 328 lived from just 1985 to 1989. Underneath it was merely an evolved 308, but the chief upgrade was a new 3.2-litre V8 engine, still mounted transversely (i.e. sideways, not ‘north-south’) in the chassis. The 270bhp output got the 328 from 0-100kph in 5.5 seconds, and on to beyond 257kph.
Not the most fondly remembered of Ferraris, the 328, though its mini-Testarossa styling looks cooler by the day, doesn’t it? The last V8 Ferrari to be developed under the eye of Enzo (though it was launched after the Ferrari founder’s death) was boosted by an engine displacement increase up to 3.4 litres. So far so good on the names making sense as regards what was powering the car, huh?
A new engine head with five valves per cylinder was just one of the umpteen upgrades Ferrari made to the 348 to create the F355, which launched in 1994 to huge acclaim. Even someone called ‘Jeremy Clarkson’ bought one. In 1997, Ferrari added to the F355’s repertoire with a novel new option called a ‘paddleshift gearbox’. Nah, it’ll never catch on.
Ferrari 360 Modena
Ferrari’s Berlinetta for the new millennium didn’t have pop-up headlights. Boo. What it did have was a 394bhp 3.6-litre V8 pushing along a car 60kg lighter than the F355. If light-weight-more-power’s your thing, here’s where the Ferrari V8 supercar story starts to get juicy, with the emergence of true track day specials, like the wailing 360 Challenge Stradale.
Designer of the BMW Mini Cooper and Maserati MC12 Frank Stephenson was tasked with updating the 360 on the outside in 2004, adding a sharper look and some Enzo-spec taillights. Under the skin, power leapt to 490bhp, while ceramic brakes were now on the options list. The harder, lighter, faster 430 Scuderia (pictured) and drop-top 16M versions were fitting swansongs to the model line, before Ferrari dropkicked the form book all over again, with…
One of the prettiest modern Ferraris had three exhaust pipes as a nod to the F40, whiskers at the front to cut drag and improve downforce at speed, and a pedal missing in the footwell. Yep, here’s the moment Ferrari said arrivederci to manual gearboxes in its mid-engine heartland models. Happily, the twin-clutch Italia was so good, we stopped crying quite quickly. The ultimate 458 Speciale (pictured) remains one of the all-time great Ferrari road cars.
By 2015 McLaren had a fully-fledged British rival to contend with, in the shape of McLaren. Its answer was to twin-turbocharge a thoroughly evolved 458, to give us the 488 GTB. With 661bhp, it was as powerful as an Enzo, but as easy to drive as a Punto. Clearly Ferrari decided it was unacceptable to make its supercars so user-friendly, and gave us the 711bhp 488 Pista to scare us all into respecting its authority again.
Ferrari F8 Tributo
Today’s mid-ship V8 Ferrari is basically a cleverer Pista DeLuxe. It’s showing its age inside, and the basic body design can be traced back to 2009’s 458 Italia, but it many ways this represents the apex of modern Ferrari thinking – huge power mixed with witchcraft tech to make anyone who straps themselves behind that button-festooned steering wheel feel as talented as Charles Leclerc. And judging by this season’s F1 car, probably quicker as well.
What did it all felt like on a circuit like Sepang? Well, just click these blue words to find out...
Ferrari SF90 Stradale
And so to the future of mid-engined Ferraris. The SF90’s bum is still pushed along by a twin-turbo V8, but up front there’s a pair of electric motors. Combined, the total power output is not noticeably south of 1,000bhp. Or four times what a classic 308 would’ve churned out way back in the mid 1970s. How’s that for progress?
By the way, the SF90 Stradale is also the very latest prancing horse supercar to land our shores this year. Read our launch report by clicking here, as well as our UK counterparts's road test report of it here.