This manual Ferrari F355 is a no-reserve dream, especially in green

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1997 Ferrari F355 Berlinetta front overhead action RM Sotheby's

There is a Euro-spec F355 Berlinetta heading to auction at this Saturday’s RM Sotheby’s auction in Abu Dhabi that’s mighty special. It’s a 1997 model, and one of the 3829 Berlinettas equipped with a gated six-speed manual shifter. The rarity, however, is exponentially compounded by the fact that it’s also finished in a green paint known as Verde Mugello, with a Beige Tradizione cabin. Drool.

RM Sotheby’s says just 1 of these green ones were delivered to the UK, while in the U.S., that number plummets to around just 10 known examples. This one was originally delivered to Venezuela.

1997 Ferrari F355 Berlinetta shifter detail
RM Sotheby's

The good news is that UK Ferrari specialist DK Engineering went through this one, after it’s been parked for a while with just 13,700 miles on the clock.

DK’s team has stripped it down, and went for a full-body respray in its original Verde Mugello hue. Then came the removal of the engine and the gearbox, followed by a major service replacing all coolant hoses and cambelts, plus all the driveshafts, seals, fluids, badges and rubbers that were in a bad shape. What’s more, the alternator and ABS pump got overhauled as well, and the seats got retrimmed in their factory material. Invoices state a sum of $58,000 spent on the car, yet in Abu Dhabi this Saturday, this F355 Berlinetta will go under the hammer at no reserve, for an estimated $100,000 – $130,000. That’s not bad for one in rare Verde Mugello, and regardless of the color, you know the hardtop drives better than a Spider.

Soon enough, the market may render this another car that costs “more than you can afford, pal.” As Hagerty’s valuation experts note, in 2016, someone paid $211,750 for a limited edition Spider Serie Fiorano, which appears to be the all-time auction record for the F355. Meanwhile, in Monterey last August, another Spider sold for $196,000, which is the second-highest price for one yet.

1997 Ferrari F355 Berlinetta engine bay
RM Sotheby's

Now, let’s talk maintenance. Rumor has it that you need to replace the heads every 15,000 miles. That sounds shocking, but there’s more. The interior is full of Fiat plastics (not exactly poster children for durability), the “adjustable” shocks will fail to adjust, and the list goes on and on. Because this is, after all, a Ferrari from 1994.

However, having driven a heavily-modified F355 with a manual, I can tell you that it’s the right size for a sports car. It can drive like a happy go kart if properly coaxed. Add in the gated manual experience and the F355 Berlinetta becomes something very endearing indeed—a car you’ll want to drive over and over again.

A GP2 team principle friend of mine who also raced at the 24 Hours of Le Mans once told me that in stock form, a Ferrari F355 Berlinetta flexes so much under heavy load that paint starts cracking off the body. Most people won’t push their F355s quite so far, but a V-8 Ferrari with a manual nevertheless remains a good choice for tuning. Given its rarity and superb condition, though, you may want to keep this particular F355 stock. Don’t want to crack that green paint.

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