Rare Rides: The Very Rare Ferrari 348 Zagato Elaborazione, a Mouthful From 1990

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

By our count, Rare Rides has discussed Italian coach builder Zagato’s works on exactly two occasions. Both those times, boxy red coupes filled the screens of our millions of dear readers.

Today, Zagato surfaces once more, this time on a car which is certainly not boxy or red. It’s a very yellow Ferrari 348, with additional Zagato passion and flair.

Shortly before his death, company founder Enzo Ferrari managed the development of one more mid-engine V8 car. The sports car in question was the Nineties successor of the angular Eighties 328, called the 348.

The company commissioned Pininfarina for the design, which was full of smooth surfaces and side intake strakes like on the Testarossa. The 3.4-liter V8 engine was larger than the 3.2L found in the old 328, producing 300 horsepower and 238 lb-ft of torque. Power shifted through the only transmission available: a five-speed manual.

By the time the 348 debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1989, Enzo Ferrari was deceased. However, journalists around the globe were impressed with Enzo’s last offering. The 348 was pitted against (and defeated) the other new mid-engine sports car of the period, the Acura NSX. The car’s sound, character, and overall dynamic excellence were praised to the hilt.

A volume model, the 348 was replicated 8,844 times before its replacement by the F355 for 1996. Ferrari made several special variants, as it was wont to do, but Zagato also decided to give it a go.

From the start, it was intended as a limited offering, with a planned build of 22 cars. The Elaborazione package consisted of cosmetic modifications on top of a 348 TB. But “cosmetic” might be a bit of an understatement here. Zagato lowered the roof of the 348 and added a double bubble to the sheet metal. The midship engine cover was replaced by a piece of glass to be a bit more showy. Other notable changes included a new bumper at the front which was sans grille, bigger intakes (with no strakes) at the sides, and triple lights at the rear. The factory wheels were replaced by O.Z. Racing five-spokes. To top it all off, Zagato re-trimmed the interior in luxurious suede.

Though 22 examples were planned, only 10 made it out of House Zagato. Today’s Rare Ride had a single owner who apparently didn’t want to drive it, putting only 12,000 miles on the clock. This one also owns the distinction of being Zagato’s show car at the 1991 Geneva Motor Show. It comes up for sale at Sotheby’s Villa Erba auction on May 25th, and expects to bring around $200,000.

[Images: RM Sotheby’s]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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  • Lorenzo Lorenzo on May 11, 2019

    At least this isn't tumblr and we got to see the picture. A guy who posts pictures of rare cars, and only cars, had several photos flagged. One photo, of a 1952 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 with bodywork by Carrozzeria Boneschi, was flagged and the poster couldn't appeal it.

  • Scott25 Scott25 on May 13, 2019

    Hey Corey, we all know how much you love kitschy special editions, where’s your article/thoughts on the Kona Iron Man edition?

    • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on May 13, 2019

      Well, maybe I can wrap that one up with the awful Rogue One and Tucson Walking Dead.

  • Lorenzo Subaru had the ideal wagon - in 1995. The Legacy Outback was a straight two-box design with rear quarter and back windows you could see out of, and was available in brown with a 5-speed manual, as God and TTAC commenters intended. It's nice they're not raising prices, but when you've lost the plot, does it matter?
  • Bkojote Remember a month a go when Cleveland wanted to create a more walkable Cleveland and TTAC's 'BIG GOVERNMENT IS THE PROBLEM' dumbest and dullest all collectively crapped their diapers? Here's the thing- look on any American highway and it's littered with people who don't /want/ to be driving or shouldn't be. Look at every Becky on her phone during the morning commute in her Tucson, look at every Brad aggro driving his 84 month loan GMC. Hell look how many drivers nowadays can't even operate a headlight switch. You expect these people to understand a stoplight? In my neighborhood alone 4 people have been rear ended at lights from someone on their phone. Distracted driving over the past 10 years has spiked, and it's only going to get worse unless Becky has an alternative, because no judge is going to pull her license when 'she needs it to get to work!' but heaven forbid she not check fb/tiktok for 40 minutes a day.
  • Scott Shouldn't the The Italian Minister for Business be criticizing The Milano for being too ugly to be Italian?Better use of resources doing that....
  • Steve Biro Frankly, while I can do without Eyesight and automatic start-stop, there is generally less B-S with Subarus in terms of design, utility and off-road chops than with many other brands. I just hope that when they adopt Toyota’s hybrid system, they’ll also use Toyota’s eCVT.
  • The Oracle These are all over the roads in droves here in WNC. Rarely see one on the side of the road, they are wildly popular, capable, and reliable. There is a market for utilitarian vehicles.
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