VIDEO: Twin-Turbo Ferrari 348 Challenge is an Overachieving Underachiever
In the late-1980s and early-1990s, Ferrari was at a crossroads. Yes, it was building the wild-child F40 and was as revered as ever, but life behind the factory gates at Maranello wasn’t all that rosy: Enzo Ferrari died in 1988. The Formula 1 team was routinely getting its ass handed to it by McLaren, Williams and other garagistes. And, to cap it all off, the company’s entry-level model at the time was the 348. No, the 348, with its Son-of-Testarossastyling and longitudinally-installed 3.4L V8 is hardly the Worst Car Ever (or, as detractors of the 308 GT4, 400 and Mondial ranges will claim, the Worst Ferrari Ever), but compared to a certain all-aluminum upstart from Japan that arrived around the same time, the 348 was porky, clumsy, ergonomically-challenged and far, far less reliable. Car and Driver even drag raced it against a GMC Syclone (a stupid-fast pickup truck, yes, but still a pickup truck)…and it lost!
So the idea of tuning a 348 seems, on its face, to be putting lipstick on a pig that thinks it’s a prancing horse. But that didn’t stop Steve Maxwell and Stacey Slead from hot-rodding Slead’s 1994 348 Challenge. Naturally, Maxwell made upgrades to the suspension and brakes, but the big news is behind the seats: That little V8 now inhales through a pair of turbochargers, so it now makes 610 horsepower at the wheels. And as host Matt Farrah points out, it makes all the right noises thanks to the sound of the engine, the turbo wastegates chirping, and the click-click of the gated metal shifter.