Derived directly from Formula 1, where it made its debut in 1989 winning the Brazilian Grand Prix, the electro-hydraulic system was operated by paddles behind the steering wheel using the F355′s conventional 6-speed manual gearbox. The new transmission guaranteed lightning-quick gear changes, with the additional advantage that both the driver’s hands could stay on the wheel at all times.
With respect to the F355 GTS, the 355 F1 GTS had an F1-style gearbox management system. Just like the one used for the single-seater, the electro-hydraulic system controlled the manual gearbox using sophisticated software. It was itself operated via two paddles, one on each side of the steering wheel, which meant that the driver did not have to take his hands off the steering wheel whilst changing gears either.
The two-seater 355 F1 GTS had an aluminium and steel body. Its styling was moulded around an aerodynamically severe design that included a full-body undertray designed to equalise downforce (Cl) between the two axles.The cabin was designed with both safety and driving pleasure in mind. The seats and trim were Connolly leather. Composite racing seats were also available to order.
The chassis was a steel monocoque with a tubular steel rear sub-frame for the engine-suspension assembly. Both front and rear suspension used independent unequal-length wishbones and coil springs over gas-filled telescopic electronic dampers with two settings. The car also has anti-roll bars. The steering was rack and pinion with power-assist, and optional mechanical gear. The brakes had self-venting discs and excludable ABS ATE. The 18” wheel rims were magnesium.
The mid-rear 3496 cc 90° V8 was longitudinally mounted and punched out 380 hp, giving it a specific power output of 109 hp/l. Distribution was by means of twin overhead cams with five valves per cylinder. The con rods were titanium, while the control unit was the Bosch M5.2. Dry sump lubrication and a six-speed plus reverse mechanical gearbox completed the picture along with a dry single-plate clutch. It had an F1-style gearbox management system.